The Global Environmental Facility, set up by the World Bank and the United Nations to promote sustainable development in developing countries, has announced it will be investing in coal plants for the first time.

The GEF will be providing India with cash to upgrade its existing power stations, arguing that an overhaul is the most cost effective way to help the emerging economy keep down its carbon emissions.

While claiming that renewables were best in the long run, the organisation argued that they were not a realistic solution to India’s immediate problems and it was better to take a pragmatic approach rather than getting bogged down by adhering too rigidly to guidelines.

India will be reliant on coal as part of its fuel mix for the foreseeable future, the argument goes, so it is best to make the coal as clean as possible.

The GEF will be putting a US$45.5 grant towards the upgrades, with a further US$300 million direct from the World Bank and commercial Indian banks.

Sam Bond

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