India Advocates for Just Energy Transition at G-20, Highlighting Dependence on Coal Mining

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India’s Union coal secretary, Amrit Lal Meena, announced during the G-20 energy transitions working group meeting that India would push for a “just energy transition” and emphasized the country’s dependence on coal mining, which directly supports around 5 million people. Meena stated that a transition plan must consider the livelihoods of these individuals, providing alternate vocations, ensuring healthcare and education facilities, and addressing other associated challenges. However, he did not disclose India’s specific agenda for the meeting or the consensus the country aimed to achieve. Meena highlighted that India has already identified 30 mines where coal mining has ceased, and coal companies have initiated a closure process lasting 2-3 years. The country is utilizing the de-coaled land in environmentally friendly ways, such as reforestation using fly ash and agricultural purposes. Despite the need for coal to meet economic growth targets, the government is actively promoting increased private sector involvement in coal mining.

The goal is for private enterprises to extract a quarter of the total coal by 2030. Meena expressed encouragement regarding the response from the private sector in the seventh round of coal mine auctions, with 87 mines already allotted to private companies since 2020. India aims to increase overall coal production to 1,012 million tonnes in FY24, up from 892 million tonnes in FY23, with further growth projected until 2040. However, beyond that point, the country plans to rely more on renewable energy sources. Meena addressed the impact of the power ministry’s decision to halt the construction of new thermal power plants, stating that the coal ministry can adequately supply coal to existing plants.

Efforts are also underway to reduce coal imports and become self-sufficient, except for coking coal used in steel production, which currently lacks domestic production. Overall, India’s stance at the G-20 meeting underscores its commitment to a balanced growth model aligned with climate justice principles, considering the specific challenges posed by transitioning away from coal mining while ensuring sustainable development and meeting energy demands.

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