Curbing Dependence on Coal in China and India to Attain Global Carbon Neutrality: Challenges and Options

  •  Bernard Arogyaswamy    
  •  Waldemar Koziol    


While many developed countries have announced policies for energy transitions, particularly in regard to greenhouse gas emissions, some emerging nations do not appear to be positioned to achieve the goal of net zero carbon. This policy paper focuses on two countries, China and India, which derive the bulk of their energy from coal, and are key to a net zero carbon world. Both countries have prioritized energy security and view all climate initiatives through this prism. They also distinguish between the early industrializers responsible for the bulk of the stock of GHGs, and emerging nations accountable for part of the current flow of emissions. Numerous initiatives have already been undertaken, and policies announced, for cutting carbon emissions in both China and India. However, both countries face major impediments to undertake the measures needed to curb their dependence on coal. Employing a qualitative interpretive methodology rooted in grounded theory, the paper examines the complex energy dynamics facing these two nations, the actions adopted, and policies formulated to limit emissions. The technological, social, political, and financial challenges they face are developed in some detail. Unless mechanisms are devised to support appropriate climate policies, and reduce coal-dependency in China and India, the successful implementation of climate policies in developed nations will not be sufficient to achieve a carbon neutral world.

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