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India’s coal minister has declared that the country has no intention of ditching coal from its energy mix any time soon. Addressing a parliamentary committee, minister Pralhad Joshi has said that coal will continue to play an important role in India until at least 2040, referring to the fuel as an affordable source of energy for which demand has yet to peak in India.
"Thus, no transition away from coal is happening in the foreseeable future in India," Joshi said, adding the fuel will continue to play a big role until 2040 and beyond.
The stunning declaration has come even as calls for countries to switch to cleaner forms of fuel intensify at U.N. climate talks taking place in Egypt. At the November COP27 talks, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for urgent action to cut emissions, including phasing out coal by 2040 globally. But this is not the first time India has resisted renouncing coal: at last year's COP26 talks, India and China blocked stronger commitments to quitting it.
India is not alone.
Last November, the UK, together with key partner Italy, hosted the COP26 climate summit, an event many believed to be the world’s best last chance to get runaway climate change under control. A key outcome of the summit was that dozens of nations pledged to end deforestation, curb CO2 and methane emissions and also stop public investment in coal power. Specifically regarding coal, a total of 46 countries signed the Global Coal to Clean Power Transition statement, promising to “accelerate a transition away from unabated coal power generation” and “cease issuance of new permits for new unabated coal-fired power generation projects.”
Less than a year later, all those promises have gone to the dogs, with developed countries now scrambling to resume coal-based energy generation after the Ukraine crisis triggered a global energy meltdown.
According to a report by the Observer Research Foundation, energy supply disruptions triggered by Russia’s war on Ukraine took LNG prices even higher leaving coal as the only option for dispatchable and affordable power in much of Europe, including the tough markets of Western Europe and North America that have explicit policies to phase out coal.
According to the Washington Post, coal mines and power plants that closed 10 years ago have begun to be repaired in Germany. In what industry observers have dubbed a “spring” for Germany’s coal-fired power plants, the country is expected to burn at least 100,000 tons of coal per month by winter. That’s a big U-turn considering that Germany's goal had been to phase out all coal-generated electricity by 2038. Other European countries such as Austria, Poland, the Netherlands and Greece have also started restarting coal plants.
Meanwhile, China’s coal imports have been surging, increasing 24% month-to-month in July as power generators increased purchases to provide for peak summer electricity demand. China has the largest number of operational coal power plants with 3,037 while Germany, the largest economy in the EU has 63.
By Alex Kimani for Oilprice.com
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Alex Kimani is a veteran finance writer, investor, engineer and researcher for Safehaven.com.