MAC: Mines and Communities


Published by MAC on 2009-12-06

Country mining profile #3

Between them, India and China may seem to be the worst "climate culprits" on the planet.

However, this is the case only if their Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GGE) - primarily from coal-fired power plants, refineries, smelters, cement kilns, and methane from animal-based agriculture - are gauged on a country-by-country basis.

When it comes to judging per capita contributions to global warming, residents of Australia, the US and Canada, leave those in Asia far, far behind. The carbon "footprint" of an Indian peasant farmer is reckoned, on average, to be a hundred times less potent than that of a middle-class American.

Nonetheless, during the past five years the Indian government has in no way reduced the country's dependency on coal. On the contrary, this fossil fuel still generates around two thirds of the country's energy requirements, while Indian companies have been ranging through Africa, looking for further sources of coal.

Coming very late to the Copenhagen table, India's environment and forest minister now "promises" to reduce GGE by 20-25% within the next eleven years.

But there's a catch - and it's a giant one: the reduction will be tied to units of economic output. Thus, as industrial "growth" increases further, so will India's absolute contribution to adverse climate change. Furthermore, the reduction will be calculated on the total GGE as in 2005; these emissions have manifestly risen in the past four years.

The Chinese regime has said it will go down a similar route. Although Beijing authorities have undertaken to lower carbon emissions up to 45% by 2020 from their 2005 level,  these, too, are bound to mount over the next decade.

In the past month the Indian government has offered a sop to its many "climate justice" critics (not least Indians themselves) by announcing a huge solar power programme. If implemented, this would make India the world's most significant site of energy from the sun - and within a dozen years.

So far, the government has provided little evidence of how it would finance the project. And, even if the ambitious target were fulfilled in time, India's industrial programme, almost wholly dependent on coal-fired energy, would scarcely be affected.

Morever, both the Indian and Chinese "offers" being made in Copenhagen, are essentially voluntary ones.


India To Slow Greenhouse Growth In Step To U.N. Deal

Krittivas Mukherjee


4 December 2009

NEW DELHI - India set a goal on Thursday for slowing the growth of its greenhouse gas emissions, the last major economy to offer a climate target four days before the start of U.N. talks on combating global warming.

The government said it was willing to rein in its "carbon intensity" -- the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted per unit of economic output -- by between 20 and 25 percent by 2020, from 2005 levels.

"India can't be like a frog in the well, India has to show leadership to its own people -- we need to show action," Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told parliament, laying out India's position ahead of the December 7-18 summit in Denmark.

Such a goal will let India's emissions keep rising. Ramesh said India, the fourth biggest greenhouse gas emitter, would not set a peak year for its emissions, or accept absolute cuts.

The unilateral announcement contrasted with a harder line on Wednesday when diplomats said India, China, Brazil and South Africa opposed the setting of goals advocated by the Danish hosts, including a halving of world emissions by 2050.

The big emerging economies have often insisted that rich nations have caused global warming by spewing out greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution, and want to see deep cuts by these rich nations before joining the effort.

"This means that all of the world's biggest emitters have reacted to the deadline in Copenhagen. It is very good news that India has brought numbers to the table," said Connie Hedegaard, Denmark's Environment Minister who will preside at the talks.

India's goal will let emissions rise, albeit at a slower rate than gross domestic product growth (GDP).

"Under this intensity target...the absolute level of Indian carbon emissions might still rise by around 90-95 percent between 2005 and 2020, according to our GDP growth model estimates," PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP said in a statement.

Still, it called the target "very encouraging."


Fault lines between rich and poor about sharing out the burden of combating global warming -- projected to bring more floods, droughts, wildfires and heatwaves -- are likely to dominate Copenhagen, where about 100 world leaders will gather on the final two days.

In London, the climate consultancy Ecofys said global greenhouse gas emissions would almost double from 1990 levels by 2040 with current emissions promises.

And rich nations are far from united in their approach.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Thursday he would not rule out calling an early election to end a political deadlock over climate change policy, after parliament rejected for a second time his policy on cutting carbon emissions.

In Brussels, a European Commission official said the European Union wanted more from China.

China last week said it would aim to cut its carbon intensity goal by 40-45 percent by 2020, from 2005 levels. Some analysts say that could still mean a doubling of emissions.

"There's an expectation they could go further," the EU official said.

Summit hosts Denmark reiterated that it was now too late to agree a full, legally binding treaty in Copenhagen. Hedegaard said nations would have to set a deadline for completing work "as soon as possible in 2010."

"I think that right now the biggest obstacle for Copenhagen will be finance," she told Reuters. Developed nations have yet to put cash on the table to help fund a deal.

In Italy, environmentalists accused Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of doing too little to avert climate change, and put up an ice statue of him in the ancient Roman Forum. It is timed to melt away on the day the conference opens.

(Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

India Launches Solar Mission, Seeks International Support

by Anna da Costa

Worldwatch Institute

1 December 2009

After months of speculation marked by rumors, leaks, and high-level approvals, India formally launched its national solar mission, known as "Solar India," last week. The move confirms the country's intention to assume a global leadership role on solar energy and to stake out a low-carbon development path at home.

The policy confirms India's much-touted plans to install 20,000 megawatts (MW) of solar power over the next 12 years - a 6,666-fold leap from the current 3 MW of installed capacity, and the equivalent of 13 percent of India's total installed power generation capacity.

The supply would be met with solar thermal technologies that convert the sun's light to heat as well as solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that convert sunlight to electricity, for use in both grid-connected applications and off-grid applications such as solar water heaters and solar lanterns.

Speaking at the launch of Solar India in Delhi, India's Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, described the mission as a "historic and transformational initiative." He outlined his country's wish to pursue solar energy as a means to support "India's long term energy security as well as its ecological security."

Ambitious plans for scale-up

Solar India's primary aim is to create an enabling policy environment for rapid diffusion of solar technology across the country. According to the final policy document, the mission hopes to "attract industry and project developers to invest in research, domestic manufacturing, and development of solar power generation and thus create the critical mass for a domestic solar industry."

Such a scale-up would involve the use of wide-ranging mechanisms, such as "Renewable Purchase Obligations" that would mandate power providers in each state to purchase a certain share of their electricity supply as solar energy. Other expected measures include time-bound subsidies, which would provide a fixed, "attractive," and "predictable" tariff for solar energy; research and development to support new innovations and partnerships; and capacity building that would aim to "develop and strengthen Indian skills and enhance indigenous content," Abdullah said.

The mission also hopes to bring down the cost of solar energy to be on par with "conventional" grid power by 2022 and with coal-based thermal power, currently the cheapest energy source, by 2030 - enabling a rapid scale-up of solar technologies.

The role of international support

The mission states that although India aims to install 3,000 MW of solar by 2017, this capacity could reach 10,000 MW or more by that date with the support of "enhanced and enabled" international financing and technology.

"If funds are made available, in the form of either grants or low cost loans, the costs of generation would be reduced," an official with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy said, speaking anonymously." It would definitely enable us to expand solar capacity faster."

The launch of the Solar India plan came at a highly strategic moment, one day before Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in Washington, D.C., to meet U.S. President Barack Obama. The two leaders discussed climate change and established a new green partnership ahead of next month's international climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark.

India has been highly vocal about the need for international support to enhance its climate change efforts.

Singh clarified recently that India has "not made [the solar plan's] implementation conditional upon obtaining international support." However, "we can certainly do more if there is a supportive global regime," he noted at last weekend's Commonwealth Summit in Trinidad and Tobago.

The solar mission's expected cost has not been made publicly available. A draft version leaked earlier this year included an estimate of $20 billion.

Siddharth Pathak, a climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace India, is concerned that this financial omission may hinder the flow of international support for the mission during and beyond the United Nations climate summit this December.

"If India wanted to do the mission in part with international finance, they should [have] clearly earmark[ed] what India is willing to do on its own, and what is India asking to be internationally financed," Pathak said. "If India is installing through its own money - say, 10 gigawatts by 2013 - then the international community, by fulfilling its obligations under the negotiations, should ensure that they provide the finance [and technology] so that India can do 20 gigawatts by 2013," he said.

Pathak also observed that the absence of a specific estimate for avoided carbon emissions as a result of the solar mission's implementation weakened what could have been a "brilliant" document.

Strengthening bilateral relationships

Outside of the global climate change negotiations, India has been increasingly strengthening its bilateral relationships with other large nations in the area of climate-related support.

India and China recently established an agreement "to strengthen their exchange of views and cooperation on mitigation policies, programs, projects, technology development and demonstration relating to greenhouse gas emission reduction," including renewable energy.

And at the European Union-India Summit in early November, delegates called for "early implementation of...cooperation [efforts] in solar energy" between the EU and India to be developed "expediously."

Peter Luff, CEO of Action for a Global Climate Community, a group seeking to enhance the EU-India dialogue on climate, observed that the solar mission's call for greater international collaboration on technology, research, and finance could be met through "enhanced cooperation between the EU and India that could attract the necessary level of private finance" as well as through "joint research and development leading to programmatic cooperation."

India's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is also implementing bilateral solar projects with Japan and Australia under the Asia-Pacific Partnership Programme.

Meanwhile, the establishment of the U.S.-India green partnership last week confirmed that collaboration on solar energy would be a significant dimension of that effort.

Anna da Costa is a Worldwatch research fellow based in New Delhi, India. This article is part of a series on India's climate and energy policies around the Copenhagen climate conference and supported by the Heinrich Boell Foundation, Washington D.C.

This article is a product of Eye on Earth, Worldwatch Institute's online news service. For permission to reprint Eye on Earth content, please contact Juli Diamond at

India Ties Solar Plans To Global Climate Support

Krittivas Mukherjee, Planet Ark

24 November 2009

NEW DELHI - India issued solar power targets on Monday, with plans to boost ouptut from near zero to 20 gigawatts (GW) by 2022, but tied chances of the plan's success to availability of international finance and technology.

The announcement was made days before U.N. negotiations in Copenhagen for a global deal on climate change, deadlocked over levels of carbon emissions cuts to be taken by rich countries.

Talks are also stuck on financial and technological support to be given by rich countries to developing nations.

"India is making a very strong case for international support for its climate actions, but in the process it is also skirting its unilateral obligations," said Siddharth Pathak, Greenpeace's main climate campaigner in India.

"The Solar mission doesn't make it clear how much of the plan is to be carried out unilaterally and how much with international support."

A climate plan released last year identified renewable energy, like solar power, and energy efficiency as key elements. About 8 percent of India's total power mix is from renewables, though it is a leading provider of wind power technology.

Solar power is a key thrust and India has plans of generating 20 GW of solar power by 2022. That target would help India close the gap on solar front-runners like China and is part of a 30-year scheme initially estimated to cost $19 billion.


Developing countries such as India refuse to accept binding emission cut targets and argue they need to keep burning fossil fuel to lift millions of their population out of poverty.

About 56 percent of India's 1.1-billion plus population has no access to electricity.

The final solar document makes no mention of the total required investment and gives no detail of how money would be raised to fund the ambitious three-phase plan. Earlier drafts made no mention of international assistance.

The final plan also lowers the initial target mentioned in draft documents from 1-1.5 GW by 2012 to 1 GW by 2017, depending on availability of international finance and technology.

"The ambitious target for 2022 of 20,000 Megawatts (MW) or more will be dependent on the enhanced and enabled international finance and technology," the document said.

The strategy, it said, had two main objectives: "to scale up deployment of solar energy and to do this keeping in mind the financial constraints and affordability challenge in a country where large numbers of people still have no access to basic power and are poor and unable to pay for high cost solutions."

The plan says money would be spent on incentives for production and installation as well research and development, and it offers financial incentives and tax holidays for utilities.

The solar mission also outlines a system of paying households for any surplus power from solar panels fed back into the grid.

If implemented, solar power would be equivalent to one-eighth of India's current installed power base, helping the world's fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions limit reliance on coal and easing the power deficit that has crimped its growth.

(Editing by Bappa Majumdar and Ron Popeski)

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