India's G20 Summit, An Opportunity To Shape the Global Climate Change Agenda

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India's G20 Summit

The commencement of the high-stakes G20 Summit in India's national capital, New Delhi, is just a day away. In a historic moment for India, the nation has taken on the prestigious role of presiding over the G20 summit for the first time. This significant milestone not only highlights India's growing influence on the global stage but also signifies its commitment to addressing pressing global challenges. One such issue is climate change and global warming.

The global climate crisis has reached a critical juncture, and world leaders increasingly recognise the need for collective action. The Group of Twenty (G20) Summit, comprising the world's major economies, has emerged as a crucial platform to address the pressing issue of climate change. In recent years, climate change has become a pivotal agenda item at these summits, reflecting the growing importance of renewable and solar power in the fight against global warming. 

Given its multifaceted economy, technological expertise, and steadfast dedication to sustainable progress, India is well-positioned to offer distinctive viewpoints and contributions that not only serve its own citizens but also enhance the overall global welfare, thereby reaffirming its commitment to the concept of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' or the belief that 'The World is One Family.

The Urgent Need For Climate Action

The impact of climate change is undeniable, with rising global temperatures, extreme weather events, and melting ice caps serving as stark reminders of the urgency of the situation. The G20 nations are responsible for a significant portion of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, making their commitment to climate action crucial.

At the G20 Summit, leaders come together to discuss and formulate policies aimed at tackling climate change, and this is vital in ensuring a coordinated global response to the crisis. One of the most critical aspects of these discussions is the role of renewable and solar power in mitigating the effects of climate change.

India's Opportunity To Shape Results

Building consensus within the G20 has proven to be a demanding task, yet India has the opportunity to demonstrate its leadership by concentrating on critical domains for the development of a practical and attainable climate action strategy. In this context, these are some crucial discussion points that require renewed attention: 

Monitoring per-capita emissions reductions

Recent estimates project greenhouse gas emissions for 2022 at 58 gigatonnes (GT). To limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the world must reduce annual emissions by 3 GT yearly over the next three decades, as 2021 and 2022 targets were missed. Emission reduction strategies should consider both aggregate national emissions and per-capita emissions, which vary by country. Among G20 nations, Saudi Arabia has the highest emissions, over six times per capita compared to India, the lowest per-capita emitter (PCE). Reducing per-capita emissions can lead to substantial cuts in national emissions due to population effects.

India, advocating fair Paris Agreement targets, must develop a model integrating physical, social, human, and natural capital, aligning with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). India should also champion setting per-capita emission reduction deadlines, in line with global net-zero goals, to ensure equitable and prompt progress by developed nations.

G20 summit - Circular economy

Incorporating circular economy principles into the mainstream

The idea of a circular economy, with the objective of transforming discarded items into reusable products, holds great importance for sustainability. India must confront its issues concerning waste management and air pollution control. By enacting efficient measures to control land, water, and air pollution, which includes adopting environment-friendly public procurement practices, India can foster conditions conducive to the success of circular economy initiatives.

Presently, several startups are engaged in the waste-to-wealth sector; however, they often face financial challenges. What is required are guiding principles and frameworks to integrate the circular economy into people's daily lives, making it a natural part of their lifestyle.

Designated funds for climate and environment-friendly technologies

India must take the lead in advancing support for impact-driven startups that are actively addressing critical challenges faced not only by our nation but also by other G20 countries. These startups have the potential to provide economic sustenance and innovative solutions for non-economic crises, thereby contributing to a more equitable global landscape. India can foster collaboration with other vulnerable economies to establish a shared repository of solutions and initiatives through these emerging startups.

Under the Startup20 initiative, a novel dialogue launched by India during its G20 Presidency, there is a plan to secure $1 trillion in funding to empower and advance the startup ecosystem. However, a key question arises: What portion of this substantial sum will be earmarked for green tech or climate-tech ventures? Without a clear allocation in this direction, the research and development as well as technological progress in this critical sector might encounter constraints due to insufficient financial backing.

Utilizing B20 to delineate a broader scope for private sector engagement

India ought to utilize the B20 channel within the G20 framework to delineate a more extensive role for the private sector in combating climate change. Projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions typically incur substantial initial transaction costs, which subsequently manifest as a multitude of risks, particularly in developing nations. These risks stem from the uncertainty surrounding environmental regulations and encompass issues such as cost overruns, project delays, transaction costs, permit-related uncertainties, and renegotiation of contracts, especially for emerging green technologies. India can bolster private sector involvement in green finance and sustainable development by providing incentives such as tax-related benefits, public procurement strategies, and streamlining regulatory compliance.

Tackling Goals for Achieving Net-Zero Emissions

Net zero carbon

Although net-zero objectives have gained increased attention, there remains a substantial distance to cover for G20 nations in terms of discontinuing coal utilization & diminishing their dependence on fossil fuels. India, which has pledged to achieve a net-zero status by 2070 & has significantly augmented its investments in renewable energy, is well-positioned to take a leading role in discussions concerning the phasing out of coal and the transition to cleaner energy sources. By advocating for tangible action plans and policies, India has the potential to inspire other G20 member nations to align their efforts with net-zero objectives. India initially initiated this conversation by promoting renewable energy & biofuel adoption, yet concrete outcomes will be essential to steer clear of one of the most substantial contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

Green Finance

Green finance, also known as climate finance, encompasses financial resources and tools intended to support climate action, protect the environment, and promote sustainable development. It's crucial because it aids in addressing climate change and facilitates the transition to a low-carbon global economy. Green financing takes various forms, including grants, donations, loans, and green bonds designed for environmentally friendly projects.

This financing plays a pivotal role in climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience building. At the 2023 G20 Summit, wealthier nations may provide trillions in investments to assist developing countries in their energy transition. According to COP28, global annual investments in climate action must increase by over $2.4 trillion by 2030, equivalent to around two percent of the global GDP.

Transition Away from Coal & Fossil Fuels

Saudi Arabia is reportedly postponing its transition away from fossil fuels. A study conducted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development revealed that public financial support for fossil fuels in G20 countries reached an all-time high of $1.4 trillion in 2022. In India, fossil fuel subsidies have seen a substantial 76 percent reduction between 2014 and 2022. Nevertheless, it's worth noting that fossil fuel subsidies in India still exceed subsidies for renewables and electric vehicles by more than four times.

The G20 countries collectively host 93 percent of the world's operational coal capacity, yet coal-related discussions have been conspicuously absent in prior G20 meetings. Consequently, reaching an agreement on coal phase reduction during the Summit assumes paramount importance.

Renewable Energy - The Key To Net-Zero Emission

India has been ranked as the world's third-largest solar panel producer, has effectively harnessed solar and wind energy for power generation. The nation is actively pursuing an ambitious sustainability agenda, aiming to achieve a net-zero economy by 2070, generate 500 Gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030, transition 50 percent of its energy mix to non-fossil fuels by 2030, and produce 311 Gigawatts of solar energy and 82 Gigawatts of wind energy by the period between 2031 and 2032.

Renewable energy sources offer a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuels. The adoption of renewables has seen a significant uptick in recent years, and for good reason:

  • Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Renewable energy sources produce little to no greenhouse gas emissions during electricity generation. This is a crucial step in achieving net-zero emissions, a target that many nations are striving to reach to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, as recommended by the Paris Agreement.
  • Energy Independence: Investing in renewable energy sources reduces a nation's dependence on fossil fuels, promoting energy security. This diversification of energy sources makes countries less vulnerable to price fluctuations in global oil and gas markets.
  • Job Creation and Economic Growth: The renewable energy sector has proven to be a significant source of job creation. As countries transition to clean energy, they can stimulate economic growth and create a sustainable future for their citizens.
  • Sustainable Development: Renewable energy aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by providing access to clean and affordable energy to marginalized populations and improving living standards worldwide.

In the arena of renewable energy capacity installations, significant progress has been achieved. Wind power has experienced an addition of 1306.95 MW in the current fiscal year, contributing to an impressive cumulative total of 43,940.08 MW as of July 31, 2023. Similarly, solar power has surged forward with an increase of 4364.65 MW during the same period, raising the cumulative total to an impressive 71,145.01 MW. Small hydro power has augmented its capacity by 38.45 MW in the fiscal year, reaching a cumulative capacity of 4982.75 MW.

While Biomass (Bagasse) Cogeneration and Biomass (non-bagasse) Cogeneration have not shown any additions this fiscal year, their cumulative capacities remain at 9433.56 MW and 814.45 MW, respectively. The Waste to Power segment has recorded a modest increase of 1.60 MW this year, bringing the total capacity to 249.74 MW. Meanwhile, Waste to Energy (off-grid) has experienced an increase of 14.74 MW in the fiscal year, contributing to a cumulative capacity of 320.64 MW.

The combined renewable energy capacity installed in the ongoing fiscal year has increased to 5726.39 MW, contributing to a noteworthy cumulative milestone of 130,866.23 MW by July 31, 2023. These developments emphasize the ministry's dedication to strengthening the renewable energy industry and promoting sustainable energy transformation throughout the country.

The Solar Power Revolution

Among renewable energy sources, solar power stands out as a beacon of hope in the fight against climate change and global warming. Solar energy harnesses the sun's abundant and free energy, making it a scalable and accessible solution for countries around the world. Here are some reasons why solar power is pivotal:

  • Zero Emissions: Solar power generation produces no direct carbon emissions. By switching to solar energy, we can significantly reduce the carbon footprint associated with electricity production.
  • Reducing Dependence on Fossil Fuels: As solar power becomes more accessible and affordable, it displaces the need for fossil fuels, especially in electricity generation. This reduces the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and other harmful pollutants that contribute to global warming.
  • Energy Independence: Solar power allows individuals, businesses, and even entire nations to become more energy-independent. By generating electricity locally, we reduce the need for long-distance transportation of fossil fuels, further lowering emissions.
  • Mitigating Air Pollution: Solar power not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions but also mitigates air pollution. The burning of fossil fuels releases pollutants that harm human health and exacerbate climate change. Solar power helps address both issues simultaneously.
  • Renewable and Abundant: The sun is an abundant and renewable resource. Unlike finite fossil fuels, we can rely on solar energy for generations to come, helping to stabilize energy supplies while reducing emissions.
  • Technological Advancements: Ongoing advancements in solar technology are making it more efficient and cost-effective. This encourages wider adoption and integration into the global energy mix.
  • Grid Stabilization: Solar power can complement other renewable energy sources like wind and hydroelectric power. By diversifying the energy mix, solar contributes to grid stability, ensuring a consistent and reliable power supply.
  • Carbon Offsetting: Solar projects can offset emissions from other sectors. For example, solar installations on industrial facilities or in urban areas can help neutralize emissions from manufacturing or transportation.

Green Hydrogen Production And Supply

G-20 leaders are expected to engage in discussions regarding international collaboration in the production and distribution of green hydrogen. Across the globe, green hydrogen is gaining recognition as a sustainable energy option aimed at decarbonizing industries with high emissions, such as transportation and industrial manufacturing.

green hydrogen

What is green hydrogen?

Green hydrogen is hydrogen gas (H2) produced through a process called electrolysis, using renewable energy sources such as wind or solar power. Unlike traditional hydrogen production methods that rely on fossil fuels, green hydrogen production emits zero greenhouse gases, making it an environmentally friendly energy source.

Major Applications of Green Hydrogen

  • Clean Energy Storage: Green hydrogen can be used to store excess renewable energy, which can be later converted back to electricity when needed. This addresses the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources, enhancing grid stability.
  • Transportation: Green hydrogen is an ideal fuel for fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). These vehicles use hydrogen to generate electricity in a fuel cell, emitting only water vapor as a byproduct. FCEVs have the advantage of longer ranges and shorter refueling times compared to electric vehicles.
  • Industrial Processes: Industries like steel, cement, and chemicals, which have historically been difficult to decarbonize, can use green hydrogen as a clean energy source for high-temperature processes, reducing their carbon footprint.
  • Power Generation: Green hydrogen can be burned directly in gas turbines to produce electricity or blended with natural gas to reduce emissions from conventional power plants.

While the potential for green hydrogen is immense, there are challenges to overcome, including the cost of production, infrastructure development, and scalability. Despite challenges, green hydrogen is gaining traction as a vital player in the transition to a sustainable and carbon-neutral energy future. Ongoing research and investments are crucial for its success.

The G20 Summit's Role In Promoting Renewables

The G20 Summit provides a unique opportunity for member nations to collaborate on climate action and renewable energy initiatives. Key discussions at these summits often revolve around funding mechanisms for renewable projects, setting ambitious renewable energy targets, and sharing best practices in clean energy adoption.

Moreover, G20 nations can encourage the private sector to invest in renewable energy by creating favourable policy environments and financial incentives. Collaboration between governments, industries, and civil society is essential to scaling up renewable energy capacity.

Can India Lead G20 Summit 2023 Climate Change Agenda

The G20 Summit serves as a critical forum for addressing the global climate crisis, with a particular focus on renewable and solar power. As world leaders recognize the urgency of climate action, investing in clean, sustainable energy sources becomes paramount. Renewable energy, and solar power in particular, holds the key to a more resilient and environmentally responsible future.

Through its active participation in these dialogues, India has the opportunity to showcase its dedication to a growth model that prioritizes low-carbon practices and potentially serve as a guiding example for other economies. India's efforts to bolster its diplomatic standing in climate action are vital not only for advancing its own developmental path but also for making substantial contributions to global sustainability.

India's multifaceted economy, technological expertise, and unwavering dedication to sustainable progress position it as a significant player in shaping the outcomes of this summit. With a commitment to fair Paris Agreement targets, India can champion per-capita emission reduction deadlines, promoting equitable progress by developed nations.

Moreover, India has the opportunity to integrate circular economy principles into mainstream practices, addressing waste management and air pollution challenges. By designating funds for climate technology and supporting impact-driven startups, India can lead in providing innovative solutions to global challenges while fostering a more equitable global landscape.

Under the Startup20 initiative, India's allocation of funds for green tech and climate-tech ventures will be crucial in advancing research, development, and technological progress in the critical sector of renewable energy.

Utilizing the B20 channel within the G20 framework, India can encourage greater private sector involvement in climate change mitigation. By providing incentives and streamlining regulations, India can facilitate private sector engagement in green finance and sustainable development.

One of the most pressing goals for the G20 nations is achieving net-zero emissions. India's commitment to achieving a net-zero status by 2070, coupled with its significant investments in renewable energy, positions it as a leader in discussions regarding phasing out coal and transitioning to cleaner energy sources. Concrete actions in these areas are vital to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Green finance, a critical component of climate action, is essential for supporting the transition to a low-carbon global economy. At the 2023 G20 Summit, wealthier nations must provide substantial investments to assist developing countries in their energy transition, addressing climate change, and promoting sustainable development.

At Last The Conclusion 

In conclusion, renewable energy, particularly solar power, holds the key to a more resilient and environmentally responsible future. By prioritizing renewable energy at the G20 Summit and implementing policies that support its widespread adoption, India can lead the way in mitigating climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and fostering economic growth that benefits both people and the planet. The path to a sustainable future lies in harnessing the power of the sun and embracing renewable energy solutions on a global scale.

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