Climate Change: IIM Don PR Shukla Urges India to Look Beyond Coal

Nov 21st, 2013 | By | Category: Carbon, Development and Climate Change, News, UNFCCC

climate-change-iim-don-pr-shukla-urges-india-to-look-beyond-coalEconomic Times: As the world looks at ways to restrict global temperature rise to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, IIM don PR Shukla urges India to look beyond coal to address its development needs.

Scientists from across the world have came together to refute the coal industry’s claim that ‘high efficiency coal’ is a solution to climate woes. This group of scientists, which also includes Bert Metz, former co-chair of IPCC’s working group on mitigation, stressed that new coal plants without carbon capture and storage technology would lead to dramatic rise in temperature.

India has not been in favour of carbon capture and storage citing lack of studies about its impacts. For a country like India with high population density, the impact of carbon storage is a critical concern. The technology doesn’t yet have commercial application, and this makes it extremely expensive.

At present, India is part of a pilot carbon capture and storage project at a NTPC plant. This project is part of the bilateral programme with the United States. Shukla acknowledges that India has valid concerns. Both Shukla and Metz argue that they are not promoting or advocating carbon capture or storage. They argue that coal industry misleads when it says that ‘high efficiency coal’ has low-emissions.

In its latest report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that carbon emissions need to be restricted to 1050 giga tonnes to restrict temperature rise to 2 degrees. In their study, the group of 27 scientists shows that if the current global coal reserves were mined and used, the emissions from coal alone would be 2,190 giga tonnes. This would be way above the maximum limit set by science. The study also shows that at the present level of coal use, the world is set for a 6 degrees rise in temperature, which would cause irreversible climate change.

Shukla says that while India’s concerns on carbon capture and storage may be valid, the government cannot disregard that all new coal plants being set up today without the requisite abatement technology would lock the country in on a high-emission path for the next 40 years. “India has been calling for a per capita approach to sharing the carbon space. Suppose this is accepted, then India will find that its own emission quota has been eaten up by coal plants.

This will affect our development space,” the IIM professor said. Shukla suggests that India should look to improve its renewable portfolio. “We need to look at the alternatives to coal. Today India is importing 25% of its coal requirements. Moving away from the coal trap will prove beneficial to our economy as it will also help contain current account deficit,” he said.

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