China surges ahead of India on energy generation and consumption

  • Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 04, 2015 00:39 IST
Energy ministries highlighted why coal-based thermal power plants are necessary for India to continue growing. (HT File Photo)

As the world eagerly awaits India’s climate action, there is absolute clarity that the country’s intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) will not be similar to that of China.

The inter-governmental consultations on framing the INDCs have shown that India is nowhere close to China on energy generation and consumption — drivers for deciding a nation’s climate action.

China’s installed energy capacity is five times that of India; every household in China has access to electricity unlike 56% households in India and just a quarter of households in China use biomass for cooking as compared to 85% of rural homes in India.

When it comes to emissions, more than one-fourth of global emissions were by China as compared to just 6% for India in 2014. India’s per capita emissions are one-third of China’s.

These are some facts that energy ministries — power, coal and new and renewable energy (RE) — conveyed to the environment ministry during consultation for firming up India’s INDCs. They have also highlighted why coal-based thermal power plants were necessary for India to continue high economic growth trajectory in the next 15 years or so.

Documents accessed by HT show these ministries have strongly voiced their opposition towards any attempt to match China on INDCs as it could have implications on the country’s economic growth.

Former Planning Commission member Kirit Parikh too has strongly advocated against pushing renewable beyond a certain threshold to match China’s ambitious RE goal.

“RE has its limitations and it cannot fuel (economic) growth like other forms of fossil fuels. A RE-dependent economy could mean two percentage point fall in GDP growth as compared to business-as-usual scenario,” he said.

China has committed to generate 20% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030, reduce carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels and limit power generation from thermal power plants.

Something similar could be disastrous for India, which is expected to submit its INDCs in September to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) after getting Cabinet’s nod.

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