26 June, 2022


CEJ Questions Sri Lanka’s Rational Behind Signing Paris Agreement, When Promoting Coal Power

As the world celebrated Earth day two days ago, and Sri Lanka joining 130 nations to sign the Paris agreement to stop climate change, the Centre for Environmental Justice/Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka (CEJ/FoE) questioned the Sri Lankan government’s rationality in signing the international agreement while promoting coal power, which bears grave repercussions to the country’s environment.

Susil Premajayantha

Susil Premajayantha

“Pushing ahead with the Sampur Coal Power plant is completely incompatible with trying to stop climate change. We demand a stop to promoting coal power in Sri Lanka. We demand the Sri Lankan government do its fair share to fight the climate crisis, in line with equity and historical responsibility, and not allow Chinese and Indian polluting Industries to establish in Sri Lanka in the name of foreign investment,” Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director, CEJ/FoE Sri Lanka said.

The organisation further emphasised that the world cannot count on the Paris agreement to stop climate change. On April 22, representatives of over 130 nations attended the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Sri Lanka’s Minister of Science, Technology and Research Susil Premajayantha signed the agreement on behalf of the Sri Lankan government.

However, the Centre for Environmental Justice/Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka along with Friends of the Earth International strongly denounced the deal as a weak agreement which failed to deliver the scale of action needed to prevent dangerous climate change.

“Scientists are now telling us that we have entered ‘decade zero’. Decisions taken in the next 10 years – investments in dirty mega infrastructure, exploitation of new fossil fuel sources, mobilisation and distribution of public finance, the scale of emissions reductions that are undertaken – will determine if we breach the 1.5°C guardrail or not,” said Dipti Bhatnagar, Climate Justice and Energy Coordinator for Friends of the Earth International.

“This in turn will determine the scale of impacts on our planet and its people,” she added

She noted that neither the Paris Agreement nor its formal signing this week will safeguard our planet from the ravages of the climate catastrophe.

According to her, In December, it was noted that even though the Agreement mentions the pursuit of ‘efforts to limit increase to 1.5 degrees,’ whilst acknowledging the risks of a 2°C goal, it totally lacks the conviction that is urgently needed to meet the 2°C goal, let alone 1.5°C goal. In fact, current pledges put forward by countries add up to warming of around 3 degrees, and possibly higher – clearly incompatible with a habitable planet.

The organisations emphasized that the need of the hour was not the agreement, but a just, global energy transformation, including stopping of dirty energy projects, improving energy efficiency, tackling energy access issues and moving to community-owned renewable energy.

“We need the age of fossil fuels to come to an end, within the next short decades. We need finance from developed to developing countries to help them move away from dirty energy, and we need countries to cut emissions at source, and not hide behind carbon markets and other false solutions,” the organisations said.

The organisations noted that Sri Lanka has the potential to generate clean energy running up to 20,000 MW in wind power, 4.5 to 6 KWh/m2/day solar power and over 30,000 MW of tidal power.

“Simply singing the Paris Agreement without any substance on implementation and ambition is irresponsibly insufficient. We cannot count on such an Agreement alone to achieve climate justice,” the organisations added.

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Latest comments

  • 0

    Unlike many other countries Sri Lanka’s energy production has been mostly sustainable for decades.

    Upto 50% or more energy is renewable owing to electricity generation via reservoirs.

    China used to build a coal power plant every 2 weeks. Sri Lanka needs cheap energy to meet the deficit.

    Anything other than coal is pie in the sky and a waste of time.

    • 5

      Really? Here’s a thought- we’re an island nation, are we not? Why not move some of the funding from the military (I mean, unless you actually think some guy with a gun standing at some street corner is what’s preventing a terrorist attack) and fund some research into wave-/tidal power-based electricity generation? Simply sitting at the local kadamandiya and being oblivious to the fact that technology outside your little frog-in-a-well worldview is moving on doesn’t qualify you to make statements about anything being “pie in the sky”, to be honest.

      The problem here isn’t the fact that we’re opening a coal plant. It’s the fact that, as usual, we have no plan of “what next”. Look around you, buddy. Does Sri Lanka look like a place where any sort of national policy exists or is enforced?

  • 4

    Well stated by Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director, CEJ/FoE, although, judging from the collective mentality of our so-called administrators and their penchant for those commissions, let’s not hold our breath.

    “The organisations emphasized that the need of the hour was not the agreement, but a just, global energy transformation, including stopping of dirty energy projects, improving energy efficiency, tackling energy access issues and moving to community-owned renewable energy”.

    One dreads to think of the plight of our coming generations if Climate Change is not taken seriously SOON!

  • 0

    Sri lanka should out date all the diesel power generating plants.

    that is simply the cost is also unbearable.

    coal is cheap, because of that just two plants for the whole country is intolerable.

    Besides, both plants are near sea and winds can take away the particles in the smoke to the ocean and not to the human habitats.

    • 0

      Did you know that we get a substantial amount of revenue through the fisheries industry (which, last time I checked, relies on the sea surrounding Sri Lanka) and also the whales and dolphins who for some fortunate reason have picked out waters as a transit lounge?

      Without being a damned fool you should read up the research on the effects of the above through locating a coal power plant and a) Dumping millions of tons of hot water from the plant into the sea nearby b) Change in acidity and salinity in the water due to the absorption of emissions in the area. The impacts will be negative for both the fishing and whaling industries, I assure you.

      Were you not paying attention in Parisaraya class to realize that the wind doesn’t blow out to sea for most of the day except for a few hours at night when the land is cooler? How is your fabulous theory going to hold up then? What about the south east and north west monsoons?

      Still don’t believe me? There was an expose in the TV media recently about the effects on the fishing industry and farming industry around noroccholai. Complete with vegetables covered with coal dust and fishermen/farmers stating they might have to simply leave the area or die. If you think that’s also staged then I suggest you go and speak to them yourself (as I have done). Go on – I dare you.

      Sri Lanka needs fewer donkeys like Softy, and outdated hacks like Kumar David who with his ivory tower mentality doesn’t know that the investment in solar power alone in 2015 was greater than the entire generating capacity of all the nuclear plants in the USA.

      Renewables aren’t going to power us up over night. But spouting the same old stories of China commissioning two coal plants per week (which is just not true – and never was) because you don’t know what you’re talking about just exposes you for what you are – a damned fool.

  • 1

    Sri Lanka should focus on the commercial development of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) fields discovered already. A 500 MW LNG power plant is the first step, initially based on imported LNG, until the Sri Lanka owned gas field is tapped.

    International tenders should be called for this project on Design, Build & Operate basis, with the power plant and at least one LNG field being awarded to the winner of the tender. A coal power plant is not the cheapest or the best investment.

    The EIA’s findings suggest that natural gas–fired power plants are cheaper to build with overnight capital costs ranging from $676 to $2,095 per kilowatt (or kW), depending on the technology. Capital costs for coal-fired power plants range from $2,934 to $6,599 per kW, depending on the technology.

    However, at present the unit cost of power produced by a coal power plant is lower, but the gap is closing because of the rapidly increasing cost of producing coal in the face of environmental lobbies. For further information, please refer the link: http://marketrealist.com/2015/01/natural-gas-fired-power-plants-cheaper-build/

    In the case of Sri Lanka, there is no question that a LNG power plant integrated with the tapping of our gas field is the correct option.

  • 0

    Then increase Renewable energy like Wind and Solar Energy. But do not resort to Nuclear energy that can be dangerous for a Country like ours. Remember Japans fukushima nuclear disaster.

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