India has told a high-level UN energy meeting that it will not be fair to expect it to move away from coal to meet energy requirements of millions of Indians, underscoring that coal will continue to remain the “mainstay” of its energy needs for the “foreseeable future.”
On Wednesday morning, the first-ever SE4All Global Ministerial Policy Dialogue convened at the UN General Assembly Hall, UN Headquarters, in New York.
“Our energy challenge is truly huge. The numbers speak for themselves,” said Minister for State for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal at the First Global Energy Ministerial SE4ALL Forum Meeting yesterday.
India has 56 million homes or 280 million Indians, almost the size of the population of the US, who lack access to basic electricity and more than 500 million are still deprived of access to clean energy fuels, he said.
“Just as in all other countries, including the developed world, coal will continue to remain the mainstay of our energy related needs for the foreseeable future.
“In all fairness, it would not be correct to say or to expect India to move away from coal when we are at the cusp of our developmental journey,” Goyal said.
He said that countries that have benefited over the years from cheap fossil fuel-based energy, must also participate proactively in efforts to leave behind a cleaner planet by expanding the scope of renewable energy.
“I believe this has to be a shared responsibility of the developed world and the developing countries,” he said.
“The developed world, which has over the last 150 years enjoyed this low cost power for its own growth and prosperity must share this responsibility and come forward proactively in a much deeper engagement with the developing countries,” he said.
Goyal outlined Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s mission to provide 24/7 energy access to every Indian across the length and breadth of the country by 2019.
“We do understand and it is indeed incumbent upon us to protect the world to ensure a cleaner planet for the next generation.
“However, it is also important to understand the agony of poverty. It is important to understand the pain that the common man experiences when he is required to pay very high cost for energy,” he said.