Future of Coal & Just Transition in India

New Delhi, Oct 4 (IANS/101 Reporters): In an era of global energy transformation, India stands at the crossroads of its energy future. As one of the world's largest consumers of energy and a major coal producer, the nation faces complex challenges in aligning its energy needs with environmental imperatives.

In a candid conversation with Anil Kumar Jain, former Secretary of the Ministry of Coal in India, we delve into the intricacies of India's energy transition.

We explore questions concerning the future of fossil fuels, the concept of Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETP), and India's role on the global stage.

The Gas Market and Profitability of Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs)

Our dialogue begins with a discussion of India's evolving gas market. We ponder whether recent changes in the gas sector have prompted a reevaluation of the profitability of Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs).

Anil Jain offers a nuanced perspective, emphasising that PSUs significantly contribute to government revenues through dividends and share sales.

He clarifies that the adjustment in gas prices for PSUs like ONGC is intended to support their expansion and not solely for profit maximisation.

Jain also underscores that if profitability were the sole motive, other PSUs like Coal India would have been permitted to raise coal prices, which hasn't been the case.

The Challenge of Reducing Fossil Fuel Dependence

As our discussion unfolds, we confront the pressing challenge of reducing fossil fuel dependence, especially coal, in response to global pressures and climate change concerns.

Jain acknowledges the imperative of phasing out coal in the long term, given India's abundant renewable energy potential. Nevertheless, he underscores the complexity of this transition. Factors such as low per capita electricity consumption and the challenges of rural electrification must be considered.

Jain stresses the importance of striking a balance between reducing carbon emissions and ensuring energy security.

India's Low-Carbon Long-Term Development Strategy

We delve deeper into India's strategies for achieving a low-carbon future. Jain acknowledges the need for a comprehensive long-term plan that aligns with India's unique energy mix and socioeconomic realities.

He cites the perspective of Steven Chu, emphasizing that developing low-carbon energy systems from the outset is more cost-effective than retrofitting high-carbon systems. Jain underscores the importance of a customized approach for India, focusing on critical areas such as electrification and technology development.

Dealing with International Pressure on India

Our conversation touches upon the issue of international pressure on India to make commitments regarding coal reduction and Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETP).

Jain discusses the complexities of managing these international dialogues, particularly with European counterparts.

He highlights India's commitment to a Net Zero timeline by 2070 as a significant milestone that necessitates discussions about coal reduction.

Jain also explains how India is cautiously engaging with JETP, ensuring that partnerships align with India's priorities and socioeconomic factors.

The Future of Just Transition in India

The conversation concludes with speculation about the future of Just Transition initiatives in India. Jain expresses confidence that the concept of Just Transition has gained momentum and is unlikely to be abandoned.

He envisions further collaboration between states, coal companies, and the government, citing the example of Jharkhand's committee on Just Transition. Jain also underscores the importance of comprehensive mine closure frameworks and potential cost-sharing with the coal industry.

India's energy transition is a multifaceted journey, fraught with challenges and opportunities.

Anil Kumar Jain's insights shed light on the intricate interplay between domestic policies, international pressures, and the imperative to balance economic growth with environmental sustainability. As India navigates its energy future, the world watches closely, recognizing the nation's pivotal role in shaping the global energy landscape.



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