India ignores media preaching on “net zero carbon”


India is just one ”developing” nation that has recognized that the mad rush toward a “net zero carbon” economy does not serve the interests of its ordinary citizens. With that realization, they are also waking up to the fact that serving the public interest necessitates major increases in affordable, reliable energy to power their burgeoning economies.

When first-world reporters write about the developing world’s ongoing love affair with fossil fuels, their reports are “not necessarily the news!” Instead, they editorialize in nearly every story about the “sad” reliance of India, China, African nations, and others on “the highest polluting resource” – coal.

The sirens of cyberspace have embraced as gospel the diktat of the Paris climate accord that countries cut their greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide) to “net zero” as quickly as possible. Otherwise, they chirp in unison, the Earth will soon become a burning inferno from superheating caused by CO2 released from burning fossil fuels.

The “erudite” have decreed that ANY “climate change” will necessarily bring unspeakable horrors upon us all. The zeal for climate stasis by those currently at the top of the pyramid is such that some have even proposed permanently darkening the sky (a highly risky endeavor that could wipe out all life on Earth) to stop the imagined heat from killing us!

But the elitists in Brussels and New York City have a big problem: China, the world’s leader in CO2 emissions, and India, already No. 3 , are not kowtowing to their demands. Moreover, the UN’s “peacekeeping forces” cannot be deployed to force these – and even other, weaker nations – into “compliance,” er, submission.

Recognizing this awkward reality (that their power is limited), the elitists are now relying on the old adage that “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Public shaming has worked well with first-world corporations, so why not use it worldwide?

A necessary first step towards restoring “the right order of things” was President Biden’s fulfilled promise to immediately rejoin the Paris climate accords and subject the U.S. economy to its whims. To stem the cries of “unfair trade advantages” for the world’s two most populous nations, the “masters of the universe” unleashed the media hounds to cajole, beg, and virtue signal these “lesser” peoples into line.

For India, the latest round of shaming has begun. On March 17, Bloomberg Quint (Bloomberg’s Indian affiliate) reporters Archana Chaudhary, Akshat Rathi, and Rajesh Kumar Singh announced that, “Top Indian government officials are debating whether to set a goal to zero out its greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century.”

The Bloomberg trio further claimed that “Officials close to Prime Minister Narenda Modi” were drawing up plans to achieve the Net-Zero target by 2050 – a full decade ahead of China. Even so, “Modi will also need to navigate potential pushback from inside his government” in order to achieve the targets demanded by such dignitaries as U.S. “Climate Envoy” John Forbes Kerry.

In a follow-up article six days later, Singh and Debjit Chakraborty cited a new report that proclaimed “India must phase out its coal-fired power plants” in order to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. And two days after that, Singh reminded us that India is “under growing pressure to improve its climate commitments, which have forced government officials to debate a possible net-zero emissions target.” Moreover, he warned, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called investments in fossil fuels “a human disaster and bad economics.”

But Singh’s March 25 report was also full of “bad” news: “India has set in motion the biggest ever auction of coal mines in the country despite the fossil fuel’s key role in contributing to global warming.” The auction, which opens coal mining to private firms and thus dislodges the state monopoly over the domestic coal market, “sends mixed signals at a time when the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases needs to shed its dependence on coal.”

Despite the preaching, Singh admitted that the Indian government sees private coal mining as a way to create jobs in an economy devastated by the COVID pandemic. Coal mining projects, he conceded, will bring in new investments and boost socio-economic development in mining regions. He even cited Tim Buckley of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, who acknowledged that “India can’t just stop using coal overnight…. It’s still a necessary evil for the country.”

There is just one little problem with the Bloomberg version of India’s “quest” for Net Zero. That’s not their primary goal.

Vijay Jayaraj, Research Associate for Developing Countries at the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, chided Singh and his Bloomberg colleagues for urging India to “banish” coal. Noting that “No official sources have confirmed that New Delhi is devising a Net-Zero target for 2050,” Jayaraj derided “the anti-fossil lobby, which includes journalists,” for pressurizing developing countries into shutting down their fossil industry.”

India, according to Jayaraj, is building a fossil-fuel-dominated energy sector, and not a green one. The country is desperately seeking to curtail inflation and secure additional oil imports at a time when “anti-fossil journalists have ushered in confusion by claiming that the Indian government is now aiming to achieve Net-Zero emissions by 2050.” Predictably, Bloomberg did not respond when asked by Jayaraj just which “officials close to” Prime Minister Modi they were citing.

Indeed, India, unfazed by the sirens, is still going ahead with a second round of commercial coal mine auctions, with 67 sites up for bids. The nation needs a constant increase in coal production is needed to support India’s growing number of coal-fired power plants. The nation is currently constructing new coal plants with a total capacity of 36.6 gigawatts (GW), with another 29.3 GW in the pipeline.

India is also upping its reliance on that other bugbear of the Green Monarchy – crude oil, a very important commodity for the Indian economy. The world’s third largest oil importer, whose trucking industry almost exclusively rolls on petroleum products, is now buying oil from Guyana and Brazil. The post-COVID recovery is being slowed by rising oil prices, so diversification of supply is vital.

And, according to oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan, “Africa [too] has a central role” in aiding India’s quest to further diversity its sourcing of crude oil, liquefied natural gas, and other petroleum and energy products, “largely due to its proximity and absence of any choke points in trans-shipments.” These new oil markets in Africa and South America, Jayaraj reports, are crucial to India’s economy.

Meanwhile, as reported by Reuter’s, India’s response to the virtue signaling of Bloomberg’s reporters was to push back deadlines by up to 3 years for coal-fired power plants to install Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) units that cut emissions of sulfur dioxides. Utilities that miss these new targets could continue operations after paying a penalty. India’s power ministry explained that this action is intended to avoid immediate increases in electricity prices.

As Jayaraj concludes, India’s openness to new oil producers and its push to expedite coal-mining auctions are sending a clear signal. India’s leaders are more concerned about the economic well-being of their citizens than about pleasing stuffed-shirt billionaires and bureaucrats living in luxury thousands of miles away. That’s got to hurt … their egos.

  • Duggan Flanakin is the Director of Policy Research at the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. A former Senior Fellow with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Mr. Flanakin authored definitive works on the creation of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and on environmental education in Texas. A brief history of his multifaceted career appears in his book, "Infinite Galaxies: Poems from the Dugout."

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