Just a few days after a number of countries - rich and poor - signed off on the Paris climate deal aimed at curbing carbon emissions, one of India’s senior government officials said that the country still plans on doubling its coal output by 2020. The official further stated that India will continue to rely on the energy resource for many decades to come.
India is the globe’s third-largest emitter of carbon and is heavily dependant on coal to produce about two-thirds of the country’s energy needs. Moreover, the country pledged to conduct more coal mining in order to power its economy, which is dependent on the resource. India did promise, however, that it will simultaneously increase its generation of clean energy.
India’s top official in the coal ministry, Anil Swarup, told reporters that, “The environment is non-negotiable and we are extremely careful about it. [But] our dependence on coal will continue. There are no other alternatives available.”
Swarup further added that his country plans to add about 30 times its use of solar-power by the year 2022. He noted, however, that there simply are too many limitations to clean energy in India and that coal remains king.
India’s Minister for Power, Coal and Renewable Energy, Piyush Goyal, reported that the country’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is only 2.5%, which is he said is very good considering India is home to 17% percent of the world’s population. He further pointed out that other developed countries produce 20% of the global greenhouse gas emissions with only 5% of the population.
Goyal posted on social media that, “While contributing to (the) growth of renewable energy, energy conservation & efficiency, we’ll make sure our development process (does) not get hampered.”
While many international lenders are leaning away from providing loans to new coal projects, it should not be difficult for India to finance several new mines.
Environmentalists worry that India’s reliance on coal will hamper the world’s battle against global warming and climate change. Yet, as Indian officials point out, coal produces the cheapest energy for the industrialization needed to lead millions of people out of poverty.