Katowice (Poland): On a day when top international NGO Germanwatch ranked India at No. 11 in the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), TOI has learnt that the country has been clearing coal-based power projects as recently as two months ago. While these decisions may not see any protests, civil society groups came out in full strength on Monday to shame the United States for promoting fossil fuels at the ongoing COP 24 meet here.
The latest data of the ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MoEFCC) reveals that on October 29 this year, India gave clearance to 1320 megawatt (MW) project at Cuddalore. Apart from this, the ministry gave a nod to expansion of 1320MW unit at Talcher power plant on September 12 this year.
The CCPI analysis, released on Monday here, shows that India has improved its standing by three places compared to the last report. However, Germanwatch has also warned that coal projects threaten India’s progress on clean energy.
While the study appreciated India’s “improved performance” in renewables, it also warned hindrances in its massive 2022 clean energy target. “National experts argue that plans to build new coal-fired power plants may pose a risk of offsetting positive developments in the renewable energy sector,” it states.
TOI has often reported how despite the Central Electricity Authority’s (CEA) declaration that India doesn’t need any new coal-fired thermal power units till 2022, the Union environment ministry is clearing the path for new thermal projects.
In 2017, India added a humongous 14 gigawatt (GW) of thermal projects, which is almost 50% of its total installed solar capacity. “From 2017 to-date, the country has totally added around 16.8GW of thermal projects,” Sunil Dahiya, senior campaigner at Greenpeace India, said.
Adding that India can play a critical role in limiting the climate change, Dahiya said, “Along with ambitious targets for clean energy, India needs to stop investing in and building new coal-based plants, which are one of the biggest emitters of carbon-dioxide. The country needs to direct all future investments only in the renewable sector.”
The Germanwatch report highlights the need to decrease global carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. To enhance transparency in global climate politics, the index ranks countries on the basis of their aggregated performances in four categories including greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, energy use and climate policy.
The study ranks 56 countries (including India) and the European Union, which are collectively responsible for 90% of global greenhouse gas emissions. According to it, very few countries have started to implement measures to limit global warming below 2 or 1.5 degree Celsius. Half of the G20 countries, which are the world’s 20 biggest economies, have turned out to be “very low performers”.
Improving its performance in the renewable energy sector, India has been categorized as a “medium” performer. “Low levels of per capita greenhouse gas emissions and a relatively ambitious mitigation target for 2030 gave India an overall ‘high’ rating in the emissions category,” the report stated.
Among G20 countries, India ranks 12th in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. When it comes to renewable energy, the country is ranked 27. Well-performing countries in clean energy sector include Latvia, Sweden and New Zealand.
On the other hand, the Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Russian Federation ranked ‘very low’ and were at the bottom of the list.