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Obsession of our leaders in India to invest in fossil fuels should be cause of concern

By Shankar Sharma* 

"Methane emissions cause 25% of global heating today and there has been a “scary” surge since 2007, according to scientists. This acceleration may be the biggest threat to keeping below 1.5C of global heating and seriously risks triggering catastrophic climate tipping points, researchers say." (See Revealed: 1,000 super-emitting methane leaks risk triggering climate tipping points)
The obsession of the various country governments, including our own leaders in India, to invest on fossil fuels such as natural gas should be a major concern for the global societies. Methane (CH4) is a highly potent GHG (estimated to be about 80 times more potent than CO2), and is commonly associated with gas fields, processing plants and the thousands of kM of transmission pipelines.
Power ministry's recent decision to float tender to buy 4,000 MW gas-based electricity should be questioned in this context. Is this yet another unsubstantiated policy in the power sector? Since the country is not self-sufficient in natural gas, how will the gas required for these power plants obtained? Will it be imported? Media reports indicate that many of the gas power plants in the country are either running at very low load factors or not functioning at all. May indicate the chaotic nature of the operation of the power sector in the country. (See Power ministry to float tender to buy 4,000 MW gas-based electricity)
Dams in tropical countries, which result in storage of large volume of water and in submergence of forests, trees and other vegetative cover, also give rise to massive quantities of CH4 because of the submerged vegetation. So, the obsession of our leaders in building more hydel dams also should be viewed with concern in this larger context of the increase of Methane gas in the atmosphere.
Since the new renewables such as wind and solar power are generally not associated with such GHG concerns, and are also known to be in plenty in our country, the question that needs to asked is why our society is not investing most of its energy related budget on suitable kind of REs?
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*Power & Climate Policy Analyst

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