Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav Asserts India's Commitment To Coal Power Amidst Global Climate Debate At COP28

About 70 per cent of India's electricity is currently generated from coal, with plans to increase coal-based power generation capacity by 17 gigawatts within the next 16 months.

Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav delivered national statement at COP28 Climate Summit.

India is committed to meeting the energy needs of its people and will also have to rely on coal power until it achieves developed country status, Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav said on Tuesday.

Responding to a question at a press conference in New Delhi, the minister also said India resisted pressure from developed countries to end the use of fossil fuels at the UN climate conference in the United Arab Emirates.

He said India is committed to meeting the energy needs of its people and this cannot be done by just "importing oil and gas".

"While we are increasing our renewable capacity, we will also have to rely on coal power until we achieve the objective of a developed India," he said.

India relies on coal for about 70 per cent of its power generation and aims to add 17 gigawatts of coal-based power generation capacity in the next 16 months.

Yadav said India "strongly resisted" the rich nations' call for limitations on new and unabated coal power generation. "We said you cannot dictate or tie up any country."

Around 40 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions stem from coal, with oil and gas accounting for the remaining percentage.

Developing countries, including India, pushed rich nations to take the lead in climate action and "that's why the climate conference in Dubai got extended," Yadav said.

He said India accounts for 17 per cent of the global population but its contribution to global carbon emissions is just four per cent. "Poverty eradication is a priority for many nations. So, we did not give in to the pressure from developed countries (for a fossil fuel phase-out)," Yadav said.

The minister said developed nations, which account for a large part of historical emissions (since the start of the industrial revolution), are required to provide finance and technological support to developing countries to help them combat climate change.

"But the developed countries are pressuring developing nations to end the use of fossil fuels. We did not accept it (at COP28). We said efforts to (limit temperature rise to) 1.5 degrees Celsius should be seen in light of national circumstances and should adhere to (the principles of) equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities."

These principles acknowledge that countries' efforts to combat climate change should be considered in light of their contributions to total emissions. They also stress that wealthier nations should bear primary responsibilities due to their substantial historical emissions.

Countries reached a historic deal on a 'transition away from fossil fuels' at COP28 in Dubai last week while emerging economies like India and China strongly resisted the targeting of coal.

The deal called for tripling global renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency rates by 2030 which, according to the International Energy Agency, is critical to avoid breaching the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold.

Yadav said India reduced its GDP emission intensity by 33 per cent between 2005 and 2019, achieving the target 11 years in advance. The country reached its non-fossil fuel targets nine years ahead of schedule.

The emission intensity of the economy refers to the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted for every unit increase in gross domestic product.

At COP28, the minister said, India also asked rich nations to vacate carbon space by achieving negative carbon emissions (removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than emitted), not merely reaching net zero by 2050.

According to the Global Carbon Project, a group of international scientists, India's per capita carbon dioxide emissions rose by around five per cent in 2022 to reach two tonnes but these were still less than half of the global average.

The United States topped the per capita emissions chart with every individual in the country emitting 14.9 tonnes of CO2, followed by Russia (11.4), Japan (8.5), China (8), and the European Union (6.2). The global average stood at 4.7 tonnes.

The US is also the biggest CO2 emitter since the industrial revolution.

Over the entire period 1850–2022, the US' cumulative emissions amounted to 115 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (GtC) (24 per cent of the world's total), the EU's to 80?GtC (17 per cent) and China's to 70 GtC (15 per cent). India has emitted 15?GtC since 1850 which is just 3 per cent of the world's total.