In December 2015, delegates from 196 countries – including the UK - spent 13 days in talks in Paris signing a treaty that aimed to cap the global rise in temperature at two degrees celsius.
At this time India pledged to the international community to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released per unit of gross domestic product by as much as 35% from 2005 levels by 2030 and to increase renewable energy.
But now the ‘Paris Agreement’, as it became known, is in serious risk of failing as a study has confirmed that proposals for 370 new coal-fired power plants in India would make it impossible.
Steven Davis, from The University of California, said: “India is facing a dilemma of its own making. The country has vowed to curtail its use of fossil fuels in electricity generation, but it has also put itself on a path to building hundreds of coal-burning power plants to feed its growing industrial economy.”
The blueprints show ambition to construct 178 gigawatts worth of coal-burning facilities, essential because 70% of the country’s power currently comes from coal. This is in the hope of providing electricity to the roughly 300 million people in the nation who don’t have it already.
But by going ahead with these developments, researchers claim India would boost the share of fossil fuels in its energy budget by 123%
Not only that but if the nation meets its goal to produce at least 40% of its power from non-fossil sources by 2030, the total power being generated would then go on to greatly exceed its own projected future electricity demand anyway.
Lead author Christine Shearer said: “In looking closely at all of India’s active coal plant proposals, we found they are already incompatible with the country’s international climate commitments and are simply unneeded.
“These plants therefore risk either locking out the country’s renewable electricity goals or becoming stranded assets operating well below optimal rates and leading to financial losses.”
The team calculated that if the pledges are to be met in light of the new plants, it would mean only running them 40% of the time, which would be a huge waste of money for investors.
Critics, including a UN emissions report, had previously claimed that the Paris Agreement was flawed in its application, and that even if the stipulations were followed to the letter, world temperatures would still rise between 2.9 and 3.4 degrees celcius before the end of the century.