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Latest Messages:

November 24, 2005 CSE Newsletter

Previous Messages:

September 22, 2005 Newsletter

March 15, 2003 Newsletter

You can find CSE archives of past newsletters on their website.



November 24, 2005 CSE Newsletter

An e-bulletin from the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), India, to our network of friends and professionals interested in environmental issues. Scroll to the bottom of this page for information on how to unsubscribe.


- Cover Story: Money plant-What is behind the rush to biodiesel
- Editorial: C for Clean
- Analysis: Fowl Play - Avian flu and India's poultry sector
- Science crucified: Science against religion duel on stem cells
- News: Drug price conundrum baffles Supreme Court task force
- Books: Special offer on publications on water
- Film: 'The Rain Catchers'



Cover Story: Money plant - What is behind the rush to biodiesel


A shrub called Jatropha (used to make biodiesel) is promising to cut India's 100,000 Crore (US$ 20 billion) oil import bill, generate employment in poor areas, reduce pollution and put the country's so called 'wasteland' to good use. The government is aggressively pushing the production of biodiesel in any way it can including giving 'wasteland' (read village common property) to industry. But industry is eager to supply the EU demand for biodiesel rather than cater to domestic needs. And their business models might completely sideline the rural economy.

Read the complete article online >>


Editorial: C for Clean


I remember many years ago receiving a call from a bbc journalist asking which villages in India should they visit to see the impacts of climate change. This was the early 1990s. I was puzzled and asked "is climate change here?" Finally the television crew decided to shoot urban fires in Delhi and drought in Rajasthan to tell their viewers about how India was reeling under the impact of changing climate because of increased greenhouse gas emissions.

I wonder what I'd say if I got a similar call today. Would I point to recent cloudbursts and cyclonic events, which have more or less drowned several major metropolitan cities in the country? Would I point to the obvious variations and extreme weather events - from heat waves to freak snow episodes - to say that our climate has changed? Clearly the answer isn't simple. It is true every Indian city that has drowned under the weight of its rain has suffered because of the progressive mismanagement at the hands of its city managers. It is true also that the intensity of floods and drought has increased because we have made the poor even more vulnerable to weather events - either by destroying the wetlands that absorbed the water or by simply ruining the land economies of people, which would sustain them in times of stress.

It is also true that our weather is changing. In other words, we have a double-whammy - already stressed regions and people who will be further hit. It is imperative that we reduce our vulnerabilities by doing 'good' development - investing in the natural resource base of people to mitigate against drought and floods. Simultaneous it is also imperative that we reduce global emissions so that the threat of climate change is contained.

It is for this reason that the world governments party to the convention on climate change came up with the Clean Development Mechanism (cdm). The idea was simple: the industrialised north had to reduce its emissions, partly because its emissions were already leading to the threats of climate change and partly because to provide economic and ecological space for the South to increase its emissions.

Two facts were clear: one the North could really not reduce its emissions substantially as it could not de-link from the fossil fuel economy that drives growth. Two, the South did not have to make the mistakes of the emission-flatulent parts of the world. It could re-engineer its growth trajectory so that it would be more efficient or less dependent on fossil fuels. It was this reasoning that lead to cdm - so that the North could pay for the cleaner development in the South and get credits in its own carbon balance sheet. It was to be a win-win situation.

This was not to be. In our study of the working of cdm (see 'Newest, Biggest Deal', Down To Earth, November 15, 2005) we find that it has become a market mechanism simply - an agreement between private parties looking to make a fast buck. It is, as we show, not just the complicated development mechanism but also the corrupt development mechanism, which is leading to poor quality projects.

It is important to consider why this is so. It will be easy for commentators in the developed world to blame these transgressions - corruption or poor project design - on the governments and industries of the South. But the answer is not so simple.

The fact is that governments (rich) have worked overtime on the design of cdm so that it is what it is today. For instance, the rules and procedures that have been developed for cdm are extremely convoluted and cumbersome and are leading to ineffective projects at the country level. Take the criterion for "additionality" - what can be done without a cdm project - which is in turn leading to really creative carbon accounting and poor quality projects. In fact the current rules create perverse incentives for governments to do little to combat climate change.

These over-developed criteria are purportedly the response of the rich governments and their ngos to protect against "business-as-usual" dirty projects, which they believe Southern government would want to push through in the garb of cdm. They don't trust the poor country governments. The result is bad rules made for bad projects.

The second problem concerns high transaction cost (and procedures) - because of the compulsory involvement of private auditors and their procedures, which in turn negates the involvement of community and small projects in cdm. This was done by rich governments and their ngos to protect against the lack of credible procedures in the South.

But look at the end result. The procedure stipulates that the project proponent hires the consultant to do the project design and then hires the authorised validator to certify the project, based on the consultant's report. In other words, the entire process is regulated by mutual self-interest. It is no wonder that Down To Earth indicted two internationally acclaimed auditors - namely, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young - for fraudulent project design documents.

I could go on. But the moot point is that the design of cdm is flawed. It keeps prices low; it forces the South to discount its advantage in reducing emissions. It does little for combating climate change. If the threat of climate change is real, then the answers to it must also get real. cdm is a half-way house because it does not build a global climate regime based on entitlements for all. But it can deliver the building blocks of a cleaner tomorrow. For this we must do things differently. Much more differently.
- Sunita Narain <editor@downtoearth.org.in>

Read this editorial online >>


Gobar Times Environment for Children


Railways have always been the wheels of our country's economy. History provides ample proof for that. In India, the British laid down the first tracks to keep the cotton mills in Lancashire rolling. The trend continues-all our core commodities are transported via trains, even today. Yet, why is our prime carrier so bedraggled?


Also in Down To Earth magazine


Fowl Play:
India is visited by 5-20 million migratory birds every year. The country's poultry industry is also the world's fifth largest. Conditions seem ripe for an avian flu pandemic. But is the role of the migratory birds in the spread of the virus a red herring? How is the government preparing and what will the effect of plans be on the 3 million strong unorganised poultry sector.

Read complete in-depth analysis>>


Science Crucified:
Hot on the heels of an animated public referrendum on stem cell research, Italy holds a conference that pits religion against science.


Read complete article >>


No lifesaver this:
Price controls on essential medicines make manufacturers reluctant to produce them. Yet imposing no controls make them unaffordable. A special task force set up by the Supreme Court proposes solutions to the puzzle. But does it give the right answer?


Read complete article >>


CSE Books, Films


A fresh look at water:

A package of 5 CSE publications covers the theoretical and practical aspects of water policy, management and implementation in India.

"Making Water Everybody's Business" and "Dying Wisdom" analyses the technologies, traditions and policies of water management.
The "Water Harvesters' Manual", "Wastewater Recycling Manual" and "Tanks of South India" give you all you need to practically implement urban water harvesting and wastewater management.


The Rain Catcher

CSE's latest film is a clear and comprehensive resource guide. It answers all your questions about rainwater harvesting and documents successful case studies ranging from slums to sports stadiums. Covers policy dimensions, products, technologies and maintenance issues across India.

For questions contact>>


CSE is an independent, public interest organisation that was established in 1982 by Anil Agarwal, a pioneer of India's environmental movement. CSE's mandate is to research, communicate and promote sustainable development with equity, participation and democracy.

Contact CSE: E-mail: < cse@cseindia.org >
Address: 41 Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi - 110062

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© Centre for Science and Environment


Front Page, Week Of:

4/16/05: Spectre to Introduce U.S. Asbestos Bill This Week

5/22/05: Individuals Injured by Asbestos Exposure Oppose Specter's Trust Fund Legislation

10/16/05: Victim's Organizations Form Asbestos Victims Coalition in Opposition to Asbestos Trust Fund Legislation

11/17/05: White Lung Mourns Jose Jesus Pessora

12/18/05: Frist Introducing Asbestos Bill in January

12/04/06: Asbestos Watch Newsletter: Help Celebrate the 27th Anniversary of the WHITE LUNG ASSOCIATION

Jim Fite's Alerts:

Asbestos Victim's Superfund Compensation Program

Asbestos Watch March 14, 2005 (Maryland chapter of the White Lung Association meetings)

Directorate of Safety, Health, and Environment (open letter)


Joe Oliver's Alerts:

Joe Oliver, National Board Member and former President of the White Lung Association, has issued a call to all persons to help gather evidence on the conspiracy by asbestos trade organizations to suppress the knowledge about the hazards of asbestos exposure.

If you know anything about this horrific history or have documents which can be used to further prove their heinous crimes, please contact Joe Oliver, WLA, POB 1483, Balt. MD 21203.

Leonard Makowski's Alerts:

The White Lung Association stands in opposition to The Specter Bill (S.852)

WLA Alerts & News

S.1115: Bill to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act to reduce the health risks posed by asbestos-containing products - This bill is supported by the WLA.

Meet Mr. Asbestos

Proceedings of the Asbestos Symposium for the Asian Countries - now available for purchase.

Australia Bans Asbestos!



Senator Specter Breaks Promise to Mesothelioma Patient and Research Community

Senate Judiciary Committee returns to Mark-Up on May 11th: Proposed asbestos trust fund legislation will further penalize victims of asbestos-caused diseases


British Asbestos Newsletter:

The latest issue is Spring 2005


News from India:

The latest issue is January 4, 2007



December 17, 2000 is Asbestos Hazard Awareness Day


Current Projects:

Asbestos Museum


Articles & Publications:

Occupational Respiratory Diseases: Asbestos Associated Disease -- Reprinted from: Maxcy-Rosenau Public Health and Preventative Medicine 11th ed. (John M. Last, Ed.) 1980, Appleton-Century-Crofts

Asbestos Victims Deserve Compensation Not Betrayal: position release by the Board of Directors, White Lung Association



In Memoria:

Paul Safchuck May 21, 2003

Dr. William Nicholson Dies at 70

Ray Sentes Brave Fighter For Asbestos Victims

For more information please contact info whitelung org.