- The recently concluded COP26 Glasgow global climate summit is being bandied about as a success for India as per Union Environment, Forest & Climate Change Minister. With such a hype and hoopla surrounding the summit drawing top billing from across the globe, the eventual outcome appears to be similar to what transpired during earlier efforts. This particular summit was termed as the last best hope to limit this century’s global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels. However, it is interesting to note that India is facing a lot of criticism for pushing through a late revision in the Glasgow Climate Pact, which now has countries agreeing to phase down unabated coal, instead of phase-out.
PC: Priya Pareek
- Undoubtedly, this is momentous language, as this is the first-time coal and fossil fuels are being mentioned in a COP deal. As is its wont, the blame games being played against this backdrop are poor in climate finance and rich in hypocrisies. As reported extensively showing their lion’s share of cumulative emissions indicates, rich countries grew rich on fossil fuels and now they are also more comfortably placed to transition to renewable at scale. In a rich vein of occurrences, the United States of America is witnessing stagnant electricity demand plus lower prices of natural gas and renewables have been shutting down the coal plants.
- Despite the same, the US has not presented any details to end coal, as if leaving the transition timeline all to the market dynamics. Quite contrastingly, the situation is opposite in India in comparison where the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts the largest increase in energy demand of any country over the next 20 years. As is known, India is blessed with plentiful coal where the mining industry employs over 2 million people. Thus, sensitivity to the cost of capital for energy transitions is very high here. No wonder, many rich countries continuing to go slow on the Paris finance commitment bodes ill for the bigger ask being placed upon developing countries now.
PC: IAS gatewayy
- Nonetheless, as climate change manifests around us from the seas to the sky, we don’t really have the luxury of waiting around for outside help. The moot point to ponder over here is whether India as a responsible country aspiring to be counted amongst the developed nations has committed enough to combat climate change. The answer is yes. India’s Glasgow commitments, including meeting 50% of the electricity requirement through renewable sources by 2030, already reflect one of the most rapid decarbonization of the sector in the whole world. Of course, we can and should do much more, for our own sake.
- As mentioned previously, nuclear energy is one of the most cost-effective alternatives that we should make efforts at optimizing. As compared to 4% in China, 18% in Russia, 19% in the US, and a whopping 72% in France, nuclear energy forms only 2% of the share of energy in electricity production in India. More can be accomplished on this front, though. Needless to mention, the ultimate goal of ending coal will largely depend on sincerity in phasing it down first.