'India to gradually replace coal with renewable energy'

Reduction of coal consumption is not a one-day process and India has a long-term plan to gradually replace coal with renewable energy, a top environment ministry official said on Monday.

Union Environment Secretary C K Mishra said coal based plants will continue using coal but a long term plan was in place to reduce its consumption.

"Reduction of coal is not a one-day process. We have a plan in place. A long-term plan where we will replace coal with renewable energy slowly to achieve the goal announced by the prime minister to reach 450 gigawatt.

"But plants which are already coal based, will continue to consume coal," Mishra said.

He was addressing the media on the first day of the five-day meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III Sixth Assessment Report here.

On the issue of reducing coal consumption and carbon emissions, he said, "We have already 80 gigawatts renewable energy replace coal in last 5 years and we are moving towards it but we cannot deny that coal will still continue to be required for some time in India".

The secretary also acknowledged that the demand for electricity in India will continue to rise due to which coal cannot be totally banned. He said this does not mean that the government is not working on the the process to replace coal with alternative renewable energy.

"The demand for electricity in India will continue to rise. That does not mean we are not quickening the process of replacement. 

"We already have 80 gigawatt of renewable in last 2-3 years. Ultimate idea is reduction of coal but we cannot deny that coal will still continue to be required for some time in India,” Mishra said. 

The IPCC Working Group III is working on the Sixth Assessment Report to mitigate climate change with over 200 authors, in which 12 are from India. 

"The reports of the IPCC on land, ocean etc have meant a lot and added a lot of value to policy making," Mishra said. 

Jim Skea, Co-Chair of Working Group III also highlighted the role of the Sixth Assessment Report. 

He said "Building on previous Working Group III assessments, this report will emphasize what can be done in the near term to mitigate climate change and how mitigation actions can be enabled through policy, institution-building and finance."

He also added that India will be playing a key role in the preparation of this report in terms of intellect and finances. 

"We completely rely on the support of the government. There are 200 authors, with 12 from India. India is making a substantial contribution to this report in terms intellect, assessment and financial support. We are thankful to India for making a major contribution," Skea said, adding that the report will be finalised by mid 2021.

India is hosting the Second Lead Author Meeting of the IPCC Working Group III Sixth Assessment Report at New Delhi from September 30 to October 4, 2019.

More than 200 experts and authors including 12 from India and from around 65 countries are expected to participate in this week-long meeting at New Delhi.

The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) will examine topics such as the link between consumption and behaviour and greenhouse gas emissions and the role of innovation and technology. The report will assess the connection between short to medium-term actions and their compatibility with the long-term temperature goal in the Paris Agreement.

It will assess mitigation options in sectors such as energy, agriculture, forestry and land use, buildings, transport and industry.

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