Climate Weekly: Petcoke, a looming public health threat

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Heavy air pollution hangs over over Connaught Place, New Delhi (Pic: Ville Miettinen/Flickr)


It sounds cute. When Karl Mathiesen searched for it on a stock photo website, he got a dog in 3-D glasses holding a soft drink cup.

But petcoke is not so innocuous. A byproduct of oil refining, the solid fuel burns dirtier than coal.

A surge in imports from the more heavily regulated US is fuelling a public health crisis in India’s cities, Aditi Roy Ghatak reports from Delhi.

Diesel habit

In Europe, governments are encouraging the use of diesel with tax breaks worth €21 billion a year. It accounts for a major chunk of annual fossil fuel subsidies totalling €112bn from the EU and 11 member states.

That was revealed in a report by the Overseas Development Institute and Climate Action Network Europe.

These “shocking” incentives are holding back the transition to clean transport, said lead author Shelagh Whitley.

Concession to Trump?

Donald Trump says he wants to re-engage with the Paris Agreement on terms “more favourable” to the US. His administration remains vague on the technicalities.

Those more familiar with the agreement helpfully filled in the gaps. EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete suggested that would mean revising US targets.

But developing country negotiators responded angrily to this normalisation of the idea that the US could be allowed to backslide on ambition, Arthur Neslen reported.

South African diplomat Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, who led the G77 bloc in Paris negotiations, dismissed Cañete as “all drama and no action”. Burn.

After the story was published, Cañete’s advisers denied he had made any concession to Trump.

Jamaica coalition

Germany is expecting to form a “Jamaica coalition” after its election left Angela Merkel’s party (colour: black) reliant on the Greens (er, green) and Free Democrats (yellow) to build a working majority in parliament.

The Greens will push for a timetable to phase out coal use, Clean Energy Wire reports, and clean transport policies. But their fellow junior coalition partner is opposed to such measures. A lot rides on who wins control of the energy department in coalition talks, which could take months.

Fired up

Six Portuguese children are lined up for perhaps the most ambitious climate lawsuit ever proposed, against multiple governments signed up to the European Court of Human Rights.

Represented by the Global Legal Action Network, the kids aged 6 to 14 are motivated by witnessing deadly forest fires in their area, lawyers said. They will call for tougher emissions targets and limits on fossil fuel production to protect their human rights.

First, they need money. A crowdfunding campaign has raised £12,000 ($14,000) towards an initial £20,000 target in five days.

Forest diamonds

In an incredible tale of family rivalry and clashing ideologies, Fabiano Maisonnave reports from the Amazon on the collapse of the first indigenous-led forest carbon credit scheme.

The hostility of a Catholic church group towards carbon markets drove a wedge between cousins with competing visions for the Paiter-Suruí tribe.

It opened the door to diamond mining, which has laid waste to swathes of the forest reserve. Essential reading for anyone grappling with the knotty problem of how to protect vast tropical rainforests.

And finally…

What’s that? You want to see this stock photo? Go on then, here it is:

Read more on: Climate politics