MIT’s Sloan Automotive Laboratory, an offshoot of the MIT Alliance for Global Sustainability, is making remarkable strides forward in the quest for efficiency and cleanliness of auto engines. Its parent program is researching initiatives from auto CO2 reductions to emissions mitigation in East Asian megacities. Worldwide, governments, research institutes and schools are forging ahead on technologies that reduce our greenhouse gases-and, it’s hoped, moderate the harm of climate change.
But how realistic is this approach? Hundreds of nonprofits and governments worldwide have staked their approach on a technology-driven solution that mitigates climate change by removing its causes from the atmosphere. If it were revealed that in the best case scenario these efforts will not be enough, where does it leave us?
China is not a ‘status quo’ power but one that would like to alter Asia’s balance of power in its own favor – Condoleezza Rice, 2000
As the 14th ASEAN summit gets ready to kick off in Pattaya, Thailand this week, climate change may be an unlikely source of debate. The role of climate action in ASEAN nations is intricately linked to the looming presence of China, and lately China-ASEAN cooperation has bloomed. Chinese sources in particular stress the importance of “mutually beneficial cooperation” with ASEAN on economic and climate issues. In fact, the ASEAN secretariat and China’s environment ministry recently inked a draft environmental protection strategy (see sidebar) focusing heavily on climate change. Moreover, last September ASEAN secretary general Surin Pitsuwan praised a memorandum of understanding between ASEAN and China’s Guangdong province.
The auto world was abuzz this week as Indian carmaker Tata Motors unveiled the Nano, a four-door, pint-sized sedan that will soon go on sale in India. Beyond its diminutive stature and no-frills interior, the Nano is turning heads because of its price: 100,000 rupees or a mere $2,500 USD. Sales projections still vary wildly, but many analysts agree that the hyper-affordable Nano could bring car ownership – and its social prestige – to a vast swath of rapidly developing India.