India is ready to reduce its reliance on coal further if the developed countries agree to help it shift to cleaner energy sources with adequate finances and technology, a top negotiator has said as attempts intensified to find a long-term solution to climate change by phasing out carbon emissions.
Amid reports that it would be singled out over its plans to expand coal usage to meet its energy demands, India made it clear that development of solar and wind energy will remain its first commitment followed by hydro and nuclear power while the rest will be from coal.
"We have made it very clear that solar and wind are our first commitment. Hydro, nuclear - all of these non-carbon sources are what we will develop to the largest extent that we can. What cannot be met by these will be met by coal," India's key negotiator Ajay Mathur said at the UN climate conference.
At the same time, India also said it was ready to reduce its reliance on coal if the developed countries were ready to support a quicker transition of India's economy towards renewables with adequate finances and key technology.
On the backs of cheap energy
Hinting at developed nations, Mr.Mathur also made it clear that India also looks at an agreement in Paris which "enables" financial support from those nations who have developed on the "backs of cheap energy", to those who have to meet their energy demands with more expensive but low-carbon or zero-carbon energy.
Developing countries need money and technology to make the switch to clean energy sources like solar and wind power. They are also asking for money to adapt to climate change. The developed countries are willing to help but reluctant to make firm commitments.
The 12-day climate conference here will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2 degrees C over pre-industrial temperatures.
Mr.Mathur on Wednesday said that India was looking at enhancing renewable energy capacity by over seven times. He had said that this enhancement of renewable is "not" getting as much attention as the fact that the balance will be met by coal electricity.
Coal will increase by two to two-and-half times and this is getting far more attention than the fact that it would also mean a seven times increase of renewables.
"We are looking at something in 200 GW of solar and wind energy by 2030," he had said. Mr. Mathur said that developing affordable balancing power in the next 10 years is of huge importance if solar and wind energy has to take off in very large percentage.
"There is one more challenge, that is as we put in more and more solar and wind into the grid, what happens when the sun stops shining and winds stop blowing.
"So we need balancing power which can come on instantly and which is affordable. This is a technology issue. So developing affordable balancing power in the next 10 years is of huge importance if solar and wind has to take off in very large percentage," he said.
Mr.Mathur, who is also the DG of Bureau of Energy Efficiency, said that India was looking at a "just and sustainable agreement" and would also like to see countries looking at their INDCs periodically.
"We would like countries as they put their INDCs to look at them periodically. The global stock process is something we like, so that the countries can see where the world is going because of their action.
"As a result of these global stock take, for which the ownership should be with the countries, nations should then look at their next set up of INDCs to be more challenging and ambitious than what they have put up now. We are looking at progression principle and no backcycling principle that each one of us delivers more in each subsequent cycle of commitments that we take," he said.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said that India will be flexible and a facilitator in finding a solution instead of being a part of the climate change problem.
He also said that the developed world must take up a fair share of their responsibility and allow a fair share of atmospheric space (carbon space) to the developing world for ensuring equality in development.
"India is looking positively to the final outcome from Paris and India will be flexible and show the world that though India is not part of the problem, still is facilitator for the solution," Mr.Javadekar, who returned from France after attending the official opening of the climate change talks, told PTI in Delhi.
The rich-poor divide dominated climate talks on Wednesday with BASIC countries, including India, asking developed nations to define a clear roadmap for providing USD 100 billion by 2020 to tackle climate change and green groups calling for high emitters to be held accountable.