Canada-India agreement on climate, but nothing on coal-based production

The final details are set on the sidelines of this week’s climate summit in Sweden to mark 50 years of the first UN conference on the environment. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

Ottawa – Environment Minister Steven Guillebault on Thursday announced the signing of a new MoU with India to improve cooperation between the two states in the fight against climate change.

For the minister, the agreement represents an opportunity for Canada to export new renewable energy technologies, and in particular to make renewable energy a reliable source of electricity.

However, despite Canada’s position as a world leader in the movement to end coal-based power generation, the MoU does not even mention coal-fired power. In the case of India, it is the second largest producer and consumer of coal on the planet.

Mr Guilbolt specified in an interview that the MoU follows the long-term efforts of Canadian and Indian representatives, as well as a meeting between Minister Guilbolt and his Indian counterpart Bhupendra Yadav at the United Nations Climate Summit in Scotland last November.

The final details are set on the sidelines of this week’s climate summit in Sweden to mark 50 years of the first UN conference on the environment.

This 1972 conference marked the first step in global cooperation to put environmental protection on the list of priorities.

Under the MoU, the two countries will “cooperate, exchange and support each other’s ambitions in a number of areas, including support for the creation of renewable energy, decarbonization of heavy industries, plastic pollution reduction, sound management”. The promise of chemicals and sustainable consumption”.

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Steven Guillebault refused to “raise a finger” at India and its environmental record, saying he recognized the major development challenges facing the country, which require enormous energy consumption for its large population.

“We can work with them to help accelerate their decarbonization by increasing their renewable energy potential,” he said.

Coal is considered one of the most harmful energy sources. It will be responsible for producing about 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020.

In 2017, Canada and the United Kingdom created the “Powering Past Coal Alliance” project, which involved a total of 48 countries. The coalition aims to eliminate coal-based energy by 2030 in developed countries and by 2050 in the rest of the world.

GHG emissions from coal have fallen from 109 million tonnes in 2000 to 35 million tonnes in 2020.

However, India is witnessing the opposite trend in the form of rapid growth of its economy and population as well as efforts to electrify the entire country, necessitating continued reliance on coal.

The contribution of coal to more than half of India’s energy production and related GHG emissions has nearly tripled between 2000 and 2020.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been pushing for a renewable energy programme, but his promise to produce 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by the end of the year has not been fulfilled.

Steven Guilbolt noted that while coal was not on the menu this time around, Canada wants to do everything it can to export its expertise in renewable energy technologies to help India get out of its reliance on coal.

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