Only an Energy Revolution will save the Ganges says Greenpeace

Press release - December 5, 2008
VARANASI, India — On the eve of the Global Day of Action on Climate Greenpeace highlighted the threat from global warming to the Ganges and called for an Energy [R]evolution[i] to save the iconic river from drying up. A flotilla of local boats carrying 15 ft replicas of windmills floated down the river to call for a shift from a carbon intensive energy pathway to one that focuses on clean renewable energy. Local boatmen and citizens joined Greenpeace in the activity at the Dasashvamedh Ghat demanding global action to save the Ganges that was their very lifeline.

Greenpeace floated windmill replicas on the banks of the Ganga in the mystical city of Varanasi to draw attention to the impacts of climate change on the Ganga and show how starting an Energy [R]evolution is the way forward. Local boatmen and citizens are seen joining the activity.

Dr. Virbhadra Mishra, Mahant (Head Priest) Sankat Mochan Temple hailed for his efforts to clean up the Ganga, spoke of the importance of the river to millions. He said, "About 400 million people look to the Ganga as a primary source of freshwater. No other river in the world supports such a large population's livelihood. Ganga is the focal point where all the diversity, faith and culture of India unite and we cannot imagine India without her."

Recent studies, including one carried out by the India's Department of Science and Technology[ii] have found that the Gangotri glacier, which supplies 70 per cent of the flow during the dry season is shrinking at a alarming pace. Fears are being expressed that the glaciers could retreat completely by 2035 making the Ganges a seasonal river, jeopardizing the lives of more than 50 crore people[iii].

"We are running out of time to save the Ganga. Accelerated global warming would cause irreparable damage and we must do everything we can to prevent that. The solutions are available. We can address energy security, electricity for all while reducing Green House Gas emissions by switching to Renewable Energy and using energy efficiently. The time for this is now, not after we have lost the Ganga" said Brikesh Singh, Greenpeace India Climate & Energy Campaigner

The December 1-12 talks in Poznan, taking place under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are intended to serve as a springboard to an ambitious new treaty to slash emissions of greenhouse gases beyond 2012. Only seven years are left, for global emissions of greenhouse gases to peak and then start declining, in order to stem warming to around two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. The world cannot hope to cope with the devastation of climate chaos, it needs action to prevent it, and the time for that action is NOW.

For further information, contact

Jagdish Bahadur, Glaciologist, +91 9899598313 .

Dr. Virbhadra Mishra, Mahant (Head Priest), Sankat Mochan Temple, +91 542 2313884 (between 4 and 8.30pm),

Brikesh Singh, Climate and Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace, +91 98800 92210


Sama Adil, Media Officer, Greenpeace, +91 99009 70627 ,

Notes to Editor

[i] The Energy [R]evolution - a sustainable global energy outlook.

[ii] According to data of the Geological Survey of India (GSI), between 1935 and 1996 the Gangotri retreated by 1,147 m (i.e. average rate of 19 m a year)

[iii] Impact of retreat of Gangotri glacier on Ganga.