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NEW DELHI: US climate envoy John Kerry has praised India as a “world leader” in renewable energy but said during a visit to the fossil fuel-dependent nation that the globe needs to phase out coal faster.

India is the world’s third-biggest emitter of carbon dioxide and relies on fossil fuels to generate around two-thirds of its electricity. Its role in tackling global warming is seen as vital.

Kerry, in New Delhi before a virtual climate summit on April 22 and 23 organised by US President Joe Biden, lauded India’s “remarkable transformation” into a “world leader in the deployment of renewable energy”.

“Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi’s announcement of a target of 450 gigawatts of renewables by 2030 sets a very strong example for how to power a growing economy with clean energy,” Kerry told the South Asia Women in Energy Leadership Summit on Tuesday.

“It’s already cheaper to build solar in India than anywhere else in the world. That kind of urgency is exactly what we need to confront global climate change,” he said, calling the country a “red-hot investment opportunity” for green power.

But without mentioning India directly, Kerry said that in order to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, coal needs to be phased out “five times faster” than the current pace.

“We need to increase tree cover five times faster. We need to ramp up renewable energy six times faster. We need to transition to electric vehicles at a rate 22 times faster,” he said.

Trillions of dollars were needed to finance the planet’s transition to renewable fuels and he would work closely with New Delhi “so that we drive investment flows toward the clean energy opportunity in India”, Kerry added.

The US State Department said Kerry’s April 1-9 trip to India as well as the United Arab Emirates and Bangladesh was aimed at “increasing climate ambition” ahead of the Biden summit and UN climate negotiations in Scotland in November.

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