NEW DELHI (Reuters) -Coal will play an important role in India until at least 2040, the nation's coal minister said on Wednesday, even as calls for countries to switch to cleaner forms of fuel intensify at U.N. climate talks taking place in Egypt.
Addressing a parliamentary committee, minister in charge of coal Pralhad Joshi said the fuel was an affordable source of energy and demand for it had yet to peak in India.
"Thus, no transition away from coal is happening in the foreseeable future in India," Joshi said, adding it would have a big role until 2040 and beyond.
At the COP27 talks taking place until Nov. 18 in Egypt, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for urgent action to cut emissions, including phasing out coal by 2040 globally.
India has long resisted renouncing coal and manoeuvred with China at last year's COP26 talks, hosted by Britain, to block stronger commitments to quitting it.
Months of declining fuel inventories at power plants culminated in the worst power crisis in more than six years in April, disrupting industrial activity and driving India to accelerate coal mining.
As heatwaves boost air conditioning use and drive up power demand, the government said in a statement coal accounts for more than 51% of India's primary energy requirement and around 73% of power generation.
Richer nations are under pressure to help the poorer world finance a transition to cleaner fuel.
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry on Wednesday announced plans for companies to buy carbon credits to support countries switching out of coal power.
(Reporting by Tanvi Mehta, Editing by Louise Heavens and Barbara Lewis)