Wednesday February 20, 2019
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Disappointed US wants India, Pakistan to resume talks soon

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Washington: Expressing disappointment over the cancellation of NSA-level talks between India and Pakistan, the US has said it would just encourage the two countries to resume a formal dialogue soon.

pakistan-india-flag-l“We were encouraged by the early constructive interaction between the leaders of India and Pakistan earlier this year,” in Russia, State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday. “We’re disappointed that the talks didn’t happen,” he said. “We just encourage India and Pakistan to resume a formal dialogue soon.”

Scheduled talks between National Security Advisers Sartaj Aziz of Pakistan and Ajit Doval of India were called off over Islamabad’s insistence on raising Kashmir and meeting Pakistani separatist leaders instead of focusing on terrorism as India wanted.

“As we’ve said, the issues are important; we recognize that. The tensions in the region are significant; we recognize that,” Kirby said.

“And we believe it’s important for leaders of both countries to resume this dialogue and discussion and to try to come to some resolution,” he said.

Asked about the possibility of talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Indian and Pakistani counterparts during the UN General Assembly session next month, Kirby declined to give a definitive answer.

“I think you can expect that his dance card will be pretty full,” he said. “He’ll have a very ambitious agenda of meetings and discussions.”

“And as to whether or not the leaders of India and Pakistan will use the opportunity to further discuss, I’d point you to them,” Kirby said.

“What we’ve said and I want to repeat is that these are issues for the two to resolve together,” he added. The US wants “both nations to sit down and hammer out the issues between them.”

“Some of them have to do with violent extremism and some of them don’t; we understand that,” Kirby said. “But these are issues that the two parties have got to work out.”

The US “position about terrorism and the threat that it continues to pose around the world remains the same,” Kirby said.

“And the United States will stay committed to countering violent extremism using all the elements of national power and international cooperation that we can.”

Asked if the US saw a role for itself in resolving issues between India and Pakistan, Kirby said the US position on tension in Kashmir “has not changed, that this is an issue that India and Pakistan need to resolve.”

“When it comes to countering terrorism around the world, obviously the United States plays a role and we want everybody to play a role in that.”

“But when you’re asking me about these particular tensions, we’re disappointed that the talks didn’t occur and we would like to see them resume.

Asked if the US would make any effort to restart the stalled talks, Kirby repeated: “This is an issue for India and Pakistan to come together and to resolve, and we’ve been very clear about that.”

(IANS)

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Does India’s Giant Step in the Direction of Green Energy Signal an End to Coal?

Coal consumption forecasts have already been downgraded significantly from 2013 projections, and major shifts in energy policy like Modi’s are likely to add significant weight to the idea that India might well become a much bigger player in renewable energy production in the next 20 to 30 years

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FILE - Smoke billows from chimneys of the cooling towers of a coal-fired power plant in Dadong, Shanxi province, China. VOA

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced its target to increase India’s renewable energy capacity to an equivalent of 40% of the nation’s total green energy output, it raised eyebrows. Could this mean an end to India’s coking coal industry?

Is there investment for green energy?

For any alternative to coal to be a serious consideration, there must be investment sources. Already India’s renewable target has attracted investors like Japan’s SoftBank, which agreed to a deal to sell power generated from a Northern Indian solar bank at 2.4 rupees per unit – below that of coal power, which currently costs over 3 rupees per unit.

Contrary to the enormous investment in the production of solar panels being manufactured by China, which has made them cheap enough to encourage this Indian growth in solar renewable energy, there has been relatively little investment in Indian coal.

Asia-Pacific
Workers operate machines at a coal mine at Palaran district in Samarinda, Indonesia (VOA)

For instance, state-run NTPC has cancelled several large coal mining projects, including a huge plant in Andhra Pradesh. Meanwhile, the private sector has continued investing in renewables. Adani Power has over $600 million invested in solar panels in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

That Modi has made an investment of $42 billion in the renewable energy sector over the past four years and his renewables plan is likely to generate a further $80 billion in the green energy sector in the next four years is good news for the Rupee. External investment in India is likely a sign of increased currency transaction in forex trading signalling the Rupee gaining strength against other pairs. Like the Indian economy, millions of dollars are traded on currencies every day, and increased interest in the Rupee helps cement India’s economic and investment potential.

How reliant is India on coal power?

Not so long ago the Indian government had a target to connect 40 million households to the national grid by the end of 2018. It even tasked CIL, the state coal monopoly, to produce over a billion tonnes of coal per year by 2020, an increase of almost 100% from 2016. It’s an ambitious goal, notwithstanding the environmental impacts of mining for such an unprecedented amount of coal. This is the same coal that already generates 70% of India’s primary commercial energy requirement; compare that figure to the UK’s 11%, Germany’s 38%, and China’s 68%, while France has practically shut all of its coal power stations. This means that India’s shift from coal could have important implications for the global climate, and any investors looking towards coal would be making a very brave and risky decision.

Coal
Environmentally, coal isn’t a sustainable source of power, certainly not in current quotas.

The increasing problem with relying on coal

Environmentally, coal isn’t a sustainable source of power, certainly not in current quotas. Clean-up costs could make coal an out-of-date power source sooner rather than later. A report by Oxford University estimated that investors in coal power may lose upwards of half a trillion dollars because assets cannot be profitably run or retired early due to global temperature rises and agreed carbon emission reductions.

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Coal consumption forecasts have already been downgraded significantly from 2013 projections, and major shifts in energy policy like Modi’s are likely to add significant weight to the idea that India might well become a much bigger player in renewable energy production in the next 20 to 30 years – although it’s difficult not to see coal remaining an important power source considering India’s significantly large coal reserves still available in Eastern India.