With people in Delhi choking and gasping for air, Climate Change and the entire debate over fossil fuel could not have come at a much better time.
The 26th Session at Glasgow on Climate Change or COP26 ended over the weekend and there is a lot of brouhaha all over the world – there is debate raging that India has got away with ‘special’ treatment.
The objective of the COP26 was to push for an agreement that could put the world on a 1.5 degree Celsius pathway, instead of the 2 degree Celsius trajectory which is the main objective of the Paris Agreement. Some 190 nations signed the ‘end of coal’ agreement but three did not sign – China, India and Australia – they have pledged to zero out their emissions in decades ahead.
China does burn as much coal or even more than rest of the world and it intends to keep on adding coal capacity until 2025; it will get on to reducing it only ‘gradually’. And India, in the final hour, in the final text made it loud and clear that the term “phase-out” for coal power has to be replaced with “phase-down.”
Other developed countries have said that India has “watered” down the coal resolution. But then that’s being truly unfair and India is a developing nation and she needs to power up the over 1 billion teeming population and proposed $5 trillion economy. India simply cannot be held responsible; we believe it is the developed nations who share the responsibility – the developing and poor nations are facing the brunt of the climate change unleashed by the developed nations. And at the same time, while developed nations have the wherewithal and money to transition to renewable and green energy, they have been vocal, resisting providing any additional financial commitment to poor nations.
It is good that India made it very clear that coal is likely to remain the mainstay of energy production in the next few decades for sustainable economic growth of the country. It is only by 2030 that India’s emissions will fall to 50% below 2005 levels. Yes, it makes good copy and sounds good to hear that India will reach zero emissions by 2070 but how do we plan to get there; we are yet to formulate a long-term plan.
India will straddle growth by coal while getting onto the green energy wagon. It will be tough but that’s the only way ahead. Many were today saying in the market that one should get out of coal stocks – for us, its mainly Coal India based on the future that lay ahead.
Well, given the inefficient way in which Coal India is run, maybe it’s the right thing to do but not for the CoP26 reasons. But there is no denying the fact that it will continue to fire-up India’s growth story. So, the truth is that it is good to go for the next 10-15 years.
But for Coal India, this does need to be a wake-up call. Its very existence is under a threat and unless it rethinks its path ahead, it will die a natural death. 30 years on, we hope that Coal India will be a different company, taking lead in green energy. There has to be a complete match between what the leaders say at international forums and how the companies step up.
India is taking rapid steps towards making the automobile sector powered by electricity and renewable energy – maybe that’s how we will progress ahead.