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COP27: India calls for phase down of all fossil fuels, not just coal

Highlights

Focus on one fossil fuel 'not right'

IPCC report references all fossil fuels

India's coal generation forecast to grow

  • Author
  • Ruchira Singh
  • Editor
  • Henry Edwardes-Evans
  • Commodity
  • Coal Energy Transition Natural Gas
  • Topic
  • COP27 Energy Transition

India has called for a phase down of all fossil fuels and not just coal in the official "cover text" of the UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt, according to news agency the Press Trust of India.

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A spokesperson from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change did not confirm or deny the report.

"We mentioned the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's AR6 [sixth assessment] report that recognizes the need for phase down of all fossil fuels," the spokesperson told S&P Global Commodity Insights Nov. 14.

India and China were instrumental in watering down language on coal in the Glasgow Climate Pact last year, removing the call for a phase out and replacing it with "phase down".

"Natural gas and oil also lead to emission of greenhouse gases. Making only one fuel the villain is not right," a source in India's delegation at COP27 told the Press Trust of India.

Rhetorical ploy

India's ploy to widen the scope of the text would serve to deflect attention from its own efforts on coal.

"The COP26 language on phasing down coal placed uncomfortable pressure on India, which is one of the largest users of coal in the world by a large margin," said Jonathan Kay, Associate at strategic advisory firm The Asia Group.

"Language on fossil fuels, by contrast, would put the spotlight on a larger number of countries - places that might not use much coal but that still burn a lot of oil and natural gas. That reduces some of the political pressure on India, at least relatively," he told S&P Global.

In a reference scenario, India's carbon emissions are set to rise from 2.41 billion mt/year in 2022 to 2.89 billion mt/year in 2030, according to S&P Global's integrated energy model.

The power sector is the dominant driver of these emissions, with production from coal-fired generation forecast to peak in 2045, at 1,980 TWh.

Platts assessed the price of thermal coal (CFR east coast India, 5,000 kcal/kg, 30-60 day delivery) at $134.60/mt Nov. 14, down from $147.25/mt month on month.

A bid to include fossil fuels in the summit cover text may have little material impact, Kay said.

"In its weakest form, a commitment to phasing down fossil fuels just means doing what India is already doing: increasing its investments into clean energy while also planning to continue burning a lot of fossil fuels for the foreseeable future," he said.

As such it was far from clear that the proposed new language represented an actual increase in ambition, he said.

Related: What will India do?