Climate change has mostly been viewed in terms of quantifying emissions of Green House Gases (GHGs) and consequent impacts on environment, ecology, and man-made systems, encompassing practically everything – natural and anthropogenic systems – on the Earth, above the Earth and beneath the Earth. Or in simpler words, climate change primarily involves estimations of nature, extent, and magnitude of impacts and in that context ‘climate change’ is rather more of an impact than the word ‘change’ is normally referred to in common usage. ‘Change for Climate’ connotes positive sense.
Quite recently, news has come that the largest shipping giant Maersk (the name, many rail passengers would have seen on large containers while traveling on the Indian Railways Network) completed its journey to the Gulf of Finland through the Russian Arctic. It is being assessed that the northern route through Russia will cut distance by 9500 kms (currently 22,000 kms) between East Asia & Western Europe and the journey time by 10-15 days. Shipping industry is looking forward to this ‘opportunity’ and Russia too has plans to explore Serbian oilfields. While equations may be drawn between reduced travels and hence fuel saved (less on-sea presence of a vessel due to reduced distances & time) to making available newer fleet into business might probably keep the same carbon footprint afloat. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), under pressure, has hinted upon decarbonising shipping industry by 2050 but pressures from island countries is for 100% reduction in two decades.
More resources will be at the disposal of mankind. But worries do not end here. Developing countries like India having a coastline of 7,500 kms is pushing for inland waterways and network of ports. It is estimated that almost 90% of the items used globally is transported by sea route. With growing trade, trade volume and trips will increase – increasing the risks associated to environment, capital and insurance. The shipping industry which was by far not in the clutches of climate change, is now being looked critically as it boasts growth. As a synchronised effort, the IMO is for National Maritime Transportation Policy (NMTP) which it can help each country and region to prepare and within this policy address issue of environment, trade and safety.
Another concern for India would be on the ship breaking industry and associated occupational risks it poses to the workers. Many of the upcoming generation thermal power plants are using super critical technologies or better efficiency boilers, many along the coast or in the inland for which foreign coal is to be sourced, if the desired efficiency is to be achieved and cost of landed coal is considered. Regional demand supply also triggers price correction of coal. This will certainly increase the sea traffic as well as indirect emissions that are generally not added to the impacts. Port infrastructure is another interface between coastal and inland traffic, the Sagarmala project (port led prosperity) has so far 537 projects in pipeline and many of them under implementation. It shows a huge growth of ports in the coming 2020-30 decade. As per 2010 report of EXIM Bank of India, ports contributed 1050 tonnes CO2 in 2007 and used 333 MT of coal. Almost 11 years later, it is time to do a reality check.
But such massive shifts of melting ice (an Indian Express report says that the average arctic ice volume was 3302 cubic miles between 1985-2000 which is expected to reduce to 1480 cubic miles between 2015-30 under a moderate emission scenario) will put many island nations in the list of endangered and many have to be moved inland thereby requiring strategic planning to deal with issues of demographic shifts, socio-cultural acceptance, economic avenues and much more. Hence, change for climate is becoming a necessity.
World’s No. 4 railway network carries No.1 Coal Mining Company on its back!
Time to change | 2030!
- Average coal loading by Coal India Limited (2017-18) = 278 rakes/day
- One rake coal loading per day translates to 1.4 MT of freight for a year
In turn it burnt 11.42 million tonnes of coal equivalent for coal transport and railway sidings. In terms of equivalents; which means 1.03 million tonnes of diesel (or 1.23 million kiloliters of diesel)? If we look it from the electricity consumption perspective, it is 4387 million Kwh.
In absolute terms, 532.83 million tonnes coal moved over the Indian Railway (IR) network which formed 48.17% of overall bulk goods movement covering 2,49,615 net tonne kilometres and giving the IRs a revenue of 4,52,286 million INR (a 44.33% of revenue)
Change Fuel, Reclaim Mines – Reclaim Power!
Posted on October 10 – ‘Reclaim Power’ Day
Author – Nishant Alag