The World Bank and other global development lenders like the Asian Development Bank must help countries such as India to finance the shift of their coal production to more efficient technologies so they can meet their COP21 commitments, World Coal Association Chief Executive Benjamin Sporton said.
By not financing coal projects, the World Bank is actually pushing countries to use inefficient technologies leading to higher emissions, Mr. Sporton told The Hindu .
“The World Bank has taken a policy view that they don’t want to finance coal,” Mr. Sporton said in an interview. “But we have seen evidence from some countries where, because the World Bank does not invest in coal and so does not invest in super critical and ultra super critical plants, these countries invested in sub-critical plants, which have much higher CO2 and particulate matter emissions.”
Super critical and ultra super critical (USC) plants (USC) substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions and virtually eliminate particulate matter emissions, Mr. Sporton added, saying that India must invest in them despite their higher upfront cost.
“As we make new coal projects in India, we should ensure that the default technology should be super critical or USC,” he said. “The existing sub-critical projects need to be seen on a case-by-case basis on whether they should be upgraded or shut down and replaced.”
“But what needs to be made clear is that countries like India have committed to a path that includes coal, so international development banks must enable these countries to meet their targets,” Mr. Sporton said. “India’s Paris commitment includes building more super critical and USC plants and the international banks must help them do that.”
The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions submitted by 19 countries — India included — said they were going to use coal, Mr. Sporton said. “India basically said in its INDC that coal would be the backbone of its energy mix for decades to come.”
“Even if you look at the U.S., their Clean Power Plan says that coal would be about a quarter of their energy mix by 2030,” he said. “So, even developed nations need coal. In my mind, the Paris agreement is about reducing the emissions from coal, rather than reducing coal itself. The problem is carbon dioxide, not coal.”
India’s push towards renewable energy, while lowering the share of coal in the overall energy mix, does not mean that coal is going to be done away with, Mr Sporton said. “Between now and 2040, electricity supply will triple, coal will almost double and non-hyrdo renewables will see a 10-times increase.”