The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels has come as a clarion call, warning us of the catastrophic impacts of global warming if the planet warms beyond 1.5oC. India, with a significant proportion of its population poor and dependent on agriculture, is extremely vulnerable and will be one of the most affected countries.
The urgency to act now is overwhelming. To remain within 1.5oC warming, the world will have to cut down its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2010 levels and must reach net-zero emissions by 2050. As a measure to achieve this, the IPCC report has laid a major emphasis on reducing coal consumption. It has indicated that coal-based power plants must be phased out and replaced with renewable energy sources by 2050. That means global coal consumption for energy will have to reduce by at least 90% by 2050 from present levels. For India, though this sounds an impossible task, there is now sound economic and environmental reasoning to start thinking about phasing out coal power plants and closing coal mines over the next 30-40 years. Read more