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Confronting Coal: How to Use CARMA to Discover Proposed “Red Alerts”

In the race against rising greenhouse gas emissions, coal – the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive of fossil fuels – is being taken to task. Scores of environmental organizations have launched campaigns to shut existing coal plants and stop construction of new ones.

For example, the Sierra Club provides a running list of proposed

U.S. coal plants, including the ability to map their location and track their status. The World Wildlife Fund has a nice map revealing

Europe’s Dirty Thirty”
– the most carbon-intensive power plants (all coal) on the continent. And Greenpeace has succeeded in protesting (and sometimes physically shutting down) dirty coal plants in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

These efforts have had an effect. In the case of

New Zealand, the government has now placed a 10-year moratorium on all new fossil fuel power plants under consideration by state-owned power providers. And in the

United States, some 59 coal plants have been canceled, delayed, or blocked.

The Carbon Monitoring for Action (

CARMA) database is an invaluable resource for these kinds of efforts. With the ability to identify planned carbon-intensive plants (referred to as “Red Alerts”) for every country in the world,

CARMA is an activist’s dream research tool. To find planned Red Alerts in

India, for example, visitors can use the site’s Dig Deeper tool. Selecting “By country” => “

” => “View all power plants” will produce a list of all existing plants. Toggling to “Future” in the upper right corner generates a list with planned plants – and their projected emissions – included alongside existing plants (results below).

India Planned Plants Example

The third plant in the list, Mundra, is projected to produce more carbon dioxide per year than the biggest emitters in the

United States. As my colleague

David Wheeler has pointed out, the company behind this massive plant, Tata Power, is seeking financing from the World Bank Groups’ International Finance Corporation (ultimately financed by taxpayers like you and me) and may succeed in receiving additional funding through the UN’s (apparently perversely-named) Clean Development Mechanism. A non-governmental organization or individual may have little success lobbying Tata on this issue, but what about the World Bank or UN? Does it make sense that they should be using scarce public resources to help finance massive coal plants?

To make

CARMA’s data on proposed plants even easier to use, next month we will introduce a “web widget” that immediately identifies planned power plants, their projected emissions, and corporate ownership for nearly every location on Earth. The widget can be embedded in any website or blog, allowing users the world over to quickly access

CARMA’s information in ready-to-go form (see Matt Gibbs’ post on this subject).

We hope that the widget will make it even easier for our friends in environmental organizations and for climate activists around the world to tap

CARMA’s data and put it to work in the accelerating clean energy revolution. But there’s no need to wait for the widget. Follow the simple steps described above to discover the proposed “Red Alerts” in your part of the world – then let the companies and governments involved know what you think.

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Reader Comments

This is exactly the kind of information the world needs to hear if we are to slow and stop global pollution and warming. It is my belief that if more of the populous knew about how the UN and World Bank help fund activities such as these, there would be more wide spread protests to these activities. Keep up the good work!