Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
India, one of the biggest fossil fuel consumers and a key player in global climate politics, skipped an important climate meeting in the UK last week and failed to update its emissions target before a deadline.
While the Indian authorities have downplayed these events, it appears that displeasure towards the Paris climate agreement and Net Zero plans to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide is brewing in the subcontinent. Could these be the early signs of a coming rebellion against West’s anti-fossil policies?
Every year, the United Nations conducts its flagship climate conference which is known as the Conference of Parties (COP). November’s COP at Glasgow will be the 26th such event.
The meeting India missed was a preparatory session for COP26. India’s absence was a surprise that COP26 organizers took as a deliberate snub. When approached, Indian authorities indicated that they couldn’t attend the event due to “technical reasons”.
However, India did not just stop with giving an excuse for its absence, adding that its position on emissions was made clear in G20 meetings earlier this year and that it had nothing to add.
At the G20, India suggested that the developed world should reduce emissions but that developing countries like India should not be forced to forgo of their rights to use natural resources for energy generation.
Further, both India and China, have failed to revise their emission reduction targets within the stipulated deadline of July 30, 2021. This is not a surprise to many as both countries were expected to avoid disruptions to their domestic energy sectors and struggling economies.
India has indicated that it won’t be doing any further negotiations to alter significantly its emission-reduction commitments. This is because the country is relying on coal to become a $5 Trillion economy. Speaking at an event earlier this year, India’s home minister said that the coal sector is critical to India’s economic ambitions. States across the country are increasingly depending on coal-powered electricity and investing in large scale thermal power plants. To make sure that these plants have sufficient coal supply, the central government has acted to upgrade mining technologies and streamline the logistics network.
Contrary to what is the global mainstream media’s narrative of declining coal use, countries like India are expected to increase their consumption of the fuel. For example, Coal India Ltd (CIL) — the state-run coal company — registered a 30% growth in coal supply to the power sector during the April-July period in 2021. Similarly, subsidiaries of CIL have registered a historic increase in coal output this year.
At this rate, even a very rapid increase in the installment of so-called renewable energy facilities will not reverse coal’s dominance in India. According to the Indian government’s planning commission (Niti Ayog), coal will continue to be the largest share of energy generation in India through 2047.
India’s coal strategy suggests a fight against intrusive and unacceptable energy policies like those expected to be advanced at COP26.
Besides, India is also keenly observing the damage of aggressive promotion of solar and wind technologies in the West. Not only has the West failed to reduce emissions but it has also given its citizens higher energy prices, which can be attributed to overreliance on impractical renewable sources. India intends no such disruptions to its energy sector.
At the upcoming COP26 meetings, India will raise concerns regarding the failure of the Western countries to reduce their emissions and to provide developing nations the billions of dollars mandated by the U.N.’s climate fund.
India will also defend its right to access fossil fuels — a lifeline for its 1.3 billion citizens — just as did the industrialized West during its past two centuries of achieving unprecedented prosperity.
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