The following email just went out to the 350 network in India…

 Dear friends in India (who can access the electricity to read this message),

Sign the petition:

Let the Great Indian Outage be the Great India Wake-Up Call. It’s time for an energy upgrade.

Sign the petition to the Prime Minister:

It’s time for an upgrade!

By now all the major media agencies in the world have covered what is being dubbed the Great Indian Outage. 600 million people were left without power for more than 6 hours over two consecutive days, crippling the economy and plunging the nation into a state of chaos. 

Unfortunately, most analyses missed one of the most important underlying reasons for the blackout: our dependence on centralized, unreliable, inefficient, dirty coal power. Coal helped cause this crisis — it’s not a solution. Please take a moment to sign a petition to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calling for an energy upgrade:

Now, all of us living in India know that this massive blackout is actually just a scaled-up version of what most of us experience day in and day out, and what many of our brothers and sisters across the subcontinent experience throughout their lives. But regardless of our experience or reactions, this can be an important wake-up call regarding our country’s energy future. 

It’s true that electricity demand is outstripping supply, but that has as much to do with climate change impacts as anything else. The weak monsoon has depleted hydropower supply, and unrelenting heat waves are increasing energy demand. Add to that a poor, centralized grid infrastructure already failing to electrify 400 million people — now failing the rest of us — and a limited coal supply making even coal power generation a struggle.

The coal industry and the media are obsessed with more mining as the solution to these problems, ergo seeking faster environmental, land, and forest clearances. With more than 500 GW of thermal power in the pipeline, most analysts believe that rising coal prices and lower tariffs will render these plants unviable. Add to this the costs of health, forests, and displacement of people and wildlife.

We can do far better with decentralized renewable energy! India has a high potential for solar and wind energy, which offer reliable power and would dramatically reduce our need to build more coal-fired power plants. The state of Gujarat has shown great promise in handling its grids and introducing solar in a big way, offering policies for other states to emulate and transition away from coal.

It’s time for an upgrade in India, and we have some plans in the works to do just that. To start with, please sign this petition demanding that the Prime Minister of India revamp our infrastructure, including significant investment in energy efficiency and decentralized renewable energy:

Coal-fired power should be a thing of the past. This crisis has given us an opportunity to show the world that we can bring about the next energy revolution in India. We have to seize this opportunity, and we want you to be a part of it.

On we go,

Chaitanya and the 350 India team

P.S. If you’re not already plugged in with us on Facebook, please do join the 350 India community there:

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