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As India Scrambles To Dig Up More Coal, A Warning By Top Energy Agency

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Coal demand in India is expected to grow by around 30% by 2030, says IEA report(Representational)

New Delhi:

As India rushes to dig up more coal for power plants running on low stocks, a new report by the International Energy Agency has warned there are major uncertainties for the coal sector. The report strongly calls on nations to decarbonise the energy sector rapidly to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius over average temperatures about 150 years ago, or else there will be an increased risk of catastrophes, such as frequent heatwaves, cyclones, rising sea levels and so on.

The energy body IEA’s warning comes on a day coal minister Pralhad Joshi visited India’s largest open cast coal mine to “motivate” the staff to increase coal output.

On Tuesday, Mr Joshi said, “The entire world and India are debating ‘what is the future of coal.’ A dip in coal stocks in India led to such a heated debate.”

The IEA includes 30 developed nations as member countries and eight association countries including India, China and Brazil.

Here are 10 key takeaways for India from the IEA’s World Energy Outlook report:

  1.  In India over 50 GW of financially stressed coal assets (NPAs) has created strains in the banking system
  2. But ambitious volumetric targets have run up against major uncertainties about the demand trajectory as well as challenges associated with the low quality of large portions of domestic coal production
  3. Report calculates India’s GDP will be growing faster than China on average over the next three decades starting now. [5.3 per cent vs China’s 3.6 per cent between 2020-50]
  4. Assumes India will become the most populous nation surpassing China’s population this decade, and by 2050 India crosses 1.6 billion in population where as China’s population is projected to decrease
  5. A failure to accelerate clean energy transitions would continue to leave people exposed to air pollution globally. Recently 1.67 million, pre-mature deaths in India were linked to air pollution, that’s more than three deaths every minute. If India and others follow their stated policies number of premature deaths from air pollution will rise during the next decade
  6. Coal demand in India is expected to grow by around 30 per cent by 2030
  7. As per their announced pledges, after China, India is projected to be the next largest user of unabated coal, responsible for about 15 per cent of global use for electricity generation in 2030.
  8.  The reports calls for India to mandate a default set point temperature of 24 degrees Celsius for all room air conditioners and tighter minimum performance standards with the aim to improve efficiencies as the demand for cooling and power increases.
  9. IEA’s praise for India push for Renewable Energy policy:  Notable examples of developing economies mobilising capital for clean energy projects, such as India’s success in financing a rapid expansion of solar PV in pursuit of its 450 GW target for renewables by 2030.
  10. Recent survey data from the World Health Organization for India revised the historic clean cooking access rates. This is due to faster progress than previously assumed, in large part due to the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana LPG distribution scheme

While the report calls for the construction of new coal-fired power plants to be halted as of this year to achieve net zero emissions globally by 2050, India will be commissioning 36.7 GW of this by 2025. It also aims to add 75 GW more of renewable energy capacity in less than six months, a double push which is contradictory but highlights India’s energy constraints.

The World Energy Outlook 2021 report has been released ahead of schedule to serve as a guideline for the crucial global climate conference at Glasgow, UK, next month. Nations are expected to promise more emission cuts than they did after the Paris climate conference in 2015.


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