“India’s chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian has declared that India will fight against the ‘carbon imperialism’ being imposed on it. He affirmed the country’s plans to promote clean coal and suggested the development of a global coal alliance that can counter the renewable push by climate alarmists.”
India and the U.S. are about to deepen their economic ties—thanks to a government that supports free trade and conventional energy sources. A tradition continues: This year marks the 70th anniversary of the U.S.-India partnership—a partnership that began in 1947 when President Harry S. Truman welcomed Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Speaking at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that the U.S.-India partnership is set to get stronger in the next four years. This comes one week before his forthcoming visit to India. He went on to state that the U.S. considers India as a ‘reliable partner’.
A strategic alliance with India is key to the United States. As the world’s largest democracy, India’s growing economy and geopolitical importance has benefitted U.S. interests in South Asia.
Tillerson stressed that the rule of law, free trade, economic prosperity, and defense ties were some of the key areas that the Delhi-Washington partnership is trying to achieve.
He also highlighted the visible change in India’s policy on foreign investment during the past 20 years. Investment from the U.S. has grown 500 percent during the past two years in India.
A key area of co-operation is energy. President Trump has helped India with its recent crude oil needs.
New Delhi will also be relieved that the current government promotes and encourages conventional energy sources, as opposed to the restrictive policies that the previous Obama regime tried to impose on India.
President Trump’s position on energy policies was evident from the four-year strategic plan released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week in which real and local environmental problems were prioritized, while global warming hysteria was rightly ignored.
This is a big plus for India—a nation whose economy cannot be sustained for long by promoting the more expensive, unreliable, and unstable renewable energy systems.
While Tillerson acknowledged the renewable energy schemes currently active in India, he made it clear that the U.S. is keen on collaborating with India by providing infrastructure and business solutions for conventional energy generation—a welcome statement for both the countries.
On the one hand, India’s coal reserves are the fifth-largest in the world, its estimated 60 billion tons constituting 7 percent of proven world coal reserves, and it has every intention of using that source of abundant, affordable, reliable energy to lift its people out of poverty.
On the other hand, under Trump’s new policies, U.S. coal exports increased dramatically this year. For example, May’s export of 36.79 million tons was up 60 percent from 22.94 million the year before. In the whole of 2016, the U.S. exported 5.53 million short tons of high-quality coal to India, 9 percent of its total exports; that will certainly rise sharply this year.
In addition to the coal plants, India also has multiple nuclear power plant projects in the pipeline. India has no reason to make a transition to renewables if they continue to be unaffordable and unreliable as they are now.
Contra ‘Deep Decarbonization’
India’s chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian has declared that India will fight against the ‘carbon imperialism’ being imposed on it. He affirmed the country’s plans to promote clean coal and suggested the development of a global coal alliance that can counter the renewable push by climate alarmists.
Speaking last month at a lecture organized in New Delhi, Subramanian said, “Coal will remain and should remain. The time is ripe for creating a green and clean coal coalition mirroring the (international) solar alliance. That, rather than unconscionable calls to phase out India’s cheapest source of energy, will serve the cause of climate change and India’s development needs.”
That statement stands in stark contrast to the intentions of the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project. Supported by the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, the United Nations Environment Project, and other international organizations, it called for steep cuts in Indian fossil fuel use in electricity generation, transportation, and other energy sectors, and rapid expansion of wind, solar, and other non-hydrocarbon sources.
It also contrasts with the wishful picture Al Gore gives of India’s shift from coal to renewables in his recently released film and book, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, a picture that the Natural Resources Defense Council’s former president, Frances Beinecke, highlighted in her review.
Gore claimed India is on track to meet and exceed ambitious decarbonization targets it embraced in its nationally determined contribution under the Paris climate agreement. Think again: India will be keen to increase its energy ties with the U.S., and Tillerson’s visit next week will provide an opportunity for the country to shift its focus to strengthening its conventional energy sources.
Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in New Delhi, India.