What exactly is a Green Idol?

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must take urgent action on climate change. He can start by announcing a Renewable Energy Law by 2010. The only way he’ll do that is if a million ordinary Indian citizens write to him. By writing to him, you can become one in a million.

Everytime you take action online, tell a friend about this campaign, or viralise this on your social networks, you become a Green Idol. The more you participate, the more points you get. The more points you get, the closer you get to becoming a climate hero. End result? The climate gets saved. You become a Green Idol. Everybody wins.

Who’s a Green Idol?

Climate change is real. It’s right here. It’s right now. And it’s happening faster than anyone expected. For India to do its bit to avoid catastrophic impacts, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must take urgent action now! He can start by announcing a Renewable Energy Law by 2010. And the only way he’ll do that is if a million ordinary Indian citizens write to him.

By writing to him, you can become one in a million.

Every time you take action online, tell a friend about this campaign, or viralise this on your social networks, you become a Green Idol. The more you participate, the more points you get. The more points you get, the closer you get to becoming a climate hero.

It’s that simple, and that easy, but it won’t happen without you, or without your friends, family and colleagues also getting involved.

And when that happens, we’ll have a Renewable Energy Law in this country. As a result, the climate gets saved et vous pouvez investir dans l'immobilier locatif, c'est à dire acheter un appartement pour le louer et bénéficier ainsi de réductions d'impôts tout en respectant les dernières normes BCC de construction de bâtiment basse consommation. You become a Green Idol. Everybody wins.

But what’s in it for you?

If you think campaigning for the climate is dull and boring, you might want to look up the real estate prices on other planets.

For the others, who would like to continue a healthy, disease and flood free stay on this planet, we’ve got a whole bunch of reasons to save the climate and become a Green Idol!

The Top 10 Green Idols win a chance to star in a Greenpeace Music Video produced by a top secret bollywood team!

20 Green Idols could win a date with a bollywood star of your choice. Erm… some conditions would apply.

Another 500 Green Idols will win a customised and autographed DVD of the Greenpeace Music Video.

And every week, we’re giving away an exclusive, limited-edition Greenpeace Climate Hero T-shirt to the week’s highest scoring Green Idol.

The impacts of climate change

Climate change isn’t just about a few degrees here and there in some intellectual debate between scientists. It’s about real effects on real people.

Shrinking glaciers. As CO2 emissions increase, global temperatures rise. As a result of this global warming, the Gangotri glacier is shrinking at the rate of 34 metres per year. If it shrinks any faster, the Ganga could dry up in just another 20 years, threatening the very survival of over 500 million people (or every second person) in India.

Acidic oceans. CO2 emissions are acidifying the oceans, with potentially disastrous consequences for marine life. The oceans currently absorb one third of all carbon emissions, but they're reaching a saturation point. Which means no fish to eat. With most of India’s population concentrated in coastal cities like Bombay, Trivandrum, Madras and Calcutta, what will all those people eat if the fish disappear?

Outbreaks. Diseases like dengue and chikungunya are only a dress-rehearsal for the kind of viral diseases that are to come. As the planet gets hotter, ancient species of viruses (kept at a safe distance from human populations by temperature “buffer zones” for millions of years) will run rampant through thickly populated urban areas.

Rising seas. New studies are predicting sea level rises of over a metre or more by the end of this century, more than double the predictions made in 2007. A number of low-lying areas in India, from the Sunderbans to the Andamans, are already under serious threat. Where will all these people go?

Typhoons and cyclones. Cyclone Aila has killed over 350 people, displaced another 1 million, and placed over 20 million at risk of post-disaster disease. If global temperatures keep rising, such extreme weather events will only increase in frequency and intensity. How many of our cities can withstand such havoc, year after year? Not one. Remember, a single tsunami shut down Madras, a single flood shut down Bombay, and a single cyclone shut down Calcutta.

No food security. Already, farmers are suffering from failed crops due to erratic monsoons and increasing droughts in large parts of Orissa, Maharashtra and Bihar. If climate change continues unchecked, India’s food security – built painstakingly over the years – will face a threat greater than any terrorist act known to this nation.

The science of climate change

The massive and rapid change to our climate that we are now seeing is like nothing humankind has seen before. But a strong consensus has now been reached; the scientific community agrees that climate change is real, it's caused by human activity and it's happening faster than anyone could have foreseen.

GHGs (green-house gases), the dirtiest of which is CO2, are emitted every time we burn fossil fuels like coal and petrol. These greenhouse gases, as the term suggests, act as a planetary blanket retaining too much of the sun's heat, and cause global warming. This general warming of the earth's atmosphere is causing increasingly severe weather, desertification, melting icecaps and sea level rise, as well as species extinction and the spread of disease.

We're seeing the effects of global warming all around us – more intense heat waves that disproportionately affect the elderly and poor, more severe storms that wreak havoc on homes and communities, and all kinds of changing cycles in the natural world. And it is costing large amounts of money – the recent Cyclone Aila has already cost us a crippling Rs.200 crores. The longer we ignore the problem, the higher the cost.

Global warming is occurring because we have upset the delicate balance of gases that traps heat in our atmosphere and allows life to exist as we know it. Simply put, a combination of carbon dioxide, methane and water vapour traps enough heat in our atmosphere to allow life to exist. But we have upset the balance. We have introduced massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels like coal, building energy-inefficient buildings, and driving cars that use too much petrol to get us from one place to another.

Now there is too much CO2. The Earth’s atmosphere now contains 32% more CO2 than it did in the mid 1800s. That means we are fundamentally changing our planet's climate. The northern hemisphere is now warmer than any point in the last 1,000 years.

The economics of climate change

Let's not kiss global prosperity goodbye by ignoring climate change.

We face a dual storm of an economic recession and a climate crisis. The good news is, the solution to one lies in the solution to the other.

The global financial crisis is a turning point: the opportunity now exists to create economic rebuilding policies that can create low-carbon economies and create green-collar jobs.

"The current economic situation is an opportunity masquerading as a crisis." Economist and UK Government Adviser, Sir Nicholas Stern

Climate change is already costing large amounts of money. India’s agriculture is one of the industries most at risk. The recent cyclone Aila has already cost us a crippling Rs.200 crores. The Stern Report has stated that if we don’t dedicate 2% of our GDP to fighting climate change, we could end up losing a further 20% of our GDP.

It is clear that the way we deal with climate change will herald either future prosperity or future decline.

US President Barack Obama and other world leaders have put green investment and green-collar jobs at the heart of their economic stimulus packages. Other countries are doing the same as they realise that sustained future growth is only going to be possible if they tackle the climate change crisis by switching to low carbon, green economies.

“Climate change can disrupt our economy in several ways. Some of our coastal areas could be submerged. Our monsoon pattern may change. We need long-term solutions to such threats.” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

India has some catching up to do. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has come up with a National Action Plan on Climate Change. But as an economist, he should know that mere notions aren’t enough, we need real action, and we need it real fast. Let's put down a deposit on a smart, safe tomorrow. In this adverse economic climate, why would India let this business opportunity pass us by?

The Renewable Energy Law 2018

The lie our government hides behind.

Everytime Greenpeace tells the government that it has to act on climate change, we are told “but the poor too need a chance to develop! And in any case, our per capita CO2 emissions are lower than the developed world’s, so stop freaking out!”

What they conveniently neglect to mention is that a relatively small, wealthy class (1% of our population) already produces twice the sustainable global average CO2 emissions of 2.5 tonnes per capita!

Meanwhile, the remaining 823 million poor people in this country produce just one-fifth the amount of CO2 that the richest 1% produce.

Now, if these 823 million people started using energy like the top 1% Indians do – as is likely to happen if we really do manage to eradicate poverty – then our per capita emissions would compete with, if not exceed, the highest in the world.

Now, if we allow the richest 1% Indians to gobble up the carbon space, the poor will have their right to develop stolen from them, just as the developed world (having gobbled up all the carbon space itself) now wants India to not develop at the same rate.

India, essentially, is indulging in precisely the same "climate injustice" that we accuse the developed world of. The “low per capita emissions” argument is a lie. And our Prime Minister knows it.

A Renewable Energy Law by 2018. India cannot keep hiding behind the poor and claim any special privileges. India cannot continue to be a rogue state in the global community of nations that are fighting a pitched battle against climate change.

In our own interest, we must move away from a fossil-fuel based economy to a sustainable one. In doing so, we would need support and funding from the developed world because of their historical responsibility in bringing about climate change.

But we can't wait for others to move first, because the stakes are too high. We must have a Renewable Energy Law by 2018. And you can bring about that change.

What would this Renewable Energy Law do?

[A] It will shift our energy pathway to cleaner, more sustainable one through an ambitious Renewable Energy policy.

[B] It will ensure that 60% our energy needs are met by renewable sources by the year 2050.

[C] Through a decentralized energy generation system, it will enable all of us to produce our own energy, and ensure that every village and city in India achieves complete "Energy Swaraj."

Dr. Singh needs to take a stand at Copenhagen

The UN climate summit at Copenhagen in December may be our last chance to avoid runaway climate change. At this summit, India needs to do several things. We need to commit to action that would reduce our carbon emissions in a measurable and verifiable manner. We need to ensure that there is an ambitious deal that gives our people a fighting chance to protect ourselves from a climate catastrophe. And we need need to define our national climate action and (with additional support from the developed world) invest ambitiously in sustainable technologies and their diffusion in the market.

Globally Greenpeace is pushing for some big, visionary measures to turn around the global trend towards runaway climate change. Our blueprint needs political will to make it happen and the opportunity is at the Copenhagen summit in December. Responding to this opportunity is something Prime Minister Manmohan Singh owes not just to our reputation of innovation, but also to future generations of Indians.

Why India needs a Renewable Energy Law.

India needs an RE Law because this is the biggest business opportunity of the century and, if a strong policy is put in place quickly, we could become world leaders in the Renewable Energy sector. Despite being one of the first countries to set up a separate ministry for renewable energy, India hasn't shown a will or vision to be the leaders in this sector.

India’s best selling point in key international markets is our ability to innovate. The biggest risk to this is the perception internationally that we're not taking climate change seriously.

Unfortunately, since we aren’t making advances in clean energy, our reputation is slipping. Our record on CO2 emissions is shocking. We are among some of the worst emitters per person in the developing world, and our emissions are rising faster than those in the developed world. All this can be turned around if our government starts looking at climate change as an opportunity to profit from rather than merely a challenge to be confronted.

60 per cent by 2050! But how?

India has the ability and resources to become a 'low carbon' economy. All that's missing is political will. 60 per cent by 2050 is an ambitious target, but it is not a figure pulled out of a hat. The science dictates that this is what's required. Only a 60 per cent target for renewable energy will stop us reaching the 'tipping point' of catastrophic climate change.

There are many ways of reaching that target. To begin with, we can reduce the wastage of energy we already generate – by building more energy-efficient buildings and making it mandatory for electronic products to meet the highest efficiency standards. Just phasing out the ordinary incandescent light-bulb will save 12,000 MW of energy capacity, the equivalent of 3 mega coal power plants!

But more crucially, we can ensure that the energy we generate from now on comes from clean and renewable sources – such as the sun and wind – instead of highly damaging fossil fuels like coal. All of which will also give India lower energy bills – at home, at work, and on the road.