Indian officials claimed Monday the country will double production of coal by 2020, despite the United Nations Paris agreement on global warming.
“[O]ur dependence on coal will continue. There are no other alternatives available,” a top coal ministry bureaucrat tells Reuters. India says coal provides the cheapest energy for the kind of rapid industrialization that will lift millions out of poverty.
Attempts to reduce the emissions of developing economies like India have historically been very ineffective as they are inevitably costly and reduce economic growth.
The country appears set to double down on coal by doubling production and building 87,122 megawatts of new coal power capacity. India is the world’s fastest growing, and third largest, emitter of carbon dioxide. In 2014, India got 59 percent of its electricity from coal, and Indian leaders are ramping up the country’s coal production by opening a new mine every month.
Even with that level of coal use, it is estimated that 400 million Indians, 31 percent of the population, lack access to electricity.
“[I]n a country where a third of the population doesn’t have electricity, binding emissions limits are a fairy tale,”the director of the Liberty Institute, an Indian free-market think tank, tells The Guardian.
India and other developing countries are reluctant to cut emissions because their economies are deeply dependent on cheap, carbon emitting forms of energy. Environmental groups like The Sierra Club openly worry India’s shift towards coal will hamper its attempts to fight global warming.
India has stated it will only reduce emissions if it receives substantial assistance from Western countries, equivalent to $2.5 trillion over the next 15 years in direct aid, grants, and cheap financing.
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