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Obama unveils clean power plan

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Washington:  President Barack Obama unveiled a plan to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants citing how global climate changes were affecting the world with more storms, droughts and floods and decimating crops from India to Africa.
“This is our moment to get this right and leave something better for our kids,” he said calling his Clean Power Plan “the single most important step America has ever taken in the fight against global climate change.”

“Climate change is no longer just about the future we’re predicting for our children or our grandchildren, it’s about the reality that we’re living with every day – right now,” said Obama pointing to stronger storms, deeper droughts and more frequent floods.

White House says the revised Clean Power Plan seeks to increase the required cuts in carbon emissions from the power sector, demanding they be slashed 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030-up from the 30 percent requirement in the original draft regulation.

Obama said such a reduction means “we’ll be keeping 870 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution out of our atmosphere.”

Earlier addressing the Young African Leaders Initiative Presidential Summit Town Hall, Obama said “Global climate change will affect everybody.”

“And because the changes could be so severe, frankly, the countries that are most likely to be adversely affected are the poorer countries because they have less margin for error.”

“So if you have changing weather patterns in, let’s say, the Indian Subcontinent, and the monsoon rains shift, suddenly you could have millions of people whose crops completely fail,” Obama said.

“Well, the same is true in Africa-if rain patterns and drought starts changing, subsistence farmers are completely vulnerable,” he said.

Asked how Obama’s Clean Power Plan relates to world climate summit in Paris in December, his press secretary Josh Earnest cited “lot of success” in getting significant commitments from several countries including India, China and Brazil.

“We have had a lot of success in getting other countries to make significant commitments alongside the United States when we make important domestic commitments when it comes to reducing carbon pollution.”

During Obama’s visit to China last November, China had made a significant commitment to “cap carbon emissions in China on or around 2030.”

“We saw a similar dynamic when President (Dilma) Rousseff of Brazil visited the White House, where both Presidents made a commitment to reduce carbon emissions,” he said.

“We saw commitments from India when it comes to the deployment of renewable energy technology.”

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Diesel Exhaust Converted Into Ink by Indian Innovators To Battle Air Pollution

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

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representational image. VOA

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

In a cabin, young engineers pore over drawings and hunch over computers as they explore more applications of the technology that they hope will aid progress in cleaning up the Indian capital’s toxic air – among the world’s dirtiest.

While the millions of cars that ply Delhi’s streets are usually blamed for the city’s deadly air pollution, another big culprit is the massive diesel generators used by industries and buildings to light up homes and offices during outages when power from the grid switches off – a frequent occurrence in summer. Installed in backyards and basements, they stay away from the public eye.

“Although vehicular emissions are the show stoppers, they are the ones which get the media attention, the silent polluters are the diesel generators,” says Arpit Dhupar, one of the three engineers who co-founded the start up.

The idea that this polluting smoke needs attention struck Dhupar three years ago as he sipped a glass of sugarcane juice at a roadside vendor and saw a wall blackened with the fumes of a diesel generator he was using.

It jolted him into joining with two others who co-founded the start-up to find a solution. Dhupar had experienced first hand the deadly impact of this pollution as he developed respiratory problems growing up in Delhi.

An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.
An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.

A new business

As the city’s dirty air becomes a serious health hazard for many citizens, it has turned into both a calling and a business opportunity for entrepreneurs looking at ways to improve air quality.

According to estimates, vehicles contribute 22 percent of the deadly PM 2.5 emissions in Delhi, while the share of diesel generators is about 15 percent. These emissions settle deep into the lungs, causing a host of respiratory problems.

After over two years of research and development, Chakr has begun selling devices to tap the diesel exhaust. They have been installed in 50 places, include public sector and private companies.

The technology involves cooling the exhaust in a “heat exchanger” where the tiny soot particles come together. These are then funneled into another chamber that captures 70 to 90 percent of the particulate matter. The carbon is isolated and converted into ink.

Among their first clients was one of the city’s top law firms, Jyoti Sagar Associates, which is housed in a building in Delhi’s business hub Gurgaon.

Making a contribution to minimizing the carbon footprint is a subject that is close to Sagar’s heart – his 32-year-old daughter has long suffered from the harmful effects of Delhi’s toxic air.

Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.
Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.

“This appealed to us straightaway, the technology is very impactful but is beautifully simple,” says Sagar. Since it could be retrofitted, it did not disrupt the day-to-day activities at the buzzing office. “Let’s be responsible. Let’s at least not leave behind a larger footprint of carbon. And if we can afford to control it, why not, it’s good for all,” he says.

At Chakr Innovation, cups, diaries and paper bags printed with the ink made from the exhaust serve as constant reminders of the amount of carbon emissions that would have escaped into the atmosphere.

There has been a lot of focus on improving Delhi’s air by reducing vehicular pollution and making more stringent norms for manufacturers, but the same has not happened for diesel generators. Although there are efforts to penalize businesses that dirty the atmosphere, this often prompts them to find ways to get around the norms.

Also Read: Exposure to Traffic-Related Pollution Poses Threat of Asthma in Kids

Tushar Mathur who joined the start up after working for ten years in the corporate sector feels converting smoke into ink is a viable solution. “Here is a technology which is completely sustainable, a win-win between businesses and environment,” says Mathur. (VOA)