Phasing out coal for power holds key to India’s net-zero goal by 2050

India must phase out its coal-fired power plants by the middle of this century to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by that time, according to a new report on the challenges that’ll be posed in setting more ambitious climate targets.

The nation will need to progressively reduce coal’s share in electricity generation, currently at about 65%, and remove it altogether by 2050, according to the report published by The Energy and Resources Institute, a New Delhi-based think-tank, and Royal Dutch Shell Plc. The share of renewables in the power mix needs to climb to 90%, a more than eight-fold increase from now.

Under pressure to commit to a net-zero target before climate change talks in Glasgow in November, the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases has been considering a 2050 deadline. The country has so far avoided making pledges beyond its commitments at the Paris climate conference in 2015, arguing its per capita emissions are much lower than the developed world and citing the progress it has made on those 2015 promises.

Those include reducing the emissions intensity of its economy and expanding non-fossil fuel electricity capacity to 40% of the total, a goal it is close to reaching already, government data show. Yet, absolute emissions continue to rise and if the country follows the same trajectory, emissions could more than double by 2050, according to the report.

Coal Heavy

India should embrace the net-zero challenge and work to make it happen, Amitabh Kant, chief executive officer at NITI Aayog, a government planning body, said at the launch of the report.

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