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India’s G20 presidency is accelerating global decarbonization goal

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This summit is a testimony of stronger bilateral relationship and vision for sustainable future.

The G20, an international forum consisting of 19 countries and the European Union, which collectively represent around 80% of the world's economic output and emission, is increasingly becoming a policy maker’s voice from the global south. India took over the presidency of the G20 in 2022 and one of the key focuses for India's presidency is global decarbonization, which is the process of reducing carbon emissions to tackle climate change. This year’s involvement of African Union in the G20 makes it more inclusive and demand for the climate justice from the developing nations of the global south. 

India has long been a leader in fight against climate change and its commitment to decarbonization is a reflection of this. The country has set ambitious goals to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 33-35% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. Additionally, India aims to achieve 40% of its installed power capacity from renewable sources by 2030. India's efforts towards decarbonization have already yielded positive results. For instance, the country has made significant progress in the adoption of renewable energy. India aims to achieve 500 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030. As of June 2023, India has installed 170 GW of renewable energy capacity, making it one of the top five countries globally in terms of installed renewable energy capacity. 

The country has also announced plans to introduce green hydrogen into the energy mix to achieve its climate goals. Green hydrogen, which is produced using renewable energy, is considered a clean and sustainable alternative to fossil-based hydrogen. India has already set up a National Hydrogen Mission that aims to promote the development of a hydrogen ecosystem in the country. 

India's presidency of the G20 provides an excellent opportunity for accelerating global decarbonization efforts. As the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, India's leadership and commitment to decarbonization will have a significant impact on global efforts to combat climate change. Through its presidency, India can mobilize resources, foster collaboration, and create frameworks for action that can help drive the world towards a more sustainable future. 

Driving the G20’s climate agenda: Priorities for India’s presidency:

India has had to deal with the conundrum of development versus climate action for some time now. Yet, as per the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) 2023, released in March, is a clarion call for urgent climate action. It warns that if the current development pathway is not reversed, global warming will exceed 1.5°C during the 21st century. This means that every incremental rise in global temperature from hereon will bear impacts that are more severe and frequent. Approximately 3.6 billion of the world’s population reside in highly vulnerable climate contexts. Much of these populations are in developing countries across the Global South and are particularly at extreme risk. Inequities, low capacity, and limited financial resources compounded with existing development challenges, constrain the ability of these countries to mitigate and adapt to uncertain climate risks. The window of opportunity to act has already shrunk, and in the absence of more concerted efforts, the scenario will only likely worsen. Leadership for climate governance will be key in fulfilling the task. The G20 presidency offers India an opportunity to take the lead in climate action and offer a low-carbon growth model that other economies could adopt. At the intersection of the priorities highlighted by India for its presidency—global value chains, infrastructure finance, technological disruptions, financial inclusion, trade, and agriculture—sits climate adaptation, resilience and energy transition.

G20’s economic weight and climate leadership:

Over the past decade, the G20 has expressed support for international climate negotiations by mobilising G20 platforms for deliberations and advocacy and has established its own climate initiatives for translating global climate policies into country-level financial and economic strategies. However, climate action within the G20 countries is not on-track, and current commitments will reduce GHG emissions by only 10 percent by 2030. Progress on energy transition has also been slower than targeted, with only 30 percent of all energy produced in G20 countries coming from renewable sources. Even within renewables, nuclear and hydro have the largest shares—a cause for concern considering the negative externalities that nuclear and hydro power can have on the environment. As a long-standing advocate of equity, justice, and historical responsibility in addressing climate concerns, India has championed the cause. 

Why India holds the key to hitting global climate change targets?

India has been at the forefront of driving global action on climate change with the Creative Commons Attribution- 

The Presidency of G20 had shifted from Indonesia to India and will then go to Brazil, bringing an opportunity to a more inclusive world order. The G20 Presidency is supported by the troika consisting of the previous, current, and incoming Presidencies. In the eyes of our world, the current combination of Global South countries—Indonesia, India, and Brazil—could energize a step towards a better world, even as pandemics, conflicts, economic shocks, and climate change push millions back into poverty and oppression. 

With the recent positions taken by India and the commitments by Brazil, the incoming G20 President, hope is invoked, motoring popular expectations. India’s G20 Presidency theme is ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’– ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’. A significant moral compass, as the very idea of a planetary family, invokes values of seeing humans as natural custodians of ecological resources and biodiversity, encouraging a critical engagement with indigenous knowledge and wisdom, and investing Nature with rights, which are held by the communities who have done least damage to Mother Earth. 

The comprehensive agenda India would be pursuing during its G20 presidency to accelerate global climate action and drive a sustainable low-carbon future – 

1. Global value chain and sustainable trade

India’s G20 presidency provides a unique opportunity to integrate climate considerations into global value chains and trade. By encouraging sustainable practices, promoting circular economies, and fostering clean technologies, India can would lead the way in demonstrating economic growth and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive. Leveraging Initiatives like International solar alliance (ISA), India can encourage G20 nations to collaborate on renewable energy projects and achieve the vision for One sun, One Grid, One Earth. 

2. Infrastructure finance & climate resilience

Investing in climate resilient infrastructure is imperative to mitigate the impact of climate change India's presidency can advocate for increased infrastructure financing that prioritize resilience and sustainability collaborating with G20 countries India can establish stable platform for sharing best practices innovative funding mechanism and technical expertise emphasizing green bond climate focus investment fund and public-private partnerships will facilitate the implementation of resilient infrastructure project across the globe. 

3. Technological disruptions and innovation

The G20 presidency offers India a platform to drive innovation and technological disruptions that contribute to climate solutions. Promoting research and development in areas such as renewable energy, carbon capture and storage, sustainable agriculture, and climate-adaptive technologies can accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. India's leadership can foster an environment where G20 nations collaborate on breakthrough innovations that have a transformative impact on global climate efforts.

4. Financial inclusion and climate justice

Addressing climate change requires an inclusive approach that considers vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by its consequences. India's G20 presidency can champion climate justice by advocating for financial inclusion and support mechanisms for developing nations. By channeling funds towards climate adaptation, resilience-building, and capacity enhancement, the G20 can ensure that the most vulnerable countries have the resources to address climate-related challenges and transition to sustainable development pathways. 

5. Agriculture and Food Security

Climate change poses significant threats to global food security and agricultural productivity. India, with its diverse agricultural landscape, can lead discussions on sustainable farming practices, crop diversification, and soil health management within the G20. Encouraging the adoption of climate-resilient agricultural techniques and promoting responsible land use can contribute to reducing emissions, enhancing food security, and fostering rural livelihoods. 

6. Energy transition and decarbonization

As the only 2 degrees-compatible country in the G20, projected to meet its climate goals, India can serve as a role model for energy transition and decarbonization. Leveraging initiatives like the National Green Hydrogen Mission, India can collaborate with G20 nations to accelerate the adoption of clean and renewable energy sources. By phasing out fossil fuels sustainably and equitably, the G20 can collectively advance efforts to limit global temperature rise and mitigate climate impacts. 

In conclusion, as already recognized by the Global North, India's G20 presidency and leadership summit this week can be a turning point in the world's effort towards decarbonization, uniting the world G20 leaders for decisive climate action. By focusing on accelerating global decarbonization efforts, India can play a crucial role in the fight against climate change and set an example for other countries to follow. With ambitious plans, strong leadership, and a commitment to sustainability, India has the potential to shape a future that is sustainable and resilient. The challenges of climate change demand bold and transformative action, and India's leadership is poised to deliver. By forging a path towards climate justice, prioritizing the needs of the Global South, and advocating for a transition to a green economy, India is setting a powerful example for equitable and innovative solutions. 

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