India offers to cut coal use

India has said it will cut back on investments in coal if it is provided with sufficient funding for renewables, after a new climate deal is due to be made in Paris next week.

Set to become one of the world’s biggest coal producers by 2020, India has an urgent need for coal, as it is estimated that around 300 million people in the country are still living without electricity (1).

Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General of India’s Bureau of Energy Efficiency, said: “We’ve made it very clear that solar and wind is our first commitment” (2). This statement has been welcomed by other nations, saying it ‘enhanced the chances of a new agreement’ (1).

With development being at the forefront of India’s concerns, Dr Mathur has said that whatever needs cannot be met by solar, wind, hydro and nuclear power will have to be met by coal. The country would be required to open one new coal mine every month to meet its plan on expanding its production of coal to 1.5 billion tonnes of fuel by 2020.

Todd Stern, the US Lead Negotiator has said: “We support the notion of India greatly increasing renewables. Prime Minister Modi has made pledges that are quite enormously impressive, actually, with respect to the development of renewable energy” (1).

In the past, India has been criticised by a section of countries and civil society organisations for its prominent use of coal. Campaigners from fossil fuel investment movements have also commented that the number of investors shunning coal, gas and oil has risen ahead of the Paris conference.

“We look forward to an agreement that enables financial support from the countries that have developed on the backs of cheap energy to those who have to meet their energy demands with more expensive, but low carbon or zero carbon energy,” said Dr Mathur (3).