India calls on developed world to tax coal for climate fund

Developed countries should raise taxes on coal production to help raise money for a $100 billion-a-year fund that is supposed to help poorer countries tackle climate change but is short of cash, India’s environment minister said on Wednesday.

An agreement to finance the fund was a major part of the landmark Paris climate change accord forged in December after four years of fraught negotiations, but Prakash Javadekar told Reuters rich countries were failing to stick to their part of the bargain while asking countries such as India to do more.

India, which wants to double its coal output by 2020, in February raised the tax on mining coal to $6 per tonne from $1 in a bid to make it more expensive to consume the dirty fuel.

Javadekar said India’s tax was the highest in the world and that developed countries should follow suit.

“If they follow India and levy a tax of $5-$6 a tonne on coal production, $100 billion can easily be mobilised,” Javadekar said in an interview at his New Delhi home. “Today only $10 billion is available on the table. Even a country like America is promising only $3 billion …”

This week Javadekar will travel to New York, where the United States, China and other leading economies will formally accede to the Paris agreement.

The accord proposed a $100 billion annual fund until 2025 to help poor countries like India counter the threat of climate change.

India, the world’s second-most populous country after China, is home to 17 per cent the world’s population but consumes less per capita coal than the United States.

But while countries such as the United States are cutting coal consumption, India’s appetite is surging, raising questions about its willingness to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Genetically modified crops

Javadekar, who is responsible for reviewing applications on genetically modified (GM) crops, said his ministry had yet to decide on whether to allow the commercial launch of a transgenic mustard variety developed by a group of Indian scientists.

The government has held three meetings on the mustard variety in the past four months, he said.

India does not allow the cultivation of GM food crops, but supporters say high-yielding GM mustard seeds could cut India’s annual edible oil import bill of more than $10 billion.

“We’re considering it but the safety of food is a very important aspect of India’s ethos,” Javadekar said. “Every country takes its decision as per its national policy. We’re not stopping science from progressing.”

Any win for the mustard variety will also help the cause of US firm Monsanto , which is also developing GM corn varieties to be sold in India if allowed.

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