It has been a rough start for the New Year environmentally speaking. Delhi experienced unusually cold weather as temperatures plummeted to break new records, while Jakarta suffered its worst floods in a decade. However what shocked me and the world the most is the Australian bushfires. Thousands of people losing their homes, businesses and belongings, and the horrific tole on the wildlife – which has been estimated at close to a billion losses. The has also lead to alarming levels of smog and air pollution caused by burning forests. It’s been a difficult sight even after a decade of bearing witness to environmental destruction.
Most of my work over the last decade has involved talking about and researching the impacts of coal mining and the burning coal for producing power in India. A perspective that most people living in the cities do not consider. However, things changed since North Indian air pollution took center stage in the national debate, as air pollution emissions from coal power plants became a significant issue even if the coal plants are 100s of kilometers away from cities. Whether it’s the health impacts due to dust emissions from the power plant, or the clearing of forests to displace people, deteriorating air quality in cities, poor planning resulting in public and natural resources and money mismanagement – people could no longer ignore the issue.
My work involves two main things, telling the world about the alternative truth about fossil fuel based development and support those who are trying to protect their land, health and livelihood with research and information.
The story is not very different in many parts of the world. Communities and citizens from the Americas to Australia are standing up for their rights, making their voices heard in various ways against climate change and the public health emergency created by poor air quality. Phasing out fossil fuels are going to be the one of the biggest challenges of this decade as we work towards a livable planet while protecting public health.
One of the key challenges that exist is access to credible information and research. Often big business and government are cleaver and have the resources to hide and/or mislead people about the true impacts of their action. What It requires is good scientific expertise and persistent tracking to bring out the truth. Hence why we founded CREA (Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air).
CREA is an independent organization, that consists of energy and air quality experts who would be able to provide the best research and communication support to advance initiatives towards improving air quality and phasing out fossil fuels. We will support anyone who wants to understand/monitor air quality in their city or region, or who is worried about air pollution and health impacts caused by a current and future projects. We can support organisations that want to take action and provide insights into how energy consumption, sources and air pollution interact in different countries, we track emerging patterns and solutions that could work to improve air quality.
Climate change and air pollution are among the top threats for global public health as of today according to WHO. We hope that our work at CREA would support many communities and campaigns and be able to make a contribution towards a positive change.