Q&A: What do India's elections mean for coal communities and climate change?

As prime minister of India for the past decade, Narendra Modi has overseen a rapid expansion of the country’s coal-mining and coal-fired power generation.

That expansion since 2014 has come with impacts on coal communities and the environment, from forced evictions and deforestation through to rising emissions.

The Modi government has plans for continued expansion, with 93 gigawatts (GW) of coal generation capacity expected to be built by 2032.

At the same time as expanding coal, Modi has projected himself as a global climate leader with grand renewable ambitions: he signed the Paris Agreement for India, pledged a net-zero target and has significantly expanded the country’s renewable capacity.

Modi’s confidence in securing a third term in India’s ongoing general election has been evident in his climate pledges: in Dubai last year, he bid for India to host the COP33 UN climate talks in 2028, while his party’s manifesto has pledged that India will achieve energy independence in 2047.

From 13 May to 1 June, at least 29 constituencies with existing or expanding coal and lignite mines, power plants and ports will go to the polls to have their say on the incoming government.

Here, Carbon Brief looks back at Modi’s first two terms and asks what another might mean for coal communities and climate change.

Coal expansion under Modi in two terms

Domestic coal expansion

On 26 May 2014, Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) assumed office following a campaign pledge to clean up India’s coal sector. At the time, a $33bn scandal hung over the sector regarding how coal mine contracts were allocated “without application of mind” under the Congress-led alliance government.

Yet barely four days after coming to power, Modi’s new environment ministry issued an executive order exempting coal mines from consulting affected communities if they wanted to expand by up to 25%. It was the first of many orders like it that rolled back environmental safeguards and, as a result, helped to speed up coal mining.

In September 2014, the country’s supreme court cancelled 214 coal-mining leases, giving Modi an opportunity to reform the coal sector from scratch. At the time, his government was “confident” that state-run Coal India could “fill the void and take things forward”, but it reassured private coal power producers that they could “return” to coal mining sites via auctions in the future.

A line chart showing India’s domestic coal production shown in millions of tonnes under different prime ministers: from 2004 to 2014 under Dr Manmohan Singh and 2014-2022 under Narendra Modi

India’s domestic coal production (purple line) shown in millions of tonnes under different prime ministers: from 2004 to 2014 under Dr Manmohan Singh and 2014-2022 under Narendra Modi (mauve backdrop). Source: Energy Institute Statistical Review of World Energy (2023).

Two months later, coal and new energy minister Piyush Goyal pledged to double Coal India’s production by 2019 and to end coal imports by 2016.

Since that early target-setting, India under Modi has rapidly increased domestic coal production in Coal India’s existing mines. On 23 March this year, coal minister Pralhad Joshi announced that the country had hit a “historic high”: coal and lignite production had finally surpassed 1bn tonnes, following a 1.5bn tonne goalpost announced at COP28.

According to Prof Rohit Chandra at the School of Public Policy at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, this expansion of state-run mining production has been necessary to ensure cheaper power prices than that from imported coal, despite “climate and other externalities”. He tells Carbon Brief that emissions have little to do with the approach to developing coal mining in India:

Chart showing coal imports by domestic coal-based power plants and imported coal-based power plants from 2018 to 2023.

India’s metallurgical (off-white) and thermal (purple) coal imports from 2013 to 2023 shown in millions of tonnes. Source: India’s coal ministry, Indian directorate general of commercial intelligence and statistics (2024).

“The right framing [to look at the development of coal mining], to me, is energy production and security. On that front, increasing domestic coal production has worked, with all its attendant problems, because it produces cheaper power [than imported coal] at the end of the day.”

Coal India’s production is only part of India’s coal story under Modi.

In 2015, India’s parliament enacted a new law that introduced “captive coal auctions” for private-sector power, cement and steel users. So far, 24 coal mines have been auctioned through this route, which has been questioned by national auditors and its own ministers.

The Modi government also retained its discretionary power to allocate mines to state-run companies, who could appoint private contractors such as Adani and Thriveni Sainik to operate them. There have been 53 mines allocated through this route.

Chart showing India’s metallurgical and thermal coal imports from 2013 to 2023 shown in millions of tonnes.

Coal imports by domestic coal-based power plants (purple) and imported coal-based power plants (off-white) from 2018 to 2023. Source: India’s power minister’s response to a question raised in the lower house of parliament (2024).

In 2020, Modi launched even more liberalised “commercial” coal auctions, where any company, Indian or foreign, could bid for a coal block, with no caveats on what they would use this coal for or if they had any previous mining experience. To date, 91 mines have been auctioned in nine rounds, but few have actually begun mining.

This increase in imports has grown sharply in the country’s latest phase of “coal shortages”, with a 106% rise in import volumes in the 2022-23 financial year compared with a year earlier, mainly driven by demand from plants that usually run on domestic coal.

Coal versus renewable progress

India’s renewable capacity and commitments have grown alongside coal under Modi.

In November 2021, the Indian government announced that it had achieved the first target in its Paris pledge: non-fossil energy sources accounted for more than 40% of India’s installed power capacity. In 2022, it raised this goal to 50% by 2030 in an updated climate pledge (nationally determined contribution, NDC).

India’s total installed solar capacity has grown by more than 30 times under Modi: from 2.6GW in March 2014 to 81.8GW in March 2024.

According to analyst Sunil Dahiya at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), this “tremendous” progress is a sign that renewables “are eating into coal’s share of India’s energy mix”.

Dahiya tells Carbon Brief:

“If India moves on the identified trajectory of meeting 450GW from renewable energy by 2030, that would mean that well within 2030, just increasing renewable energy would be able to meet 100% of the growth in [electricity] demand. That’s the potential which exists.”

If this came to pass, it would mean no need for increased coal power output.

As of February 2024, however, coal still accounted for close to 80% of power generation in India – and solar only 7.6%.

India’s updated climate pledge includes a conditional commitment that around half of its installed electricity generation capacity will consist of non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.

Capacity addition, however, implies how much power can ideally be produced versus how much is actually produced. Experts previously told Carbon Brief even a “modest” generation target in India’s NDC would be a more ambitious and less ambiguous indicator that the country was aiming to displace coal as the dominant force in its energy mix.

Along with the use of coal in the power sector, Modi has also enacted policies designed to support domestic Indian renewable manufacturers, with a heightened emphasis on “self-reliance” for the nation. This was especially after Covid-19 exposed the risks of high geographical concentrations in supply chains.

Experts say these policies, in the solar sector, have particularly been enacted in response to the country’s diplomatic relationship and competition with neighbouring China. This is despite Indian solar developers being heavily reliant on cheaper imports from China and rising production still falling “far short” of what India’s renewable energy targets need.

Solar panels installed in the coal-rich forest village of Paturia

Solar panels installed in the coal-rich forest village of Paturia.

Trade controls, policy uncertainty, poorly designed markets, high battery storage costs and climate change are factors that experts and solar developers say are threatening to stymie solar’s growth in India, leading to missed targets and, ultimately, increasing the country’s dependency on coal.

Additionally, solar exports from India to the US shot up by 1,000% last year, amid US-China trade wars, “throttl[ing]…already constrained supply” to Indian solar projects.

The Modi-led “Make in India” campaign “has been an own goal for the Indian people”, Tim Buckley of Climate Energy Finance (CEF) tells Carbon Brief, pointing out that both solar module and battery costs have halved globally over the past year.

He says trade barriers have made solar more expensive to install and that India risks “being left behind” in the renewable energy race. He adds:

“India has failed to understand the magnitude of the tech advances involved led by China; putting up trade barriers has deprived India. Modi has regularly talked about India building 50GW of solar in a year, but has averaged less than a third of that and has fail[ed] to deliver on it five years in a row.”

Other experts are divided over whether India’s century-old grid can handle the “surge” in solar and wind capacity required to meet the extended NDC target and provide “last-mile” distribution. One power sector observer tells Carbon Brief that this is informing the government’s recent emphasis on decentralised renewables, while firmly keeping coal front and centre.

The variable nature of solar and wind has been used by some as an argument for increasing India’s dependency on coal, to support renewable generation. India’s energy peaks are in the evening, its renewable resources are concentrated in a few regions and battery storage is expensive, they argue, pointing to coal as a solution.

However, a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds that “the combination of solar PV and batteries is today competitive with new coal plants in India”. By 2030, the IEA expects 18% of India’s electricity to be generated from solar, up from 6% and more than twice that of large hydropower today.

Large hydropower – still India’s largest clean energy source – has seen its output freefall in 2023 and become increasingly vulnerable to climate change, from erratic rainfall increasing water storage imperatives over on-demand power generation to glacial lake outburst floods washing away entire dams.

In a statement last month, India’s power ministry said that the “current downturn may be temporary rather than indicative of a long-term decline” in hydropower generation. It also announced plans to expand the country’s hydropower capacity by more than half by 2031-32, observing that “any rise in temperature will increase snowmelt contribution” to dams in the Himalayan region.

In parallel, the government is also pushing pumped storage schemes, prompting questions around how these projects and new hydropower dams will vie with falling battery costs in a changing climate.

International commitments

Despite a mixed record at home, on the global climate and energy stage, Modi has positioned himself as a major player and the “voice of the global south”.

Since 2014, Modi has signed India up to major climate commitments and steered global renewable targets, breaking with the country’s traditionally conservative stance at climate negotiations. A timeline for phasing out coal, however, has remained a red line.

Two years ago at COP26 in Glasgow, Modi announced that India would achieve net-zero by 2070, in a speech counted as one of the summit’s key moments.

But in the tense final moments of the talks, his environment minister Bhupender Yadav made a public intervention. Supported behind the scenes by countries including the US and China, Yadav said India would not back a “phase-out of unabated coal”, but agreed to a “phase down”. This still undefined language has persisted in COP outcomes ever since.

At COP27 in Egypt, held against the backdrop of a global energy crisis, Yadav’s proposal to “phase down” all fossil fuels, not just coal, drew unexpected support.

But after COP28 in Dubai, Yadav told the Hindustan Times that India was among countries that “managed to thwart” language on limiting new coal power. He said:

“Every country wants [the] Paris Agreement’s 1.5C goal to be met. But we have different starting points…Until we achieve our development needs, we will use coal.”

Sign reading: “Village head’s office, Jumkrai Village, No. 9, Maeloi sub-district, Theong district, Chiang Rai province” (left). Entrance to the village temple (right)

A public sculpture in the mining town of Korba depicts early Indigenous uprisings against British colonial rule of India. When historical responsibility and colonial emissions are accounted for, India is far behind developed nations’ contributions to climate change.

Efforts that began in Glasgow to get India to sign up to a Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) with G7 countries’ have faltered. There have been reports that the Modi government refused to put a coal phase-out on the negotiating table and said it would not “be bullied into” committing to a partnership or timeline that is not on its terms. The JETP negotiations with India are still on the table.

Climate change and coal shortages

Climate change is also contributing to an increase in power consumption – and, as a result, coal use – with heatwaves in spring and longer monsoon breaks driving up demand.

This comes on top of existing challenges of extracting and transporting coal from mines to power plants in the monsoon, which has intensified under climate change and strained unprepared supply chains. Additionally, drought stress faced by power plants that rely on freshwater for cooling has put pressure on generation.

India’s power ministry has cited extreme heat as contributing to power shortages, justifying more coal production and imports with the growing need to cool India.

Mine fires raged into the night inside the Dipka coal mine as temperatures crossed 40C in April in Korba, Chhattisgarh.

Mine fires raged into the night inside the Dipka coal mine as temperatures crossed 40C in April in Korba, Chhattisgarh.

Chandra, however, sees this differently. Like many others, he does not believe India’s “coal shortages” and appetite for imports are being driven solely by growing power demand because of heat stress and the increased use of air conditioning. He says:

“I don’t think this government’s domestic developmental imagination has really been about solving climate problems. It’s about building bigger and more things, which means you need more power, which means you need more coal mining.”

When Modi assumed power, he inherited a coal industry beset by “scams”, environmental and human rights violations and bad debt. He also inherited its peculiar power geography. Chandra explains:

“I think it’s a ‘being able to get the coal to the right place at the right time’ issue, and not a mining issue. This, of course, is not new: the coordination between Coal India and Indian Railways to move coal in this country has been problematic for decades. Because the geography of power plant construction did not match the geography of mining as closely, you’re moving coal very far distances in all kinds of ways, which really did not make much sense. Now we’re paying the price for those bad logistical decisions.”

To Chandra, the single most symbolic activity signalling the Modi government’s intent around the coal sector was when the Indian government cancelled 1,900 passenger trains to let coal freight trains through during coal shortage periods.

He explains:

“I think that’s a direct trade-off between energy and power supply, and migration and mobility of arguably the poorest people in the country. When I started seeing those headlines a few years ago, [it was clear] they’re making hard choices. You’re seeing the trade-offs between coal and everything else.”

How has the coal expansion impacted communities and workers?

India’s coal reserves are largely concentrated in seven south-central and eastern Indian states, all of which have significant Indigenous populations. Many of the biggest coalfields are located in densely forested pockets of the country.

The states of Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra combined account for about 97% of the country’s total coal reserves, as can be seen in the map below. India’s major lignite depos​​its are located in the south and west of the country, mainly in the states of Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Two maps showing India’s coal and lignite reserves by state, as of 2023. Source: India climate and energy dashboard, NITI Aayog (2023). Two maps showing India’s coal and lignite reserves by state, as of 2023. Source: India climate and energy dashboard, NITI Aayog (2023).

India’s coal and lignite reserves by state, as of 2023. Source: India climate and energy dashboard, NITI Aayog (2023).

Indigenous peoples and other local communities, who traditionally have strong links to land and forests, have suffered disproportionately from coal mining-induced displacement and environmental impacts.

Motorists share the road with coal mining trucks spewing dust.

Motorists share the road with coal mining trucks spewing dust. “The roads in Korba are not fit for humans, people have to travel every day by these roads. People have been turned into insects to be run over in accidents,” said Prakash Korram.

Coal communities in Chhattisgarh’s mining districts tell Carbon Brief their key concerns include forest rights, forced evictions, compensation, pollution and a lack of formal coal jobs promised in exchange for their land.

The critically polluted town of Korba in Chhattisgarh is home to three of Coal India’s largest mines, operated by its biggest subsidiary, South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL). It has eight coal-fired power plants that can generate over 6.6GW of power.

In March this year alone, SECL’s Gevra, Kusmunda and Dipka mines produced a combined 21.55m tonnes of coal, the highest production in the country. Each of these mines has been allowed to expand rapidly since 2014, as shown in the figure below.

For each mine, the dark purple outlined square shows permitted annual coal capacity in 2009. Permitted expansions in subsequent years are shown in shades of purple.

For example, on 5 March 2024, India’s environment ministry granted Gevra – which is already 10km long – approval to expand from 52.5m tonnes per annum (Mtpa) to 70Mtpa. This would make it Asia’s largest coal mine.

Chart showing environmental clearances granted by India's climate ministry to expand major coal mines in Korba, Chhattisgarh, 
million tonnes (mt) Chart showing environmental clearances granted by India's climate ministry to expand major coal mines in Korba, Chhattisgarh, 
million tonnes (mt)

Permitted expansions to three major coal mines – Gevra, Kusmunda and Dipka – operated by Coal India’s subsidiary South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL) between 2009 and 2024, Mtpa. Source: SECL, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

“If climate made any difference to them, they should have stopped at 50Mtpa, but they’re increasing it,” says Sonu Rathore, a local activist. His house was bulldozed in one of Gevra’s earlier expansions and he has since organised hundreds of others like him to fight for contracts to transport some of this coal.

With temperatures already crossing the 40C-mark in early April and fires breaking out in coal mines, communities are very aware of – and directly experience – climate impacts. Locals tell Carbon Brief they attribute these impacts to deforestation and industrialisation.

Locals displaced by Coal India’s mines stand in front of their protest camp pitched outside the SECL office, demanding jobs for their land.

Displaced locals in front of the protest camp pitched outside the SECL office.

“Mines are expanding, there’s no water here, there’s dust in everything, we’re surrounded by smokestacks: if this isn’t causing climate change, then what is? It was never this hot before,” says Ramadhar Yadav speaking to Carbon Brief in a make-shift camp outside SECL’s office, where he has been protesting for the past seven months.

Where the office now stands was once a sacred grove, says Yadav, who remembers a childhood spent swinging from trees and swimming in the Lilagar river that flooded the Dipka coal mine in 2019.

While protesting workers like him know that burning coal causes emissions, they are articulate about who should be held accountable for this. Yadav explains:

“Big industries that break pollution laws and burn coal, they need to be blamed [for climate change]. If we’re going to blame the landless Dalit family that can’t pay Rs. 1200 ($14) for a gas cylinder and is using scavenged coal to cook food, then we don’t deserve to live on this planet.”

For thousands in Korba like Yadav, waiting years for coal jobs they say they are owed for their land, the idea of a just transition away from coal is distant from their reality.

three bicycles stand by a wooden frame being built by two men at the edge of a forested area

Gond Adivasis builds a watch hut to manage fires in the coal-rich Hasdeo Arand forest.

In the neighbouring Hasdeo Arand forest, stopping deforestation for new coal mines has been a decade-long fight and a key election concern.

But holding mining and power companies accountable for environmental violations has become significantly harder over the past decade. For example, laws have been amended to do away with the need to consult or seek the consent of affected Indigenous communities before expanding coal mines.

The Modi government has also made once-powerful environmental courts harder to access for coal communities, while cracking down on pro-bono lawyers and civil society criticism of coal.

For voters in Korba, elections offer little hope, says Sanjay Kanwar from the village of Beltikri. Kanwar tells Carbon Brief:

“Voting-shoting, democracy itiyaadi (etc) – most people here have lost trust in all of it. Whatever button [on the voting machine] you like, just press it, because nothing will change for us. Everyone who comes here wearing a white shirt says nice things, holds press releases, does social media: if they had the slightest compassion for us, at least this unemployment issue would’ve been solved by now.”

What are the Modi government’s coal plans after the elections if it wins?

Whether it wins a majority or not, the Modi government has announced big plans for India’s coal use in the runup to the country’s general elections.

In a statement, power minister RK Singh said that the country “would not compromise on availability of power for our growth”. According to Singh:

“This power cannot be achieved by renewable energy sources alone. Since nuclear capacity cannot be added at a rapid pace, we have to add coal-based thermal capacity for meeting our energy needs…As demand keeps accelerating, we will keep adding this capacity.”

Responding to a parliamentary question, Singh in February said that the government plans to add another 93GW of thermal capacity by 2031-32, taking India’s installed total to 283GW by 2032 to “ensure an uninterrupted power supply for the nation’s growth”.

A cow grazes in between coal ash slurry pipes with Korba’s smokestacks in the backdrop.

A cow grazes in between coal ash slurry pipes with Korba’s smokestacks in the backdrop.

On the power front, the amount of new coal power capacity in pre-construction stages of development increased by 13.6GW to 46GW in 2023, according to GEM’s latest report on the global coal industry. This includes 11.4GW of entirely new proposals – more than in any year since 2016 – and a revival of long-stalled projects.

After a seven-year “drought”, India’s private coal generators have “risen from the dead” and are looking to build at least 10GW of this capacity “in line with the energy requirements of the nation” while seeking support from state lenders, Reuters reported.

In November, Singh asked industry to take advantage of a “golden opportunity” when demand will continue to grow and prices remain high, adding that thermal power “could not be written off”.

A ministry spokesperson told Reuters that “India was ahead of international commitments to cut emissions”.

India’s power ministry has instructed domestic power plants to keep importing coal until October 2024. Meanwhile, its coal ministry has floated the construction of new power plants at mine pitheads as a solution to reduce transport costs and logistical logjams.

In January, India’s cabinet approved two coal power units proposed by Coal India joint ventures, marking the coal producer’s first foray into power generation. The next month, the Hindu reported that Modi himself laid the foundation stone for Neyveli Lignite Corporation’s 2.4GW “ultra-critical pithead power plant” in Odisha.

In February, Coal India’s chairman told Reuters it plans to start operations at five new mines – with a combined annual capacity of 14.3 Mtpa – and expand 16 existing ones.

According to the Global Energy Monitor (GEM) coal mine tracker, India currently has 62 new coal mine projects and 19 expansion projects in the pipeline.

There has also been a revival of plans to expand coal gasification and the extraction of coal bed methane (CBM) from underground coal beds. The controversial technique – banned in the UK and Australia – has been described by India as “clean coal technology [that] would mitigate the adverse environmental impact of conventional coal usage” in its last communication to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Under commercial coal auctions, winning firms are picked based on the amount of revenue they agree to share with the government. Modi’s coal ministry offered to halve its revenue share if successful coal mine bidders liquefy or gasify some of their coal “to encourage such use of clean fuel sources”, along with giving them the freedom to set the price of the electricity they will sell.

Despite these incentives and special auctions, the response from the private sector has been muted, with only three out of 16 coal-bed methane blocks auctioned in 2022 finalised at the start of 2024.

In January, India’s cabinet chaired by Modi approved an additional $1bn in incentives to promote coal gasification projects. Two months later, Coal India’s director announced that the national miner had received cabinet approval for investment in its gasification plants to help achieve a target of “gasifying” 100m tonnes of coal by 2030.

India has also announced plans to triple underground mining from 26Mtpa to 100Mtpa in 2030, a move Modi’s mining authorities have described as more “eco-friendly”.

It also plans to roll out a new carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) policy that government thinktank Niti Aayog says can capture “70%” of emissions from India’s entire power sector, an estimate others dismiss as “dangerous shortsightedness”.

What do experts think a third term of Modi would mean for India’s coal use, emissions and climate change?

“A third term for Modi means India will continue to walk both sides of the street and retain its addiction to coal use for decades to come,” CEF’s Buckley tells Carbon Brief.

According to Buckley, there is “no evidence that India is pivoting away from coal, reviving end-of-life coal plants when it should be retiring” them.

However, an additional “sore point”, he says, is Modi’s pursuit of “next decade” technologies, such as green hydrogen, while undermining solar’s massive potential that he championed earlier in his premiership, through initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance.

Buckley explains:

“India has failed to realise the green hydrogen bubble burst two years ago: it is not commercially viable, won’t be for another decade and its first prerequisite is building massive amounts of renewable energy.

“For India to be talking about water- and land-intensive biofuels is ludicrous when the rest of the world is pivoting to EVs. Coal-bed methane is a farce that has been proven to be ineffective, environmentally destructive and cost prohibitive, and is showing how coal is corrupting the politics of Indonesia, Australia, US and now India.”

Locals displaced by Coal India’s mines stand in front of their protest camp pitched outside the SECL office, demanding jobs for their land.

A water pot vendor cycles through a village next in line to be mined.

Climate observers in India, meanwhile, are keen to emphasise that, whatever the election outcome, the country needs to think about coal communities now and in the long-term, rather than only when its reserves are exhausted.

To Suravee Nayak at the Sustainable Futures Collaborative, the global conversation around a just transition has created space to identify and address historical legacies of issues and injustices coal communities face, even if India’s transition is not yet underway. Nayak says:

“It doesn’t matter if we’re fully shutting down mines or not. This crisis around the end of coal, if not now, will happen in twenty years because coal is a finite resource. We should be diversifying the economy: start making poor communities less dependent and stop this mono-economy where everything is structured around coal. Today, every single livelihood is structured around coal, whether it is the most powerful job or the most precarious manual labour.”

Nayak tells Carbon Brief the answer is not purely technical reskilling programmes that retrain coal workers to work in renewables. Instead, it means addressing the larger developmental problem of coal geographies by building communities’ capacities – from education to employment – so they can have alternative, sustainable livelihoods.

Graves are all that is left of the village of Barkuta, acquired for India’s coal expansion.

Only graves remain in the mined-out village off Barkuta.

To Dahiya, “it is very likely” that India’s existing coal pathway could lead to stranded assets in the coal mining sector, “similar to what happened with its power sector” in 2018.

However, Dahiya believes that while a government’s developmental perspective and policies drive coal use and emissions, there is a point where global technological advancement and economic scenarios play a bigger role. He explains:

“[Renewable energy] costs are falling, storage costs are falling. And, in that scenario, opening up these mines or auctioning new ones doesn’t necessarily mean that this coal will be burnt or combusted. Demand is going to be finite and that’s where emissions cannot multiply manifold the way they are thinking mining will multiply manifold: it won’t. Even if Modi or any other government comes, our commitment to renewables is not going to be shattered.”

“The only issue is that we have finite financial resources. If we invest in the right technology, our economic development along with curbing the emissions can be synchronised and be much faster.”

The designations employed and the presentation of the material on the maps in this article do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of Carbon Brief concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

All photos and videos shot by Aruna Chandrasekhar.

Graphics and design by Tom Prater.