What are 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?

  • It is “an oil or gas project that will result in at least a billion tonnes of CO2 emissions over its lifetime.”
  • Whenever coal, oil, or gas is extracted it results in pollution and environmental degradation. Further, carbon emissions take place in particularly large amounts when fuel is burned.

    Carbon bomb
    Photo Source: Earth.com
  • 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.
    • The agreement was to contain the global rise in average temperature to 2 °C and strive for the target of 1.5 °C as compared to pre-industrial levels – when the widespread use of coal for industry in the beginning in the mid-19th century led to a rapid rise in average global temperatures.

What does the investigation say?

  • More than 60% of these carbon bomb projects are already underway.
  • 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 report criticised reliance on fuel from conventional sources and not making use of emerging, green sources of energy.
  • Under the IEA net zero emissions scenario, and all Paris-aligned scenarios, all energy sources remain important through 2050, and oil and natural gas remain essential components of the energy mix.
  • This in reference to the International Energy Agency, an international organisation which put together a road map to reduce global carbon emissions to as close to zero as possible by 2050.
    • Net zero emissions means that all carbon emissions into the atmosphere must be absorbed by methods like increasing the forest cover, and decreasing man-made emissions.

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.
  • On its website, it has listed carbon bomb projects from all over the world. This includes 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.
  • 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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