The Sociopolitical Dynamics of Coal Transition in India

In International Studies
Volume (Issue): 57 (2)
Peer-reviewed Article
Coal Transition

Energy transition has been gaining significant policy attention in India, especially in the backdrop of the concerns about growing emissions from fossil fuels and the need for cleaner energy services. However, this has been one of the strategic dilemmas for the country. On the one hand, the increasing demand for fossil fuels is prompting critical policy actions to minimize energy-related emissions and reduce the dependency on the same. On the other hand, the national economic targets that demand high growth have been pivotal in pushing the energy demand growth and have also been unable to shift away from the conventional energy mix.

The global debates on shifting away from environmentally damaging energy sources have always paid greater focus on the coal sector. This is primarily due to the fact that the coal-fuelled power generation sector has been responsible for the highest quantity of greenhouse gas emissions in many countries. Shifting away from the coal sector can have significant adverse sociopolitical impacts. The workforce depending on the sector for mining and processing, as well as in the other allied sectors can be affected by the falling demand for coal. On the contrary, this article identifies that energy transition has not made any serious dent on the workforce or communities that are traditionally dependent on the coal sector. Instead, the fall in employment witnessed is primarily due to the increasing mechanisation taking place for the past few decades. The article discusses coal transition in the Indian context to present the arguments in this direction.