Indian Officials At Cop26, Coal Will Still Be A Major Source Of Energy For Decades

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Burning coal and other fossil fuels release heat-trapping pollutants into the atmosphere, which contributes to climate change.  Scientists recommend that governments preserve most fossil fuels, including 90% of coal reserves, underground.

Climate change is already wreaking havoc in India, with extreme rainfall, floods, and heatwaves making the nation uninhabitable by the end of this century.  Modi stunned attendees at the UN climate meeting in Glasgow on Monday with a series of bold new promises: He promised that by 2030, 50% of India’s electricity would come from renewable sources. And by the year 2070, India will be carbon neutral and no longer contribute greenhouse gases to the climate.

For the first time, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has set a goal date for zero emissions. Although his target of 2070 is ten years later than China’s and two decades later than the United States and Europe’s, Indian energy economists and environmental organizations hailed his plan.  Ulka Kelkar, an economist and climate change specialist based in Bengaluru, India, tells NPR that India’s new promises are “much more ambitious” than the country’s previous climate obligations. ‘These would set India on a course of low-carbon growth and send strong signals to every sector of business and society,’ says the official.  Indian think tank CEO Arunabha Ghosh tells NPR that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statements in Glasgow are “a strong statement for low-carbon development,” citing Modi’s vows in Glasgow.

Since India would have to go so far as to meet Modi’s promises, energy experts believe they’re daring.  As a percentage of the population, India’s energy demands and consumption are far lower than the West’s. According to some estimates, the good news is that they’re expanding quickly – faster than any other big economy in the world.  Despite Modi’s promise to do away with coal, his administration isn’t yet ready to do so. India is in desperate need of any form of energy.

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India imports most of its oil and natural gas, making it sensitive to price changes on the global market. Modi, on the other hand, wants to make use of India’s abundant coal resources. As part of his Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) program, he encourages the development of native resources and avoids the need to import goods.  Last year, the Indian prime minister presided at an event named “Unleashing Coal ” event, which launched an auction of 41 new coal mining areas. More than 30 percent of the nation’s coal production may be generated by mining to capacity.

After everything was said and done, Modi’s coal auction for 2020 was a failure. Vibhuti Garg, an energy economist and coal specialist at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, believes that the Indian government couldn’t attract enough private investors because of the shifting global stance on coal.

The environmentalists will be relieved by this news. According to leaked papers acquired by the BBC, Indian officials allegedly promised the United Nations that coal would remain the backbone of its energy sector for decades to come.

This autumn, India’s commitment to coal was put to the test when the price of coal throughout the world went up.

Rural India is no stranger to blackouts. In early October, authorities warned that the economic recovery in India’s major cities might be jeopardized as a result. People were urged to limit their use of power.  In the end, massive blackouts in India’s major cities were avoided, and the lights remained on. Certain Indian power plants had to purchase imported coal at higher costs to maintain a continuous power supply. However, not everyone was so fortunate.

As long as coal remains India’s primary source of electricity and climate change continues to screw with the monsoon rains, this predicament will continue to occur.  So India is putting much money into renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.

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