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Cheap Coal Historically Powered Development. India Could Carve Out A New Growth Model.
Right now in India, the heat is literally causing roads to melt. The country is in the midst of a crippling heat wave, having experienced its highest temperature ever recorded last week and conditions have only continued. Extreme events like this—drought, rising temperatures, flooding and more storms—are becoming the new norm for countries like India thanks to climate change. While India—and countries like it—bears the brunt of the impacts, it is also increasingly becoming a major source of the problem. India is the fastest growing emitter in the world and still has 300 million people left in the dark.
The traditional path for lighting up those millions more would be coal. Cheap coal powered the development of Europe, the U.S., and so many other countries. But recognizing the climate costs—combined with consistently low natural gas prices and the falling costs of renewables—much of the world is now turning against coal. Americans are using 29% less coal to power electricity than they were less than a decade ago. Britain—the birthplace of the coal-fired power station—has started going coal-free for the first time since 1882. Even China, in the midst of a “war on pollution” and committed to confronting climate change, is closing more than a thousand coal mines this year, and halting the construction of new mines and most new coal plants.