A senior Indian negotiator says his country will cut back its use of coal, if sufficient cash for renewables emerges from a Paris deal.
Dr Ajay Mathur said coal would be restricted if there was help to pay for “more expensive” green energy.
India is expected to become the world’s biggest importer of coal by 2020 as it seeks to expand electrification.
Other nations welcomed the statement, saying that it enhanced the chances of a new agreement.
India’s national climate plan, submitted ahead of this meeting, suggests a significant role for coal going forward.
According to the document, coal “will continue to dominate power generation in future”.
Mine a month
The country is planning on expanding its production of coal to 1.5 billion tonnes of the fuel by 2020. That would require the equivalent of opening one new coal mine every month until the end of this decade.
India’s need for coal is driven by the huge numbers who do not have electricity, estimated to be around 300 million people.
In these negotiations the government has adopted a hard line, saying that the need to develop using fossil fuels trumps the needs of the climate.
In recent days, the Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told BBC News that his country had every right to continue using as much coal as it needed.
“We are increasing our renewable targets tenfold in the next 15 years but we will require coal because it is the need of the hour for my people to grow.”
But on Wednesday, Dr Mathur, a senior negotiator in the Indian delegation, adopted a much more conciliatory line.
He argues that the cost of solar, which has declined by 75% in 4 years, is still double the cost of coal.