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Sending the wrong signals

  • Published at 11:10 pm July 12th, 2017
  • Last updated at 11:10 pm July 12th, 2017
Sending the wrong signals
Intensified move on more coal-fired power plants in Asia remarked as a concern and overwhelm the deal forged at Paris climate talks if they move ahead, reports the Guardian. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim noted that countries in south and southeast Asia were on track to build hundreds of more coal-fired power plants in the next 20 years -- despite promises made at Paris to cut greenhouse gas emissions and pivot to a clean energy future. China, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam account for three-quarters of new coal-fired power plants expected to be built around the world in the next five years. According to figures from Platts Energy, China is planning 150GW of new coal plants by 2020. India is increasing its share of coal by 125GW. Indonesia is planning to build twice as many new coal plants, or about 25GW. Thus, the coal-fired power plants in Asia would take up almost all of the carbon budget, making it highly unlikely to be able to limit global temperature rise to 2C. Moreover, President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord drew a quick international rebuke, illustrating a new reality emerging across the global energy landscape. That has opened the way for other large developing nations, especially China and India, to seize the mantle of leadership in tackling climate change.
Solar power with its current phase can’t be the universal answer to Bangladesh’s growing energy needs, but the program is an example of a renewable, environmentally sensitive project.
The next “Asian Tiger,” Bangladesh, is also betting on coal to accelerate its up-and-coming economy, despite escalating its renewable energy sector. According to figures from the website of the Sustainable & Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA), coal power plants account for a paltry 1.6% of the energy mix. Bangladesh plans to set up 25 coal-fired power plants, eyeing on 2% to over 50% coal use to meet the country’s electricity supply by 2022. Intensified plans to meet the country’s demand for electricity, the forthcoming 10,000MW Moheshkhali project, 1,200MW Matarbari Project, 1,320MW Payra Seaport Project, and the controversial 1,320MW Rampal projects are based on coal. With a fierce opposition to the coal plant in Rampal, near the Sundarbans, the government of Bangladesh has indicated it is unlikely to abandon its push to build more coal-fired power plants despite growing opposition among local people and environmentalists. Earlier on the raised questions over the environmental impact assessment, the UN’s world heritage body has made an urgent intervention to stop the construction of a coal power station in Bangladesh. A fact-finding mission, published by UNESCO and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on August 2016, found that the proposed site of the Rampal coal power plant would expose the downriver forests to pollution and acid rain. “The mission recommends that the Rampal power plant project is cancelled and relocated to a more suitable location,” said a UNESCO statement. The statement also warned Bangladesh that the Sundarbans forest reserve would be considered for possible inscription on the list of world heritage in danger at the next meeting of the World Heritage Committee in 2017. Another recent accusation by the foreign ministry press release says the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, at its 41st session being held in Poland, has withdrawn its earlier objection to the construction of Rampal power plant project at its current location near the Sundarbans. As alternatives to provide electricity to Bangladeshis, solar panels and other renewable energy options like wind power can be harnessed instead of condemning the Bangladeshi people to the toxic impacts from the 4.7 million tons of coal Rampal is set to burn every year. As a signatory of Paris climate agreement, Bangladesh opting for coal-fired power plant continues to send the wrong message to the rest of the world, whereas India and China are both under fire for their profligate use of coal. The proposed Ruppur power plant, a joint venture with Russia, would be the alternative source for Bangladesh’s energy needs, but it has attracted criticism since the agreement was signed in December 2015. In this backdrop, the solar-powered revolution is ongoing as the government announced that it would become the world’s “first solar nation” by 2021. In partnership with the World Bank, it plans to set up 21 million households with solar power by 2017, which currently accounts for only a fraction (about 200 MW) of the total power supply. Solar power with its current phase can’t be the universal answer to Bangladesh’s growing energy needs, but the program is an example of a renewable, environmentally sensitive project. There’s a lesson in front of Bangladesh: India’s solar revolution has been held up as a beacon of hope – with recent news of record low solar prices in India -- celebrated as a victory for renewable energy over coal. However, India to add 8.8GW in new solar capacity this year will overtake Japan as the third largest solar market worldwide after China and the US.
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