The coal reality: How coal is phased out is India’s policy choice, the transition cannot be decided by West’s interests

Source: The post is based on the article “The coal reality: How coal is phased out is India’s policy choice, the transition cannot be decided by West’s interests” published in The Times of India on 14th November 2022.  

Syllabus: GS 3 – Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Relevance: About phase out coal.

News: Far from the phase-down of coal that COP26 called for in Glasgow, now in COP27 India has proposed that the decision text should call for phasing down all fossil fuels rather than focusing only coal.

This is because, a) Natural gas and oil do contribute to GHG emissions as well, b) India gets targeted for heavy coal reliance for its energy needs, and c) The energy security of many countries still dependent on coal.

How rich countries are performing in climate change pledge?

Rich countries have fallen horribly short of their commitments to help developing countries make a just transition from fossil fuels. For instance, US energy use per capita is 6,804 kg of oil equivalent compared to India’s 637 kg.

What are the challenges in phasing out coal in India?

Needs internal just-transition: 85% of coal production is concentrated in the relatively poor eastern and central states. On the other hand, over 60% of renewable energy potential and 80% of current capacity is concentrated in relatively wealthy southern and western states. So, while phasing out coal India needs an internal just-transition.

Need longer time to eliminate coal: More finance and technology support is required before phasing out coal.

Why India needs to phase out coal?

a) Regular accidents that show open-cast mines to be death traps, b) Cleaning up coal is very much in workers’ interests, c) Sickening smog hovering over northern India and global carbon emissions from fossil fuels expected to hit a record level this year. So, phasing out them is essential to improve environmental conditions.

Overall, India should put hard timelines to phase out coal and extract and deploy cleaner technologies.

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