Sunita Narain | Centre for Science and Environment

Sunita Narain


The Earth for you

Down To Earth is a product of our passion for change. But it would not have made it to its 23rd anniversary without your continued commitment. Our desire is to bring you news and perspectives on the state of the environment and explain why it needs attention. It is clear to us that as we produce each issue—this is 552nd edition—the struggle for a green, but prosperous, world is getting more intense, contested and difficult. It is also clear that if we do not have independent and credible sources of information, we cannot even begin to move towards resolution.

CSE welcomes Delhi High Court order on junk food

  • Delhi High Court orders to regulate junk food consumption among school children across India. Asks the food authority to enforce its guidelines on wholesome and nutritious foods

How power can be cleaned

Coal is an environmentalist’s bugbear. The use of coal to generate energy is the key reason the world is looking at a catastrophic future because of climate change. Recognising this, global civil society has given a rousing call for coal divestment, asking companies, universities and individuals to stop investment in coal thermal power plants. They want coal to go, renewables to be in. And in the interim, clean gas, also a fossil fuel, to be used as a “bridge fuel”. In this scenario any talk of “cleaning” coal to make it less damaging is untenable.

Straw in the wind

What does the decision to save groundwater in Punjab or Haryana have to do with air pollution in Delhi? Plenty. We need to know this because many actions have unintended and deadly consequences.

Time for new environmentalism

 2014 has brought India’s environmental movement to a crossroad. On the one hand, there is a greater acceptance of our concerns, but on the other hand, there is also growing resistance against the required action. More importantly, every indicator shows that things on the ground are getting worse. Our rivers are more polluted, more garbage is piling up in our cities, air is increasingly toxic and hazardous waste is just dumped, not managed. Worse, people who should have been in the front line of protection are turning against the environment.

Real pride of ancient indian science

I write this with considerable impatience and one question. Do we really have the time to waste on controversies like what ancient India did or did not achieve by way of scientific discoveries? This is when there is the huge unfinished agenda to use the best of science to tackle current challenges and crises.

Walk the talk on carbon tax, Mr Finance Minister

Budget 2015, presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, has a first. In it, India has accepted that it has a de-facto carbon tax—on petroleum products and dirty coal. Arguably, the only big green initiative of this budget is the increase of cess on coal—from Rs 100 per tonne to Rs 200 per tonne. But the question is: is this carbon tax, imposed on the carbon content of fuel, doing what it should—reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for climate change?

So that we can breathe easy

THE EASIEST way to clear air pollution is to not know how bad it is. This is what India practices—in most parts of the country. There is virtually no equipment to monitor the air we breathe and no system that tells us what we should do when pollution levels are up and unhealthy.

Last call to get climate deal right

The Indian government must not use “equity” to block climate change negotiations. It must be proactive on equity and put forward a position on how to operationalise the sharing of the carbon budget—accounting for countries’ contribution to past emissions and allocating future space—in climate talks.

I wrote this last year when the UPA government was in power. I am repeating this as the NDA government prepares for the next conference of parties (CoP) to be held in December in Peru.

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