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SDG — 7: India’s Aspirations for a Resilient Energy Future

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As you read this, India is officially chairing the G20 presidency, and the world is looking forward to this developing country on how it makes a transition in variety of domains including clean energy.

Looking at the number of natural disasters that have occurred in the last year, especially in our region, it is quite clear that climate change has transformed into a catastrophic issue. No country, whether developed or developing, has been spared from the calamities taking place across the globe. The intensity of these disasters is increasing, as are their after-effects. Energy requirements are a major contributor to overall emissions and, while every country and its citizens have the right to progress for their own well-being, access to energy is fundamental to achieving this.

On one hand, we see a rise in the use of fossil fuels due to changes in the world order. On the other hand, this energy crisis provides an opportunity to brainstorm ways to accelerate our transition towards greener fuels. Finding the middle path to achieve this energy transition in a sustainable manner is the key to success, akin to the Buddha’s middle path.

India stands at a unique doorway, where it has removed millions from energy poverty and has also brought forward a major section of its population to adopt clean fuel (for cooking) as well; seems a small task but when we collate the overall emissions, it forms a major chunk of the pie. What else? This demand for new energy has led to scouting for newer forms of energy, and today we can proudly say that 40% energy mix comes from non-fossil fuels. This makes us stand as the world’s fourth-largest renewable energy market. However, these avenues are still not up to the mark with what India’s growth trajectory needs. We need more and at a much faster pace as we are against the timelines with respect to climate change; now the question is how to achieve this goal of faster transition.

Image Courtesy: Adege, Pixabay

Decentralization — The loss in transmission and distribution is still among the highest in the world, resulting in significant losses. However, decentralizing energy generation and promoting local usage can be a game-changer in the overall scheme of things. A few years ago, a central grid failure occurred due to a supply mismatch from all the regional grids. While the architecture has improved significantly and can handle such situations, promoting local generation and usage can be a step in the right direction.

The 2300 and 2000 MW capacity solar-based power plants in Rajasthan and Karnataka serve as proof of the success of such a green transition.

Finance — The channels created under the umbrellas of Green Climate Fund and World Bank’s line of credit are already operational, but the overall funds to facilitate a ‘Just Transition’ for developing countries remain insufficient. The commitments made by ‘Polluters of the past’ are inadequate and, even if made, are often not honored as intended. To achieve a fair and equitable world, it is crucial to transfer funds and technology. Banks like SBI and SIDBI look after green finance for clean energy and energy efficiency in local contexts, particularly for factories and manufacturing enterprises. However, accessing these loans remains a daunting task.

Secured energy future — The current events worldwide are shaping our immediate priorities. The ongoing war between two nations is an example of how the entire EU is shifting back to fossil fuels, disregarding the commitments made at international forums like the CoP. Another concerning issue is the categorization of fuels based on their ease of use. For instance, some consider gas to be a clean fuel, but in reality, it involves fracking, which is a process that releases heavy emissions. To achieve a more collaborative world order, it is essential to ensure equitable access to minerals and the free flow of knowledge.

Community involvement — Lastly, every action we take should prioritize the planet. Every individual and organization should consider how their actions can benefit Mother Earth. The emphasis of Mission LiFE is to inspire the wider world with sustainable actions. The energy transition should create more jobs, particularly green jobs at the local level (remember, decentralization is the key). The workforce entering the job market must acquire newer skill sets to take advantage of these opportunities.

SDG–7 speaks it loud and clear. How we can “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.

Having the world’s youngest population and providing solutions to the world in every form and format, would be a true achievement in the times to come.

About the Author

Bhavesh Swami is an energy advocate who envisions India to tread on sustainability by having reliance on renewable energy solutions. Currently, he is working as the Lead — Energy in The Climate Reality Project — India & South Asia branch. He has more than seventeen years of experience working with national/international development agencies, multilateral organizations like World Bank and Global Environment Facility (The GEF), Govt bodies, finance, policy institutes, and NGOs in various capacities. He helped set the ball rolling for NCR’s biggest Renewable Energy Park in Gurgaon, a collective effort by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the Haryana Government, and ADEME, The French Development Agency. Working on the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Govt. of India project, he helped percolate benefits of resource efficiency among the Indian SME fraternity. His project with Indian industries has helped reduce 2 million tons of CO2 over its cumulative timeframe. These efforts got featured in India’s submission at UNFCCCs at Cop15 as a ‘Project worth emulating’. He is a Climate Reality leader, Mentor lead and keeps an active engagement with a range of stakeholders including students, teachers, high-level govt. officials and civic society representatives at national and international levels on the subject of clean energy and climate change.

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