The climate change conference has spelt the death knell of coal consumption but it’s a slow lingering end that this fossil fuel will face. That is because both India and China will be using it for decades into the future.
To take a rosy view of the situation, the global summit on climate change may have ended the reign of coal. But this is more talk than walk. The fact is the coal remains the most employed of fossil fuels on the planet.
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This source of energy is not going anywhere soon and it will take decades to be eliminated from the world’s repertoire of fuel sources. India and China remain the largest consumers. And it will be a long time before the last hacking cough ends from among the inhabitants of this earth.
China seems to have curbed some of its rising coal consumption and emissions to boot. But its emissions will take some time to peak and be curtailed. The goal is the year 2030 which is still a decade and a half away.
During these 15 years or so, China will continue to use coal on a regular basis. Some things just cannot be changed so fast. Quick and radical change spells neurosis.
India meanwhile will cut a third of its coal emissions within the next 15 years, according to Reuters. However, India also has plans to pull most of its poverty-stricken population out of their conundrum. And this will mean lots of progress where the end justifies all means.
The overall rates of pollution will only increase rather than decrease. Development is a tough nut to crack since only by passing through a “time of troubles” does a backward society become an advanced populace.
By 2020, India’s coal output will have increased twofold to 1.5 billion tons. This is a sign of ambition. But it spells disaster at the environmental level.
The Paris Summit seems to have reached a deadlock as rapidly advancing nations such as India and China refuse to cooperate fully since their progress depends upon access to fossil fuels and industrial growth.
There are those who postulate that the developing countries may skip a step or two on the road to progress. And while this is indeed possible, it will take a lot of aid and help from the already developed nations.
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When such countries which have to cover the stages to progress are jettisoned in a jiffy into the space age or the atomic age, the results are not good. They are often reminiscent of culture shock and future shock.