Transitioning from coal won’t be easy. India must ensure support for people and communities dependent on the sector

On March 3, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged wealthy nations to end coal use by 2030. On March 12, Jayant Sinha, former Minister of State for Finance, submitted a private bill to the Lok Sabha which urged the Indian government to commit to a net-zero emissions target by 2050. Subsequently, a torrent of analysis and reports about India committing to net zero emissions surfaced.

If India really intends to announce an ambition for net zero, then as a country which uses coal for more than 70 per cent of its energy, it will face daunting challenges.

There are multiple pathways to achieve net-zero emissions, almost all of them require moving away from coal. Globally, the conversation on net-zero emissions has almost always come after or gone hand-in-hand with a coal phaseout plan.

Increasingly, this phaseout plan also carries elements of a “just transition”. When it emerged from the labour movements of the 1970s, the term advocated support to workers who were forced to transition due to environmental and social concerns. Today, this concept incorporates elements of energy justice, climate justice and environmental justice.

It recognises that there will be broader social and economic consequences of transitioning to clean energy, and it is imperative that governments manage this transition in a deliberate manner to avoid replicating existing imbalances.

Most coal phaseout plans include a roadmap for workers and communities dependent on fossil fuels.

Indian Express
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