India still plans to double coal output by 2020 and to rely on the resource for decades afterwards, a senior official said on Monday, days after 190-odd countries agreed to begin reining in rising greenhouse gas emissions this decade.
India, the world's third-largest carbon emitter, is dependant on coal for about two-thirds of its energy needs and has vowed to mine more of the fuel to power its resource-hungry economy while also pledging to raise clean energy generation.
"Our dependence on coal will continue. There are no other alternatives available," Anil Swarup, the top bureaucrat in the coal ministry, told Reuters. "Nothing has changed (following the Paris accord)."
While India has plans to add 30 times more solar-powered generation capacity by 2022, there were limitations to clean energy and coal would remain the most efficient energy source for decades, he said.
Even though many international lenders are turning their backs on financing new coal projects in favor of gas and renewable energy, India should have few difficulties in financing dozens more new mines.
State-owned producer Coal India, for example, has enough internal cash resources to drive more production, he said.
The global United Nations summit in Paris forged an agreement on Saturday to set the course for an historic transformation of the world's fossil fuel-driven economy within decades, including eliminating net manmade greenhouse gas emissions.
The accord commits poor and rich countries to curbing carbon emissions blamed for warming the planet.
Environmentalists worry that despite India's commitment to renewable energy, its rising use of coal at a time when many Western nations are rejecting the dirty fossil fuel will tip the balance in the world's fight against climate change.
India is targeting to more than double coal output to 1.5 billion tonnes this decade.
India says its per capita carbon emissions are far below the world average and that coal provides the cheapest energy for rapid industrialization that would lift millions out of poverty.