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FW: What's new at CSE, India

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  • M. Peres Alonso
    ***************************************************************** A fortnightly electronic news bulletin from CSE, India to a network of friends and
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 2, 2001
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      A fortnightly electronic news bulletin from CSE, India to a network of
      friends and professionals interested in environmental issues. We send
      this to people who we believe are involved in sustainable development
      initiatives. You are welcome to unsubscribe yourself, if you so choose,
      just scroll down to the bottom of this page.


      What's new at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi,


      Highly carcinogenic, dioxins are among the deadliest chemicals known to
      humans. Yet it's murky politics downplay the danger. More at




      The International Whaling Commission now faces threat to its very
      existence, more than whales Check out....




      Wildlife-human conflict has escalated in recent times due to large-scale
      habitat loss and lack of proper conflict mitigation strategy. More
      details at




      The Regional Cancer Centre in Kerala is facing trial over the allegations
      of controversial clinical trial done on patients. More at...




      The Bonn pact on the implementation of Kyoto protocol was diluted by the
      nations giving industrialised nations too many concessions for details




      The French system of branding agricultural products from its geographical
      origin can be adapted to market Indian medicine. For more click




      Alternative energy sources are being promoted the world over to replace
      polluting fossil fuels.




      Resistance from the diesel lobby and lack of support from the government
      are out to sabotage the Supreme Court orders to move the buses, auto and
      taxis to CNG. It is only because of the
      strong stand taken by the Chief Justice bench that some progress is being
      made. For more click



      Centre for Science and Environment denounces BJP national vice president
      Madan Lal Khurana, for trying to cover up for the dismal track record and
      incompetence of his party, ruling at the
      Centre, in implementing the Supreme Court's order on CNG. He is
      misleading both transporters and public alike by demanding status quo.
      More at




      We have an updated section for our environment education with new
      features like careers, eco quiz etc. Have a look at




      We have a new section for parliament questions in which you can get the
      details of questions and answers put up during different parliament
      sessions. For details click



      CATCHWATER June 2001

      Our new bimonthly issue of CATCHWATER Newsletter is now available on our
      site. It contains details of different campaigns, water harvesting news,
      networking etc. This time CATCH WATER has a supplement on Jal Yatra. For
      details click



      The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) offers you an invaluable
      opportunity to witness the dramatic impact of community-based rainwater
      harvesting efforts done by water warriors, through a paani yatra to the
      villages in Alwar and Jaipur districts of Rajasthan. More at



      A message from the Chairperson, Anil Agarwal:


      THE emperor of Kyoto is not wearing any clothes. This is certainly the
      case of the weary, weakened and pretty much nothing agreement on climate
      change the world agreed to last fortnight. The meeting on the Kyoto
      Protocol - the agreement by which the industrialised world had to cut its
      emissions by roughly 6 per cent over its 1990 levels - was predictably
      difficult. But we did not realise that the world would give away so much
      to get so little.

      George Bush, leader of the world's biggest economy and polluter had
      already declared that the protocol was "fatally flawed in fundamental
      ways" and walked out of the multilateral discussions (see 'Look who's
      talking!', Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 22, April 15, 2001). The final
      permutation was that Japan, Canada Australia and Russia held the key to
      the agreement. These polluters played their cards well prevaricating to
      the last moment to ensure they got the deal they wanted.

      Firstly, these countries wanted major concessions on the use of
      vegetation to sequester carbon. They got it, to an amazing
      extent. Now every small -0.05 ha - area under trees can be calculated as
      a sink. Making it possible, in this extremely creative manner, to
      calculate just about every garden's ability to soak up carbon emissions.
      Every scrubland is included, as an area with 10 to 30 per cent tree cover
      has been defined as a forest. And even areas with no trees temporarily,
      but which are expected to revert back to being forests, can be added.
      Countries can also now add up any management measures taken to improve
      productivity of forests, agricultural and grazing lands as their
      contribution to cut greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, if a new
      fertiliser use enhances carbon storage, then the impact that it will have
      on the ability of the cropland to soak up carbon will be used to
      calculate the reduction in the country's emissions.

      Under the final agreement Japan, for instance, can meet well over 50 per
      cent of its reduction commitment by using better forests, grazing lands,
      and even better agricultural management practices. The same sink
      advantage is gained by all other polluters which can now either fix
      carbon in their own lands or buy their emission reduction targets by
      fixing carbon in developing country forests, agricultural or grazing
      lands. The enormous scientific uncertainties in measuring the effective
      reductions in emissions, makes the Kyoto compromise nothing less than a
      grand and shameless fudge account.

      Secondly, given this extremely creative accounting, the polluters wanted
      an agreement in which the crooks if caught, would not get
      penalised. The next big concession came on the issue of compliance. In
      the Kyoto Protocol, the world had to design an enforcement mechanism for
      the rich and powerful. The initial talk was for a punitive and legally
      binding compliance regime, which would put in place severe monetary
      penalties for not meeting the target. But the final agreement lacks
      teeth, with the enforcement branch politely termed as the facilitative
      branch. With an ineffective compliance regime, the Kyoto Protocol is now
      a voluntary agreement, not legally binding.

      But why should we be surprised? The climate negotiations are not about
      the environment but the economy and every nation is working overtime to
      protect its right to pollute. In this sham act, Japan has been the
      convenient ploy to get concessions. The European Union (EU), which makes
      much of its green commitment, has a history of caving in, at the very
      last moment. In the same week when it was busy making euphoric
      proclamations about how it has saved the world by getting an agreement,
      the EU has decided to postpone by a further 10 years its programme to
      remove subsidies on coal, the filthiest and most carbon intensive fuels.
      Before the "historic" Kyoto agreement, EU was going to phase out these
      subsidies from July 2002. EU has also decided to postpone its plan for
      domestic emissions trading. Why? Because its own "green" companies
      complained that they would lose their competitive advantage.

      The next grand compromise, we predict, will come when the world will bow
      down to the US. Bush has made it clear that the most important part of
      his opposition comes from the fact that key developing countries like
      China and India do not have binding commitments under the protocol. In
      round 3, which is predicted to happen at the next conference of parties
      meeting in November, we will be the next targets and the probability is
      that we will get 10 years grace period to take on legally binding
      commitments. Forget the fact that our emissions are nowhere close to the
      emissions of the industrialised North.

      As yet our negotiators are blissfully lost in the quagmire of discussions
      on funding and technology transfer. But what we fail to realise is that
      without an effective climate convention we will lose a lot more than
      promises for a fistful of dollars. Emerging science tells us that
      climatic change will result in greater climatic variation and extreme
      events like floods, droughts and cyclones and sea level rise, leaving
      poor people living at the very margins of survival to become even more
      vulnerable. Therefore, it is in the interests of India and other
      developing countries to demand that the industrialised North takes
      effective and measurable action to reduce its emissions. The Kyoto
      compromise will cost the world and us a whole lot more than a new set of
      clothes for the emperor.

      The Kyoto compromise will cost the world and us a whole lot more than a
      new set of clothes for the emperor

      - Anil Agarwal

      (This article is also available online at


      Visit our website at www.cseindia.org and check out what's new. Our
      website carries our science and environment fortnightly Down To Earth, a
      daily environment news flash by subject categories, a catalog of books
      and publications that are available, and all of our recent press
      releases. We also give regular updates on all of our campaigns on topics
      like vehicular pollution, climate change, biodiversity, water resources,
      wildlife, forests, environment education etc. Our online library of
      books, journals, images and videos is searchable through a thesaurus of
      environmental keywords at


      We are also looking for reciprocal linking to other website in this area.
      Let us know your website address and we would be happy to link to you.
      Please feel free to forward this message to other interested individuals.

      Past archives of this bulletin are available at



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      Sucheta Sharma
      Website Unit
      Centre for Science and Environment

      TELE: 608 1110, 608 1124
      608 3394, 608 6399
      FAX : 91-11-608 5879
      VISIT US AT: http://www.cseindia.org

      Email: webadmin@...
    • Manuel Peres Alonso
      ************************************ What s New at CSE? ************************************ A fortnightly electronic news bulletin from the Centre for Science
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 15, 2003
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        What's New at CSE?


        A fortnightly electronic news bulletin from the
        Centre for Science and Environment, India, to our
        network of friends and professionals interested
        in environmental issues. If you wish to unsubscribe,
        please scroll down to the bottom of this page
        for more information


        Latest in Down To Earth Magazine



        The Damodar river flows through one of India's most
        industrialised regions. Following up on a 1993 study,
        Down To Earth revisits the coal dust and slurry-ridden
        river basin to see how it has fared since then.

        -- Damodar in 1993 - The first visit
        (From the DTE archives)

        More in the latest Down To Earth edition:

        Note: For Down To Earth subscribers only



        CSE's bottled water exposé has again brought to surface
        the larger problem of groundwater contamination by
        pesticides Read complete article:




        Most contemporary buildings gobble up energy and spew out
        carbon dioxide. Here's how to manage urban 'heat islands'


        Note: For Down To Earth subscribers only


        >From the Down To Earth Editor's desk



        Last time I wrote about the cycle of poison, where one
        toxic substance is replaced with another, equally toxic,
        one. This cycle, I wrote, is exactly like the modern
        economy where business is profitable only when it comes
        up with profitable solutions for old problems. It is a
        toxic tango, deadly for our health and environment. It
        defies the logic of progress.

        That’s why we desperately need a global compact on product
        impact assessment and liability. Today, the global ecological
        regulatory framework does not penalise the producer if his
        product is dangerous or toxic. Instead, it actually rewards
        him by providing another lucrative market for substitutes.

        International agreements do not even begin to address the
        principle of liability and compensation – holding polluters
        liable to pay damages. Take the Montreal Protocol. Such are
        its terms that industries have been rewarded — many times
        over — for producing chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons
        (CFCs), which threatened the ozone layer. Big CFC
        manufacturers like Du Pont were gifted huge new markets for
        alternative chemicals they produced and the convention

        The fact that one of these ‘alternatives’ -- HFC-134a --
        could now be banned for its climate change potential has no
        material implications for the company marketing the
        chemical. The race to find the environment-friendly
        alternative chemical is not just never-ending, but also
        eternally profitable. In the Montreal Protocol itself, more
        and more chemicals are being added to the phase-out list, but
        not once has the question of holding the manufacturer liable
        been raised, let alone discussed.

        It is the same with pesticides. In 1939, Paul Muller of the
        Swiss-based Geigy Pharmaceuticals discovered how
        effective Dichloro diphenyl trichloethane (DDT) was as an
        insecticide. In 1948 he was awarded the Nobel Prize even as
        Charles Broley, a Canadian banker, found that the pesticide
        sprayed along the coast to control mosquitoes was the
        cause of the decline of the bald-headed eagle. By 1972,
        DDT’s dangers were known and it was banned in the US.

        But markets simply shifted to more lucrative ventures. On
        the one hand industry profited by finding substitutes, often
        more toxic. On the other, they increased exports of DDT and
        many other banned chemicals to developing countries.
        Journalists David Weir and Mark Schapiro in their book
        'Circle of Poison' show that in the 1980s, over 25 per cent
        of the pesticides exported from the US were banned there.

        Manufacturing, too, grew in developing countries, along with
        consumption. But new problems emerged. By the 1990s
        pesticides sprayed in developing countries were making their
        way back to the industrialised world. The poison had come
        full circle. The return route was multiple. One such route
        was food import. In 1996 chlordane -- banned in the US but
        exported by its corporations -- was found in carrots imported
        from Mexico. The second route was via the oceans and
        atmosphere. Pesticides sprayed in the developing world were
        found in the waters of even the remote polar regions of the

        Global action has been multi-pronged. Firstly, the world
        community has negotiated the Stockholm Convention on
        Persistent Organic Pollutants. Under this, 12 organochlorine
        pesticides and industrial chemicals have been targeted for
        global ban. A committee reviews and targets more of these
        pollutants. Secondly, the Rotterdam convention on Prior
        Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous
        Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade was
        adopted. The convention enables countries to express their
        “prior informed consent” before receiving imports of a
        specified list of hazardous and banned chemicals. Again, a
        list – 27 to begin with and 4 added in the last few years.

        But the chain remains unbroken. In India, for instance, toxic
        organochlorine aldrin was banned. It was replaced by another
        insecticide, chlorpyrifos. This insecticide was found in most
        samples of bottled water the Centre for Science and
        Environment recently analysed (see: Down To Earth, Vol 11,
        No 18; Feb. 15, 2003). It is under urgent review the world
        over because of its neuroteratogenic properties. But not
        in India.

        In India, the government does not even think it just or fit
        to disclose the known toxicity of the chemicals registered by
        the Central Insecticides Board. Science and silence go hand
        in hand in a conspiracy that thrills the industry-government

        The problem, scientists will tell you, is that it is
        impossible to know everything about a product when it is
        introduced. The one option is to invest in science for
        ecological security, so that we stay ahead of nasty
        environmental surprises. Environmental assessment of products,
        and not just projects, must be mandatory and more stringent.

        But much more important is to jump ahead. To break the
        cycle. To invent and innovate in products outside the toxicity
        treadmill. But for this new-generation of products, industry
        will need less greed and more foresight.

        It will also need the stick of regulation. One key issue is to
        build a strong liability regime so that the manufacturer is
        warned of the precautions needed to invent products that
        could be profitable in the short-run and toxic in the long-run.
        This liability regime will force manufacturers to take
        life-time responsibility and invest in sustainability.

        Otherwise, progress will just be putrid.

        — Sunita Narain

        To e-mail this editorial, visit:
        WRITE TO THE EDITOR: editor@...


        Gobar Times - Environment for Beginners



        Mud buildings have stood the test of time. Why then do we
        continue to rely on cement & marble?

        More in the latest Gobar Times:


        State of India's Environment: Fifth Report


        An indispensable guide to researchers, policy analysts and
        concerned individuals, the Citizen's Reports on the State of
        India's Environment (SOE) series are a comprehensive dossier
        on environmental issues and challenges in India.

        SOE-5 consists of two parts. The first is a comprehensive
        report on environmental issues, events, policies and
        practices. The second includes a statistical database on
        different aspects of India’s environment.

        Order your copy today:


        CSE Media Fellows: a Profile


        CSE Media Fellowships on Making Water Everybody's
        Business (October 2002-January 2003) has drawn forth
        a varied and interesting selection of news stories and
        features. A profile of the 11 CSE Fellows:



        Documentaries on Freshwater


        CSE's Audio-Visual Unit has recently acquired 6 half-hour
        television documentaries on freshwater issues. Produced by
        TVE international, these documentaries are a part of the
        "Changing Currents" series.

        To buy or borrow these or other environment-related films,
        Kiran (kiran@...) or Ashwini (ashwini@...)


        Tap into a tradition of fiercely independent environmental

        Pay for the print edition and get free access to the Web
        edition. Browse 10 years of research, exclusive features,
        and interactive elements in our comprehensive online archive.

        Give yourself an informed advantage. SUBSCRIBE TODAY!


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