TED Conversations

Yogesh Gupta

Reservoir Engineer, Shell International E&P

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Blame the Chinese or Hate the Indians?

The real motive of this post is to express a different view to the use of energy. Till date we measure the use of energy that is locally consumed. For an example, if you are using a computer to post a comment, the energy that is used by this computer is measured by US as energy consumed in the country. But the energy that is required to manufacture the computer, international transport, packaging ( also remind you, all the small small spare parts travelling from one country to the other just before it's ready for assembly) is not counted as energy consumed in US because all this energy was burnt in many developing countries.

Now when we talk about CO2 emissions, US will measure the CO2 emissions and its responsibility towards the environment based on energy consumed by the use of computer, not based on the whole chain of manufacturing, etc.

Developing nations are now held responsible for controlling its CO2 emissions at the cost of its growth, citing reasons that they need to play a responsible role in the world. But developed nations forget that just using renewable energy in their country will not solve the emission problem. They need to also invest in developing nations and NOT just encourage to use renewable energy or stop using computer for example to contribute to this world.

Full blog link: http://yogeshpgupta.wordpress.com/

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    Dec 11 2012: I agree that there should not be a blame game in this issue. My aim is to create awareness in developed nations.
    The developed nations have the ability to change this emission scenario by simply improving spending habits on non essentials. This would reduce the demand in the market and the CO2 that is emitted in the process will also be reduced.

    You rightly mentioned that alternative clean energy is a must. But we do not have that currently. So will it not make sense to slow down and buy more time until a solution is found?

    This slowdown in demand has to come from developed nations. This slowdown from developed nations will come ONLY once there is a realization in the common man that due to his demands the emissions are not going down (which are satisfied through burning fossil fuels locally and internationally).
    The realization is already present for locally burned fossil fuels but NOT for internationally burnt fossil fuels.

    My aim hence is to make the common man in developed nations aware that internationally burnt energy is also their responsibility not just local burnt energy.
  • Dec 11 2012: I think one of the major reasons this is happening is not that the US doesn't give enough financial aid to India and China in order to make their power plants greener, but more that their corrupt local governments often refuse to acknowledge the environmental issues and instead focus more on quelling any notion for spending more on it and on many occasions take extra money for themselves. To this day the caste system in India has led to generations of Indian parliament members from the same families who spend all their money on office buildings or funding IT companies instead of helping the poor or in this case, building more sustainable power facilities. On top of that most intelligent Indian students are either studying to be engineers or doctors in the US meaning their leaders aren't going to become better in this area.
    In China, I think it's somewhat of a mix between the corruption and the fact that their culture focuses heavily on economic growth rather than conservation. Take for example the new modular building techniques recently used in Hunan Province. Instead of using normal steel beams and having a construction site, factories pre-assemble individual floors in order to finalize it in about 2 weeks. One of the builders said this technique will "speed up our environmental thinking" and that "we need buildings like this all over China". While it is more sustainable, the project seems more about the fact that China has the capability to quickly set up 20 buildings in a week, rather than solving their environmental problems. Many policies to stop further factory construction in China are not followed, usually local officials choosing the immediate economic benefits of the polluting buildings instead of the long term sustainable ones. The current parent generations in China and India especially are for the most part making their children lead a life of efficient money making instead of long term, creative thinking, that is the main difference with the US.
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    Dec 12 2012: Yogesh, I hate the blame game and all of the finger pointing .... so here is my quick take.

    This is a delicate issue. Developing countries need to assess the trade balance as part of the economic growth. Investors from all countries are looking for the most effective deal based on costs. If the country tries to push the cost of clean and efficient power generation on to the customer then they will just go elsewhere. The government must make expendatures to entice more business. If you government invests in education, and accommidations to generate business then it will be repaid many times over.

    Germany and Japan are good examples of countries that made big turn arounds after their wars.
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    Dec 11 2012: You are right; developed countries have to contribute to the development of clean and sustainable energy sources in nations where they have investments.
    But it is the responsibility of the developed nations to formulate and implement policies that would guide the operation of investors.
  • Dec 11 2012: Maybe we should all view a clean envfironment as the common heritage of man, but we all have a problem.
  • Dec 11 2012: One of the little addressed situations with regard to global warming gasses is that liquified natural gas can replace gasoline and diesel---the only trouble is that natural gas has 75X the effect on global warming that CO^2 has so let's hope that none of the fracking for natural gas releases a lot of natural gas into the biosphere!