India Focuses on Climate 12/01 05:27
India officially takes up its role as chair of the Group of 20 leading
economies for the coming year Thursday and it's putting climate at the top of
the group's priorities.
BENGALURU, India (AP) -- India officially takes up its role as chair of the
Group of 20 leading economies for the coming year Thursday and it's putting
climate at the top of the group's priorities.
Programs to encourage sustainable living and money for countries to
transition to clean energy and deal with the effects of a warming world are
some of the key areas that India will focus on during its presidency, experts
say. Some say India will also use its new position to boost its climate
credentials and act as a bridge between the interests of industrialized nations
and developing ones.
The country has made considerable moves toward its climate goals in recent
years but is currently one of the world's top emitters of planet-warming gases.
The G-20, made up of the world's largest economies, has a rolling presidency
with a different member state in charge of the group's agenda and priorities
each year. Experts believe India will use the "big stage" of the G-20
presidency to drive forward its climate and development plans.
The country "will focus heavily on responding to the current and future
challenges posed by climate change," said Samir Saran, president of the
Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank. The ORF will be
anchoring the T-20 -- a group of think tanks from the 20 member countries whose
participants meet alongside the G-20.
Saran said that India will work to ensure that money is flowing from rich
industrialized nations to emerging economies to help them combat global
warming, such as a promise of $100 billion a year for clean energy and adapting
to climate change for poorer nations that has not yet been fulfilled and a
recent pledge to vulnerable countries that there will be a fund for the loss
and damage caused by extreme weather.
He added that India will also use the presidency to push its flagship
"Mission Life" program that encourages more sustainable lifestyles in the
country, which is set to soon become most populous in the world.
When outgoing chair Indonesia symbolically handed the presidency to India in
Bali last month by passing the gavel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the
opportunity to promote the program, saying it could make "a big contribution"
by turning sustainable living into "a mass movement."
The impact of lifestyle "has not received as much attention in the global
discourse as it should," said RR Rashmi, a distinguished fellow at The Energy
Research Institute in New Delhi. He added that the issue "may get some
prominence" at the G-20 which would be a success for the Indian government, but
critics say the focus on lifestyle changes must be backed by policy to have
India has been beefing up its climate credentials, with its recent domestic
targets to transition to renewable energy more ambitious than the goals it
submitted to the U.N. as part of the Paris Agreement, which requires countries
to show how they plan to limit warming to temperature targets set in 2015.
Analysts say nations' climate ambitions and actions -- including India's --
are not in line with temperature targets.
Many of India's big industrialists are investing heavily in renewable energy
domestically as well as globally, but the Indian government is also preparing
to invest in coal-based power plants at the cost of $33 billion over the next
At the U.N. climate conference last month, India -- currently the world's
third largest emitter of greenhouse gases -- proposed a phaseout of all fossil
fuels and repeatedly emphasized the need to revamp global climate finance. The
country says it cannot reach its climate goals and reduce carbon dioxide
emissions without significantly more finance from richer nations, a claim which
those countries dispute.
Navroz Dubash, author of several U.N. climate reports and professor at the
Centre for Policy Research, said that a key question for many countries is how
"emerging economies address development needs and do it in a low carbon
pathway" with several in the global south, like India, pointing to a need for
As the chair of the G-20, India is a good position "to say what it will take
for us to develop in ways that don't lock up the remaining carbon budget,"
Dubash added, referring to the amount of carbon dioxide the world can emit
while still containing global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7
Fahrenheit) compared with preindustrial levels.
"Developing countries are making a convincing case that green industrial
policies are actually quite dependent on having public money to throw at the
problems," said Dubash. Some experts say more than $2 trillion is needed each
year by 2030 to help developing countries cut emissions and deal with the
effects of a warming climate, with $1 trillion from domestic sources and the
rest coming from external sources such as developed countries or multilateral
"This public money can also be a way of getting in private money, which is
what the U.S. has done in its Inflation Reduction Act," Dubash added. The
U.S.'s flagship climate package that passed earlier this year includes
incentives for building out clean energy infrastructure.
The G-20 will also be looking closely at alternative means to getting
climate finance, experts say. The group could potentially take a leaf out of
the Bridgetown initiative proposed by the prime minister of Barbados, Mia
Mottley, which involves unlocking large sums of money from multilateral
development banks and international financial institutions to help countries
adapt to climate change and transition to cleaner energy.
ORF's Saran said that as G-20 chair India can help move forward the
conversation on the initiative. Developing countries are often charged higher
rates of interest when borrowing from global financial institutions. Rejigging
global finance to make renewable energy more affordable in the developing world
is key to curbing climate change, Saran said.
The idea has recently gained traction amongst developed nations, with
France's Macron recently vocalizing his support.
"A large share of emissions will come from the developing world in the
future," Saran said. "If we make it easier for them to shift to clean energy,
then these emissions can be avoided."