India needs to become a climate leader, and the Editorial Board of the New York Times agrees with me. India will suffer incredibly from climate change, with increased floods from the melting Himalayas and increased droughts that will destroy crucial crops.
And yet, as the number three greenhouse gas emitter behind the United States and China, India continues to guzzle more carbon, particularly through coal. India has long stated that it will not sacrifice growth to limit greenhouse gas emissions. According to the New York Times, in the last five years, “India increased its coal power capacity by 73 percent,” and it plans to double domestic coal production to one billion tons by 2019. Increased coal use by India will not only ensure catastrophic climate change for all of us, it will also kill its own citizens. India’s coal plants already kill up to 115,000 people a year and cost the country’s economy $4.6 billion. India cannot afford coal.
To its credit, India has the largest solar plant in Asia, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi “has pledged to create a 50,000-strong ‘solar army’ to help rapidly expand India’s solar capacity — and train job-hungry young Indians in the technologies of the future.” But in order to avert the worst impacts of climate change, Prime Minister Modi must show the world that he is not a climate change skeptic and come to the next round of UN climate talks in Lima, Peru, on December 1st ready to make a commitment.