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World Sustainable Development Summit 2021 (India’s World 14 February 2021)

World Sustainable Development Summit 2021 (India’s World 14 February 2021)

Context:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually inaugurated the World Sustainable Development Summit on February 10, 2021.

The event was attended by the Union Minister of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar and other dignitaries from around the world.

Prime Minister Modi at the inauguration highlighted that such global platforms are significant for our present and for the future. While highlighting the health of the planet, the Prime Minister mentioned that there have already been many discussions on the health of the people but now it’s high time to discuss the health of the planet.

Background:

  • The theme of the summit is ‘Redefining our common future: Safe and secure environment for all’.

  • The 20th edition of the World Sustainable Summit, a flagship event of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), was held online from February 10-12.

  • The key partners of the summit are Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change and the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Key Takeaways from the World Sustainable Development Summit 2021:

  • At the inauguration, Prime Minister Modi highlighted about the health of the planet.

  • Prime Minister's statement referring to “Climate justice” and to the fact that one size doesn't fit all.

    • Climate justice: A movement that acknowledges climate change can have differing social, economic, public health, and other adverse impacts on underprivileged populations.

  • India reassured commitments to its targets under the Paris deal to reduce emissions intensity of GDP by 33 to 35 percent from 2005 levels.

  • India assured its commitments to Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), to enhance India’s disaster management capabilities.

  • World sustainable development summit as laying the ground for two important forthcoming meetings:

    • Joe Biden conveying a climate summit which will probably take place in virtual mode.

    • Glasgow summit in November 2021.

Challenges:

  • There is a commitment in the Paris accord for 100 billion dollars by 2022 and this was supposed to be a contribution that developed countries should have made and they are nowhere near that target.

  • Small island economies are saying we won't even survive the next 20 years.

  • Maldives faces complete disappearance from this planet.

  • India will come under tremendous pressure from the developed countries, they will want India to do much more.

  • India coming under pressure on declaring a date for carbon neutrality.

  • The other issue will come with the pressure for coal, there will be pressure on coal because the new investment in coal is coming down, people are not prepared to invest in coal.

How India is going to exceed its goals and meet its targets?

  • India is doing way more than that and that is what we need to start accounting for.

  • India is going to not only meet its Paris goals of which are due to be fulfilled in 2030 but will exceed them.

  • In 2015, India pledged that 40 percent of our energy generating capacity will be non-fossil fuel which would include large hydro and nuclear.

  • In 2019, Prime Minister Modi at the Climate Admissions Summit and even earlier had said that we will step up and we will have 450 gigawatts of renewable which mean small hydro, solar, wind but mostly solar and wind and modern biomass.

  • India has also made some changes; these have not been officially submitted to the UNFCCC like the 450 gigawatts of renewable which is a step up from what we had promised in 2015.

  • In march 2019, India achieved nearly hundred percent electrification.

  • Railways have now set zero emissions in 2021.

  • India has committed to restoring 29 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.

  • That is not part of Paris agreements but there is an impact. it does affect in terms of carbon sinks, it does impact in terms of emissions avoided.

  • Through Ujwala program which is about moving people from traditional biomass which is not clean to cleaner fuel.

  • The climate tracker which is a non-governmental setup which says that India along with Ethiopia, Morocco and maybe a couple of other countries are the only ones who have really exceeded the target and our actions are in conformity with the 2 degrees Celsius rise in global temperature.

Way Forward:

  • At least 60 percent of the global economy is talking about moving towards green, India need to take maximum advantage of it.

  • Access to affordable finance and accessible technology both these things are extremely important if India has to really try and improve its goals,

  • Instead of saying top down, we should go sector by sector in India, and establish a timeline for zero emissions. A bottom-up approach starting with railways and that will eventually lead us to make a commitment on the year in which we can indicate peak emissions.

  • Technology is going to be the driving force of growth and India should develop these technologies indigenously and become leaders in cutting a low carbon technology in the world.

  • If India is keen to sign Free Trade Agreements with Europe and UK, it will have to take action on sustainable development, this is the only way India going to sign free trade agreements.

  • India needs to take actions on its own without worrying about what others are giving.

  • We must remember that India have a seat at the table like in a G20 but we are also in many ways have a lot of common with countries that are much poorer, so we straddle both worlds, the international solar alliance is a perfect example of how we straddle two worlds.

  • India tended to focus a lot of attention on mitigation and particularly on energy but we have to now start paying more attention to the other dimensions particularly issues relating to water, issues relating to adaptation.

  • China consumes 51 percent of coal in this world, China consumes more coal than the rest of the world put together. We could put a lot of pressure on other countries including China.

  • India should take actions which are clearly in its own interest but use finance and technology as leverage because it's part of the Paris agreement.

  • India had to become a rule shaper, we were all the time a rule taker and we used the International Solar Alliance to try and say that listen let India be part of the solution India doesn't want to be part of the problem as it was in the past.

  • We need to be smart about the strategy but we could put a lot of pressure on US and Europe because they need to do much more and that is why the idea of climate justice, the idea of one size doesn't fit all is a good strategy to take forward.

Conclusion:

  • India has set a target of becoming a 5 trillion economy by 2024 and for that you need investment both you need to have better public investment which is focused towards green but you also need to send out the signal to the world to other investors that we are aware of what a climate risk is what environmental degradation risk is and therefore the money you put in this country will be safe.

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