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India’s stance at COP21 – U.N. climate change conference in Paris

As the Paris climate talks unfold, India’s energy dilemma has been thrust into the spotlight. Despite pressure to shift to renewable technologies, India is still set to become the biggest source of global demand for coal, with plans for 455 new coal-fired power plants and targets of doubling production by 2020.


As the Paris climate talks unfold, India’s energy dilemma has been thrust into the spotlight.

The country’s vast population growth poses new issues for electricity provision, with experts at the International Energy Agency predicting that India will have to provide for nearly 600 million new electricity consumers by 2040.

The immediate threat of energy poverty, coupled with growing pressure for a shift to renewables, poses a crucial predicament for the future of India’s energy mix.

At the negotiations, India has indicated that it could cut coal consumption if it is offered substantial financial support to move to more expensive renewable technologies. However, this depends on availability of sufficient finance from the Green Climate Fund, something that remains unclear at the Paris negotiations.

Keen to demonstrate an acceptance of renewables, Prime Minster Narendra Modi launched an International Solar Alliance with France’s President Francois Hollande and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The alliance aims to boost solar energy in developing countries through the creation of a common platform for sharing technology and building the capacity of people working on solar energy issues.

In fact, India aims to become the world’s second-largest market for solar electricity panels by 2040 and will install 100 gigawatts of solar power capacity by 2022.

However, the country is still set to become the biggest source of global demand for coal, with plans for 455 new coal-fired power plants (according to the World Resources Institute) and targets of doubling production by 2020.

Whilst India’s stance on coal use is unpopular in Paris negotiations, the country’s government maintains its defence of affordable energy for the population, saying that the need to develop using fossil fuels supersedes climate demands. Cementing this stance, the Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told BBC News, ‘We are increasing our renewable targets tenfold in the next 15 years but we will require coal because it is the need of the hour for my people to grow.’ Dr Mathur, a senior negotiator in the Indian delegation, added that the cost of solar (despite declining by 75% in 4 years) is still double the cost of coal.

Ultimately, coal is the most affordable and abundant commodity for developing nations like India, and pressure from U.N. negotiations for the country’s increased investment in renewable technologies needs to be tempered by the realistic appreciation that India’s demand for coal is vital for their economic and social development.


Sources:


BBC News http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-34989719
Thompson Reuters http://www.trust.org/item/20151209120231-vj9ds/?source=hpMostPopularBlogs

This content is provided by Coaltrans Conferences for informational purposes only, and it reflects the market and industry conditions and presenter’s opinions and affiliations available at the time of the presentation.

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