India declares war on coal, PM Modi makes five pledges in Glasgow

By the year 2030 India will produce half its electricity through renewable energy, pledged Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Glasgow on Monday. Coal currently helps India produce 70% of its power

India declares war on coal, PM Modi makes five pledges in Glasgow

NH Web Desk

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing the world leaders’ summit at the UN Conference in Glasgow last evening, announced five key pledges:

1. India will reach net zero emissions by 2070 (2050 pledged by US and Europe and 2060 by China and Saudi Arabia). Experts say 2070-2080 is the most realistic target for India. Which is the world’s third largest polluter. ("net zero" refers to a balance where emissions of greenhouse gases that raise the globe's temperature continue but are offset by the absorption of an equivalent amount from the atmosphere.)

2. 50% of India’s power will be generated by renewable energy by 2030

3. India will increase its non-fossil energy capacity to 500GW by 2030

4. India will reduce its projected carbon emissions by 1 bn tonnes between now and 2030.

5. By 2030, the PM committed India to a 45% reduction in the carbon intensity of the economy.

The Indian PM defended the timeline and pointed out that the country contained 17 per cent of the world's population but was responsible for only 5 per cent of global emissions.

As of now, 70% of all power in India is generated by coal. While India is the cheapest producer of solar energy in the world, there is still no technology available to integrate it into the power grids on a large scale.

While hailing the Indian Prime Minister’s bold and ambitious targets, experts cautioned that advancements in hydrogen technology and storage and a technological leap will be necessary to wean Indian industries away from coal.

The Indian Prime Minister overshot his allotted time, apologized for it but said he had to do it so that the voice of the developing world was heard. He called upon the rich countries to provide more climate finance and technology to the developing countries.

Small hydropower plants, solar energy and wind mills are expected to help India achieve the 500 GW target of renewable energy by 2030. The Prime Minister’s announcements came as a surprise because India was seen as resisting targets being insisted by the US and the European Union. While the announcements by the Indian PM were ambitious, experts were divided on how realistic the goals are.

The dramatic announcement that India would be generating half of the country’s electricity through renewable energy by 2030 also puts a question mark on the coal-based power plants. It also means that phasing out of coal mining and coal-based power plants will begin on a war footing immediately.

The announcements came after the Indian PM held bilateral meetings with US president Joe Biden, French president Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Angela Merkel and Spain’s Pedro Sánchez on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Rome, Italy.

There was significant diplomatic pressure on Modi to raise India’s ambition at the summit. But New Delhi had been resisting the targets until now, calling for financial help and technological support from the developed world.

The Indian PM said he expected wealthy countries to make $1trillion available as soon as possible. “India understands and shares the pain of other developing countries,” he added.

Rich countries have collectively failed to meet their promise, made in 2009, to mobilise $100 bn a year in climate finance by 2020.

On Tuesday, Modi is due to join prime minister Boris Johnson in announcing a green grids initiative to accelerate the integration of solar and wind power on international grids by connecting energy-rich locations such as sunny deserts and windy coastlines with urban centres.

The initiative will be coordinated by a ministerial steering group including France, India, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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