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Saturday, December 13, 2008

National anti-coal power movement launched in Udupi

Various people’s movements from across the country met in Udupi, Karnataka, on December 6 and 7, 2008, to form a national-level platform to organise and offer non-violent and informed opposition and resistance to coal-fired thermal power plants (CFTPPs). The National Network of Movements Opposing Coal-Fired Power Plants was kickstarted on December 6, Global Day of Action on Climate Change.

Coal is the most polluting of energy sources and the dominant source of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions which are largely responsible for global warming.

“India should re-think its addiction to coal power because it is one of the dirtiest sources of energy today. It involves displacement of communities and disregard for their constitutional right to life and livelihood, causes irreparable damage to the local environment and health of people, and, in addition, is now established as a major contributor to climate change,” said Dr Ashok Kundapur from Udupi.

Also speaking on the occasion, Vinuta Gopal, climate and energy campaigner, Greenpeace India, said that India should see the climate change crisis as an opportunity for a low carbon development pathway. “Nothing less than an energy revolution, phasing out coal and ensuring massive uptake of clean and renewable energy will secure our energy needs even as we contribute to the global struggle to combat climate change,” Gopal said.

Representatives of people’s movements from Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Karnataka were present at the event, which was organised in Udupi to lend support to the people’s movement against the Nagarjuna coal-fired thermal power plant there.

Shailendra Yashwant, campaigns director, Greenpeace South East Asia, narrated how the people of Prachuab Kiri Kahn in Thailand and Iloilo in the Philippines drove out proposals to build coal plants whose emissions were detrimental to the health and livelihood of surrounding communities. “There is a worldwide tide against coal, and it was only a question of when, not whether, coal would be a fossil dinosaur one day,” he said.

A common charter was formed to make the platform an influential voice in the debate on people’s development, energy and climate change. The aims of the network are to challenge the current expansion of CFTPPs and to shift the focus to energy efficiency and clean renewable technologies.

According to a Greenpeace report ‘The Real Cost of Coal’, across the planet, 11 billion tonnes of CO2 come from coal-fired power generation every year. In 2005, this made up just about 41% of all fossil fuel CO2 emissions. If plans to build new coal-fired power plants go ahead, CO2 emissions from coal will increase to 60% by 2030.

The report says that while coal may be the cheapest fossil fuel on the market, its market price is only half the story. The huge costs paid in terms of the tremendous human and environmental damage it causes has never been fully calculated.


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