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9th June 2022 (6 Topics)

Carbon Bombs


A group of environmentalists, lawyers, and activists have come together to identify and ‘defuse carbon bombs’– coal, oil and gas projects that have the potential to contribute significantly to global warming.


What are carbon bombs?

  • The usage of the term ‘carbon bombs’ picked up after an investigative project of The Guardian from May 2022.
  • Defining the term in its report, The Guardian said that it is “an oil or gas project that will result in at least a billion tonnes of CO2 emissions over its lifetime.”
  • In total, around 195 such projects have been identified world over, including in the US, Russia, West Asia, Australia and India.
  • According to the report, they will collectively overshoot the limit of emissions that had been agreed to in the Paris Agreement of 2015.
  • Examples of Carbon Bomb projects in India include the Carmichael Coal Project owned by the Adani Group, Gevra Coal Mines in Chhattisgarh owned by Coal India, and Rajmahal Coal Mines in eastern Jharkhand owned by Eastern Coalfields.

Key findings of the investigation:

  • More than 60% of these carbon bomb projects are already underway, according to the investigation.
  • Apart from coal, oil, and gas operations, the report highlighted the threat of methane, which “routinely leaks from gas operations and is a powerful greenhouse gas, trapping 86 times more heat than CO2 over 20 years”.
  • The four countries with the biggest number of carbon bombs are China, the United States, Russia and Saudi-Arabia.
  • The US is the leading source of emissions from these mega projects, with its 22 carbon bombs spanning the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the foothills of the Front Range in Colorado to the Permian Basin.
  • Together they have the potential to emit 140bn tonnes of CO2, almost four times more than the entire world emits each year.
  • Saudi Arabia is the second biggest potential emitter after the US, with 107bn tonnes, followed by Russia, Qatar, Iraq, Canada, China and Brazil.

What is the plan for ‘defusing’ carbon bombs?

  • The network working towards this goal is called Leave It In the Ground Initiative (LINGO).
  • Its mission is to “leave fossil fuels in the ground and learn to live without them.”
  • It believes the root of climate change is the burning of fossil fuels, and the 100% use of renewable energy sources is the solution.
  • LINGO aims to organise ground support for protesting such projects, challenge them through litigation, and conduct analysis and studies for the same.

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