In total agreement: India's home and coal ministries are both strongly backing a revival for coal despite the market and investors steadily moving towards renewables | Photo: Indian Express

India: Home minister bats for coal to play majority role in $5 trillion economy

India’s home minister Amit Shah stated that coal would play a majority role in India’s target of a $5 trillion economy, and that ₹4 trillion would be spent by the country’s private and public lenders to boost domestic coal consumption by as much as possible within this decade. Around ₹2.5 trillion of the investment will go into boosting India’s output of coal bed methane, surface coal gasification and even “clean coal”. 

The statement comes despite the Centre aggressively pursuing more renewable energy capacity. The home minister also launched a “single window clearance portal” for new coal mines to obtain all necessary clearances at one go — including sensitive ones on wildlife and the rehabilitation of project-affected families. The coal ministry additionally clarified that a new tranche of coal mines will be put up for auction in January 2021, despite the previous round attracting but meagre interest

Alaska drilling lease sale a flop as oil companies show little interest

The sale of oil and gas drilling leases in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) has been termed a flop as oil and gas drillers stayed away, despite over one million acres of pristine wild land being hastily thrown open by the Trump Administration. Only around 550,000 acres received any interest, and out of the 22 tracts opened up for bidding, only 11 attracted bids. Worse, the top bidder for 9 of the 11 tracts was the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) — which is a state-owned firm, unlike the several well-established oil and gas drillers that the White House had hoped to attract. 

Most drillers rejected the offering over the battering the oil and gas industry received in 2020, and because of its less-than promising future prospects. A long-time industry analyst from Alaska, Larry Persily, even remarked that “no one’s going to see any oil coming out of ANWR”. 

Exxon finally discloses full Scope 3 emissions after shareholder pressure 

ExxonMobil finally released the full figures on its Scope 3 emissions after mounting pressure from its shareholders, and they reportedly amount to 730 million metric tonnes of CO2 released in 2019. The figure is equivalent to nearly the annual emissions for all of Canada, and is more than twice that of BP. However, Exxon downplayed the shareholder pressure and is yet to declare a concrete plan to reduce its absolute emissions going forward. Most of its future profits are also supposed to come from its “substantial majority” of reserves that will be developed over the next 20 years. 

HSBC pressured by shareholders to slash exposure to fossil fuels 

Europe’s largest bank and the second-largest financier of fossil fuel projects, HSBC, is being pressured by its shareholders to slash its funding for the sector as part of its commitment to go net zero by 2050. The bank has financed around $86.5 billion worth of fossil fuel projects around the world since the signing of the Paris Agreement, and its shareholders have filed for a climate resolution to be brought to vote at HSBC’s next annual general meeting (AGM) in April 2021 over the lack of concrete policy initiative from HSBC. 

HSBC’s shareholders include some of the largest institutional investors and together they manage around $2.4 trillion worth of assets worldwide. The climate resolution action is being coordinated by London-based ShareAction, which campaigns for environmentally responsible investments.

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