COP21: India to slash coal use in exchange for climate funding

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India’s negotiators at the Paris climate summit have offered to move away from the country’s heavy coal use if money is made available to help with a transition to clean energy.

In order to power the estimated 300 million people who live without electricity, India is set to become the world’s biggest coal importer by 2020. However senior Dr Ajay Mathur told delegates in Paris that if helped with funding, India could more rapidly adopt renewables projects to power itself. He claimed that solar is still ‘double the price of coal’, therefore help is needed for the transition.

India’s COP21 climate pledge showed that the country sees coal as an integral part of its energy mix in the future, with plans to expand its production of the fossil fuel to 1.5 billon tonnes by 2020. This would require the a new coal mine to be opened every year over the next five.

Indian environment minister Prakash Javadekar had recently protected his country’s plans for expanding coal use, and told the BBC: “We are increasing our renewable targets tenfold in the next 15 years but we will require coal because it is the need of the hour for my people to grow.”

However more promising noises have been coming out of COP21, and Mathur said: “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 with more expensive but low carbon energy.

“We are very clear that solar and wind is our first commitment, hydro and nuclear all of these non-carbon sources are what we will develop to the largest extent we can.”

Elsewhere on day 3, the EU pushed for a deal in which countries’ emissions targets should be made legally binding, while debate continued as to when countries would be required to improve their initial pledges.

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Photo credit: Eric Parker from Flickr

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