With arms wide open: India’s decision to allow 100% FDI in coal mining may bring in new tech but the country’s carbon emissions may also snowball | Photo: WVPublic

India approves 100% FDI in coal mining

India’s Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in coal mining and associated infrastructure. So far, Coal India and its subsidiary — Singareni Collieries (SSCL) — were the dominant miners, and the private (captive) sector was only allowed to sell up to 25% of its output in the open market. However, while the approval may bring in more efficient mining methods, India’s growing appetite for coal could contradict its larger target of slashing GHG emissions. 

NTPC aims to be 2nd-largest coal miner, govt rejects commercial-only coal mines 

India’s largest coal power producer, NTPC, says it will aim to become the country’s second-largest coal miner as it ramps up output from its 11 coal blocks from 8 to 100 MTPA. The ramp-up would be to counter inconsistent supplies of the fuel and ensure reliable power generation, but the decision comes amidst sharply declining investment in coal power and global calls for an accelerated exit from the fuel. 

Meanwhile, the Centre has rejected its top planning body’s suggestion to end captive allocations of coal mines (to power producers and heavy industry). The idea was to commercialise all mines and increase revenues, but the power ministry has retorted that it could hamper supplies and “plunge the country into darkness”. 

Germany mulls aviation tax for cleaner flights

German chancellor Angela Merkel has indicated that the country may introduce an aviation tax to fund research into climate-friendly aviation, such as non-fossil-fuel-powered propulsion systems. Aviation accounts for about 2% of all global emissions, but its share is expanding fast, and Merkel has said that Germany would aim to lead the world in greening the sector. 

French shipping giant to avoid Arctic route 

French shipping giant CMA CGM, too, has announced a climate-positive step by deciding to avoid sailing through the Arctic. Thawing ice and warmer waters are making the route accessible to commercial shipping for the first time, but the region’s fragile ecosystem is acutely vulnerable to oil spills and atmospheric pollution. 

UK’s shale gas could only last only 5 years, not 50

New research suggests that the UK’s shale gas deposits could run out in as little as 5 years, instead of the nearly 50 years’ worth of estimated reserves. The study could be a blow to the country’s fracking industry as it says that even 200 trillion cubic feet of the reserves would be hard to extract economically — which is a far cry from the “world’s biggest” reserves of 1,300 trillion cubic feet. Cuadrilla, one of the UK’s leading fracking firms, has, however, dismissed the findings.

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