All is well, all is well: India's government has sought to assuage fears as a looming power crisis exposes India's over-reliance on coal | Photo: DNA India

India: Enough coal to meet demand, says power minister after claims of dramatic shortages

The Indian coal ministry said that the country had enough coal to meet the needs of coal plants, and refuted claims that the fuel’s shortage could lead to blackouts across major demand centres. It also said that Coal India had a stockpile of 40 million tonnes of coal, which was being used to furnish the utilities’ 7.2 million tons daily requirement, after claims that more than half of India’s coal plants had had their coal stockpiles shrink to less than three days’ worth. In addition, Indian cement and steel makers were amongst the parties that have been buying Australian coal shipments — at a $10-15/ton discount — that were lying untouched at Chinese warehouses due to a long-standing political squabble between the two countries. Fears of power shortages, however, have continued unabated despite the government’s assurances.

Yet, as coal’s import prices rise on the back of growing demand, the utilities will continue to face challenges as the fuel accounts for  around 70% of India’s power output, and 75% of the country’s coal consumption is attributed to its coal plants. The shortages have thrown light on the country’s over-reliance on coal amid demands for greater diversification in the energy-mix as India pursues low-carbon growth.

Australian PM refuses to adopt any net-zero commitments

The Australian prime minister refused to adopt 2050 as the target for the country to achieve net zero emissions, saying that it needed the income and the jobs from fossil fuels (largely coal and natural gas) to keep up its communities’ standard of living. Scott Morrison made the statement despite Australia being warned that its borrowing costs from the international community would go up if it did not adopt a time-bound target soon, and he has instead said that his government was working on “transition technologies”, but that the process would not end overnight. Yet, a 2019 report found that Australia’s per capita carbon emissions are nine times that of China’s, four times the US’s and 37 times the per capita emissions of the average Indian resident. 

IATA adopts resolution to achieve net zero emissions by 2050

The global regulator of commercial aviation, the International Air Travel Agency (IATA), adopted a resolution that would commit the industry to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The resolution is the biggest policy change that the IATA has adopted since committing to lowering aviation’s emissions by 50% by mid-century, back in 2009, and it comes at a time when the global aviation industry is recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

However, while some major airlines like United, British Airways, Lufthansa and Delta have already adopted their own net zero commitments, China Southern Airlines has expressed its reservations about the resolution as it intends to achieve the target by 2060. Saudi Arabian Airlines, too, has expressed reservations about lowering the industry’s carbon footprint by focussing on “sustainable technologies”, even as Airbus — Europe’s largest aircraft manufacturer — is actively pursuing electric and hydrogen propulsion

California oil spill releases up to 132,000 gallons of crude oil, fouls local beaches

The oil spill off the coast of southern California may have released up to 132,000 gallons of crude oil, and has forced many local businesses to shut shop to ease clean-up efforts. Bizarrely, the 13-inch fracture in the undersea pipeline that caused the leakage has been attributed to one or multiple large ships dropping their multi-ton anchors on it and displacing it across the sea floor over the last one year. The local Coast Guard has so recovered up to 5,500 gallons of the lumps of crude oil that washed ashore, and the local businesses affected are reported to filing a class-action lawsuit against the ship being blamed for the incident — the Hapag-Lloyd owned Rotterdam Express. 

Putin hints at easing Europe’s gas shortage, insists EU discarded fossil fuels too soon 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a speech to his administration that Gazprom, the firm responsible for piping natural gas to Europe, should “make some calculations” and ease its restrictions on the volume being supplied. Gazprom is Russia’s largest gas exporter and is responsible for 35% of Europe’s gas requirements. The single comment calmed energy markets worldwide and it means that EU residents could receive adequate gas supplies for space heating over the winter. However, the change in stance from Putin comes with the condition that Europe — especially the largest NATO members, such as Germany and France — stop viewing Russia as “an adversary”, and the President was also vocal in criticising the bloc for having tried to move away from conventional fuels “too soon”. 

Europe’s gas shortage was also brought on by it not being able to source gas shipments from the US, whose gas exports are already contracted for Asian countries. 

About The Author