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India, Once a Coal Goliath, Is Fast Turning Green (nytimes.com)
506 points by scdoshi on June 2, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 151 comments



Parts of the theory of disruption - specifically that an entity with less entrenched structures, can solve problems in more efficient ways - applies to nation states as well.

When 25% of your country has no electricity at all, you get to imagine parts of your grid from the ground up. If there's an expectation of load-shedding and your grid doesn't have to be at a 100% in all places, you have room to make mistakes. Most importantly, if the renewables aren't replacing but rather adding to your energy generation capacity, you don't have to fight entrenched fossil fuel businesses and associated regulatory capture to get started.

In many ways it's similar to how telephony spread in the developing world. They skipped landlines entirely and went straight to GSM.

I'm terribly excited about renewables in parts of Africa and the rural areas in South Asia. My family is originally from Bangladesh. The local grid is so unreliable in rural areas and Chinese solar equipment so cheap that most of my family members who live in villages just bought a solar installation instead of waiting around for the utilities to run wiring.


> In many ways it's similar to how telephony spread in the developing world. They skipped landlines entirely and went straight to GSM.

And also how banking/payment is spreading in Africa: mobile-to-mobile, skipping credit cards entirely.


I love the elegance and futurism of paying with mobile phones like that, but do the telephone companies operate in a similar manner to financial institutions there?

For instance, if I deposit money, do I receive interest? What happens to my funds if the phone company goes bankrupt? Are there similar regulations to banks?


I'm guessing the banks are still running the infrastructure. It's just they didn't bother with installing card networks since mobile payments is an evolution over them.


When was the last time you earned a noteworthy amount of interest on a bank deposit?


Not many in India would see things the way you do. Why lose interest if you can get it, particularly if you don't have more interest coming in from mutual funds or someplace else? If anything, the competition is on to see who'll pay more interest. One payments bank announced 7%: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/wealth/personal-finance-...


What's the post inflation adjusted interest rate? Because simply moving your money to a low inflation currency does the same thing.

The only catch is that the payments banks, which do not offer loans and several other facilities offered by full fledged rivals, are not allowed to accept deposits beyond Rs 1 lakh in bank accounts, which will have the same number as your mobile number. Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said that the higher interest rate and freebies such as life insurance of up to Rs 1 lakh was an "introductory offer" and the rates would go down in a falling interest rate environment

Ahh, nm. This is just a fixed amount of cash they hand you for switching banks not a full time interest rate.


Moving money to a low inflation currency sounds good in theory, but is not an accessible solution to the average Indian, and is fraught with bureaucracy and fees even for those it is accessible to. I put my money in a liquid fund (debt mutual fund) to earn 8% nominal interest rate. That's a much more practical solution than moving it to dollars, say.

Airtel's offer may be temporary, and interest rates rarely go to 7%, but the point is that there's always a competition on interest rates.

India's inflation and nominal interest rates are both higher, which means you lose more if you forgo interest. In a hypothetical country with 5% inflation and a 5% interest rate, if you forgo interest, you lose 5% every year. In a country with 2% inflation and 2% interest rate, you lose only 2%.


Different countries have different interest rates. While most developed countries have both inflation rates and bank deposit rates close to zero, there are a few countries with high inflation and high interest rates.


Arbitrage opportunity?


The higher interest rate covers the higher inflation. Currencies are very well arbitraged already, I wouldn't expect any inefficiencies to profit from.


But check this out:

http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/workshops/finance/pdf/Verdel...

"We find that deviations from the covered interest rate parity condition (CIP) imply large, persistent, and systematic arbitrage opportunities in one of the largest asset markets in the world. Contrary to the common view, these deviations for major currencies are not explained away by credit risk or transaction costs."


Changes in foreign exchange rates usually arbitrage out most interest rate disparities.


It's called the "carry trade".


Indian banks offer very good interest rates and are sort-of backed by the gov (might be wrong on this).


backed in the sense of too-big-to-fail. Otherwise, deposits of only upto Rs 100,000/- are insured, that too per person, irrespective of how many bank accounts. Insured in the sense that if bank tanks, Customers will get back minimum (of deposit or) 100,000 Ruppees back after all the bankruptcy proceedings.


It depends on the country but typically there is a set of central bank regulations which attempt to ensure adequate safeguards are in place when non-banks offer banking services. Example protection of the float for stored value wallets and enforcement of anti-money laundering KYC for peer to peer transfer.

Central banks also tend to (sometimes sensibly) clamp down on services that are closer to core (profitable? :P) banking services like interest & loans, so telco wallets with this functionality built in house are much rarer.


For example in my country, Burundi, Mobile Network Operators are required to run their mobile money business under a different "legal" entity run like a bank so that there are some security to the client deposit. Even if the MNO collapses, the Mobile business isn't affected.


The same happened in Spain, first time I saw someone doing a payment by mobile was at a bus-stop, as if it was normal he paid his electricity bill. It was the result of a collaboration between Telefonica and one or more banks, I forgot what it was called.

Way ahead of the rest of Europe, this probably was early 2000 or 2001.


"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the Earth"


See Wikipedia entry for Leapfrogging for more info: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leapfrogging


An important difference is also, that big power plants are huge investments, up to 1 billion $ and more, and require a large grid. Solar and wind installations can be created locally in unconnected villages and start at a few hundreds to thousands $ and can be planned dezentral.


The same in some parts of Nepal and just like it happened in some rural areas of Brazil. Very exciting indeed.


is "theory of disruption" a new term ? Does it deal with other structural resistance ? Such as big companies unable to decide whether to keep reaping benefits of past success or saw their own branch to evolve the market into a new and probably better state ?


"Disruption" frequently refers to the ideas discussed by Professor Clayton Christensen, who's written some books on the topic. Good jumping off points here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Innovator%27s_Dilemma

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_innovatio


Ha! Try telling this to the current Australian government...

The current narrative is that India desperately needs coal and our coal is the cleanest, so we need to dig it up [1] and sell it to them to help fight climate change, because otherwise they're going to get 'dirtier' coal from somewhere else. If you disagree, then you believe that Indians don't deserve electricity.

And this isn't a strawman, this is almost verbatim what's being said in Parliament. The cognitive dissonance with our current PM is strong.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmichael_coal_mine


Australian coal is currently largely used for steel making in India as "coking coal" as far as I know. Power generation is largely local coal. A few power plants that depend on imported coal have been proposed but hardly any have come through as the political process of acquiring coal has been undependable.

Source: Metallurgical engineering background


That's not true. As anyone in the power industry will tell you, Indian coal, tho voluminous in availability, has a relatively very low calorific content and relatively much higher Ash content. As a result, disposal of ash is far more expensive than project economics can sustain. As a result, imported coal IS the standard, domestic coal may be used as a supplement, and long term supply contracts from local traders who import from sites in Indonesia, et al. is commonplace.


Also, you're absolutely wrong about imported coal plants being rare. I don't know of any critical or super critical plants that could use 100% domestic coal without having to blatantly lie on their EIA study about ash disposal. It's just not viable.


Don't know what your sources are but see this article based on coal ministry data which suggest coal imports are a small fraction of India consumption and rapidly coming down. Specifically to your point - "Goyal added that no power producer has approached CIL for supply of imported coal this year."

https://www.platts.com/latest-news/coal/newdelhi/indias-coal...


You're missing the other side of the story. Which is that the current Australian government has also been undermining the renewable energy sector for years forcing projects to be cancelled and talent to leave overseas.

I've never understood given how decent Australia through the CSIRO has been at commercialising innovation why we never invested more in the renewable energy sector.


I would expect it's partly because coal royalties paid to the state government for every tonne they dig up keep underpin the state government budgets.


India imports a huge amount of coal from Australia because of local restrictions on mining, by the way. Otherwise we have one of the largest coal reserves on the planet.

Digging up coal to fight climate change is just silly, and I doubt that flies anywherre.


> Digging up coal to fight climate change is just silly, and I doubt that flies anywhere.

Well, it's trying really hard [0] to fly here in Australia.

[0] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCsUYltcJZU


The normal industry name for lower quality coal is "brown coal" (the most common type is lignite, which actually has a brown colour), and higher quality coal is "black coal". For coal used for steel making / coking has to be purer so low sulphur black coal is the only option.


This may be true to some extent, but a significant amount of noise was generated because of the previous government refusing to issue mining clearances for coal. I think a number of private companies had laid out infrastructure to use brown coal after the energy reforms by the Vajpayee government.


This is incorrect. Local, domestic coal has significantly worse project economics, which is why local plants prefer the imported variety.


That's so weird. Why does he have to come up with weird justifications to digging up and selling something that people are willing to buy?


Digging up and selling our coal has a range of horrible environmental effects both short and long term. Short term includes: massive use of water that we need for agriculture and environmental flows, destruction of marine environment from dredging so coal ships can get in, giant holes in landscape. Long term: more of the same ocean warming that's killed about 50% of the Great Barrier Reef already. Google Adani coal mine for more on what Australians are pissed about. If you'd like a more strictly economic argument, the sale price sure doesn't cover the damage.


The thing is the railway line which is baseline to enable the development of the Galilee Basin was never really about Adani. There are other miners to gain from it who have poured a lot of money into the election of certain members of Parliament.

Quid pro quo.


So, fix the taxes to correctly represent environment costs. The problem is not in the decision to dig or not to dig, it's in the costs of these decisions - and I think it's obvious that these two things have to be responsibilities of different government or private bodies.


I am a young Indian. I have a dream . The dream that we are running electric vehicles. We have banned plastic everywhere. We have stopped burning our garbage. We have improved air quality. I think we can start with auto-rikshaws and public transport. Auto rickshaw constitute to a lot of traffic and pollution in the cities. We could replace them with smart electric ones. They move around only in cities so it won't be a big problem to build charging infrastructure. Then we could replace buses and increase their number. Ofcourse we need a lot of subsidies and incentives to make it happen. But it is POSSIBLE. but I need to build billion dollars companies ,sell them . Then use all that money to build this dream. I think someone did something like this in USA right? ;)


Auto-rickshaws are already ALL electric in some cities. Haridwar for one.


I was in Haridwar last month and only auto-rickshaws I saw there were diesel guzzling Vikrams


India is a large country.


Yeah. But we have got to start somewhere. First we can focus on cities and then move towards rural India.


50%* of our workforce relies on agriculture. Bringing up their standards of living i.e. rural India is what we need to focus on first.

*https://www.ibef.org/exports/agriculture-and-food-industry-i...


Yeah. I sometimes think about it. The problem is most of the farmers have very less land. Also they use unsustainable methods and weather has been inconsistent in recent years. We need another agricultural revolution. But it's lot more complicated to get people on board. People in the rural area are really hard to work with ( not all of them ).They suffer , but they don't want change , they want subsidiaries , free loans. maybe we don't understand them because we live in the cities.


India is doing pretty well in green energy on the whole! India has the 4th largest energy generator from wind in the world. India has the largest solar power plant in the world (Kamuthi in Tamil Nadu). I at least hope that India is not inclined to return to coal with the US's exit from the Paris accord.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_by_country http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/12/02/india-solar-power-pl...


The thing I don't understand is why it's assumed that somehow the Paris Treaty is somehow enforced, or binding, or that it will even actually improve conditions more-so than independent initiative.

I personally think that the USA can achieve its goal without the Paris Treaty through personal responsibility of the states, and independent initiatives through counties, and cities. That type of independent resolution is necessary for long term improvement at the grassroots level.

The US, I don't think, can get to the level of European in terms with climate, unless the US, and its states stop being complacent, and reliant on the Federal government.


Treaties like this have a big signaling component, just like macroeconomics. Improvements are perfectly possible without them, but even a toothless treaty affects all kinds of decisions downstream.

We also take into account that energy production is about large capital investments that aren't looking at tomorrow, but a decade or two ahead at the minimum. Building a new coal plant today isn't a bad idea because it'll be way to expensive to run in its first year, but because it'll be less and less attractive as time goes by, and will probably have its life cut short.

This is why on one hand, Trump's decisions aren't necessarily that hard hitting in the long run as long as the people building plants can expect his decisions today to be a historical aberration. It's the long run trendline that is important, and we can tell about that by what other stakeholders do.

That said, I'd not put much faith in most states caring about climate change individually. There's plenty of states that are deep red and where most energy today still comes from coal, and where candidates don't even bother mentioning an energy stance: Elections are about protecting religion and policemen and lower taxes. It's not that the states are relying on the federal government on the environment: If there's a mention of the environment, it's something like 'The EPA is too tough on our farmers'. This was a real talking point in Missouri's last election for governor, and guess what? the candidate that was in favor of letting farmers dump more chemicals into rivers won.

The federal government can force those states to make changes, but they'll have to be dragged kicking and screaming. It's good to have some states that lead the charge on this, but it's can't be the main way to do this. If this is decided state by state, the Midwest will be mostly powering itself with coal for decades.


A counterbalance here though is that the global trend is making coal a poor investment. People building power plants do it for the return - and they won't do it if they can get a better return elsewhere.

That's really the tipping point for solar - if it can provide a better return then coal plants. It's getting close, but the significant thing is that solar scales so much better then coal because you can build it anywhere - minimal environmental impact statements, no real supply lines other then grid access, minimal staffing and maintenance. If a straight up solar farm can provide a reliable return on investment over coal power, then no one is going to bother building coal plants any longer unless tax-breaks rain from the heavens (which they might).

And the kicker is very much that scalability aspect - solar doesn't even need to provide much of a better return then coal plants to beat them, it just needs to be deployable in such volume that the obvious investment strategy becomes "build solar".

And we're getting there - fast.


If you don't have faith in states taking initiative then as a whole you can't have the USA change. That's just how our culture, and our governance works.

States NEED to take responsibility. If we are to change as a nation we need to stop looking at the globe and do a bit of introspection so that we can change internally. Otherwise if states are left out of the equation then the problem of climate change can never be solved.

While the federal government can possibly do that, and it is a huge possibility, trying to get the states to change at the grassroots is of far greater impact, and efficiency, as that is the Number 1 problem that USA faces. Not a lack of federal imposition, but a lack of grassroots understanding in America. And the one thing Americans hate perhaps the most is being told what to do by men in suits.


As a current Missouri resident - I am getting the heck out of here.


You are not alone. Look into population migration numbers among states.


More than half of the US live in big cities, a number which is only going to get bigger. The 20 largest MSAs account for about a third of the population of our country. Getting a comparatively small number of mayors, governors, and state legislatures on board could go a long way towards reducing our carbon emissions, even as Washington aimlessly spins its wheels for another administration or three.


> personal responsibility of the states

huh? If the 4 million people of Oklahoma don't take "personal responsibility" for polluting the atmosphere we all pay the price not just them.


Well yes. That's exactly my point. They need to, and we need those people TO take "personal responsibility".

How the treaty will get Oklahoma to take personal responsibility is beyond me.


The less people the better.

If every other country follows the Paris accord, and many US states, it really won't matter as much what Oklahoma does.


Lots of US states are charging ahead on their own. Take California, for example.


Texas is the biggest renewable energy producer in USA and almost all is from wind in the last 6 years. Rick Perry the big fossil fuel Republican did this from a $7B unpopular at the time investment into transmission lines from wind heavy areas to highly populated areas. He was criticized heavily, but is the sole reason for 25% of the entire US Wind power capacity

He did it for economic reasons and most of the renewable energy produced in the Statss are from red states. We have to invest in transmission lines and continue the PTC if we want to continue being #1 in Wind and these are both bipartisan issues. Just not very important to either party right now


It was 2009. Wind and Renewables were seen as saviors of the economy and a lot of TARP funding was thrown at these kinds of projects as well. http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/10/14/14greenwire-stimulus... So I don't think it was all Perry's foresight, but Governers grabbing any funding that was available just to keep the unemployment numbers down.


I have lived on California my entire life and all we have managed to accomplish were feel good initiatives which made for great PR puff pieces and were quickly shuffled down the road.

I remember the first electric car, hailed as a true step forward, that was subsequently killed. Go to Santa Monica beach patrol stations and see all of the failed electric car station plug poles that were sawed off and tossed onto a heap to rot. The end result of an economy that pushed SUVs over what we are currently seeing. And yes, for the most part those status junkies traded their SUVs for Priuses.

We are asked to conserve water when the wasteful farms and elites use more water than every citizen combined and our efforts (I recall as a youth, if it's yellow let it mellow as an allusion to not flushing if you don't have to) are literally a drop in the bucket. I remember my dad putting a brick in our toilet tank to reduce overall water capacity in an effort to 'do our part'; all the while our neighbors ignored the lawn watering rules (like our officials watered their estate grounds).

San Fernando Valley stopped watering or used minimal recycled water on the median's vegetation and trees in "an effort to save water". They even went so far to print signs everywhere along these plots and all advertising spaces (bus stop, billboard, etc) which have their own environmental impact that's conveniently ignored. End result is that all of these well matured trees died and cracked or burned in the subsequent year's end.

We also get billboards about food waste costing us water (one about eggs is fairly prevalent) which goes back to ignoring the actual major sources of waste.

The Nestlé corporation was allowed to do this: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-36161580 And yet we are expected to 'do our part' to help a corporation's profits?

Lastly, recycling. We are asked at every turn to recycle amd separate garbage to an extent, yet there is no punishment for recycling thieves like in New York. So we taxpayers fund recycling efforts, containers, centers and trucks only to have the proverbial gold stolen each night by thieves. I stopped sorting my garbage when I was driven to the brink being woken every trash day at 3 am by opportunists raiding every can thoroughly. I had compassion until then. Most who still do have not had first hand experience in their ivory gated communities.

In summation, the best laid plans if the misguided bleeding hearts.


I agree with some of that. You can point to things that didn't work, particularly in the early days.

But you can also point to stuff that did work. Early electric cars were failures, but there are lots of them on the road now.

Also, it seems you have no real criticism of Priuses. You just want to complain about them. Why? They work fine.


Their incentive of carpool lane cheating is one, as the average prius driver coasts along merrily with no regard to how ICE vehicles gear or drive. But that's just personal anecdotes again.

The main issue with them is the ever present illusion that electricity comes from unicorn farts (hyperbole yes). Talk of real solutions must include compromises such as methods which harm the environment less than the benefit they provide.

Shoving manufacturing, mining etc to China and other nations with zero regard for environmental impact needs to end. Yes all of your iPhone packaging might be 99.999 recycled materials but at what ultimate ignored cost. Burning circuit boards in the street is rarely addressed.

Even just the famed silicon valley companies which promote this socialist garbage cannot be burdened with opening their main company location in a reasonable nowhere town as that would hurt their elite status symbol. Better to force all of your wage slaves to commute or live in overpriced renting situations than to have your private car service shuttle a handful of rich executives as needed.


> I remember the first electric car

You should give Guinness a call. They think the oldest living person is 117, and you should have that beat by at least 15 years.


Huh. Palo Alto is closing on 50% renewable energy for the entire city, not to mention the large % of electric cars.


> India is doing pretty well in green energy on the whole! India has the 4th largest energy generator from wind in the world.

The absolute amount is not very useful since you have uneven binning: the size and population of countries varies dramatically.

You need to look at percentages.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_electrici...


The world's first fully solar powered airport is in the small state of Kerala in India.

http://money.cnn.com/2016/03/14/technology/india-cochin-sola...


Personally, I think the government there is already guilty of criminal neglect in infrastructure in that country, if they go back to coal and petrol, people WILL start dropping like flies from all sorts of issues because of the air quality. It's horrendous now, if they go backwards... ugh. Hopefully Modi is smarter than that.


One of the interesting segments was a feature made by a bearded David Letterman in Nov 2016 - around the problems with solar panel rooftops in the USA and the success these have in India.

https://youtu.be/bW_eGAwnfeI

The point it tries to make is that - the demand exists, the challenge is the govt and the policy makers.

One other point made in the same video is at the end by Prime Minister Modi - we need tech transfer from the US. Solar and nuclear . India is probably the only non-NPT country to be authorised by the US Congress for civilian nuclear technology sale.

But all bets are off now. One does not know how the current regime will operate due the "coal is best" rhetoric.

Of course, Tesla might still move to India given the repartee between Anand Mahindra (of Mahindra motors) and Elon Musk yesterday!

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/870570686409920512


Last I checked, the reason India's coal power plants were running at 60% was not because of lack of demand, but because fixed prices make it uneconomical to produce coal and the government monopoly Coal India is utterly incompetent and inefficient even by Indian government standards...


You should look up the NTPC chairman's explanation for why average PLF runs below 75%.

Apparently, the transmission & distribution network for evacuation is overburdened already. This results in plants running below their rated capacities.


Yeah unless India influences corrupt politicians of neighboring countries to make coal based power plants in neighbouring countries and imports electricity from those plants. Search "Rampal Power Plant", "greatest mangrove forest of the planet" etc. Also please see: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/20...


One thing I learned on a trip to Kerala is that most people in the region actually burn their garbage - the government doesn't provide disposal service. While I'm sure the particulate and chemical emissions of this practice are awful, I'm curious about this carbon implications.


CO_2 emissions are the same if it goes up in big black smokes of clouds next to some school, or if it's burned in the best incinerator money can buy, or even if it's thrown in the ocean and slowly degraded by organic means.

The only thing that makes a difference is recycling.


"CO_2 emissions are the same if it goes up in big black smokes of clouds next to some school, or if it's burned in the best incinerator money can buy"

Is that really true ?

I was under the impression that the very best incinerators (what nordic countries use for garbage disposal as well as cities like Zurich, etc.) had carbon capture mechanisms ...

Is that not true ?


I believe carbon capture is a newer innovation whose development had been stalled due to its prohibitive costs. The first carbon capture experiments were scheduled to be conducted in 2016. Albeit I'm not aware of their results.


The carbon implications of burning your garbage are... Secondary to the air quality implications.

You are mostly burning products that were made using renewable sources of carbon. Burning plastic is an exception, but the carbon footprint of plastic is small, compared to coal and oil used for heating, electricity, and transportation.


"Burning garbage emits 1.5 times as much carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour generated as coal and three times as much as natural gas."

Source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/does-burning-garbage-for-electr...


It's done everywhere in India. But it's far from truth that government doesn't provide waste disposal service. Nevertheless, you might not like to see huge government waste grounds.


Rural people in the first world often do this as well. It's very common.


While carbon is carbon wherever, I'm not talking about rural. Trash fires were a regular sight on the streets of Thiruvananthapuram.



Anyone know more about India's nuclear story? At one time they were focusing on thorium. I wonder what we could do to spur on a little more competition with China.

http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and...


India is still focusing on thorium. But slowly. Design for AHWR if recently finalized and site selection in progress.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_heavy-water_reactor


Nuclear power is dead. Stop beating it, it's not even a horse any more. Sure, it emits less radiation than coal, and the thorium/fast breeder/fusion/whatever revolution is just around the corner, and I also feel so manly and strong and competent arguing for it when everyone else has moved on ten years ago, and there's absolutely no risk if you do it right, unlike these Russians who were just too unorganised to follow procedures, oh, yeah, and those Japanese, who we always accused of being incompetent with technology.

No, nuclear power is simply too expensive. In less than a decade, even wind and solar will be cheaper.


Nuclear power is such a mess though.

There's the political logistics of getting the fuel, figuring out how and where to dispose of the fuel, the NIMBY problem with plant locations and the fact that in general its politically very unpopular.


That sounds like it is true for western countries, but China has a lot of nuclear power coming online, and what are the attitudes in India?


It's the same. While liberal class sees nuclear as future, no one wants a nuclear plant opened in their city. See: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/environment/news/article.cfm?c_id=... for an example


Western NGOs don't like it.


Which NGOs and what are they doing about it?


I wonder why NYT conveniently chose to ignore the previous US administration's WTO complaint on India's local component requirements for solar panels and it's subsequent verdict against India.

India required US solar panel manufacturers to source cells from locally, which was challenged by US in WTO and subsequently awarded in it's favour. So it's not just India is moving forward with green energy in spite of 'unfair-share' in global climate policies but also moving against the hurdles imposed specifically targeting it's green energy movements.


They didn't ignore it. It's just irrelevant to the current topic at hand.

India and quite a number of other countries e.g. China play this game all the time with industries. Look at what Apple went through for example to establish a presence in India.


Wait. I don't think apple example is relevant here. They already has a very big share in flagship mobiles(I don't know a better word, say of $500 or more), I think more so than other countries. The problem is India has very low share of flagship mobiles. Apple now plans to make the cheaper C models in India, but nowhere forced to, and given some leivy in manufacturing those locally.


As an Indian, I'm really proud to read this. I'm hoping that they strategize this well and execute it well. India can easily harness wind and solar energy, create an really strong energy surplus and supply it to neighboring countries.

The whole region can benefit. India can be a beacon of peace and use it to stabilize the region and become a leader.


I know this is completely beyond the topic, and only relevant in regards to the website, but, as someone who has been convulsively clicking text while reading articles his whole life, this site design is absolute garbage. When i double click text I do not expect the site to interact. Double click in my world is known for highlighting. Not increasing font size. Sorry, end rant.


I agree about how the site should act, but in my browser (chrome on mac), it does act the right way.


Interesting, I'm using chrome on windows. One thing I also dislike, if I may keep ranting to the internet, is how much windows has fucked with their windowing system in W10. For example: I'd be playing a game and something would cause the game to hang. It happens. But in windows 10 I couldn't even alt-tab because the focus would never leave the hanging 3d area. Couldn't control + alt + delete. Couldn't Windows key + tab, or alt + tab. Couldn't ctrl + shift + esc. Just had to hold the power button down. May I ask you: when was the last time you had to hold the power button down on your mac?


I'm using Chrome on windows too and it highlights normally on double/triple click. I think you either have malware on your computer or you have an extension that is... taking some extra liberties with your browser.

As with all initial debugging steps, try in incognito and see if you have the same behavior.


This seems precisely timed considering how Trump backed out of the Paris agreements partially because India was allowed to build MORE coal.


There are two reasons why Trump backed out: (a) he enjoys the look of horror on conscientious' peoples' faces, and (b) it was the only quick "win" with his hardcore supporters that was available.

It's disingenuous to insist that India should lower their power consumption, considering they currently consume only 1/15 as much as the US per capita: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.USE.ELEC.KH.PC?contex...


> it was the only quick "win" with his hardcore supporters that was available

Surprised this isn't being covered more.

This decision is basically it for Trump supporters for the rest of his term. Everything else e.g. the wall, infrastructure spending, budget cuts, repeal Obamacare etc. all require Congress who will never have the votes to pass anything in both Senate and House.

When you think about it he almost for political reasons had to pull out.


>It's disingenuous to insist that India should lower their power consumption,

The gp is, to me at least, making a point about the nytimes.


Of course India was allowed to use more coal. Paris is a voluntary agreement.

India, like all countries, can do whatever on earth they want. Just like Trump could've stayed in the agreement, behind the scenes done absolutely nothing for the environment (like he is now) and there would've been a lot less criticism.

The fact he didn't choose this option tells you everything. It was a political decision only.


Doesn't it also stop the transfer of money from US to other countries e.g. the $100 billion annually funded by the developed nations for developing nations? If that's the case, it's not a political decision only.


I am highly amused that you truly believe Trumps speech that India is getting hundreds of billions of dollars from the US for the Paris agreement.

"Contesting Trump's claims of 'billions and billions and billions' of foreign aid to India, the TOI report noted that total foreign aid to India in 2015 was only $3.1 billion, with US aid to India only around $100 million. These figures are further expected to drop down to $34 million in 2018.

It is interesting to note that India buys $100 million worth of California almonds alone every year, besides billions in armaments from the US."



Certainly not just India, the switch is nearly universal. Some countries are getting a faster start ditching big polluting coal plants than others. Three closed yesterday in the US, for instance.


Renewable energy is all automated and mining is innovation and creates jobs. India proves this

/s


Article headline is be misleading, India is still using 54% Coal in its Energy mix. India is still the top emitter of green house gases in the world.


China 9,679.30 MtCO2e

US 6,668.79 MtCO2e

India 2,432.18 MtCO2e

2010 figures, so India will be a bit closer the US by now.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_greenhous...


India, "still a coal Goliath" is a better description. They burn a massive amount of coal compared to most countries.

They've just scaled slightly back on a massive coal consumption plan they implemented in the last few years. Nice, but hardly worth any recognition in the shadow of the damage they have already done.


> in the shadow of the damage they have already done. Really?

See here: http://www.tsp-data-portal.org/Breakdown-of-Electricity-Gene...

U.S. generated, per 2014 data, 1612 TWh from Coal and 1272 TWh from Gas. China generated 3681 TWh from Coal and 91 TWh from Gas.

Compare this to India, which generated a mere 800 TWh from Coal and 89 TWh from Gas.

And this when India has more than 4 times the population of US and according to some estimates, unverified, more population than China.


The article is comparing India to India, the commenter is comparing India to India, you're not.

A country having less output compared to more developed countries isn't surprising, nor the issue.


By your statement I presume you are alluding to India sourcing ~70% of its energy consumption from coal (compared to ~40% by the US), according to this source. I should point out that the parent poster's dataset comes from 2014, whereas the article is talking about a much more recent transition towards renewables (the Paris accord was signed 2015 and India took part circa 2016).

The OP's point is still reasonable in terms of both absolute magnitude as well as per-capita, in that India, as a developing country and yet one of the most populous countries on the planet, consumes far less energy than developed states and is not as immediate a threat to life as we know it on a global basis, such as the US is. Indian policies towards coal consumption, no matter how progressive they can get, cannot hope to match the immediate impact their counterparts in the US can achieve today (and choose not to), and the current US administration does not really have grounds to point fingers elsewhere.


> They burn a massive amount of coal compared to most countries.

What part of this is comparing India to India?


Interesting site, especially when comparing neighboring countries. France and Germany, the Scandinavian countries, or Chile and Argentina. Chile for example has less than half the population of Argentina but burn 800% more coal in total during 2014. Germany has 30% more population than France but burn 1500% more coal. Denmark is half the population than Sweden but burn 500% more coal.

How valuable is knowing population size in order to predict coal usage?


Please look at per capita emissions of India compared to other countries before making such statements.

Wonder how Indians do a damage to the enviornment, by having the lowest per capita emissions on planet.

FYI - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_di...


per capita is pretty good measure of efficiency but environmental impact is probably better measured by emissions per area of the country? am I wrong?


> am I wrong?

Yes. Area doesn't consume energy, people do. Otherwise Russia would be the most eco-friendly country in the world, and something like Luxembourg should be considered an abject failure of environmental policy.


I am just stating that more pollution per square foot will destroy that part of earth more and therefore damage environment more. So objectively speaking you are correct, social issues aside, Luxembourg should be considered an abject failure of environmental policy. But the issue of pollution is complicated and involves social issues so my perspective is not very helpful when you make policy decisions or include fairness towards people, etc.


I am just stating that more pollution per square foot will destroy that part of earth more and therefore damage environment more.

CO2 does not care about which piece of land it gets emitted from: As far as the main subject under discussion goes (in contrast to, say, air quality), pollution per square foot is an utterly meaningless metric.


Some pollution impacts are felt locally (heavy metals), some regionally (acid rain from upwind sulphur oxides), and some globally. CO2 is one of the global ones. It's very well-mixed in the atmosphere.

If we could point to a plume of obviously-warmed land downwind of a city, it'd be a much easier sell to the layman.


You are right we shouldn't be focusing on on per capita emission.


The problem with not doing per capita is that you valuing each person differently arbitrarily basis their nationality...

You can for example combine EU into one entity and say they pollute a lot. Or split china/india/US into 50 countries and say they don't contribute much individually.

In effect favouring being born lucky.. in any random sample of the world population you have 33% chance of being born in just 2 countries . Do these people get fair representatation in any international forum ? It is either 1 vote per country or powerfull ones have all of it.

Landmass also is not effective measure . You will end up with Australia, Canada and Russia driving the agenda

Pop density has more to do with ability to grow food and energy efficiency of food consumption - comparing pop density and talking about over population has to factor that in saying china and india are overcrowded is not a sensible argument(they are over populated but not to extent people think) .

We need fresh perspective on how we see the world , arbitrary national boundaries , Mercator projections and biased schooling makes our world view very distorted

All of the above applies to the US as well . State borders are arbitrary. People in Pop dense centers like california do not get even the 10th of the representatation as say Wyoming.

California could be 8th largest country in terms of economic output and has a pop larger most countries in the world yet people living there do not have a say proportional to their impact in domestic or international politic is that fair ?


ok, seems like we are looking at this from different perspectives. You look at it from fairness to people and I look at it from fairness to earth. I argue that because pollution is so concentrated within the area, it destroys that part of earth more, this does not include anything to do with fairness towards people. But you are absolutely right if you look at it from perspective of being fair towards people. I am not at all against helping people though, I totally support destroying parts of the environment if it reduces overall suffering and progresses wellbeing of individuals in need. But my initial argument was that, social issues aside, looking specifically from environmental impact, per capita is not a good way to judge impact of the country.


I agree per capita/ per country is not the best way. Ultimately it comes to each individual don't you think ? . What does each every one of us directly or indirectly contribute . Any other grouping like country is always going to be arbitrary.. we need to each individually, in local, regional, national government, vote for the people who care and do the best we can irrespective what any one is doing or not. We need make them reduce too yes, but getting our shit together should be the priority

You are correct environment is not reason we should be worried . it is about the people, not the planet. 99% of the all species are already extinct one more large scale extinction event while terrible is not the end of life on this planet and the planet has seen far worse, life will survive long after we are gone. Sea level raise will adversely 60 % of the human population who live in the coast many of whom are poor. Changing weather patterns and climate change will affect the developing countries far more than first world countries who will have the resources to manage the effects . There are whole island countries that will disappear within the turn of the century. This is why developing countries are in very touch spot, they will need to balance both development of basic services and also find a meaningful solution to the problem.


Indeed. India has a coal glut on their hands. India was opening one new coal planet every month at the end of 2015. Around the same time India's Arvin Subramanian coined the term “carbon imperialism" during Paris accord negotiations because India didn't like the terms.

As expected, much more favorable terms were renegotiated to get India on board; India now gets to grow their CO2 emission as a function of GDP. A simple extrapolation of this shows they'll double their already huge CO2 output by the end of the decade, far surpassing the US.

Made the deal a lot easier to sign.


India had to negotiate because it's emissions relative to emissions of the developed countries were minuscule. And then, you can't come say, let's make an agreement which shares equal responsibilities and burden.

Also, The Indian govt has a moral obligation to give it's citizens the basic amenities like power to the houses. They have been parallelly using coal and renewables to do it, now the cost of solar per unit is lesser than coal, so it's planning to cut down on coal.


India consumes only 1/15 as much energy as the US (per capita). To insist that they should further reduce further is simply disingenuous: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.USE.ELEC.KH.PC?contex...


> far surpassing the US

Why is this a problem? India has 4x the population...


For one, health issues related to air quality have no basis on per capita pollution.


But air quality degeneration does have a lot of basis on per capita pollution. The per capita argument was good enough to set the tone at Paris, for an agreement between all the nations on this planet. The argument against per capita pollution contribution is just willful ignorance.

Besides, none of you have even bothered to look at the figures. India's current coal consumption is less than 30% of the US, for a population 4-5 times larger. Even if we double our coal consumption, it wouldn't outstrip US at their current levels.


> But air quality degeneration does have a lot of basis on per capita pollution.

Can you explain to me how this works?


Why is this not a problem? In the world of pollution and environmental health, using justification of because another country does it doesn't work.


So is an Indian worth less than an American?


Neither is worth anything if we as a society kill the planet we call home so this isn't about race or worth. It is about us as a planet deciding to keep our planet healthy. Like I said, just because one country does it doesn't make it right for others. The others should be scolding the US not following in their naive ignorant foot steps.


> The others should be scolding the US

How can other countries do that?


>A simple extrapolation of this shows they'll double their already huge CO2 output by the end of the decade, far surpassing the US.

You have to look at the trends. India has radically changed directions in the last few years, and we can expect in the coming years it will change even more.


The damage of bringing a billion people electricity?


A billion more people who can now participate in the system that's already polluted the planet to the brink.


Much better to keep them empoverished and undeveloped, right? /s

This sort of argument is exactly why I see environmentalism as anti-human at its heart.


Most environmentalists want to bring a high standard of living to everybody in a sustainable way. Yes, there are some over on the "voluntary human extinction" end of the spectrum, but you shouldn't tar them all with that brush.


Certainly, that's true of most people who support green policies of various sorts.

But I'm not at all sure it's true of the majority of environmentalist organisations and parties.

I think there is as much of a disconnect between green voters and the desires of green politicians and lobbyists, as there is between the interests of Trump voters and Trump's interests.

It's fairly common to hear green orgs denouncing industrialisation, economic growth, free trade, etc. In New Zealand, the Green Party was in part founded by literal Communists, left adrift and unfunded after the fall of the USSR.

To summarise, I think that most people who think they are supporting what you said - a high standard of living in a sustainable manner - are actually supporting anti-capitalists.


I guess it's just a question of how you label various groups? I wouldn't consider fringe Green Parties or similar organizations to be representative of environmentalism. If I should be using another term, I wouldn't object too much.


I agree with you, but can you talk more about this? Is there an article or some other resource that talks more about this topic?


An illustrative starting point is the Golden Rice fiasco:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_rice


After watching this talk show with Alex Epstein I've realized the word 'green' is largely bs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zw-1ohbRDrE

Green doesn't automatically mean better, and dirty does not mean coal and fossil fuels. It is how the technology is used. He argues alternative energy leads to deforestation, destruction of habitats, and deaths from vegetable oil which otherwise could be used to prevent some starvation.If you accept these things then alternative energy becomes extremely selfish by putting the burden out of your cities.

It's a good interview I hope you guys check it out.


All methods of power generation involve trade-offs. But this is rather transparent attempt to muddy the waters. Just one short point because this idiot doesn't deserve more: Hunger isn't a problem of production. We produce enough calories to feed the world twice. It's a problem of distribution, infrastructure, and economics.


Alex Epstein --> Wikipedia, Career: 1. Ayn Rand Institute.

Yeah thanks I'll pass.




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