Economy and Climate Change
The threats emanating from climate change are impacting the world on an unprecedented scale. Erratic weather patterns, Rise in pollution levels and increasing sea levels are only some of the major challenges that climate change has presented in front of us. The other major aspect of these challenges is the massive economic costs created by climate change. According to recent estimates by the ILO, India could lose the productivity equivalent of 30 million jobs by 2030 due to global warming, with agriculture and construction sectors being hit the hardest. Climate change is also causing unpredictable changes to the weather, thereby directly affecting agricultural productivity which accounts for 16 percent of the Indian GDP.
Policy steps and measures that are taken at this moment will determine how India as an economy is able to tide over the challenges created by climate change. The development and deployment of sustainable technologies that aid in mitigating the harmful effects of rising global temperatures and increasing fossil fuel consumption is the need of the hour. India has already taken steps to reduce its dependence on traditional energy sources and transition to a cleaner future proof energy regime. But to achieve the target of net-zero emissions by 2070, huge investments are required. These investments are needed to scale up renewable energy production and create an adequate distribution infrastructure that reaches far and wide. There are multiple ways to switch to a cleaner future and there has to be massive funding and public initiatives to move towards a cleaner future. The session on Climate Change at the India Economic Forum organised by The SKOCH group saw an intense discussion on how India can make the transition to a clean energy regime and gave suggestions on what are the existing challenges and what can be done to solve them
India and Climate Change- What is the sustainable way forward:
There is no doubt that about the fact that climate change will not impact everyone equally. There are certain countries and marginalised social groups that will have to bear the brunt of climate change in the form of forced migrations, job loss and economic despair. Climate change is already impacting several economic activities and livelihoods and the situation may only worsen in the foreseeable future. However, there is a ray of hope as governments at the Union and State levels are taking proactive measures to ensure a switch to a cleaner and sustainable future. For a larger transformation, there has to be increased private investment in cleaner energy and cleaner public transport and with the support of the governments, this is a goal that can be achieved.
The panel discussed how alternative fuels such as hydrogen and cleaner power generation methods like solar and offshore wind energy can contribute to India’s energy security and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Keeping in mind the current scenario of high fossil fuel costs and the urgent need to move towards a sustainable model for our energy needs, The panel made the following recommendations:
- To combat climate change, there has to be more action at the sub-national level. These efforts can not be micro managed from the top and each State Government should come out with its Climate Action Plan as soon as possible
- There has to incentivisation for renewable energy, Increased funding for research centres on renewable energy should be a priority. For this international collaboration with Govenrments and organisations is required
- To attract investments for renewable energy sector, there has to incentivisation. In order to get investments in the power sector in India, there have to be reforms making the power sector investible
- The efforts to move towards EVs in passenger cars segment in laudable. But true decarbonisation can not happen until and unless there is a switch to cleaner fuels in public transportation and freight transport.There has to be dedicated decarbonisation efforts in the freight industry which is a large scale emitter.
- There have to be policy moves to ensure that ensure rapid adoption of clean fuels in upcoming freight vehicles
- There has to be increased impetus on use of hydrogen as a clean fuel to solve Indias clean energy issues
- To enable the transition to hydrogen as a fuel we need to have domestic manufacturing capabilities,We need to establish critical infrastructure for hydrogen, be it city transmission pipelines or nation wide transmission pipelines
- If we have a hydrogen exchange, we can have fair pricing for different types of hydrogen and hydrogen can also be trade like other commodities
- There has to increased focus on how existing vehicles can be fitted to use cleaner fuels such as hydrogen at a lower cost. Doing so can also remove the high cost entry barriers that buyers of vehicles running on cleaner energy face
- There has to light touch regulation when it comes to controlling means of renewable energy.Unless a technology is causing any harm, it should be allowed to use and state intervention should only be in the areas where there is a market failure
- India can take a look at carbon taxes for polluting industries and then these proceeds can be used for funding projects and initiatives that combat climate change