Unfair to target India for coal-based power, says CSE

Unfair to target India for coal-based power, says CSE

Even as India is being targeted for expanding coal usage for energy production, a Delhi-based green NGO today said that focusing only on coal and India is an “unnecessary distraction” and creating “bad blood” at the climate conference here and is a “well planned campaign”.

The Centre for Science and Environment said that despite the ambitious plans of the Indian government on renewable energy, the campaign to bring the narrative that India is going to burn the world with coal is the “only negative counter narrative” but it will not help.

“We are disconcerted with the language being used here.

Focusing on only coal and only India is an unnecessary distraction. It is creating a lot of bad blood in Paris.

“It looks like a well planned campaign to ensure that the issue of carbon budget where one needs to take into account the historical responsibility of nations (on emissions) and equity issue in the climate debate here is being treated as obstruction. India’s entire focus on equity and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), to counter that has been brought forward,” said CSE deputy director general Chandra Bhushan.

Noting that he sees the narrative in closed rooms and in the western media, Bhushan said that India and coal are the talk of town.

“I think there is no other issue to corner India than coal. This is quite clear. India has a very clear position on climate change that equity and CBDR is important. So to bring the narrative that India is going to burn the world with coal is the only negative counter narrative which is available,” he said.

The comments come in the back drop of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s remark that India will be a “challenge” at the Paris climate change conference.

Bhushan said India should have put out its coal story in a lot better way than it has been doing till now.

Hitting out at the US and other developed nations, Bhushan said that coal is being used and will continue to be used in both developed and developing nations.

“Coal is a major source of power sector in both developed and developing countries. The availability of gas in India and China is low, we have coal and we use it. But US has both gas and coal, 68 per cent depends on fossil fuel, 87 per cent of electricity in Australia comes from coal. Coal is a dominant source of energy across the world. It is not an Indian phenomenon or a Chinese phenomenon,” he said.

Elaborating further, he said coal usage in US in 2014 is more than what it was in 1990 and asserted that US consumes more fossil fuel than ever before in its history.

“If all the US power plants were considered a country, it would have been the third largest polluter of greenhouse gas in the world. We need to get some perspective on who is using how much coal,” Bhushan said.

He said that if India does not do anything on curbing coal emissions, its emission from coal will increase from 600 million tonnes in 2010 to 2,400 million tonnes in 2030.

“If we do some energy improvement, we will reduce to 2,000. But with the policy that the government now has on renewables, we will reduce coal pollution by 800 million tonnes each year by 2030. That’s a narrative to talk about.

“A country that has hardly any energy resources apart from coal and renewables is going to put enough resources to reduce coal pollution by 800 million tonnes. US’ clean power plan of President Barack Obama if you look at it, in 2030, US coal production will be same as India is producing today – 600 million tonnes. In 2030, 60 per cent of electricity will come from fossils in US,” he said.

He maintained that decarbonising is not happening in US either and there is a need to talk about challenge of coal not only in India but across the world.

“All developed countries have plans to build or keep using coal. Germany, Canada, Japan, Australia – they are going to continue building coal-based power plants. In 2020, India and Germany will have 30 per cent of total final energy from renewables.

“We (world) are not leapfrogging to renewables as the plans of countries or INDCs look like. We are not making the kind of investments which we need to do in renewables. The narrative should change in Paris. We need controls on all fossils,” Bhushan said.

“The CBDR demands that those who have been polluters in the past should reduce their emissions. US, EU have already polluted, we should make sure that they stop coal. India will stop coal if there is leadership from developed countries. It cannot be that you can tell India to stop coal and US to continue. That’s unfair,” he said.