Cutting carbon emissions
Coal fired power plants are the biggest source of manmade CO2 emissions. This makes coal energy the single greatest threat our climate faces. In India up to 40 percent of our current CO2 emissions comes from coal fired power stations.
To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, including widespread drought, flooding and massive population displacement caused by rising sea levels, we need to keep global temperature rise below 2ºC (compared to pre-industrial levels). To do this, global greenhouse gases emission must peak by 2015 and go down to zero from there.
India is the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide after China and the US. Its emissions are expected to have significant growth over the next 20 years or so. Our emissions come from various activities but the largest share is from the electricity sector because of the way we produce most of our electricity today.
Coal based power plants produce 70 percent of our electricity needs and 40 percent of our total carbon dioxide emissions. If we want to play a significant, responsible role in tackling climate change, we must lead the way by reducing our dependence on coal and finding newer, cleaner ways to produce electricity.
Our coal campaign highlights the impacts of coal in our energy mix, on the people and environment. We have an opportunity to build the energy infrastructure of the future and must seize it.
There is a huge surge in coal mining and the number of coal fired power plants in the guise of meeting electricity demands and development for the country. However coal cannot deliver India’s growth and development aspirations beyond a few years. It is neither a secure nor a sustainable energy option.
In fact it is a risky investment for the industries and the government. The campaign will demonstrate that supply of coal is severely limited by social and economical factors, making it a dead investment in the medium and long term. The campaign will also make the case that going down the coal route will be costly for India’s global image and long term development interests.
A lot of our coal is found under the few remaining heavily forested areas of our country or where there are a large number of people living. To get to the coal we must either cut down the forests and/or displace large numbers of people from these regions. When people are displaced, they need to be rehabilitated to similar places where they can rebuild their lives. Given that land is not easy to come by we will not be able to provide people replacements for what they are expected to lose.
So while we theoretically have a lot of coal, there are unacceptable things that may be done to actually be able to use it. Therefore, we must stop looking at coal as an option and start by reducing our dependence on it beginning right now.
We will investigate and publicise the true cost of coal and urge people and policy makers to make the right choices.