Renewable Energy

Can India’s G20 Presidency tackle climate change while ensuring energy access, security & transition?

The G20 Presidency can also help India fulfill OSOWOG mandate & SDG 7 goal

By Maitreyi Karthik, Rajiv Ratna Panda
Published: Friday 10 February 2023
Photo: iStock

A rapidly warming planet requires that major global economies shift their focus toward clean and green energy. It is to be seen how India, under G20 leadership, develops a response to the issue while addressing the twin needs of energy access and energy security.

According to the G20 Bali Leaders’ Declaration in November 2022, the member nations would use all opportunities to generate power using clean sources, including non-conventional energy sources, while endeavouring to phase down coal. The decision is similar to the talks at the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2021 at Glasgow. Advancement in such a direction would depend on several factors. 

First is to identify the energy policies that G20 needs to follow for the progress of clean energy. India had declared a target of achieving 50 per cent renewable energy capacity by 2030. India also holds the presidency of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), which aims to improve the deployment of solar energy across continents. To back this initiative, G20 would do well to devise renewable energy goals to meet requirements with respect to capacity. 

Second, is to encourage cooperation in the development and utilisation of non-conventional sources of energy as fuel. Developing energy storage technologies such as green hydrogen is important to decarbonise hard-to-abate sectors like cement and steel. Under the G20 presidency, India should encourage partnerships globally to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy technologies as well as generate demand for such energy technologies on a global scale.

Third, international funding agencies and financial institutions are examining the future energy needs from the perspective of the phase-down of coal. Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) is one such partnership venture by the G7 countries Germany, Italy, Canada, France, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States with India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Senegal

This partnership was launched at the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment event at the G20 Summit in November 2022. Such a partnership venture would help emerging economies transition their economies and power studies from fossil fuels to low-carbon technologies. 

The G7 countries signed an $8.5 billion venture with South Africa in 2021. In 2022, a $20 billion venture was signed with Indonesia and a $15.5 billion venture with Vietnam. For South Africa, JETP does not provide new coal plant investments while lowering the coal power generation. Through the JETP, Indonesia can avail of the initial $20 billion deployed over successive three to five years toward promoting renewable energy. 

JETP is a new venture for global cooperation among countries with country-based efforts to combat climate change. It employs public-private funding mechanisms for climate finance among developing countries to enable a just transition from fossil fuels. 

In addition to climate finance, JETP also allows for a green economy and manages developing communities' financing and social needs prone to energy transition effects.

Under the G20 presidency, India would have a demanding role in ascertaining that development of JETP does not depend solely only on the gradual discontinuation of the coal economy. G20 Bali leaders’ declaration allows the need to develop and expand the energy systems and advance energy resiliency, security as well as market stability by ensuring the presence of clean, sustainable, just, economic and inclusive energy transitions and the availability of sustainable funds. 

JETP has to mobilise resources to ensure the achievement of renewable energy targets within the Nationally Determined Contributions structure.

Fourth, the conditions for energy cooperation and fund allocation for organising energy transition need to be decided. The recently concluded 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Egypt talked about the formation of a ‘loss and damage fund’, which would provide support at the time of the climate-related damages extending beyond what human society can adjust to. 

However, no grants or aid was allocated to meet the climate-related targets. JETP can fill this void and allocate finances or aids to meet such targets. G20 is well-poised to establish a risk mitigation endowment to alleviate investment risks in the developing world.

Fifth, G20 can also explore other energy transition options, such as the blue economy and other environmental solutions. Implementing ocean-based climate solutions to deliver a resilient, Net Zero, equitable and nature-positive future was one of the sessions presented at COP27. 

The Blue Economy for Resilient Africa Programme was launched by the World Bank at the COP27 to accelerate finance and mitigate the challenges in the coastal marine areas of Africa. Such collaborations can help in the economies of developing countries having large coastlines. 

Environmental solutions are being explored as they hold good promise for the carbon markets. India should encourage such avenues as agroforestry, improving the green cover outside forest areas and carbon offset advantages of ecosystem conservation.

Sixth, India’s leadership in the area of regional grid integration through the One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG) initiative can play a role in mobilising the support of G20 countries for implementing the vision of OSOWOG as well as enhancing regional energy cooperation and cross-border energy trade as a policy option / instrument for facilitating global and regional clean energy transition and creating an energy integrated world.

India has the opportunity to enhance energy transitions under G20 leadership. The first G20 energy transitions working group meeting was held in Bengaluru on February 5, 2023. India had been ranked among the top five performing countries in the Climate Change Performance Index and the country’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions were below the world average of 6.3 tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020, said the Union minister for power and new and renewable energy, RK Singh.

The energy-saving schemes of the government were able to lower the 267.9 million tonnes of CO2 each year, thereby accruing savings of $18.5 billion. The G20 presidency would also help India to realise the mandate of OSOWOG and fulfilling the United Nations-mandated sustainable development goal 7 — affordable and clean energy for all.

Maitreyi Karthik is a deputy programme manager, renewable energy, Centre for Science and Environment.

Rajiv Ratna Panda is a power market specialist, USAID’S South Asia Regional Energy Partnership (SAREP) Programme implemented by RTI International.

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