Boris Johnson has met the head of an Indian multinational conglomerate which is building Australia’s biggest coal mine, despite calling on the world to phase out fuel as part of Britain’s COP26 presidency.
The British Prime Minister met billionaire Gautam Adani this week during a trip to India to to strenghten relations between the two countries and promote “jobs, growth and opportunity”.
Adani tweeted a photo of the meeting with Johnson today, writing: ‘Honored to welcome @BorisJohnson, the first UK Prime Minister to visit Gujarat, to Adani Headquarters. Pleased to support the climate and sustainability agenda with a focus on renewable energy, green H2 and new energy. Will also work with UK companies to co-create defense and aerospace technologies.
The Adani Group has pledged to be carbon neutral and embrace renewable energy, but at the same time it is expanding its coal production, with plans to double its coal-fired power capacity to 24 GW, according to an analysis by the year by the Market Forces campaign group.
Activists said Adani was trying to portray himself as a ‘climate leader’ despite his ‘appalling’ record of coal mining, and accused Johnson of going along with the ‘charade’.
Adani also met Johnson at the UK government’s ‘global investment summit’ in October ahead of the UN’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
“Put Coal Back in History”
The UK used its presidency of COP26 to call for a global phase-out of coal-fired electricity.
During negotiations, Johnson greeted “Important steps have been taken to put coal in the history books” and hailed the resulting Glasgow Accord as “the first-ever international agreement to phase out coal and a roadmap to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees”.
The UK is also a leading member of the Powering Past Coal Alliance, a coalition of governments and businesses supporting a transition away from fuel.
The Adani Group has faced opposition in India over its coal mining and pollution, and protests in Australia over its Carmichael coal mine.
Jess Worth, co-director of Culture Unstained, which campaigns against fossil fuel sponsorship of the arts, told DeSmog: “Gautam Adani’s record on coal mining is abysmal.
“His company plans to quadruple its coal production in India by 2024, despite massive resistance from indigenous Adivasi communities whose lands and livelihoods are being destroyed. Meanwhile, in Australia, Adani is building the country’s largest coal mine.
“Despite this, Gautam Adani is trying to pass himself off as a climate leader – and it looks like Boris Johnson is happy to go along with this charade.”
Culture Unstained has criticized the Adani Group’s solar and wind business for funding a new gallery at the Science Museum in central London on the “energy revolution”.
The gallery will “explore the latest climate science and the energy revolution needed to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and meet the Paris goals of limiting global warming to around 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels”.
“Our leaders, both in politics and in the museum sector, must stop associating with this coal baron and instead call him out on his highly destructive business activities,” Worth said.
Adani Group did not respond when contacted for comment.
When questioned, the government did not mention the Prime Minister’s meeting with Adani.
A government spokesperson said: “We continue to work proactively with industry on a range of technologies to decarbonise our energy and industrial systems.
“Our dossier on renewable energies speaks for itself. In the past few months alone, we have secured record investment in wind power, published a global hydrogen strategy, launched a new UK emissions trading scheme, committed to ending energy by 2024, pledged £1bn in funding to support carbon capture development and invested £2bn to support decarbonisation of transport.
Updated 4/22/22 with government comment.