India's coal ambition negating its climate action, feel experts

While India is expanding its renewable energy capacity, it is also expanding its coal power plant fleet.
For representational purposes (Photo | EPS)
For representational purposes (Photo | EPS)

NEW DELHI: Although India's total installed renewable energy generation capacity crossed the 100 GW-mark in an incredible achievement, experts feel that the expansion and addition of new coal-based power plants is negating its climate actions.

India is now fourth in the world in terms of installed renewable energy capacity.

It has set an ambitious target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022.

"It is good to see India moving towards achieving its Paris goals. However, what is worrying is that the way the government is doubling down on coal power. It is no longer enough to just expand renewable energy and claim it as climate action," Nandikesh Shivalingam, director, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air said on Saturday.

India's coal consumption should peak in the next few years and there needs to be a clear phaseout plan for coal power which includes rehabilitation of affected communities and restoration of degraded land, he said.

While India is expanding its renewable energy capacity, it is also expanding its coal power plant fleet.

"Achieving 40 per cent of non-fossil fuel installed capacity nine years ahead of the Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) target is an incredible achievement for our country. It is a testament to visionary policies and business dynamism," Ulka Kelkar, Director-Climate Program, WRI India said.

She, however, said India should avoid the risk of creating stranded assets as international financing for coal power projects is drying up.

Renewable energy that powers green hydrogen will be the key to decarbonising difficult sectors like industrial processes, Kelkar added.

Shweta Narayan from Advisor Healthy Energy Initiative India said India's efforts to meet its demand through addition of renewal energy is commendable and should be an inspiration for rest of the world, however, the gains from this effort will become meaningless given the present roadmap of expansion and addition of new coal-based power plants.

The new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is a clarion call for exiting fossil fuels, including coal.

India's leadership in renewable energy (RE) will only shine when it fully moves away from fossil fuels that harm the climate and public health, she said.

Averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, according to the latest report by IPCC, a United Nations body.

At the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world had agreed to limit the global temperature rise in this century to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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