Paris talks: All is well for India in deal, except coal line

India’s coal plans came under repeated attack from developed nations and western media during the two-week climate change conference in Paris.

Written by Amitabh Sinha | Updated: December 14, 2015 2:38 pm
javadekar1 Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar shaking hands with UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon. (Source: AP)

India has reasons to be satisfied with the Paris Agreement on climate change that was finalised on Saturday night, but the inclusion of one line in the article dealing with the deal’s purpose might prove to be a big irritant in its plans to build coal-fired power plants.

That line, possibly introduced in the text with India in mind, says that one of the ways the purpose of the agreement could be achieved is by making global “finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development”.

Watch Video: Paris Agreement & Its Impact On India

Observers say this line could be used by developed countries to arm-twist India on its coal plans on the grounds that it was not pursuing a low-emission pathway. They fear that by using that argument, developed nations can move to deny opportunities for India to raise money abroad.

An Indian negotiator admitted that India was not happy with the inclusion of that sentence but said it was “not the most important” provision of the agreement.


The sentence made its entry into the article in the penultimate draft that was released on Thursday night. In previous texts, it was embedded somewhere else. At that time, the language being used was that countries “should reduce international support for high-emission and maladaptive investments”. India had said that it would contest that line and have it removed.

India’s coal plans came under repeated attack from developed nations and western media during the two-week climate change conference in Paris.

While India has embarked on an ambitious renewable energy pathway, coal is likely to remain its primary source of energy for the next couple of decades at least.

In a recent projection, the government had said it hoped to bring down its dependence on coal for electricity production from the current 61 per cent to 57 per cent in the year 2031-32. But during that time, India also hopes to ramp up its total electricity generation capacity from the existing 260 GW to somewhere upwards of 800 GW.

By that year, the contribution of renewable energy — solar, wind and biogas — in total electricity generation was projected to grow to 29 per cent from the current 12 per cent.

But while there could be problems on account of coal, some other provisions in the Paris Agreement can open financial avenues for India to fund the grand Solar Alliance project.

The Solar Alliance seeks to bring sunlight-rich countries in the tropical areas to switch to solar energy in a big way. Through a massive push in demand, standardisation and R&D, it is hoped that the Solar Alliance will drive down the costs of solar power generation even further. India, which launched the alliance during the Paris conference, is hosting its administrative infrastructure.

The Paris Agreement seeks to establish a new market mechanism that will allow carbon emission reductions to be traded between countries. India stands to make financial gains by trading its avoided emissions due to the solar power plants it is setting up.

The market mechanism will allow a share of proceeds from the trade to be used for administrative expenses as well. India is planning to spend about Rs 175 crore over five years for creating infrastructure and meet recurring expenditure.

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  1. B
    Dec 14, 2015 at 12:25 am
  2. T
    Dec 14, 2015 at 1:26 am
    Military rule?! Hahaha! That is nigh anarchy. Democracy does work. How many military states are properly functional today? Military rile is moronic and does nothing to solve the problems facing India. In fact, all it would do it exacerbate social problems. You have a misconception that it would make for speedy solutions, when it will not. It will just let corruption run even more wild and only a few will truly benefit.
  3. T
    Dec 14, 2015 at 12:57 am
    No they shouldn't, and they won't get it even if they asked. India needs to stand on it's own two feet, and it can. The problem is the m amounts of corruption. There is a lot of money circulating in India, and it needs to be spent back into the country, into it's people, especially the poorest. But that means the people on the top, who live in so much corruption, giving them a little less and no one wants to stand up for the poor. The political system is stuck for the rich and people are too concerned with religion to care about each other. Taking money from Western countries does nothing in reality because it isn't being spent right. Plus, the West sees India's growing economy and doesn't see any justification. India should be going for the West's business money, not their charity.
  4. S
    Dec 14, 2015 at 12:55 am
    India needs mive power.........Nuclear, coal, hydro and solar and it should tap waves of the seas around it also.......
  5. S
    Dec 14, 2015 at 12:58 am
    to do this needs a govt that will p critical bills on time ...not get opposition like congress to hold it up at Indias expense.......we need military rule in India or CPI to take over. Democracy cannot deliver quick progress. Too many voices and too much BS and too much political vendetta is working against India. Democracy is a failed experiment in India. Military needs to be ready to do what is needed.
  6. T
    Think Throuhgh
    Dec 13, 2015 at 11:55 pm
    It is not "that line", which is going to hurt India and other developing countries but the "trading of carbon credits". That "line" accused to be of India's detriment is only stating "one of the ways the purpose of the agreement could be achieved is by...." and not the ONLY way and hence India is clear of any legal obligations on that. However on the carbon credit trading the developed countries are the CLEVER winners. They will continue to pollute beyond their share by paying the poor countries on their share of the carbon space! Is this the objective of responsible sharing of the environment?
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