Friday, June 19, 2020

GWPF Newsletter: India & China Announce New Coal Boom

India 'Frees Coal Sector From Decades Of Lockdown'

In this newsletter:

1) Unleashing Coal: PM Modi Announces India's New Coal Boom
IANS News Service, 18 June 2020


2) India 'Frees Coal Sector From Decades Of Lockdown': PM Launches Commercial Mining Auctions
IANS News Service, 18 June 2020

3) Pakistan Aims To Increase Coal Share By 30% In Energy Mix By 2030
The International News, 18 June 2020
4) China’s New Coal Push As Relations With West Sour
Bloomberg, 16 June 2020

5) China Adds New Wave Of Coal Plants After Lifting Curbs
Bloomberg, 10 June 2020

6) Vijay Raj Jayaraj: India’s Fossil-Fuel-First Policy Unyielding To Paris Climate Deal Pressure
Global Warming Policy Forum, December 2019

7) US Republicans Prepare For Energy ‘Cold War’ With China
Abby Smith, Washington Examiner, 17 June 2020

8) Climate Campaigners Hope For EU-China Alliance
Clean Energy Wire, 18 June 202
9) And Finally: It’s All Over For The Green Blob’s Climate Billions Office
Ross Clark, Daily Mail, 17 June 2020

Full details:

1) Unleashing Coal: PM Modi Announces India's New Coal Boom
IANS News Service, 18 June 2020

New Delhi, June 18 (IANS) In a big reform initiative aimed at attracting global investment in the mining sector, the government on Thursday started auction of coal mines for commercial extraction by the private sector.

In all 41 mines with total geological coal reserve of 17 billion tonne is on offer under the first phase of commercial coal mine auctions. These include both large and small mines with peak rated capacities (PRC) ranging from 0.5 to 40 million tonne per annum (mtpa) of coal. The cumulative PRC of all mines is 225 mtpa.

The mines on offer are largely fully explored ones meaning that it could be brought to production immediately. Moreover, 4 coming coal mines are in offer that could provide input to the steel sector. The mines are located in five states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha.

The commercial coal mining auctions are completely different from earlier regime of restricted sectors, use and price. Now there are no such restrictions at all.

The proposed auctions have terms and conditions which are very liberal allowing new companies to participate in the bidding process, reduced upfront amount, adjustment of upfront amount against royalty, liberal efficiency parameters to encourage flexibility to operationalize the coal mines, transparent bidding process, 100 per cent FDI through automatic route allowed and reasonable financial terms and revenue sharing model based on National Coal Index. [...]

The coal mines auction process will lay strong foundation for energy security in the country by producing additional coal providing large scale employment and huge opportunities for investment in coal sector. These efforts will supplement the 01 billion tonne coal production likely from Coal India in FY23-24 and meet full requirement of domestic thermal coal.

Full story
2) India 'Frees Coal Sector From Decades Of Lockdown': PM Launches Commercial Mining Auctions
IANS News Service, 18 June 2020

New Delhi:  Launching the auction of coal mines for commercial mining, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that the coal sector has finally been pulled out of decades in lockdown and liberated.

Noting that India having the fourth largest coal reserves in the world was importing coal so far, he said that the move will make India self reliant in terms of coal and also create lakhs of job opportunities.

Modi said the opening up of commercial coal mining will help people of Eastern and Central India in terms of jobs and prosperity.

The decision to open up commercial coal mining for private players was announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat package last month.

“Today, we are not just launching the auction of commercial coal mining but are also pulling out the coal sector out of years in lockdown,” Modi said during the video address during the launch programme.

He also said that the Centre aims to gasify 100 million tonne coal by 2030 and with an investment of Rs 200 billion.

The Prime Minister noted that without a strong mining and mineral sector self reliance of a country is not possible. He added that the opening up of commercial mining will create new resources and new markets for companies, more revenues for the states will get more revenue and more employment opportunities for people living near the coal mines.

Talking of the environmental concerns he said that it has been taken care of that India’s commitment towards the environment is not compromised while reforming the coal sector and the objective of gasification of coal is in that direction.

3) Pakistan Aims To Increase Coal Share By 30% In Energy Mix By 2030
The International News, 18 June 2020

KARACHI: Considering the negligible share of coal in Pakistan’s current energy mix, the Economic Survey has called for increasing its share in the energy mix by up to 30 percent by the year 2030.

Given that base load could not be entirely replaced by renewables at this stage and hydropower was seasonal, thermal options remained critical to the country’s energy mix, the survey noted.

The first of the Thar coal power project and associated mine was commissioned in July 2019 as a priority national project and since then, it has generated energy output of 4,155 GwH, resulting in savings of up to $130 million compared to LNG and imported coal sources.

Full story
4) China’s New Coal Push As Relations With West Sour
Bloomberg, 16 June 2020

China’s embrace of coal could tighten even further if tensions with the U.S. escalate, with policymakers prioritising energy security over climate change. 

China will likely ease the pressure on local governments to shut older, inefficient coal mines as it seeks to meet rising demand of the most-polluting fuel to spur its economic recovery.

Government officials are in the midst of preparing the country’s all-important five-year-plan, the guiding document for policy and industrial development from 2021 to 2025. Unlike the previous edition, when China made a major push to cut overcapacity to support prices and help miners struggling with mounting debt, the government isn’t likely to set any targets for mine closures, analysts forecast.

But the lack of a hard target now would underscore the continuing dependence on coal in China, which mines and burns half the world’s supply. More flexibility for smaller mines would help expand production capacity to meet rising demand as the world’s second-biggest economy continues to dig itself out from the depths of the pandemic. […]

China’s embrace of coal could tighten even further if tensions with the U.S. escalate, forcing policymakers to prioritize energy security over climate change, said analyst Michelle Leung with Bloomberg Intelligence.

China could be targeting 1,300 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity in its 14th Five-Year Plan for power, from 1,050 today, she said.

Full story

5) China Adds New Wave Of Coal Plants After Lifting Curbs
Bloomberg, 10 June 2020

A wave of new coal power plants are under construction or in development after the country lifted curbs on new builds, according to a study published Tuesday by Greenpeace.

About 46 gigawatts worth of new plants were under construction as of May, the study said. Another 48 gigawatts were under various stages of development, Greenpeace estimated.

About 29.9 gigawatts of new coal power capacity was added last year, making a total of about 1,040 gigawatts, according to China Electricity Council data.

China remains coal’s stronghold even as consumption of the dirtiest fossil fuel wanes elsewhere in the world. The nation mines and burns about half the world’s coal and views it as an important source of cheap power and mass employment.

Full story

See also GWPF report The Road From Paris: China’s climate U-turn


6) Vijay Raj Jayaraj: India’s Fossil-Fuel-First Policy Unyielding To Paris Climate Deal Pressure
Global Warming Policy Forum, December 2019

The Indian government has adopted a fossil-fuel-first attitude and has made clear it will not compromise on India’s developmental goals.

The Paris Agreement is the United Nation’s flagship climate treaty aimed at reducing global CO2 emissions.

India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), the country’s official commitment to Paris agreement, states that the total preliminary estimated cost for India’s climate change actions (between 2016 and 2030) are $2.5 trillion (at 2014-15 prices).

However, the proposed actions include no significant measures to curb India’s fossil fuel use or production. Moreover, the NDC states that the country reserves the right to overturn its commitments if the proposed climate mitigatory actions causes any impedance to the growth of individual economic sectors.

Earlier this year, the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, responding to Michael R. Bloomberg’s question on reducing coal, remarked,

"This is right that the world’s third largest coal reserves is in India. In a poor country like India, we cannot ignore it but there is a solution to it…. We cannot deny the resources and assets that India has but we want to see how can we make use of these assets in an environment-friendly way. That is what we are focusing on.”

He reiterated on India’s renewable energy installations and said India is on track to achieve its 175 gigawatts capacity target from solar, wind and biomass (by 2022) and that he hopes India will increase the renewable target to 450 gigawatts in the near future.

India is also the key member of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) which aims to reduce the cost of solar power installations across the globe. ISA has pledged a trillion US dollars towards the cause.

In August, during his speech at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, PM Modi mentioned that India is looking forward to “create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.”

Though India has increasing its renewable installations and desires to create carbon sinks, its dependency on fossil fuels remains unaffected and unaltered. The scope for any reduction in fossil fuel consumption is slim to none, as India has excluded the fossil fuel sector from its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) submitted to the Consortium of Parties (COP) of the Paris agreement.

Currently, coal contributes about 72% of the total electricity generated in the country. India’s coal reserves are the third largest in the world. According to country’s long-term energy plan, coal is expected to contribute around 50% of total electricity demand in 2047, as renewables are expected to increase in India’s energy mix.

It is to be noted that the Indian government is also investing heavily in domestic coal infrastructure. Most of the current coal mining and handling systems at the state-run Coal India limited (CIL) are non-mechanized and the government is injecting 2.1 billion GBP to mechanize 35 projects.

Coal mining target is set at around 880 million tonnes for 2024. But the government is pushing to achieve 1 billion tonnes as soon as possible. News reports indicate that the government is set to announce key measures, including a relaxation of norms and issuance of global tenders, to attract large international miners to operate in the country.

Both the coal secretary and the coal minister have stressed the need to “urgently expand coal production” and “achieve the 1 billion tonnes target at the earliest”. In order to boost the domestic production, the Modi government is keen on liberalizing the coal sector and pushing for the maximum possible foreign direct investment. Under PM Modi’s rule, the country has added around 82 Gigawatts of coal power plants.

India’s thermal coal import grew by 19 percent in 2018, the highest ever, amounting to an total import of 172 million tonnes. In November 2019, Indian energy executives met Russian counterparts and the Russian ambassador to India in order to expediate the coal import from Russia.

The Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan, said “Long-term cooperation with Russian Far East in the coal sector will help India bridge the demand gap of coking coal in the country”. He also mentioned that the country is looking to “secure more coking coal for the domestic steel industry.”

Coal is just one aspect of India’s fossil aspirations. Oil import is also on a constant increase. The import from U.S. especially is at an all-time high and has skyrocketed in recent years owing to geopolitical tensions in the middle east. Energy trade was an important agenda of PM Modi’s visit to the U.S. in 2019 and the India’s trade with them is likely to increase by 40 percent in 2019-20, amounting to USD 10 billion.

Just days before the New York climate summit this year, Modi’s government released an update to their climate and finance policy in a document titled “Climate Summit for Enhanced Action: A Financial Perspective from India”. It outlaid India’s course of climate action and its reservations about the lack of climate funding from the developed nations (around 40 percent short of the USD 100 billion).

The report explicitly states “Despite the various climate finance decisions, there are attempts by some developed country Parties to shrug off even their modest past responsibilities.” While the document reiterates the country’s commitment to climate action (including mitigate climate change and promoting renewable energy), it clearly communicates that its efforts are on “best effort” basis.

The document also emphasised that no major new climate actions will be announced until 2023 and that the country wont reassess its climate targets: “For the present, India may only be in a position to elaborate or clarify its post 2020 climate actions already pledged in its NDC.”

The document is clear signal that the Indian government will not compromise on its developmental goals. This fossil-first attitude of the Indian government was also reflected in the cabinet decisions made in the run-up to the current UN Conference of Parties (COP 25) meeting in Madrid.

The cabinet approved the Indian government’s policy of not yielding to the pressure from developed countries on implementation of climate actions, especially when the developed countries themselves have not addressed the gaps in the pre-2020 commitments and pledges made by them to developing countries.

PM Modi, a man known for his keen aspirations for economic development, will not compromise on India’s reliance on fossil fuels to appease those at UN. As explicitly stated by him, the country cannot afford to put the brakes on fossil fuels and will continue to explore alternative ways to reduce its carbon footprint and improve the use of emission-free technologies. Fossil fuels are here to stay in India.

7) US Republicans Prepare For Energy ‘Cold War’ With China
Abby Smith, Washington Examiner, 17 June 2020

Republicans are sharpening a new prong in their anti-China policies: They want to break U.S. reliance on the country for critical minerals, used in everything from military equipment to renewable power to cellphone batteries.

The United States has been losing ground for years, while other countries, and especially China, have rapidly scaled up mining for lithium, cobalt, graphite, rare earth elements, and other critical minerals. Once home to the world’s largest critical minerals mine, the U.S. is now wholly reliant on foreign imports for 14 of the 35 minerals the Interior Department listed as critical in 2018, including graphite and rare earths.

That foreign reliance is not just a risk now, analysts and Republicans say, but an emerging threat in a future where the U.S. could find itself powered increasingly by renewables with energy storage and with millions more electric cars on the roads. If the U.S. doesn't expand production of critical minerals, essential for those advanced energy technologies, it could find itself at the mercy of China.

That threat could be even more acute if the U.S., under a new administration, were to scale up renewable energy, electric cars, and other advanced energy technologies without securing a more stable supply chain for these minerals.

In May, the World Bank estimated that the world will need more than 3 billion tons of minerals and metals to deploy enough wind, solar, geothermal, and energy storage to meet the Paris climate agreement’s target to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. For minerals like lithium, graphite, and cobalt, that would mean a production increase of nearly 500% in the next three decades.

China hasn’t been afraid to flex its muscle, either, suggesting it could cut off U.S. supplies in response to President Trump’s escalating trade war with the country.

“This is an effort where the Chinese are systematically trying to get a market on critical minerals,” said Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, the top Republican on the House Natural Resource Committee.

The U.S. not only needs to be “very much aware” of China’s moves, but it needs to begin thinking about long-term policy implications “so that at no point are we found vulnerable to other countries,” Bishop told the Washington Examiner in a recent interview.

Bishop, along with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and top Republicans on his and the House Science committees, unveiled legislation earlier this month that aims to speed permitting for hard rock mines, boost funding for research and development of minerals recycling and processing, and keep better account of how much of each mineral the U.S. has in reserves.

Republicans say U.S. access to critical minerals has only gotten more important in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has scrambled supply chains for everything from life-saving medical equipment to materials for wind turbines and solar panels.

“I think this wake-up call that we are having across the country on China is a silver lining in what has been a terrible pandemic,” said Rep. Michael Waltz, a Republican from Florida and one of the lead sponsors of the House GOP bill.

“When we say ‘made in America’ or ‘buy America,’ it’s truly understanding the national security implications,” Waltz told the Washington Examiner.

The House Republicans’ bill is one of several proposals on critical minerals in recent months. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Energy Committee, introduced similar legislation last year that Bishop and Waltz say their bill builds upon.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz introduced a bill in May that would offer tax incentives for companies that develop critical minerals mines and processing facilities in the U.S. and require the Defense Department to source minerals domestically.

The Trump administration, too, has started to make moves. The State Department has been working to forge partnerships on minerals with allies such as Canada and Australia. The Interior and Agriculture departments, at Trump’s direction, are exploring updates to their mining regulations.

And the Pentagon is poised to offer grants for rare earths pilot projects and is investing in a processing facility being constructed near the U.S.-only critical minerals mine, Mountain Pass in California.

At this point, though, the U.S. is fighting just to stay relevant in the global critical minerals market, as China works to corner it. Energy analysts caution China’s prowess means the U.S. strategy can’t just be to expand domestic production.

“If we are to say we want to become the dominant player once again, that’s going to be an extremely aggressive, if not almost unrealistic, goal,” said Jane Nakano, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies’s Energy Security and Climate Change Program.

The right approach, she added, is to diversify U.S. supplies of critical minerals as much as possible, working with allies to expand the supplier pool.

Trump’s trade war with China, though, means tensions are already high. China has cut off rare-earth supplies before, to Japan in 2010, and Nakano pointed to a trip Chinese President Xi Jinping and his trade adviser made to a rare earths facility last year as a veiled threat to the U.S.

If the situation devolves, the world could see unofficial alliances emerge and tensions rise to a point where countries stop sharing patents with each other, essentially plunging the world into a “materials cold war,” said Jordy Lee, a research associate with the Payne Institute for Policy at the Colorado School of Mines.

Nonetheless, Republicans face political headwinds in their efforts. Those headwinds could exacerbate what Lee and others say is one of the biggest hurdles to expanding domestic production: The U.S. mining industry faces fierce opposition from many Democrats and environmental advocates.

Republicans accuse far-left Democrats and environmentalists as not wanting any mining at all in the U.S., a position they see as unsustainable.

“This is more than just ironic,” Bishop said. “The fact that they would oppose, just mindlessly oppose any kind of mining development just because they don’t think it’s a good thing — they haven’t made the connection to what it means for their lifestyle and what they want to have, as well as how you actually get there.”

Environmentalists say they have good reason not to support unbridled expansion of mining.

Full story

8) Climate Campaigners Hope For EU-China Alliance
Clean Energy Wire, 18 June 2020

A joint push by the EU and China remains the best hope to drive global climate action and build momentum ahead of next year’s UN climate talks, researchers and NGOs say.

At the 2019 EU-China summit, leaders reaffirmed the importance of fighting climate change. It took place alongside the Innovation Cooperation Dialogue seen here. Photo: European Union.

The coronavirus pandemic has shifted national priorities, raised geopolitical tensions and upended the diplomatic calendar – postponing a landmark summit where many hoped the EU and China might strike a deal.

Yet some see a new opportunity for the two to cooperate on building a greener global economy, aligning their recoveries with the principles of a green transition and bringing other countries along with them.

When exhausted delegates finally trailed out of the massive convention centre in Madrid last December after the longest UN climate talks in history, it was clear the international climate process was in trouble. Facing a critical 2020 deadline to ramp up global climate action, the world’s major emitters were stalling – or, in the case of the US, exiting the process entirely.

But advocates pointed to one ray of hope: a potential agreement between the EU and China. If two of the world’s largest emitters could strike a deal to jointly raise their climate targets, then other countries might do the same, driving a new wave of climate action.

“Bringing together the largest emitter with the continent that has taken on the responsibility of being the icebreaker on this path to climate neutrality could be incredibly powerful,” said Jennifer Tollmann, a policy advisor with the environmental think-tank E3G in Berlin.

“You don’t really see any major power alliances in the world that could set that global agenda in the same way.”

Fast forward six months and the coronavirus pandemic has upended those plans, sending governments scrambling to manage the health crises and economic damage as geopolitical tensions spiked. One by one, crucial events have been rescheduled or postponed. Among the casualties: the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow and the September summit in Leipzig between the EU and China, where diplomats had hoped the two might strike a deal.

Yet some climate advocates see an opportunity.

“Maybe something even bigger is possible,” said Lutz Weischer, with the environmental NGO Germanwatch.

Weischer and others say there’s an opening for the EU and China to craft a “green partnership” focussed less on specific emissions targets and more on using the coronavirus recovery to accelerate the transition to a greener global economy.
Full story
9) And Finally: It’s All Over For The Green Blob’s Climate Billions Office
Ross Clark, Daily Mail, 17 June 2020

Boris Johnson’s historic decision to abolish the standalone Department for International Development (Dfid) and roll its functions into the Foreign Office is long overdue. 

Ever since David Cameron expanded Britain’s aid budget to 0.7 per cent of GDP, scandal after scandal has emerged about millions of pounds of hard-pressed UK taxpayers’ money being shovelled into dubious projects to meet this arbitrary target.

The budget for this bloated department has reached an astonishing £14.6billion this year. Incredibly, Dfid now has 3,700 employees, and cost £326m to operate last year alone.

For that, you’d expect money to be spent on vital projects truly improving the lives of desperate people in the world’s poorest countries. Sadly not.

Here are a few examples of how taxpayers’ money was frittered away by this unlamented department:

Full story

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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