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India needs nuclear power to meet Modi’s pledge at COP26 in 2070

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi drew attention at the recent United Nations climate summit, known as COP26, when he said India plans to achieve net zero emissions. by 2070. It is a worthwhile goal, even if it is far away and for which no one can now be held accountable. But if Modi wants to prove that he is truly committed to the goal, there is only one way to get there: nuclear power.

India is one of the biggest consumers of coal in the world, with its consumption just behind China. A important part The economy runs on coal, the state-owned Coal India is the world’s largest mining company, and coal provides about 70 percent of the country’s electricity. It also makes India particularly vulnerable to price fluctuations, and in October, the record price of thermal coal and an easing of coronavirus lockdowns caused national shortages: some factories had failed. one to three days fuel, in part due to a increases required. The month of October as a whole recorded the greater electricity shortage in more than 5 years.

But the long-term problem with coal lies in its massive emissions which accelerate the processes of climate change to which India is highly exposed. These problems cannot be left to 2070. The rise in sea level has sunk farmland in places like West Bengal, and climate change (through natural disasters like cyclones, floods and droughts) has cost India $ 87 billion Last year.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi drew attention at the recent United Nations climate summit, known as COP26, when he said India plans to achieve net zero emissions. by 2070. It is a worthwhile goal, even if it is far away and for which no one can now be held accountable. But if Modi wants to prove that he is truly committed to the goal, there is only one way to get there: nuclear power.

India is one of the biggest consumers of coal in the world, with its consumption just behind China. A important part The economy runs on coal, the state-owned Coal India is the world’s largest mining company, and coal provides about 70 percent of the country’s electricity. It also makes India particularly vulnerable to price fluctuations, and in October, the record price of thermal coal and an easing of coronavirus lockdowns caused national shortages: some factories had failed. one to three days fuel, in part due to a increases required. The month of October as a whole recorded the greater electricity shortage in more than 5 years.

But the long-term problem with coal lies in its massive emissions which accelerate the processes of climate change to which India is highly exposed. These problems cannot be left to 2070. The rise in sea level has sunk farmland in places like West Bengal, and climate change (through natural disasters like cyclones, floods and droughts) has cost India $ 87 billion Last year.

The government has taken steps to switch to cleaner sources. From AugustIndia had just over a hundred gigawatts of renewable energy capacity, which is about a quarter of the total installed electric capacity. But this is not enough to achieve the Modis COP26 target, and the government is both aware of this and is preparing to respond through policies such as wind energy subsidies and slowly lower subsidies for coal. However, nuclear power must be part of this answer.

At present, nuclear power is the fifth largest source of electricity in India, and there are several reactors spread across the country, with more still under construction. However, they are not that important in the grand scheme of things in November 2020, they have contributed less than 2 percent of India’s overall energy supply.

Raising that number will be crucial in tackling climate change as well as concerns over energy reliability, but it’s not necessarily something India can do on its own, and some are wondering if it is to be expected. In Modis’ speech at COP26, he echoed concerns that the Western world is removing the cheap and dirty ladder of power that he himself has climbed. However, he did not close the door to decarbonization efforts and argued that developed countries should commit to helping developing countries through a $ 1 trillion fund for climate finance.

While the fund is in place and the agreements are worked out, there is a concrete way for the United States and India to move to such funding. In 2008, then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed the US-India civilian nuclear deal with then-US President George W. Bush. The deal aimed to remedy decades of sanctions resulting from India’s earlier nuclear tests. India was required to separate its nuclear power into civilian and military sectors in return for full civilian nuclear cooperation.

At the time, the deal was quite controversial in India, with both the opposition Bharatiya Janata party and the once powerful Indian Communist Party vigorously opposed, even though the latter was part of the parliamentary majority in government. Despite the intense hostility, the government managed to both push through the deal and prove its majority, although both were done with paper-thin majorities and resulted in the Left Front parties. leaving the United Progressive Alliance government led by the Indian National Congress. In the United States, some feared the deal would result in a change in US non-proliferation policy, but the deal passed House 298 to 117 and Senate 86-13 with much larger margins than in India.

Yet the Indian deal failed to address all issues surrounding nuclear energy, especially popular security concerns. There was one number of protests in the southern state of Tamil Nadu over concerns over the safety standards of a nuclear power plant built in conjunction with a Russian energy company. In addition, in 2014, the Minister of Energy at the time of Modis said that the government was still careful nuclear power.

By 2016, however, the winds had apparently turned. The United States and India have agreed to go forward with the construction of six nuclear reactors to be delivered by June 2017, the first of these measures under the 2008 agreement, despite some worries about limited liability. In addition, although there are still a few controversial around waste storage, the Tamil Nadu plant seems to have gained wide political acceptance, and the construction of its fifth and sixth units started recently. The United States is slowly replacing Russia as a key Indian ally in a military context, and there is no reason for it to stop in an energy context. India should strive to continue to strengthen its energy relationship with the United States both for clean energy purposes and to ensure collaboration in a non-military context.

The United States has reached out to India in recent years, mostly with an eye on China. While this cooperation is both important and welcome, it is also important that the relationship between the United States and India is more than a military alliance. Policymakers should reap its benefits not only by strengthening India’s energy infrastructure, but also by ensuring strong cooperation in a non-military context.

The current energy crisis in India has decreases, but it is not a guarantee against future disasters. Policy makers should act to ensure a safer, more reliable and greener energy network.

Sources

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2/ https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/11/18/india-nuclear-power-2070-cop26/

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