As a debate rages on in the COP28 climate talks in Dubai about whether coal should be phased out first or all fossil fuels, Indian experts have criticised the lack of fairness in the talks on the part of the developed countries.  

India is opposed to singling out coal from all fossil fuels. Coal is India’s major energy source; ‘abated thermal power plants’, or plants with carbon capture and storage facilities, are expensive. But rich countries are backloading phasing down of the fossil fuels that they mostly use — oil and gas. 

Noting that India will build as much renewable energy capacity as currently exists in South America and Africa, Ulka Kelkar, Executive Director – Climate, WRI India, said, “singling out coal neither gives due credit to India’s massive commitment to expanding renewable energy nor acknowledges its short-term challenges of energy storage and grid flexibility.” 

Tighter deadlines

She further noted that the negotiating text specifies tighter deadlines for coal than for other fossil fuels. “References to unabated coal do not make the job easier for India as carbon capture is too expensive,” Kelkar said.  

Vaibhav Chaturvedi, Fellow, Council on Energy Environment and Water (CEEW) noted that the developed world’s focus on coal phase-out, and not all fossils, “shows denial of science and disregard for the principle of climate equity.” 

Calling for rich countries to first abate their oil and gas emissions, Vaibhav said that “forcing a rapid phase-out of coal in the developing world will lead to serious development impacts in terms of energy access, reliability and affordability. It violates the notions of a just transition as well as best available science.”