Act now to prevent climate change or rehabilitate 12.5 crore people – Greenpeace warns

Press release - April 29, 2008
NEW DELHI, India — In a dramatic action early this morning, singer Rabbi joined Greenpeace activists who have occupied "prime real estate" and set up a "migrant colony" of hutments 35 ft above the Delhi Noida toll bridge. This occupation will continue all day and will highlight the urgency of creating a National Climate Action plan (NCAP) that focuses on taking action now to prevent climate change. Indications are that the government's approach to the NCAP is to wait and deal with the nightmarish consequences through "adaptation".

Rabbi joins Greenpeace activists as they occupy a billboard in Delhi to highlight the effects of Climate Change.

The Greenpeace report, 'Blue Alert - Climate Migrants in South Asia: Estimates and Solutions' (1), authored by Dr. Sudhir Chella Rajan professor of Humanities & Social Sciences at IIT Madras, warns that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow under the business-as-usual scenario as projected, leading to global temperature rise by 4-5°C, the South Asian region is estimated to face an enormous wave of 12.5 crore climate migrants. These people will be displaced by the impacts of climate change, including sea level rise and drought associated with shrinking water supplies and monsoon variability. The report states that if global and local policy measures are implemented to keep global warming below the 2°C tipping point, then the number of displaced can be reduced by 95%.

Speaking at Jantar Mantar, from the Sangharsh rally bringing together peoples' movements impacted by issues of displacement, social activist Medha Patkar on behalf of NAPM (National Alliance of Peoples' Movements) said, "Every project displaced person in India is a living proof of the utter immorality and callousness of the Indian state and the complete failure of rehabilitation in the country. It is shocking that given this track record, the government should even talk about rehabilitating 12.5 crore people.  The only real option is to prevent this disaster by acting on climate change. There is little doubt that creating decentralized energy options based on renewable energy will lead to true economic development while avoiding disastrous large projects and preventing climate change. We must insist on such a vision"

Climate Migrant Sukamal Sahoo from Ganga Sagar in the Sunderbans who had come down to Delhi to demand action from the Government said, "I have already lost my home once to the sea, and maybe I will again. More than half of Goramara in the Sunderbans where I lived is now under water. Climate change has not only changed my family's geography, but my identity as well. My social status as son of Panchayat Pradhan has been washed away along with my land."

Taking time off specially to highlight the issue of climate change, singer Rabbi spent the day in the scorching summer heat in Delhi, as an activist on the billboard, to talk to Delhi about what could be if global warming was not addressed. "I have realized that every thing we do can either hurt or save the climate, and our future depends on the choices we make. No one can afford to stand by and watch on the issue of climate change. 12.5 crore homeless people is shocking. We can not live in our cocooned gated colonies, we need to take a stand on climate change and that is why I am here today. It's clear to me that we need to prevent this catastrophe and I'm willing to stick my neck out for that."

Greenpeace is concerned that the National Climate Action Plan is being decided with no public debate whatsoever. Climate and Energy campaigner Natasha Chandy, also an activist on the billboard said, "The Blue Alert Campaign in vulnerable coastal cities, showed us that the citizens and coastal MPs want action now to prevent climate change. They are not taken in by the government's claim that we can do business as usual and adapt to climate change when it happens. It is shameful that the government that uses the low per capita emissions of the poor as a justification to avoid international obligations to tackle climate change should so callously put millions of the same poor at risk by its inaction. We demand that the government stops hiding behind the poor (2) and frames a NCAP that aims at containing global warming below 2°C."

For further information, contact

Vinuta Gopal, Greenpeace Climate & Energy campaigner: +91 9845535418

Shweta Ganesh, Greenpeace Communications: +91 9845068125

Notes to Editor

(1) Blue Alert – Climate Migrants in South Asia: Estimates and Solutions, a paper authored by Dr Sudhir Chella Rajan, professor of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Madras, and a climate expert was released on the 25th of March in Kolkata.

The report can be downloaded at:

(2) Hiding behind the Poor: Greenpeace released a report on the internal climate injustice in India in November last year. The report can be found online at the following link: