Washington [US]: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said India is one of the six countries to have fulfilled most of the commitments made at the Paris Climate Summit in 2015 and remains committed to fulfilling its renewable energy targets.
Sitharaman made the remarks while answering a question during a panel discussion at the Atlantic Council, a US-based think tank.
“We are one of the six countries who have fulfilled most of the commitments made in Paris,” Sitharaman said.
“One calculation we had in our mind was the transition would be filled with natural gas, that the transition will be enabled by natural gas. But unfortunately, what has happened, because of the recent developments is not only that the crude, a fossil fuel from which we want to move out, has shot up, (but) natural gas, which is a transition fuel we wanted even that’s gone up and it’s also in short supply,” she added.
She was asked if India’s commitment to its environmental goals has changed in light of recent geopolitical disturbances as a result of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The Finance Minister elaborated that the use of natural gas has been spread throughout the country with government schemes like ‘Ujjwala Yojana.
“So when the price of such a fuel which is a transition fuel goes skyrocketing, your calculations get upset,” Sitharaman said.
Talking about India’s transition from coal, Sitharaman said that given the recent developments, the timeline of India reducing its dependence on coal would be “challenged”.
“So your dependence on coal will ideally be coming down and if we pegged the coming down to a certain period, now because of the transition gas becoming much more in price and availability becoming a bit difficult, the dependence on coal and the speed with which we wanted to get out of it will be challenged… so that’s what is the big problem before us,” Sitharaman said.
Talking about India’s future commitments, Sitharaman made it clear that India’s commitment to achieving its environmental goals remains even as the timeline under which the transition would take place would have to be “relooked”.
“Our commitments will be fulfilled as regards renewable energy… our commitments to refashion our energy basket remains intact, but I suppose the time that it’s going to take (will) probably have to be relooked. However, the commitments made by our PM in COP26 in Scotland is something we have taken seriously, and we are moving forward to fulfilling it,” she said.
Sitharaman talked about the Indian economy, the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the government’s welfare schemes, and India’s recovery plan from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic during the almost an hour-long session.
Sitharaman is in Washington on an official visit to attend the Spring Meetings at the World Bank, the G20 Finance Ministers meeting and the Central Bank Governor Meeting (FMCBG).
The visit will also include several bilateral interactions, including with Indonesia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, and South Africa, as well as a high-level meeting with World Bank President David Malpass. (ANI)