Following on from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent statements about “common but differentiated responsibilities”, a director for the country’s Bureau for Energy Efficiency has agreed to cut down on coal use if financial aid can be promised in return.
Modi had previously said that India will be making significant efforts to improve it’s environmental impact as a country and has set up a ‘solar alliance’ with French President Francois Hollande aiming to bring solar power to hundreds of small villages in the tropics.
However, he also made it clear that in order for India to truly progress to the point where renewable energy becomes completely viable, then certain concessions will need to be made regarding the country’s use of coal power in the meantime.
Prior to Modi’s statements at the COP21 Paris summit, India’s energy minister had maintained the necessity of allowing the country to continue to focus on coal power. On Wednesdau, Ajay Mathur, the director of the Bureau for Energy Efficiency yesterday came out offering a compromise.
He agreed with the importance of pushing renewable energy sources but, in line with Modi, admitted that the country is not currently in a position to be able to do so fully.
“We are very clear,” he said, “that solar and wind is our first commitment, hydro and nuclear [and] all of these non-carbon sources are what we will develop to the largest extent we can.”
However, he went on, “what cannot be met by these will be met by coal.”
In India, there are currently some 300 million people living without electricity and so turbo charged rolling out of coal plants is seen as the most immediate and effective way of solving this problem. The Indian government has maintained that this production is, in the short term at least, more important for India than the environmental imperatives, and currently plans exist to vastly expand its coal production over the coming five years.
The aforementioned energy minister Prakash javadekar has said that “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.”
Mr Mathur, however, agreed to work on cutting down India’s use of coal if sufficient funding could be provided by other nations in order to make it more viable.
He echoed Modi’s point about the fact that countries like the USA and much of the EU got to where they are in terms of prosperity and energy infrastructure at a time when cheaper forms of energy like fossil fuels were commonplace and the environmental implications were not fully understood. To expect a nation like India to now get to the same point