THE ENERGY SECTOR has the long shadow of the COP26 Climate Summit hanging over it as it strides into 2022. In an unanticipated move on 1 November 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi set new pledges at the summit in Glasgow. He announced that India would reach net-zero emissions by 2070, increase its installed renewable energy capacity to 500 GW (up from the previous target of 450 GW) by 2030 and cut the country’s carbon-dioxide emissions by a billion tonnes by then.
However, on the last day of the summit, India demanded that a particularly contentious clause be changed. Instead of “accelerating efforts towards the phase-out of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”, India’s lead negotiator requested a call to escalate “efforts to phase down unabated coal power, and phase out inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies.”
This last-minute change reflected the importance of coal in meeting India’s energy requirements and a sense of historical injustice. Phasing out coal altogether would have compromised India’s energy requirements and put a spoke in the wheel of the planned levels of growth India hopes to achieve. Union Minister for Environment Bhupender Yadav was quoted saying, “Fossil fuels and their use have enabled parts of the world to attain high levels of growth. Developing countries have a right to their fair share of the global carbon budget and are entitled to the responsible use of fossil fuels.”
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