NAGPUR/BHATINDA: “To invest in coal for the future is building white elephants, building stranded assets. And I don’t think developing countries have enough resources to waste,” UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said on Friday, responding to a question raised by TOI on India’s continued investment in coal-fired power plants. Guterres was interacting with journalists during a virtual meet organised by Covering Climate Now, an organisation of media outlets from across the world. “I am extremely worried yet hopeful. The progress by nations in recent weeks has not been enough. We are getting closer to the Conference of Parties 26 (COP26) and I hope there is still time to avoid a failure in Glasgow,” he said. This year’s COP, to be hosted by the UK in Glasgow, will see the Paris Agreement on climate change being revisited for the first time. Global leaders will also need to show how they have met their declared targets. Answering TOI’s question on how a highly populated country like India can make a complete energy transition, Guterres said, “It is certain that coal is an investment that is condemned; to invest in it is a decision that is economically wrong. Countries which are hugely dependent on coal need to increase their electrical production to ensure electricity for all. For this, I appeal to the developed world to establish coalitions to support such nations and help them in accelerating their transition towards clean energy.” Referring to his interactions with the Indian leaders, Guterres recalled how they “always said Paris Agreement established a principle of common but differentiated responsibilities depending on nations’ capabilities”. He stressed that the time has now come for “emerging economies to go an extra mile”.

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