The biggest coal mining company in the world has announced that it will close 37 coal mines in India, because they are no longer financially viable.
In a country that the World Health Organisations says needs to “systematically tackle” air pollution because of the “huge burden of associated ill health” on its people, this is a victory for people and the planet.
According to The Independent, the Coal India mines will be decommissioned as soon as March 2018. And will reportedly save around £98 million for the company who produce 82% of the nation’s coal.
The decision is all thanks to the plummeting cost of solar power; a Climate Action report from February found that If the cost of renewable energy and storage continues to fall at current rates, India could phase out coal power completely by 2050.
There has also been heavy international investment in renewables in India, which has compounded the pressure on fossil fuel firms to move to cleaner methods of production.
The closures, which affect 9% of India’s mining sites, come as part of a series of mixed messages from the Indian government, who only earlier this year wanted to build more plants.
In April they released proposals for 370 new coal plants and Steven Davis, from The University of California, said: “India is facing a dilemma of its own making. The country has vowed to curtail its use of fossil fuels in electricity generation, but it has also put itself on a path to building hundreds of coal-burning power plants to feed its growing industrial economy.”
Then in May the government backtracked and said it would actually not be building anymore plants after 2022, and plans for nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations were scrapped on the spot.
For Indian citizens, the decision to decommission the plants is about more than just international pledges to go green, a recent New York Times report found that the air pollution crisis kills 1.1 million Indians annually.