Sunday, October 25, 2009


Sweden is in the forefront as far as the control of greenhouse gas emission is concerned taking unilateral initiatives, instead of waiting for any global consensus that is eluding the world due to unwillingness of many developed countries to cut down on emissions. World average emission is estimate at about 1688 kilogram of oil equivalent (kgoe) per person where as in India it is less than 30% of the above figure. A rich country like USA emits 7900 kgoe of CO2 per person!. Economic aspirations of developing countries can be met only if they are not pressurized to cut down on emissions very drastically as fossil fuel is the main driving engine for progress, in the absence of any viable alternate option. This was orchestrated by no less a person than Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh when he said recently that India would not agree for drastic reduction of such emissions that would choke its economic growth.

Food sector both production and processing is known to be a source of heavy CO2 emissions and it is believed that the eating practices world over must change shifting more towards foods with less and less carbon print. The initiative in Sweden envisages declaring on the label CO2 emission caused by each product before arriving at the market shelf. "The Swedish effort grew out of a 2005 study by Sweden's national environmental agency on how personal consumption generates emissions. Researchers found that 25 percent of national per capita emissions — two metric tons per year — was attributable to eating. The government realized that encouraging a diet that tilted more toward chicken or vegetables and educating farmers on lowering emissions generally could have an enormous impact. Sweden has been a world leader in finding new ways to reduce emissions. It has vowed to eliminate the use of fossil fuel for electricity by 2020 and cars that run on gasoline by 2030"

Obviously there is a disconnect between the intention behind such a move and the preparedness of the consumer to understand and appreciate the initiative. Abstract numbers of CO2 emission may not carry much meaning unless it is correlated to a scale of acceptable to unacceptable figures and consumer is educated about understanding the concept. Probably in a country like Sweden this could be done with little effort as environmental awareness there is high and per capita income is one of the highest in the world. Eventually every country will have to emulate Sweden, if this planet is to be saved from misery and destruction through environmental degradation. .


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