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Coal phase-out in COP28 pledge

5th December, 2023 Environment

Coal phase-out in COP28 pledge

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  • A reference was held in COP28 to phase out coal and end fresh investments in coal.
  • But this reference prevented India from endorsing a renewable energy pledge at the COP28 climate meeting.


  • The pledge was mainly about tripling global renewable energy installed capacity by 2030 

India's response to the pledge

  • India had already backed the pledge in the past as part of the G20 grouping.
  • But the pledge, taken by more than 100 countries in COP28 Climate Meet, included references to coal phase-out and an end to fresh investments in that sector. So, India didn't back it.

India's stance and reasons cited

Economic and Developmental needs

  • India has repeatedly made it clear that it will continue to use coal for electricity generation soon even as it ramps up the capacity of renewable energy sources.
  • India’s economic and developmental imperatives do not allow for a sudden abandonment of coal, as is often demanded.

Sectoral Approaches

  • The text references to curbing of emissions from the health sector, and the assessment of greenhouse gas emissions of health systems.
  • India has reiterated its position it does not want to align itself with this kind of sectoral approach outside the UNFCCC framework.

Pledge not part of COP Discussions

  • The pledge was not part of the COP discussions.
  • It was just a part of an initiative by the host country, not unusual at the COPs, to forge alliances of countries on some specific subjects to create momentum for greater climate actions.

No legal sanctity

  • These pledges or alliances have no legal sanctity and many of them fizzle out after some time.
  • India has rarely been part of such platforms.

Not Negotiated Official Documents

  • Such pledges and declarations are not negotiated documents and do not contain the nuance language that comes out of negotiations.
  • India has generally kept away from becoming a part of such initiatives, particularly those that contain issues it is sensitive to, because they could prejudice its positions at the climate change negotiations.

Future Action

  • Estimates from the International Energy Agency suggest that a tripling of global renewable energy capacities by 2030 could avoid about one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent of emissions every year on average till 2030.
  • Discussions on tripling of renewable energy are expected to be taken up within the COP process as well where India can pledge its support.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) established an international environmental treaty to combat "dangerous human interference with the climate system", in part by stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. It was signed by 154 states at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992. Its original secretariat was in Geneva but relocated to Bonn in 1996. It entered into force on 21 March 1994.

The countries involved are known as parties to the treaty. UNFCCC has 198 countries as parties.

The parties have met annually since 1995 in Conferences of the Parties (COP) to assess progress in dealing with climate change. The COP events aim to gain consensus through meetings and discussions of various strategies.

Parties to UNFCCC are classified as:

Annex I countries – industrialized countries and economies in transition

Annex II countries – developed countries that pay for the costs of developing countries

Developing countries

Annex I countries which have ratified the Protocol have committed to reducing their emission levels of greenhouse gasses to targets that are mainly set below their 1990 levels. The UNFCCC collects and maintains the greenhouse gas inventories reported by each of the Annex I countries.


There are 40 Annex I countries plus the European Union. These countries are classified as industrialized countries and countries in transition:

Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America


There are 23 Annex II countries plus the European Union. These countries are classified as developed countries which pay for costs of developing countries:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America


Under the Kyoto Protocol, developing countries are not required to reduce emissions unless developed countries supply funding and technology.

Setting no immediate restrictions on developing countries is intended to serve three purposes:

    • it avoids restrictions on their development, because emissions are strongly linked to industrial capacity
    • they can sell emissions credits to nations whose operators have difficulty meeting their emissions targets
    • they get money and technologies for low-carbon invesments from Annex II countries.

Conference of the Parties (COP)

The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international climate summit, which is held annually.

The United Nations (UN) annual climate change conference, also known as the ‘Conference of the Parties’ or ‘COP’, brings together world leaders, ministers and negotiators to agree on how to address climate change. The negotiating parties include governments that have signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol and/or the Paris Agreement. The COPs are also attended by thousands of representatives from civil society, the private sector, international organizations and the media.

Since COP21 in 2015, the COPs have revolved around how to implement the Paris Agreement, which has three main goals: keep the global average temperature rise to ‘well below’ 2°C and pursue efforts to limit the rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels; adapt to climate change and build resilience; and align finance flows with ‘a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development’.

The COP is hosted by a different country each year. CdevelopmentOP28 is being hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) .


Q. India has repeatedly made it clear that it will continue to use coal for electricity generation soon even as it ramps up the capacity of renewable energy sources. Elucidate.