Will India’s Rise Drag the Earth Down? Dirty Coal in the World’s Most Polluted Country

With hundreds of millions of people living in poverty, India is racing to bring energy and development to its burgeoning population. But the price of pollution is crushingly high.

impacts biodiversity as well. To really judge the long-term ecological impacts, we need long-term ecological observatories. India believes in science,” said Prakash Javadekar.

Let the Sun Shine In

“What we want to do with renewable energy in the next 7-10 years took Germany 21 years to achieve,” Dr. Arunabha Ghosh, chief executive of the Indian Council on Energy, Environment and Water, told CNN.

Second Nexus
Credit: Source.

India’s biggest solar installations are already producing energy at a lower cost than that produced by imported coal, and the cost of  solar-generated energy will soon drop below the cost of domestic coal-fueled energy. The challenge is to expand the solar network to rooftop installations across the country, an effort that can be achieved only through broad government support. At present, few people in India can afford to install solar panels. Meanwhile, the government does subsidize fuel for gas lamps, the paper notes.

Even as parts of India become blanketed by smog, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is promoting solar and other renewable power, with a stated goal to have 40% non-fossil energy sources compared to the current 19% by 2030. It may be the country’s best hope for balancing growth and emissions. But with coal mining continuing to tear open the countryside and cloud the skies, India’s sunshine is growing dim.

In The Hindu this week, activist and writer Naomi Klein called India’s pollution crisis a “game changer” for the country and for the planet, saying that the only hope lies in “massive investments in public services and in the public sphere.” But her hopes seem dim; India’s problem may be everyone’s, but so far no one is willing to pay to fix it.

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