India assumed the G20 presidency on December 1, 2022, marked by hope, dreams, and aspirations. The world is facing several challenges, such as Covid-19, the threat of recession, and the climate crisis, and is seeking answers to some of these pressing issues. The Indian presidency aims to build upon the efforts and outcomes of earlier presidencies while foraying into newer areas of global cooperation to build a sustainable future for all. As the theme of the presidency – Vasudhiava Kutumbakam (One Earth, One Family, One Future) suggests — we are committed to working towards healing our one world, creating harmony within our one family, and giving hope for our one future.
India remains one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Even though it supports almost 17% of the world’s population, we have managed growth while tackling the climate crisis. India’s per capita emission of 2.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) is well below the global average of 6.3 tonnes of CO2e. In the 2022 Climate Change Performance Index, we have been ranked among the top five performing countries.
India is also leading the world in transitioning to a low-carbon economy. We have achieved our commitment to non-fossil fuel capacity addition (made in the Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs) ahead of the target year (2030) and also updated our targets. As per the new NDC, India is committed to reducing the emissions intensity of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 45% by 2030 from the 2005 level and achieving about 50% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.
With a young population, growing urbanisation, digitalisation and adaptation of technology, and mushrooming of startups, India’s primary focus has been to provide universal access to affordable power sustainably. We are now a power-surplus nation. We have established an integrated national grid, strengthened the distribution network, emerged as a significant renewable energy (RE) player, and achieved universal household electrification.
India’s energy mix is diversified. Power generation happens through several sources, including coal, lignite, natural gas, oil, hydro and nuclear, to increase the contribution of RE sources (solar, wind and biomass). The government is focused on increasing India’s capacity to produce clean electricity through new technology and innovation.
RE usage is growing faster, with new capacity additions to double by 2026. The share of solar and wind in India’s energy mix has grown phenomenally. The country is also one of the world’s largest producers of bioenergy. Green hydrogen will play a vital role in decarbonising the economy, and the country aims to become a global hub for green hydrogen production and exports.
India has emerged as a country with the fastest growing RE capacity globally. This has also made it the most attractive investment destination for RE. These efforts are helping India meet its needs while contributing to global efforts at reducing CO2 emissions.
The challenge now lies in making energy affordable even as commodity prices are rising, and tight market conditions are increasing energy security risks. While focusing on policy measures and mitigation is important, focusing on individuals and communities is imperative to bring about concrete and measurable change. India has demonstrated significant successes in driving development and societal and behavioural changes through large-scale collective action in initiatives such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Ujjwala scheme or Give It Up campaign.
India is well-poised to take forward the global initiative – Lifestyle for the Environment (LiFE) – introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. LiFE calls upon individuals and communities to drive and build it as an international mass movement towards mindful and deliberate utilisation, instead of mindless and destructive consumption to protect and preserve the environment. LiFE puts individual and collective duty on everyone to live a life that is in tune with the earth and does not harm it.
As a large developing economy with over 1.4 billion people, India’s climate adaptation and mitigation ambitions are transformational for India and the planet. Moreover, India’s impressive progress in transitioning toward RE shows that countries can succeed by making smart choices about using resources to meet their needs. India’s G20 presidency will share, collaborate, and build on the sense of trusteeship among the member-countries to build a sustainable future for all.
RK Singh is minister for power and new and renewable energy The views expressed are personal