'India performs better than predicted, cuts down faster on coal'
While announcing his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, President Trump loudly wondered why the US should stop its coal production, while India could double its production by 2020. According to a Greenpeace study, India has cut down on coal faster than expected: it recorded an annual growth rate of 2.2% in coal usage compared to a steady 6% over past ten years.
What is the Paris Agreement?
Under the Paris Accord signed in December 2015, nations agreed to make domestic efforts to limit global temperatures below two degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, considered crucial by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change to avoid the effects of dangerous climate change.
India's love affair with coal
Despite being the the third largest emitter of Green House Gases, most of India's energy is derived from coal. While India acknowledges its negative impacts on the environment, coal is often regarded a preferable source of energy due to low costs and easier accessibility. India's coal usage was further predicted to boom, as its domestic renewable energy deployment still has to overcome many hurdles.
What are India's commitments under the Paris Agreement?
India has set time-bound targets for itself under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Among other things, India has planned to draw 40% of its electricity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030 and multiple renewable energy generating capacity by about six times by 2021-22!
What has caused the dip in coal usage?
The Report attributes the decrease in coal consumption was brought about by factors including falling imports, declining production and cement, iron and power generation industries burning less coal. It also attributes the dip in coal production to the excess capacity problem plaguing the Indian coal sector, and increasing cost competitiveness of wind and solar energy, causing India's renewable energy sector to boom.
The new figures reveal that contrary to previous predictions India's coal demand is not on the rise and that it is serious about meeting its commitments. The gradual dip in coal consumption can take India closer to achieving its Paris targets, provided it aggressively continues renewable energy deployment without heavily leaning towards opening a number of coal power plants it has in the pipeline.