Quantcast

World Water Week: 7 Reasons to Claim Water for Life, Not Coal

Energy

Safe, affordable and accessible water is one of our planet's scarcest natural resources. Many people don't have access to fresh water for sanitation, agriculture or even to drink.

Yet, global water consumption by the power sector is growing; it's expected to more than double by 2035, with coal projects accounting for 50 percent of increased water use. Vast quantities of water are used in coal mining, coal washing and for cooling coal-fired power plants.

We cannot allow coal interests to grab already scarce water resources and at the same time dramatically increase their carbon pollution. That will only accelerate climate change and make water shortages even more acute.

What can you do?

Someone needs to tell the power sector that it's time to stop pumping out our water; this precious resource that people depend on for survival. That someone must be you.

Right now the most important event of the year on global water issues, World Water Week, is happening in Stockholm, Sweden. More than 200 organizations from around the world are discussing how best to divide up precious water resources.

Tweet and share these coal-water facts during World Water Week to send the message loud and clear: WATER IS FOR LIFE, NOT FOR COAL!

1. 2 billion people, or almost one-third of the world's population, live in countries with absolute water scarcity.

Severe drought in southern China. Photo credit: Lu Guang / Greenpeace

2. Coal is one of the most water-intensive methods of generating electricity. Every 3.5 minutes a typical coal-fired power plant withdraws enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Electricity is generated by burning coal to convert water into high-pressure steam to drive turbines; water is then used to cool the steam so it can go back to the boiler again. Water is also needed to wash and process coal before it is burned, to wash coal ash out, to reduce dust from the coal stockpile and to put out fires.

Old cooling water area in south east Turkey. Local people claim that the ash produced dries up rivers and agricultural lands in the area. Photo credit: Umut Vedat / Greenpeace

3. There are plans to construct at least 1,200 new coal-fired power plants and mega coal mines around the world. Much of the proposed expansion is in water-stressed regions, which already suffer from limited supplies of fresh water for sanitation, health and livelihoods.

Hand-planted pine trees around the Shenhua coal-to-liquid facility have died due to lack of water. For 10 years, this Chinese state-run organisation, the world's biggest coal producer, has been exploiting water resources at a shocking rate. Shenhua's operations sparked social unrest and caused severe ecological damage, including desertification, impacting farmers and herders who are facing reduced water supplies in what was once a fertile farming area. Earlier this year Shenhua agreed to develop an action plan to stop extracting groundwater. Photo credit: Qiu Bo / Greenpeace

4. South Africa's energy utility Eskom uses 10,000 litres of water per second, yet local residents are forced to buy bottled water, because no clean drinking water is available to them.

Water pond at an informal settlement in South Africa, with Duvha coal-fired power station in the background. Community members wait around a communal tap to collect water for household use. Many people are forced to buy bottled drinking water because of concerns about the quality of tap water. Photo credit: Mujahid Safodien / Greenpeace

Read page 1

5. 16 mega coal power bases proposed in China will consume 10 billion cubic metres of water every year, equal to one-sixth of the annual flow of the iconic Yellow River.

Coal-to-chemical conversion plant at the source of the Yellow River, China. Photo credit: Wu Haitao / Greenpeace

6. In the six worst-hit districts of India's Vidarbha region there were more than 6,000 documented cases of farmers committing suicide between 2001 and 2010 as their livelihoods failed due to lack of water for irrigation. And a total of 40,000 suicides in the whole of Maharashtra. Yet there are now plans to build a further cluster of 71 coal plants in Vidarbha.

Kalavati Bandukar's husband, a poor farmer, committed suicide in 2005 after being unable to pay his debts. Kalavati is a strong supporter and ambassador of decentralised renewable energy systems. © Peter Caton/Greenpeace

7. Wind-generated electricity uses no water. Go renewables!

Greenpeace and tcktcktck volunteers raise a wind turbine on the beach at dawn in Durban, South Africa. Photo credit: Shayne Robinson / Greenpeace

We have a choice

Energy-water conflicts are avoidable. In sharp contrast to coal, solar and wind power consume little or no water. And as well as being the most water-efficient ways of generating electricity they emit no greenhouse gases. Now is the time to stand up to the coal and power industries to stop their grab for dwindling water resources and to convince them to shift to clean, renewable energy.

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE

‘Irreversible’ Damage to Planet From Climate Change Says Leaked IPCC Report

Responding to Bill Gates and Jigar Shah on Powering World’s Poorest Economies

Leonardo DiCaprio Narrates Climate Change Films Urging Shift From Fossil Fuels to Renewables

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Micromobility is the future of transportation in cities, but cities and investors need to plan ahead to avoid challenges. Jonny Kennaugh / Unsplash

By Carlo Ratti, Ida Auken

On the window of a bike shop in Copenhagen, a sign reads: Your next car is a bike.

Read More Show Less
An American flag waves in the wind at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco, California on May 17 where a trial against Monsanto took place. Alva and Alberta Pilliod, were awarded more than $2 billion in damages in their lawsuit against Monsanto, though the judge in the case lowered the damage award to $87 million. JOSH EDELSON / AFP / Getty Images

By Carey Gillam

For the last five years, Chris Stevick has helped his wife Elaine in her battle against a vicious type of cancer that the couple believes was caused by Elaine's repeated use of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide around a California property the couple owned. Now the roles are reversed as Elaine must help Chris face his own cancer.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Butterfly habitats have fallen 77 percent in the last 50 years. Pixabay / Pexels

The last 50 years have been brutal for wildlife. Animals have lost their habitats and seen their numbers plummet. Now a new report from a British conservation group warns that habitat destruction and increased pesticide use has on a trajectory for an "insect apocalypse," which will have dire consequences for humans and all life on Earth, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
Six of the nineteen wind turbines which were installed on Frodsham Marsh, near the coal-powered Fiddler's Ferry power station, in Helsby, England on Feb. 7, 2017.

Sales of electric cars are surging and the world is generating more and more power from renewable sources, but it is not enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to stop the global climate crisis, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Read More Show Less
"Globally, we're starting to see examples of retailers moving away from plastics and throwaway packaging, but not at the urgency and scale needed to address this crisis." Greenpeace

By Jake Johnson

A Greenpeace report released Tuesday uses a hypothetical "Smart Supermarket" that has done away with environmentally damaging single-use plastics to outline a possible future in which the world's oceans and communities are free of bags, bottles, packaging and other harmful plastic pollutants.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Children are forced to wear masks due to the toxic smoke from peat land fires in Indonesia. Aulia Erlangga / CIFOR

By Irene Banos Ruiz

Pediatricians in New Delhi, India, say children's lungs are no longer pink, but black.

Our warming planet is already impacting the health of the world's children and will shape the future of an entire generation if we fail to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (35.6°F), the 2019 Lancet Countdown Report on health and climate change shows.

Read More Show Less
Private homes surround a 20 inch gas liquids pipeline which is part of the Mariner East II project on Oct. 5, 2017 in Marchwood, Penn. Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

The FBI is looking into how the state of Pennsylvania granted permits for a controversial natural gas pipeline as part of a corruption investigation, the AP reports.

Read More Show Less
Three cows who were washed off their North Carolina island by Hurricane Dorian have been found alive after swimming at least two miles. Carolina Wild Ones / Facebook

Three cows who were washed off their North Carolina island by Hurricane Dorian have been found alive after swimming at least two miles, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less