Clean Technologies—Advocates Sustainability
| Category: Science and Technology
Biba Jasmine shares her views as one of the delegates representing India at the United Nations 2018 Winter Assembly held in New York.
The concept of co-existence is deeply rooted in Indian values and lifestyle. As Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, once said, "One must care about the world one will not see”. India is not just committed to protecting its environment, but is also cautiously focussing on its green growth agenda and promoting environmental consciousness among the masses. To take this quest of communicating India’s perspective to the world and bringing back global vision on tackling climate change to India, I attended the 2018 Winter Youth Assembly at the United Nations, which engaged over 1,200 delegates from nearly 100 countries in a meaningful dialogue with key players in sustainability and innovation from various sectors, in the beginning of the year. The discourse included remarkable discussions stimulated by delegates' insights and questions, creating a rich platform that highlighted the importance of innovation, civic engagement and collaborative partnerships to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Taking the Indian discourse forward on Sustainable Development Goal 7, which entails affordable and clean energy, it was shared with the larger gathering how India has continually showcased tremendous global leadership on issues of promoting clean energy. Looking at the larger picture of changing the climate—accepting climate change and its immediate effects—is imperative to recognize the interlinkages between clean energy, climate change and local development. It has been projected that unless we can build resilience and start addressing climate change and its allied issues, we will have a 100 million more people living in poverty in the coming years.
India has embarked determinedly on its low carbon transition journey to scale up renewable energy. India’s renewable energy targets of 175 GW by 2022 comprises 100 GW solar power, 60 GW wind energy, 10 GW biomass-based and 5 GW small hydropower projects in addition to the ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) of putting 40 percent installed capacity through non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. Along with this are the various flagship programs of the government, like Swachh Bharat Mission, Smart Cities Programme, Solar Cities Programme and Digital India, all talking about India’s poise to show to the world the value of going green, clean and smart. Our Energy Efficiency program, which includes replacing CFLs [compact fluorescent lamps] with LEDs [light-emitting diodes], would save 80 million tons of carbon dioxide, $6.5 billion electricity bills of consumers, reduce peak load requirement of installed capacity coal-based plants by 22 GW and reduce energy consumption by 112 billion units annually in 2019 when the program gets completed.
The Indian government’s policy and regulatory push for its clean energy agenda, which encapsulates the massive renewable targets, energy efficiency programs, smart grids, smart metering, spurt of sustainable transport options such as electric vehicles (EVs) and public mass transit systems, puts India on a sweet spot to drive down costs offered by the economies of scale and offer attractive rates of return on clean energy investments from investors all around the world.
However, I feel, there is still an excellent opportunity for India to collaborate and learn from others—the innovative financial instruments and technological options being deployed to step up the clean energy agenda. India can offer the advantages of scale and serve as an attractive clean energy investment destination premised on attractive rates of return and the supporting policy and regulatory push for the expanding the clean energy agenda.
Also, globally, there’s a lot of focus on promoting clean technology. The United Nations is working on a global roadmap for developing the financial sector for clean technology by working with countries to develop their own national financial systems. Carbon financing is an important instrument to drive this transition. Putting a price on carbon creates incentives to shift finance from dirty industry to clean industry. By putting a carbon tax or cap and trade system in place, one can raise revenue from a fiscal perspective in a low-cost way which, in turn, can be invested in implementing green activities and promoting low-carbon growth by building resilience across the supply chains and setting up the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and policy framework.
The youth gathering at the United Nations 2018 Winter Assembly gave a clear message to the world that the opportunity for investing in low-carbon pathways is limitless. It is time we harness this opportunity together and build synergies and stronger partnerships to solve the huge issues related to climate change, involving enormous costs and complexity.
Biba Jasmine is a Fulbright Scholar, with a major in sustainable development and conservation biology from the University of Maryland. She is currently working as an assistant director with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, New Delhi. She was one of the delegates representing India at the United Nations 2018 Winter Assembly held in New York.