India is opening a mine a month as it races to double coal output by 2020, putting the world's third-largest polluter at the forefront of a pan-Asian dash to burn more of the dirty fossil fuel that environmentalists fear will upend international efforts to contain global warming.

Close to 200 nations are set to meet at a United Nations summit from November 30- December 11 to hammer out a deal to slow man-made climate change by weaning countries off fossil fuels. China has promised to restrict public funding for coal and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trumpeting investment in renewable energy, but in Asia's biggest economies the reality is that coal is still regarded as the easiest source of energy.
               
"Environment is non-negotiable but we can't live without coal. You can't wish away coal," said Anil Swarup, the top official in India's coal ministry, who is leading the push to open new mines like Magadh, in poor but resource-rich Jharkhand state.
               
"There is a temporary drop in demand, but no question of reducing coal output. We are well short of coal required in the country." he said. China, India and Indonesia now burn 71 percent of the world's newly mined coal according to the World Coal Association, with new European and North American consumption negligible as their countries turn to cleaner energy.
               
Other Asian nations are increasingly looking to coal to power their economies too, with Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam opening new plants, pushing the Asia/Pacific region to 80 percent of new coal plants.

Latest News  from Business News Desk