The rapidly emerging economy of two of the world’s most populous countries – China and India (now popular as Chindia) that have been on the expressway to ‘development’ is not going unnoticed in the global financial market. As the economy of these two countries evolves – sometimes in partnership but mostly in a competitive mode, there are also significant environmental impacts that are now getting even more visible. The Atmospheric Brown Cloud (formerly the Asian Brown Cloud) that was most prominent in 2004 and 2007 is just one of the visible examples.
With no official records from China and with BBC suggesting that the country is adding about two power stations every week, the situation is alarming as almost all of this energy is being harnessed from burning coal. The Indian Government has in turn approved the commissioning of 213 new coal power plants in the next eight years. This frightening and irrational decision by the Government was protested by the Why New Coal? Campaign – a cycle ride from one part of the country to the National capital.
The struggle for ‘power’ in this economic struggle to get ahead is but obvious. The dangerous obsession for coal power and a complete sidelining of renewable options for meeting the energy needs is however neither logical nor, in the present climate crisis, a good strategy. Unfortunately, that is how rapid ‘development’ is to be achieved – with total disregard to environment versus development debate and keeping the principles of sustainable development at bay.
This is what the Why New Coal campaign highlighted in the climate ride, that also went through the coal belt of India in an attempt to highlight the real (/social) cost of coal production in the country. Taking the 350 message with them, the climate riders also passed through the Taj Mahal in Agra and through several cities before finally reaching New Delhi. In the National capital, the riders were joined by Mr. Kapil Sibal, the Union Minister for Science and Technology who led the way by getting on a cycle and flagging the ride off.
The ride did what it intended to, raise awareness among the people and the government, and pass on the message that the shift from the existing coal based economy is needed and that a clean powered economic growth IS POSSIBLE.