Archive for the tag “coal”

The IMF’s “shocking” estimate of fossil fuel costs: There’s more to the story

Sajai Jose

Credit: CGP Grey/Flickr, CC-BY 2.0
Credit: CGP Grey/FlickrCC-BY 2.0

Recently, when an International Monetary Fund research paper revealed that the actual cost of fossil fuel usage for 2015 was a staggering US$ 5.3 trillion (approx. 340 lakh crore rupees), it made headlines worldwide, though it went largely unreported in India.

What accounts for the bulk of this figure are the hidden costs of fossil fuel use – referred to as ‘externalities’ in economics calculated in monetary value. Most of it consists of damages inflicted by fossil fuel use on public health (for eg. deaths from air pollution) and the environment (global warming). Read more…

Shankar Sharma: Letter to concerned ministers on fossil fuel subsidies

To

Sri. Piyush Goyal
Union Minister for Coal, Power and Renewable Energy
Govt. of India, New Delhi

Copy with complements:
Sri. Prakash Javadekar
Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change
Govt. of India, New Delhi

Sri. Arun Jaitely
Union Minister for Finance
Govt. of India, New Delhi

Sri Naredra Modi
Prime Minister
Govt. of India, New Delhi

Dated 22nd  May, 2015

Dear Sri. Goyal,

Greetings from Mysore, Karnataka.

This has reference to the large number of coal power projects being planned, along with the large number of coal mines being auctioned in the country.

Whereas the civil society organizations in the country have been expressing their serious concerns on social and environmental impacts of relying on coal power, even the economic issues of coal power has come to the fore in recent years.  A hugely authoritative report by IMF few days ago has focused on the unbelievably large subsidies being provided to fossil fuel companies. It says that the fossil fuel companies are benefitting from global subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.4tn) a year. A related article in The Guardian of UK is as in the link below. Read more…

News update

Heatwave to worsen over the years: Study
Times of India
Hyderabad suffers a maximum of five heatwave days in a year. According to experts, this number will go up to as many as 40 days per year in the future. This prediction has been made in a paper titled Climate change scenarios for Hyderabad: Integrating uncertainties and consolidation by Matthias K B Ludeke, Martin Budde, Oleksandr Kit, Diana Reckien of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany. (Also read: 61% Rise In Heat-Stroke Deaths Over Decade)

Most glaciers in Mount Everest area will disappear with climate change – study
The Guardian UK
Most of the glaciers in the Mount Everest region will disappear or drastically retreat as temperatures increase with climate change over the next century, according to a group of international researchers. The estimated 5,500 glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region – site of Mount Everest and many of the world’s tallest peaks – could reduce their volume by 70%-99% by 2100, with dire consequences for farming and hydropower generation downstream, they said.

As Seas Exchange Heat, the Indian Ocean is Becoming a Marine Hothouse
Vasudevan Mukunth, The Wire
Since about 1998, the rate at which the Earth’s surface temperature has been becoming hotter due to anthropogenic global warming has slowed. In this period, the subsurface Pacific Ocean was found to have absorbed a significant amount of heat. As it turns out, the Pacific has been leaking it into the Indian Ocean for the last decade, via currents running along the Indonesian archipelago. A team of researchers from France and the US found that the upper 700 m of the Indian Ocean accounted for more than 70% of the global heat gain in 2003-2012.

The awful truth about climate change no one wants to admit
David Roberts, Vox.com
There has always been an odd tenor to discussions among climate scientists, policy wonks, and politicians, a passive-aggressive quality, and I think it can be traced to the fact that everyone involved has to dance around the obvious truth, at risk of losing their status and influence. The obvious truth about global warming is this: barring miracles, humanity is in for some awful shit.

Modi’s push for domestic oil production could aggravate border conflicts
Kabir Taneja, Scroll.in
In March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking at an event in Delhi, set an extremely difficult challenge for the country’s oil and gas companies and the people who devise policies for them. The challenge was to cut down India’s oil imports by 10% from the current figure of 77% before the years 2022, and to bridge this gap with an increase in domestic production. The prime minister’s advertised goal left industry experts confounded particularly since the ground realities of crude oil in India don’t augur well.

Why India is captured by carbon
David Rose, The Guardian UK
India’s leaders are determined to restore economic growth and lift the country’s 1.3 billion citizens out of poverty. But rapid development will require India to double or triple its production of coal – and make it the world’s second largest carbon emitter. Is there any alternative?

Million Renewable-Energy Jobs Predicted for India 2022
Chaitanya Mallapur, IndiaSpend.com
As India–the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases but 127th in terms of per capita emissions–ponders an energy-future balancing growth, jobs and environment, there is encouraging news from a new report. The renewable energy sector, has generated 400,000 jobs till 2014, according to a report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The sector could generate a million jobs by 2022, if the government reaches its goal of 100 giga watts (GW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy and 60 GW of wind energy.

Foregoing $1 Billion Payout, Tribe Rejects LNG Project
Common Dreams
Placing the well-being of the Earth above monetary interests, the Lax Kw’alaams First Nations tribe in Canadas British Columbia has rejected a $1 billion offer and voted against a proposed liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal. Our elders remind us that money is like so much dust that is quickly blown away in the wind, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told the Globe and Mail, but the land is forever.

Global social inequality hits new record
World Socialist Web Site
Income inequality in many developed countries has reached an all-time high, according to a report released Thursday by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The report also notes that growth of social inequality has been accompanied by the growth of part-time and contingent labor, particularly for younger workers.

News update

Fossil fuels subsidised by $10m a minute, says IMF
The Guardian UK
Fossil fuel companies are benefitting from global subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.4tn) a year, equivalent to $10m a minute every day, according to a startling new estimate by the International Monetary Fund. The IMF calls the revelation “shocking” and says the figure is an “extremely robust” estimate of the true cost of fossil fuels. The $5.3tn subsidy estimated for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments. The vast sum is largely due to polluters not paying the costs imposed on governments by the burning of coal, oil and gas.

The IMF Tells a Half-Truth
Richard Heinberg
It’s certainly helpful to have an accounting of the externalities of our collective fossil fuel consumption. But the choice of the word “subsidies” over the more precise “externalities” makes a difference: governments can cancel subsidies in the forms of tax breaks and gifts, but they can’t so easily cancel fossil fuel externalities without curtailing fossil fuel consumption—and that’s a big job, if they’re to do it in a way that doesn’t entail the rapid, uncontrolled collapse of society.

Can the world economy survive without fossil fuels?
Larry Elliott, The Guardian UK
In terms of reducing global poverty capitalism has been a success, but this growth has put pressure on the planet. The question, therefore, is whether it is possible to marry two seemingly contradictory objectives. Can we imagine a future that is cleaner, greener and sustainable – one that avoids climate armageddon – without abandoning the idea of growth and, thus, forcing living standards into decline? The answer is that it will be hellishly difficult, but it is just about feasible if we make the right choices – and start making them now.

Seven Surprising Realities Behind The Great Transition to Renewable Energy
Earth Policy Institute
The global transition to clean, renewable energy and away from nuclear and fossils is well under way, with remarkable developments happening every day. The Great Transition by Lester Brown, Janet Larsen, Matt Roney, and Emily Adams lays out a tremendous range of these developments – here are seven that may surprise you.

How Sustainable is PV Solar Power?
Low Tech Magazine
Its generally assumed that it only takes a few years before solar panels have generated as much energy as it took to make them, resulting in very low greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional grid electricity. A more critical analysis shows that the cumulative energy and CO2 balance of the industry is negative, meaning that solar PV has actually increased energy use and greenhouse gas emissions instead of lowering them.

The Counterfeit Shale Revolution (pdf)
Arthur Berman
The shale revolution is counterfeit. Tight oil and shale gas are imitations of something valuable and shale promoters intentionally deceive the public about their true value. It is counterfeit because the cost of produc4on is more than the global economy can bear. Producers and analysts deceive the public with misleading and incorrect break-even prices that exclude important costs or are based on exaggerated reserves. There is no shale revolution: it is a final, desperate effort to squeeze the last remaining petroleum from the worst possible rock.

Are we approaching peak population growth?
Max Roser
Since the 18th century, the world population has seen a rapid increase; between 1900 and 2000 the increase in world population was three times as great as the increase during the entire previous history of humankind – in just 100 years the world population increased from 1.5 to 6.1 billion. But this development is now coming to an end, and we will not experience a similarly rapid increase in population growth over the course of this century.

Book Review of Overshoot by William R. Catton Jr.
Craig Straub, The Social Contract
Catton concludes that the human community is condemned to bet on an uncertain future. Misperception of the human situation will motivate efforts to pursue solutions which make matters worse. An ecological understanding of the human predicament will help avoid constructing the road to hell paved with good intentions.

Why Greenpeace is first on the chopping block

Sajai Jose

620gre

As Greenpeace India struggles to stay afloat, the real reason why the government wants to shut down the global environmental NGO hasn’t got much attention: Coal, the single biggest source of primary energy in India, is at the heart of the Narendra Modi government’s ambitious plans to ramp up industrial production in the country.

A total of 1,199 new coal-based thermal power plants with a total installed capacity of more than 1.4 million MW proposed worldwide, the lion’s share—455 plants—are in India, according to data from the World Resources Institute. Read more…

Video: Why New Coal

Switch ON India

Coal today meets 54.5% of India’s energy needs and 61.5% of the installed power generation capacity, and plays a key role in industries like steel and cement. India is set to more than double its coal consumption by 2035 and become the worlds largest coal importer by around 2020, according to the International Energy Agency. The cheapest of fossil fuels, coal is also the dirtiest in terms of carbon emissions and public health. Coal-burning power plants are the single biggest cause of climate change, way ahead of the burning of petroleum in transportation.

Perplexed by the inter-related problems India faces as it develops at the cost of 2/3 rd of its population living outside the economy, two young activists from Switch ON , rode their cycles across India, through the coal belt to question Indias growth based on fossil fuel, and to seek and highlight alternatives for a sustainable and equitable development.

Why New Coal gives a new perspective to Coal in India Addressing Indias growing energy needs, problems of energy security and Climate Change Vulnerabilities from Energy Experts from across the country including S.P. Sethi (Planning commission), Dunu Roy (Hazard Centre), Vandana Shiva (Navdanya), Chandra Bhusan (CSE) Siddharth Pathak (Green Peace), S.K.Chand (TERI), Shirish Sinha (WWF) Ashok Agarwal (Jharia Bachao Sangharsh Samiti), Girish Sant (Prayas), Dr. Gonchowdhury (WBREDA), Sanjeev Ghotge (WISE), Nitin Desai (United Nations), Ambuj Sagar (IIT), Dr. M P Narayanan (Coal India)

Switch ON is a grassroot climate action project committed to climate action
Visit Switch ONs YouTube Channel

 

News update

Alice In Shale Gas Wonderland
Julian Darley
It is hard to know where to begin regarding Ambrose Evans-Pritchards article entitled Energy crisis is postponed as new gas rescues the world. But since the speculative world he invokes has more to do with Alice In Wonderland than the hard reality of engineering and science, let us begin at the end.

Peak Oil, Ten or So Years On
Brian Kaller
This blog began seven years and almost a thousand posts ago, and I thought it a good time to take stock. Since the blog itself was inspired by the “peak oil” movement, and since it’s been ten years, by some measures, since the peak, I wanted to assess the state of that community as well.

Is the Age of Renewable Energy Already Upon Us?
Michael Klare
Future historians may look back on 2015 as the year that the renewable energy ascendancy began, the moment when the world started to move decisively away from its reliance on fossil fuels. Those fuels oil, natural gas, and coal will, of course, continue to dominate the energy landscape for years to come, adding billions of tons of heat-trapping carbon to the atmosphere. For the first time, however, it appears that a shift to renewable energy sources is gaining momentum. If sustained, it will have momentous implications for the world economy as profound as the shift from wood to coal or coal to oil in previous centuries.

Coal is dying all by itself
Grist.org
Coal, the No. 1 cause of climate change, is dying. Last year saw a record number of coal plant retirements in the United States, and a study last week from Duke University found that Even China, which produces and consumes more coal than the rest of the world put together, is expected to hit peak coal use within a decade, in order to meet its promise to President Barack Obama to reduce its carbon emissions starting in 2030.

One Of The Most Worrying Trends In Energy
Kurt Cobb
It should seem obvious that it takes energy to get energy. And, when it takes more energy to get the energy we want, this usually spells higher prices since the energy inputs used cost more. It shouldnt be surprising then, that as fossil fuels, which provide more than 80 percent of the power modern society uses, become more energy intensive to extract and refine, there is a growing drag on economic activity as more and more of the economys resources are devoted simply to getting the energy we want.

Putting the Real Story of Energy and the Economy Together
Gail Tverberg
What is the real story of energy and the economy? We hear two predominant energy stories. One is the story economists tell: The economy can grow forever; energy shortages will have no impact on the economy. Another version of the energy and the economy story is the view of many who believe in the “Peak Oil” theory. In my view, the real story of energy and the economy is much less favorable than either of these views. It is a story of oil limits that will make themselves known as financial limits, quite possibly in the near term—perhaps in as little time as a few months or years.

Chinese energy figures suggest much slower growth than advertised
Kurt Cobb
Last year China reported the slowest economic growth in 24 years, about 7.4 percent. But the true figure may actually be much lower, and the evidence is buried in electricity figures which show just 3.8 percent growth in electricity consumption.

Climate change: can the Seneca effect save us?
Ugo Bardi
The Seneca Cliff (or Seneca Collapse). The ancient Roman philosopher said The path of increase is slow, but the road to ruin is rapid. A Seneca Collapse of the worlds economy would surely reduce the chances of a climate disaster, but it would be a major disaster in itself and it might not even be enough.

Subsidies to industries that cause deforestation worth 100 times more than aid to prevent it
The Guardian UK
Brazil and Indonesia spent over 100 times more in subsidies to industries that cause deforestation than they received in international conservation aid to prevent it, according to a report by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). The two countries handed out over $40bn (£27bn) in subsidies to the palm oil, timber, soy, beef and biofuels sectors between 2009 and 2012 – 126 times more than the $346m they received to preserve their rainforests from the United Nations’ (UN) REDD+ scheme, mostly from Norway and Germany.

News update

Green energy: Unrealistic targets
Pandurang Hegde, Deccan Herald
Recently the Minister of Power, Coal and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal reassured the commitment of the Central government in achieving the target of 1,75,000 MW of green energy by 2022. The performance of green energy projects needs to be assessed in the light of ground level experiences and the targets need be set realistically. By setting up unrealistic targets, the green energy is bound to attract those who are keen to reap the windfall profits rather than generating power.

A ‘Dashboard’ for the Indian Energy Sector (PDF)
Ashok Sreenivas, Rakesh K. Iyer EPW
A first approximation of a multidimensional index assessing the energy sector in India would be a dashboard that would measure trends through fi ve summary dimensions. Such a dashboard provides revealing insights, even in their condensed form.

Japan uses climate cash for coal plants in India, Bangladesh
Cadillac News
Despite mounting protests, Japan continues to finance the building of coal-fired power plants with money earmarked for fighting climate change, with two new projects underway in India and Bangladesh, The Associated Press has found. The AP reported in December that Japan had counted $1 billion in loans for coal plants in Indonesia as climate finance, angering critics who say such financing should be going to clean energy like solar and wind power.

The hidden reasons behind slow economic growth: Declining EROI, constrained net energy
Kurt Cobb
the growth in net energy appears to have slowed while EROI of fossil fuels continues to fall. That has led to greater competition for the available net energy and a general rise in fossil fuel prices from 2000 onward. There have been fluctuations, sometimes violent ones, tied to the so-called Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 and to the softening of the world economy in the past year which led to steep declines in oil prices (something which may be telling us there is another recession in the offing).

How Long Can Oceans Continue To Absorb Earth’s Excess Heat?
Cheryl Katz, Yale Environment 360
The main reason soaring greenhouse gas emissions have not caused air temperatures to rise more rapidly is that oceans have soaked up much of the heat. But new evidence suggests the oceans’ heat-buffering ability may be weakening.

Despite decades of deforestation, the Earth is getting greener
The Conversation
While the news coming out of forests is often dominated by deforestation and habitat loss, research published in Nature Climate Change shows that the world has actually got greener over the past decade. Despite ongoing deforestation in South America and Southeast Asia, we found that the decline in these regions has been offset by recovering forests outside the tropics, and new growth in the drier savannas and shrublands of Africa and Australia.

Species extinction and the Competitive Exclusion Principle
Ron Patterson, Peak Oil Barrel
The competitive exclusion principle usually describes the competition of animals for a particular niche. But humans are animals also. We have been in the competition for territory and resources for thousands of years. And we have been winning that battle for thousands of years. But it is only in the last few hundred years that our complete dominance in this battle has become overwhelming. We are winning big time, we are quite literally wiping them off the face of the globe.

It’s Time to Get Serious About Systemic Solutions to Systemic Problems
Gar Alperovitz
It’s getting harder and harder to be an optimist. A deep economic crisis has given way to a profoundly unequal recovery. Climate catastrophe is steadily unfolding across the globe. All of this in an age of unprecedented technological progress, which has manifestly failed to keep its promises. If there is one saving grace, it is that the pain caused by these interconnected failures make it possible — for the first time in modern history — to pose the question of system change in a serious fashion, even in the United States, the faltering heart of global capitalism.

News update

Could Indias Coal Plans Derail the Global Climate?
Tobias Engelmeier, The Energy Collective
If India were to grow its electricity system based on coal (as China has done), would it derail the global climate? According to our calculations, under a “coal-heavy” scenario, India would need to increase is coal-fired power generation capacity from the 156 GW in early 2015 to 677 GW in 2035. What would be the CO2 implications of such a strategy?

Global water crisis causing failed harvests, hunger, war and terrorism
Nafeez Ahmed, The Ecologist
The world is already experiencing water scarcity driven by over-use, poor land management and climate change. Its one of the causes of wars and terrorism in the Middle East and beyond, and if we fail to respond to the warnings before us, major food and power shortages will soon afflict large parts of the globe fuelling hunger, insecurity and conflict.

The Global Water Crisis and Coal Fired Power Plants
Iris Cheng, Greenpeace
Despite the global water crisis being identified as the top risk to people across the globe, very few are taking a stand to protect dwindling water resources from the huge planned global growth of coal-fired power stations. The fact is that the planned coal expansion will contribute to water crises, as the energy sector usually wins against us when it comes to who gets access to this precious resource.

The Case for a Climate Goal Other Than Two Degrees Celsius
Diane Toomey, Yale Environment 360
Scientists and climate negotiators have largely agreed that limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius is an important goal. But David Victor, political scientist and lead author with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), disagrees, arguing that the benchmark is too simplistic and should be abandoned in favor of other indicators. He maintains that not only is the 2-degree goal now unattainable, the focus on it has almost unwittingly played into the hands of the so-called climate denialists.

The puzzling flattening of carbon emissions and the problem of global growth
Kurt Cobb
Last week we learned that maybe, just maybe, global carbon emissions were flat in 2014 even though the global economy supposedly grew by 3 percent. Carbon emissions have moved up almost in lockstep with economic growth for the entire industrial age except during recessions and one year of growth 40 years ago. But there is another obvious and plausible explanation for the flat carbon emissions, namely, that the global economy did not grow by the stated percentage, that it may have grown only a fraction of that amount or not at all.

China plans to build huge space solar power station 
The Economic Times 
China plans to build a huge solar power station 36,000 kilometres above the ground in an attempt to battle smog, cut greenhouse gases and solve energy crisis, much on the lines of an idea first floated in 1941 by fiction writer Isaac Asimov, state media reported today. The power station would be a super spacecraft on a geosynchronous orbit equipped with huge solar panels. The electricity generated would be converted to microwaves or lasers and transmitted to a collector on Earth, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Chinese control of Rare Earths and the future of energy 
Llewellyn King, Oilprice.com
The 17 rare earth elements have energy supply by the throat. They are used in everything from oil refineries to solar and wind generators. Today, 90 percent of the rare earths the world uses come from China. All U.S. defense manufacturers – including giants Boeing, General Electric and Lockheed Martin are dependent on China. Now China is demanding that U.S. companies do more of their manufacturing there: China wants to control the whole chain.

Agroecology: An idea and practice coming of age
Rupert Dunn, Sustainable Food trust
Agroecology is a holistic approach to farming and food production that could shape how we feed the world in the 21st century. It offers, at last, a means through which sustainable food sovereignty can be achieved across the globe. In February, at the International Forum for Agroecology in Nyeleni, Mali, a turning point came in the dissemination of ideas and practices of what is called ‘agroecology’.

News update

Arctic sea ice extent hits record low for winter maximum
The Guardian, UK
Arctic sea ice has hit a record low for its maximum extent in winter, which scientists said was a result of climate change and abnormal weather patterns. The US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) said on Thursday that at its peak the ice covered just over 14.5m sq km of the northern seas. This was 130,000 sq km smaller than the previous lowest maximum in 2011.

India: Machines drive 90% of power in farming, humans’ share drops to 5%
The Times of India
Silently, agriculture in India has gone through a far-reaching change in the past few decades. The share of human power available for carrying out the myriad operations in farming has shrunk to a mere 5% as has that of draught animals, the iconic oxen pulling the plough. More than 90% of the power is now drawn from mechanical sources: tractors and power tillers provide the bulk, 47%; electric motors 27% and diesel engines 16%.

Cheap Oil, Climate Change Mitigation and India
Shoibal Chakravarty, EPW
In this article, our objectives are twofold. We analyse the causes of the 2014 oil crash and its short-term impact
on the global economy. And we will complement this by considering the role that the oil crash might play in the long-term transition of the energy system that will be required to limit climate change. Finally, we discuss the outlook for India.

The Global Coal Boom Is Going Bust: Report
Mike Gaworecki, DeSmog Blog
A new report by CoalSwarm and the Sierra Club provides compelling evidence that the death knell for the global coal boom might very well have rung some time between 2010 and 2012. Based on data CoalSwarm compiled of every coal plant proposed worldwide for the past five years as part of its Global Coal Plant Tracker initiative, the report finds that for every coal plant that came online, plans for two other plants were put on hold or scrapped altogether.

Only Less Will Do
Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Institute
Almost nobody likes to hear about the role of scale in our global environmental crisis. That’s because if growth is our problem, then the only real solution is to shrink the economy and reduce population. Population has grown from 4.4 billion in 1980 to 7.1 billion in 2013. Per capita consumption of energy has grown from less than 70 gigajoules to nearly 80 GJ per year. And we see the results: the world’s oceans are dying; species are going extinct at a thousand times the natural rate; and the global climate is careening toward chaos as multiple self-reinforcing feedback processes (including polar melting and methane release) kick into gear.

The Global Economy’s “Impeccable Logic”
Steven Gorelick, Local Futures ISEC Blog
To suggest that conventional economic thinking lacks a moral foundation is not to say that corporate CEOs and IMF economists have no moral or ethical values: most of them probably contribute to charity, feel tender thoughts towards their children and parents, and may even be angered at certain forms of injustice. The question here is whether there’s a moral dimension to the way conventional economics regards wealth inequality.

The Science of Peak Oil
Andrew McKay, Southern Limits
Peak oilers are accused of changing the definition of what peak oil actually means, therefore the entire concept of oil production peaking is rubbish. Far from a valid criticism however, this is actually a scientific virtue. If any scientist dogmatically stuck with a rigid theory as the data repeatedly proved that theory to be incorrect then that would be cause for great concern.

Photo-feature: Climate change in the Marshall Islands and Kiribati, before and after
Rémi Chauvin, Guardian UK
In the low-lying Pacific atolls of the Marshall Islands and Kiribati rising sea levels have made every high tide a dangerous event. Regular floods wash through villages causing damage to houses, killing crops and poisoning drinking water. In December 2014, photographer Rémi Chauvin recreated a set of historical images depicting the first impacts of climate change in these countries where no one lives more than a few metres above the sea.

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