Letter from the Editor: climate change, and reducing pollution in the UK

It feels like it’s only been the blink of an eye since the last set of international discussions on the environment in Johannesburg. Now it’s India’s turn to host a major convention, this time on climate change. The question is, will it produce more hot air than it mitigates in emissions reductions, or could this be a step towards making the Kyoto Protocol a success?

If new research into CO2 emissions in developing countries is anything to go by, the future may be rosy. Between them, China, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, India and Mexico could have reduced their emissions by as much as 19% – although in some cases unintentionally.

But you had better be careful over the type of car that you drive. New research from the US has revealed that there may be problems with policies that promote low carbon dioxide-emitting diesel vehicles. Apparently, the soot that they produce more than makes up for any climate change benefits from low CO2 emissions.

At home, the UK can cut its CO2 emissions by closing its coal power stations, says the Institute of Public Policy Research. More easily said than done, maybe, but their emissions are increasing, with output from coal-power generation up by 9.6% in 2001 and by 13% in 2000.

Another action that sounds as though it is more easily said than done, is to get an environmental group to admit that the situation with pollution is improving. However, this week Friends of the Earth (FoE) have done just that, with the latest update of their Factory Watch programme. According to FoE, industrial pollution has fallen by 48% since 1998.

Kind regards

Helen André


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