Energy crises, geopolitical tensions set stage for explosive climate talks

A lack of trust between the developed and developing world, largely over the issue of climate finance, needs to be addressed for the COP to become a success this year, say experts  Read more

A nervous wait: All eyes will be on the COP26 in Glasgow as shifting geopolitical fault lines and evolving energy crises add layers of complexity to the climate talks| Photo: BBC

Energy crises, geopolitical tensions set stage for explosive climate talks

Emerging geopolitical fault lines and skyrocketing energy prices have only raised the stakes for success at COP26

Around 25,000 people from around the world will gather in Glasgow this coming week for the crucial climate negotiations. The COP26 is being seen in several quarters as one of the most crucial editions of the nearly three-decades-old negotiation process, with operationalisation of the historic Paris agreement at stake. 

In the run up to the conference, the UN, this week, delivered a damning assessment of global climate action in its annual Emissions Gap Report. As per the UN Environment Program’s findings, the world is currently on path to 2.7°C increase in temperatures with GHG emissions poised to grow 16% over the next decade. The growth projection in emissions stands in sharp contrast to the requisite 30% cut by 2030 required to keep temperature increase under 2°C. For the more ambitious target of limiting warming to 1.5°C, the cuts need to be far steeper at 55% by 2030.

The Emissions Gap report was preceded by the UNEP’s Production Gap report, which added more details on how far the odds are stacked against achieving such drastic cuts. According to the survey of major fossil fuel companies, production of fossil fuels by 2030 is projected to be 110% more than the required levels to limit warming to 1.5°C, and 45% more than required for the 2°C warming target.

While there is no end in sight for fossil fuel production, several countries in Europe and Asia, and now also the US, have been grappling with major energy shortages and lingering supply chain disruptions over the past month. According to energy analysts, the current situation smacks of an energy crisis, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the 1970s. Meanwhile, as the UK prepares to host the much-anticipated climate conference COP26 in Glasgow, due to commence next week, the fast-evolving crisis in energy has added another layer of uncertainty to the conference, already strained by a lack of trust between negotiating power blocs and frictions over finance flows.

The crisis of power

As the world pressed on with the post-COVID economic recovery, the world’s largest emitter, China, began to witness a widening gap between its coal inventory and daily coal consumption in April this year, around the time the country announced its 2060 net-zero emissions target. as it ramps up its climate ambitions. By September, the shortages had evolved into a full-blown crisis, as the country witnessed its worst power outage in a decade. China reported reserves of just over 10 million tonnes of thermal coal, compared to the 3 billion tonnes it consumes annually, as several factories and millions of households experienced severe power shortages. By the second week of October, China had ordered miners to boost coal output, contrary to the country’s medium- and long-term decarbonisation goals.

The ramifications of Chinese energy shortfalls were quickly felt across the world. While reduced factory outputs in the country meant disruptions in the global supply chains for many goods, it also increased competition in the energy market, pushing up prices dramatically. 

Asia’s second-largest economy, India, too, has not been immune to the energy supply shortages. In the face of international calls to increase its climate ambition, reserves of coal, from which about 70% of India’s energy is derived, plummeted in September and October to critical levels. The paucity of coal has created massive energy shortfalls across the country and triggered fears of widespread outages. While the country has largely staved off these fears thus far, it is far from smooth sailing. An extended and erratic monsoon has further hindered the transport of coal in the country. India’s thermal power plants currently have reserves that will last less than a week as the coal ministry scrambles to shore up supply across the country over the next month.

The effect of the stretched energy market, however, has been most pronounced for Europe, which has been bracing for a tough winter. 

The energy shortages in China translated into aggressive buying on the international spot markets for gas and coal. While China imported coal from Indonesia, Mongolia and Russia, which pushed up prices, a gas-buying spree from Russia ensured a supply shock in the global gas market as well. With the EU relying primarily on Russian gas for electricity and heating during winter, the pinch was most severely felt in member nations of the bloc. 

Across the EU, prices of electricity were reported to be as much as 2-3 times higher than normal as the continent scrambled to secure the required reserves, sparking widespread protests by residents. COP26 host, the UK, has been particularly hard hit following a summer of poor wind output. In an effort to rein in public discontent, several European countries such as Spain, Greece, Italy and the UK have rolled out subsidies for energy producers and price-caps on supplies. A similar story has played out in Germany as well, where high electricity prices and power shortages are bringing renewed attention to the country’s decision to scale back coal and to the politics surrounding the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline being built to bring Russian gas to the EU. 

Gas prices in Europe finally broke its upward climb this week following reports that Russian state-owned oil and gas company Gazprom shall increase supply to Europe. Russian President Vladmir Putin is reportedly vested in bringing down gas prices by about 60% from the current benchmark prices of over $1000/cu.metre to about $300-400/cu.metre, which is seen as critical in order for Russia to maintain its monopoly on Europe’s energy requirements. This, however, has come with its own set of political implications. Putin has placed the blame for the skyrocketing prices this year squarely on European politics and poor energy planning by the EU, which he claims overtly relies on spot markets rather than long-term contracts.

Across the pond from Europe, in the US, too, natural gas and coal prices have steadily climbed over the past year. The supply crunch and rising prices have sparked fears of a repeat of the EU energy debacle as the White House struggles to find enough support to pass an infrastructure bill, which has long been touted as a central pillar of American climate ambition.

For the time being though, the global oil producing cartel also known Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), seem largely to be happy keeping production low, and prices high, despite pressure from the likes of the US, India and Japan to increase supplies. Coincidentally, and somewhat hypocritically, the campaign to persuade OPEC to increase oil and gas production to relieve prices comes just days before the commencement of the climate change conference.

The geopolitical game

As if the situation surrounding global energy markets were not tenuous enough, a different kind of power struggle is also playing out between economic and military superpowers. The realignment of allegiances in the Asia-Pacific regions as a buffer to China’s growing influence has provoked ire from the East Asian powerhouse, which has been eager to team up with Russia.

Tensions between the West led by the US and China, which had remained hidden until recently, have begun bubbling at the surface. The formation of security partnerships such as the AUCKUS and ‘QUAD’ in the Indo-Pacific, and the West Asian QUAD is a clear attempt at shoring up a global counterweight to what is being seen as hegemonic tendencies on the part of the Chinese. The first flashpoint in the new power tussle has been the disputed island of Taiwan, the vicinity of which has seen an increasing number of military drills.

The teetering government of Afghanistan, formed by the Taliban literally days after the withdrawal of American forces, is the other flashpoint in Asia. While the new Afghan government has, to a large extent, sought to realign its allegiances with the emerging Sino-Russian power bloc, there are still large apprehensions on how long the Taliban government will be able to stave off collapse. The country is currently in the throes of economic uncertainty and deep food insecurity, while also witnessing the emergence of new militant threats. The developments in Afghanistan, which holds one of the largest lithium reserves in the world, has been of particular interest to Russia, which has been conducting war games with Tajikistan mere kilometres from the northern Afghan border. Russia’s long-standing feud with NATO has come to the fore in recent weeks with border tensions with Europe also simmering again.

What does all of this have to do with climate action? Quite a lot actually.

China’s Xi has on more than one occasion made it clear climate negotiations shall no longer be held in silos, but will be a part of the larger fabric that includes discussions on security and trade. In Europe, there are rising concerns that Russia is “weaponising” its gas supplies in attempt to strongarm smaller European nations like Moldova, which are completely reliant on Russian gas. Russia has already used its military and energy in order to cleave Eastern European Belarus away from Europe. Both Xi and Putin have indicated that they will not be attending the climate conference in Glasgow.

Knives out for climate action, but renewables still clearest path to energy security

The coincidence of calls of increased ambition for climate action, and announcements from China and the EU to pursue carbon neutrality targets, with the increase in energy prices has not escaped the attention of critics.

Among the first to question the role of progressive climate action in raising energy prices was controversial Hungarian head of state, Victor Orban, who squarely blamed the EU’s eagerness for carbon taxes and fixed carbon prices on the surge in energy prices. Next came remonstrations from Poland, which has sought a revision of the EU’s climate plans, which includes carbon pricing and border taxes on carbon, in light of the current energy shortfalls and high prices. The argument has gained traction in other parts of the EU, too, where Spain and France (both of which have been facing prolonged popular protests against rising energy costs) to express opposition to plans to revamp the bloc’s carbon pricing system. Critics have also pointed to the UK’s reliance on wind energy as the reason for the energy crunch in the country.

A similar situation is currently playing out in China, too, where ambitious climate action has been blamed for the coal shortages, which have crippled several economic sectors. The current energy crunch is being seen as the biggest reason for the country resisting demands for enhanced climate ambitions.

In the US, the White House’s infrastructure plans, which include increased spending on renewables and transport electrification has also attracted the ire of critics, who claim the US is on the path to repeat the EU’s “mistakes.”

But while those opposing increased climate action have pointed to the evolving crisis as a sign of the implications of increased ambitions, in reality, the situation points to the dangers of relying heavily on global energy supply chains. The volatility in prices of oil, gas and coal, although concerning in the immediate term, indicate the progress of transitions away from fossil fuels. According to new modelling by the UN’s International Agency for Atomic Energy, high gas prices might actually prove to be optimal for the shift away from fossil fuels.

Advocates of climate action have underlined that energy transitions, while renewables and energy storage capacities are ramped up, are likely to be accompanied by violent price action on the international energy markets. 

In the wake of massive supply chain disruption due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, several regions of the world have moved towards protectionism to power their economic recoveries, particularly with regards to manufacturing and production. It would come as little surprise if the current energy crisis provokes a similar protectionist response, in an effort to shore up domestic energy production capacities and reduce dependence on volatile global supply chains.

While this could hold potential devastating consequences as far as new oil and gas explorations go (particularly in the North Sea and the Arctic Circle), the clearest path so far for most of the world to secure their current and future energy needs is still offered by a combination of renewables and storage. 

There is little doubt that the frothy energy and geopolitical situations currently evolving around the globe will bring strong undercurrents to Glasgow’s COP26. World leaders, however, cannot afford for myopia to derail negotiations that will likely determine chances of averting climate catastrophe. The stakes are simply too high.

Mercury Rising: A report published by health journal Lancet reveals that India’s productivity losses due to heatwaves are 2.5-3 times the global average | Photo: Alamy Live News

India 15% more vulnerable to heat extremes than in 1990: Lancet report

India was 15% more vulnerable to heat extremes in 2019 than it was in 1990, according to the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change. The report also revealed that India is one of the five countries with the highest exposure of vulnerable populations to heatwaves over the past five years, and the exposure is increasing. The report revealed that 295 billion hours of potential work were lost across the globe in 2020 due to heat exposure, with Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India reporting the greatest losses (2.5–3 times the world average). 

Meanwhile, the monsoon season still refuses to end across the Indian subcontinent. Flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy rain killed around 150 people in India and Nepal in the past week. Uttarakhand was the worst hit, and reported 48 deaths. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued orange and yellow alerts across the state of Kerala. The IMD, however, did predict the southwest monsoon would withdraw from the country by October 26. 

Plastic production could emit more GHGs than coal plants within 10 years: Report

The production of plastic, which is a highly carbon-intensive process, is likely to emit more greenhouse gases than coal-fired plants within this decade, a new study predicted. According to the report by Bennington College and Beyond Plastic, the plastic industry emits 232 million tonnes of greenhouse gases each year, which is equivalent to the GHGs emitted by 116 coal plants. But with more than a dozen plastic plants under construction and some more being planned, these emissions are likely to cancel out any gains made by reducing or ending the use of coal-powered plants, the report stated.

Climate change reducing ice thickness of lakes across world: Study

The ecosystems of lakes across the world have been jeopardised by climate change, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature. The effect of climate change on ice seasonality and water temperature, especially, seems to be having a profound effect on the ecosystems, seen primarily in the reducing thickness of the ice. The study used hincasts and projections from five lake models. According to the study, the impact on ice thickness and lake temperatures will ‘profoundly alter’ the functioning of the lake ecosystems and the services they provide.  

More than 99% consensus in peer-reviewed scientific literature on human-caused climate change: Study 

More than 99% of peer-reviewed scientific literature agrees that climate change is driven by human activity, a new study found. The study examined 3,000 climate-related papers published since 2012 before arriving at the conclusion. It found only four of the 3,000 papers were sceptical of human-caused climate change.

Persistent gaps: THE UNEP Production Gap and Emission Gap reports have found severe shortfalls in global climate action as the COP26 contends with a widening trust deficit | Photo: The Ecologist

Developed countries back another round of NDCs by 2023 to meet 1.5°C gap

Ahead of COP26, rich countries have proposed another round of updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by 2023 in light of the UN Emissions Gap Report. It stated that even if countries meet their 2030 targets in full, global warming would only be limited to 2.4°C by 2100. Collective ambition needs to be seven times higher to meet the ambitious 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement, the report added. 

Developing countries, however, stated rich countries should meet the huge gap between what is already in the NDCs and what is actually being implemented instead of another round of updating NDCs. They added that the world should talk about climate action and not bureaucratic updating of NDCs. The Paris accord agreed to update NDCs every five years. But developed countries argue that waiting until 2025 to step up ambition is too late to keep 1.5°C within reach.

World’s fossil fuel production not in sync with Paris Agreement: Report

Despite the various net-zero pledges made in recent days, the world is still on track to produce 110% over the amount of fossil fuels that is consistent with maintaining 1.5°C of temperature warming, and 45% more than what is consistent with 2°C, according to The Production Gap Report released this month. 

According to the report, the governments’ production plans and projections would lead to about 240% more coal, 56% more oil, and 71% more gas in 2030 with gas production projected to increase the most between 2020 and 2040. The production gaps for all fuels grow much wider by 2040 under both temperature limits, it stated. ​​There would be a wider production gap than estimated in the report if carbon dioxide removal technologies fail to develop at a large scale, or if methane emissions are not reduced, it added. 

G20 still divided over coal phaseout ahead of Rome summit, say sources

Ahead of the crucial G20 summit in Rome next week, sources told Reuters member countries remain divided over phasing out coal. One of the sources was quoted as saying that such indecision was normal, and that no major announcements would be made until G20 leaders meet face-to-face at the summit. Another source said he foresees a problem cropping up when it comes to coal and fossil fuel phase outs, primarily from Russia, China and India. 

Meanwhile, a document accessed by the BBC revealed some countries are trying to push the UN to play down the need to rapidly move away from fossil fuels in a report that the agency is due to publish ahead of COP26. Some of these countries include Saudi Arabia, Australia and Japan. The leak also revealed richer nations are questioning giving poorer countries more money to switch to green technologies. The UN assessment report is published every six-seven years by the agency’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

IMF sets up fund to help poorer nations battle climate risks

In a ray of hope for poorer nations struggling to combat climate impacts, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is in the process of setting up a funding facility worth up to $50 billion to aid the efforts. The Resilience and Sustainability Trust will aim to redistribute finance from rich to poorer nations, which will be backed by policy support. The trust has already received endorsements from the finance ministers of G20 countries.  

Richest nations to face devastating impacts from climate change without emission cuts: Study

Climate change will have devastating impacts on the G20, which includes the world’s richest economies, according to a new report. The G20 Climate Impacts Atlas, which was published just ahead of the G20 summit, found that over the past 20 years, heat-related deaths have increased by at least 15% in all member countries. It also revealed that forest fires in the G20 have burnt an area one-and-a-half times the size of Canada. And if emissions keep rising, worse is to come. 

For India, the study predicted heatwaves will last 25 times longer by 2036-2065 if global temperature rise is constrained to 4°C, over five times longer if it is limited to about 2°C, and one-and-a half-times longer if emissions are very low and temperature rise only reaches 1.5°C.

Declines in rice and wheat production in the country could spark economic losses of up to €81 billion and a loss of 15% of farmers’ incomes by 2050, according to the study. 

Biden administration struggling to pass key climate legislation ahead of COP26

US president Joe Biden’s efforts to combat climate change are being met with staunch opposition from pro-fossil fuel senators. With just days to go before COP26, the country is yet to pass a key climate legislation that will certainly put the US on the backfoot ahead of the crucial UN meet. Climate measures in the Biden administration’s proposed infrastructure bill and reconciliation bill are being scrapped or watered down by pro-fossil fuel senators both in the Republican and Democratic parties. One of the measures, in particular, which rewards utilities for cleaning up electricity generation most likely will not make the cut.

Seeking support: A new Decision Support System will be the latest tool employed in Delhi-NCR as the Capital region gears up for surging pollution during winter| Photo: GK Today

Govt plans to sell small LPG cylinders at ration shops

In a move that may provide cheaper access to cleaner cooking fuel, the Centre plans to sell small LPG cylinders through fair price shops also known as ration shops. There are around 5.26 lakh fair price shops in the country. These issues were discussed in a virtual meeting with state governments. Representatives from the ministries of electronics and IT; finance; petroleum and natural gas also attended the meeting. Representatives from oil marketing companies (OMCs) Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) were also present.

Decision Support System to map Delhi’s ambient air gets official nod from Centre

The Air Quality Commission finally gave its nod to a Decision Support System (DSS), a policy tool  developed by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, to tackle air quality in the National Capital Region (NCR). A separate DSS website has also been launched that displays how emissions from Delhi and the 19 surrounding districts impact Delhi’s ambient air. Emissions from industry, transport, construction, road dust, biomass burning, waste burning, and residential sources are mapped on a graph on the DSS portal. The system is mapping data from 19 districts, including Karnal, Jind, Rohtak and Meerut. The system is expected to help make critical policy level interventions to handle emissions.

Air filters and anti-smog guns: Ghaziabad initiates works for air quality improvement

The municipal corporation of Ghaziabad, one of the most polluted districts in the National Capital Region (NCR), launched a drive to improve air quality with plans to pave dusty road patches with greenery and stones and add more greenery to 200 existing parks.

A city forest on 32 acres near the polluted New Bus Adda Metro station is also on the cards. But the decision to instal band-aid schemes like 30 big air filters, six more anti-smog guns, each with a capacity of 6,000 litres, has drawn flak from environmentalists. Ghaziabad also plans to use e-vehicles to pick up daily solid waste. 

Slowed by rain, stubble burning incidents to rise in North India, warn experts 

Lingering monsoon showers in North India have delayed stubble burning incidents that are expected to spike up in the coming days, analysts warned. Analysing satellite data, scientists said there has been a drop in fires compared to the past few years because of the delayed monsoon withdrawal, but fires are increasing and soon, regional air quality will take a hit. Incidents are already rising. 

Recent government data showed Haryana’s Karnal reporting over 350 cases of farm fires with the government recommending FIR against 28 farmers, and Rs4.30 lakh fine  slapped on 171 farmers. Haryana reported 1,082 cases of farm fires in comparison to 2,811 till October 19, 2020. Apart from stubble burning, factories, vehicles and other sources also contributed to air pollution.

To raise or not to raise: Following intense international pressure to ramp up its climate ambitions, India is considering updating its NDC to include its domestic RE target of installing 450GW by 2030 | Photo: Twitter

India to formalise RE target of 450 GW by 2030 in its NDC before COP26?

Ahead of COP26, there’s pressure on India to enhance its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). COP26 President Alok Sharma said he expects India to incorporate a 450 GW renewable energy by 2030 target in the NDC it will submit. India’s informal goal of 450 GW should be formalised before COP26, he said. 

HT reported that PM Modi is likely to be in Glasgow till November 2 when he and UK PM Boris Johnson are expected to make a joint statement on the Green Grids Initiative – One Sun One World One Grid’ (GGIOSOWOG) at COP26. GGIOSOWOG will bring technical, financial and research cooperation to help facilitate cross-border renewable energy transfer projects, according to the International Solar Alliance.

A 14- to 15-member delegation with officials from the ministries of power, finance, earth sciences, agriculture, new and renewable energy, environment, and water will represent India at COP26. It will be headed by environment minister Bhupendra Yadav. 

Govt reduces benchmark costs for off grid solar systems

The Centre reduced the benchmark costs, excluding taxes for decentralised and off-grid solar systems for the financial year (FY) 2021-22. The revised costs include the total cost of the system and its installations, commissioning, transportation, insurance, warranty, monitoring, and maintenance for five years. The new benchmark cost for standalone solar pumps ranges from ₹96,877 (~$1,290) to ₹469,054 (~$6,246) for general category states and around ₹105,509 (~$1,405) to ₹511,202 (~$6,807) for the northeastern region, hill states, islands, and union territories (UTs). Earlier, the benchmark cost for the general category states was around ₹105,500 (~$1,418) to ₹510,800 (~$6,868), and for the northeastern region, hill states, islands, and  UTs, it was ₹114,900 (~$1,544) to ₹556,700 (~$7,485).

For solarisation of grid-connected agricultural pumps, the benchmark cost is around ₹37,649 (~$501.38)/kW to ₹44,352 ($590.65)/kW for various categories. Earlier, it was in the range of ₹41 (~$0.55)/W to ₹48.3 (~$0.64)/W for various categories. The new benchmark cost for standalone solar power projects and battery packs is in the range of ₹50 (~$0.7)/W to ₹86 (~$1.1)/W. Earlier, it ranged from ₹55 (~$0.73)/W to ₹94 (~$1.25)/W for various categories up to the maximum capacity of 25 kW, Mercom reported. 

India’s big RE companies need huge capital to meet targets: IEEFA

For India to reach its renewable energy goals, companies will need to fund capacity expansion with massive amounts of capital at competitive rates, according to the new IEEFA report. This can be done by backing traditional financing sources with other channels such as green bond issuances, asset monetisation and capital recycling initiatives. The report examined RE plans of big firms Adani Green, Tata and NTPC and concluded that the three firms will require major financing drives to meet their RE targets. IEEFA said the NTPC’s thermal power assets are a hindrance for global capital markets. Adani Green, the world’s largest solar firm, has capitalised exceptionally well on its green profile through its high market capitalisation, asset monetisation and bond lending programme. Tata Power has successfully reduced its debt but lacks patient global pension/corporate capital on its books, IEEFA reported. 

Meanwhile, a foreign brokerage company report said India will spend $316 billion (about Rs23 lakh crore) in the decade to 2030 towards de-carbonisation, with investments of over Rs14,051 lakh crore going toward RE projects. 

Solar modules will remain costly till Q1 2022?

Solar module prices are likely to increase further, Chinese modules are expected to stay high until the first quarter (Q1) of 2022. Modules prices have gone up from $0.25/W in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021 to over $0.30/W to date. According to the Asia Europe Clean Energy Advisory, high raw material prices have made polysilicon, EVA, backsheets, aluminum framers, and solar glass also costlier. The prices for solar panels have reached a level not seen in the past 12-18 months. The latest transaction price of polysilicon was approximately 270 renminbi (RMB) (~$42)/kg. Experts said modules account for 55-60% of capital expenditure (CAPEX) of solar projects in India. Therefore, the increase in module prices is expected to increase the overall CAPEX of solar projects by around 18-20%.

New lease of life: Hertz was struggling under massive losses but its new order for 100,000 Tesla Model 3s has once again boosted its stock price | Photo:

Hertz orders 100,000 Teslas, Uber to lease half of them

Car rental company Hertz ordered 100,000 EVs from Tesla, making the $4.2 billion deal the largest ever for the EV maker. The Tesla Model 3s will be delivered over the next 14 months and will be available across several US cities. The order is also large enough to block 10pc of Tesla’s annual manufacturing capacity, and it drove up Tesla’s stock price by 13% intra-day to take the company’s valuation beyond $1 trillion for the first time. 

Meanwhile, Uber will lease 50,000 of the vehicles from Hertz to make it available to its drivers. Interestingly, the models ordered will not be the bare bones versions that are typically used for taxi-like operations, but will be well appointed with most common amenities for a better rider experience. 

India: Maruti Suzuki not yet ready to manufacture EVs, says will wait till 2025

India’s largest carmaker, Maruti Suzuki Ltd, said that it was not going to venture into EV manufacturing at least till 2025, as the demand for EVs in the country was simply not enough for it to justify the additional investment. Instead, Maruti chief R.C. Bhargava said that he would like for the demand to reach around 10,000 EVs per month before the automaker would start manufacturing EVs. Maruti makes several of India’s best-selling cars — it sold 130,699 units in August 2021 alone — and is one of the few large automakers that so far does not have an EV in its product lineup. 

Foxconn to build EVs in Latin America, India and Europe 

Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn announced that it would start building EVs in markets outside of its home country, starting with Europe first, and then expanding to Latin America and India. Foxconn is world-renowned as the manufacturer of iPhones for Apple, but it recently purchased a car factory in the US for its foray into EVs, and it plans to supply 10% of all EV components and/or services by 2025. It is currently working on a solid-state battery, and has already developed an electric bus, sedan and SUV — the latter being called the Model C. 

Fearful: India's aluminium manufacturers shot off a letter to the PMO, requesting that it restore coal supplies or the industry would lose up to one million jobs and fail to meet production targets | Photo: Business Standard

India: Aluminium industry warns of jobs losses, asks PMO to resume coal supplies

The Aluminium Association of India (AAI) wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) asking for resumed coal supplies to the country’s aluminium manufacturers, as it warned that not honouring the industry’s regular coal requirement could result in one million employees losing their jobs. The industry is heavily coal-dependent as aluminium needs 15-times more electricity per tonne than steel and 145-times more electricity than cement. Of late, India’s aluminium manufacturers have received only around 10% of their coal supplies as the nation went through a supply crunch. Even the power ministry has reiterated that the stunted supplies were caused by logistical issues, rather than the country choosing not to mine more coal. 

Australia announces net zero target by 2050 but won’t let go of fossil fuels any time soon

The Australian prime minister announced that Australia would target net zero emissions by 2050, even though it had no plans of clamping down on fossil fuels. The announcement comes just days before the COP26 summit, but it has drawn criticism as the country has one of the highest CO2 emissions. However, Scott Morrisson has defended his support for fossil fuels, saying that Australia was already on track to lowering its emissions by 30-35% by 2030, which was higher than the 26% reduction it had pledged at the Paris Agreement. Besides, he wanted coal miners to adapt and become more competitive for as long as there was demand for the fuel, and that Australia would use more natural gas in the interim, even as it invested in solar and carbon capture using natural sinks. 

UK’s emissions could triple if pipeline of 40 fossil fuel projects okayed 

A new report revealed that the UK had 40 fossil fuel projects waiting to be approved, and if okayed, they would triple its annual greenhouse gas emissions over the projects’ lifetimes. The projects include a deep coal mine in Cumbria and a proposed oil field off of Shetland, and the report comes at a time when the UK is just days away from hosting the UNFCCC COP26 — where countries are expected to pledge to slash their fossil fuel dependence. However, the Boris Johnson government has defended the proposed projects, saying that weaning itself off of all domestically-sourced fossil fuels would leave it vulnerable to supply shocks from other countries, and effectively weaken the UK’s energy independence.