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

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

Sep 07, 2023 02:22 PM IST

Authored by: Aparna Roy and Charmi Mehta.

India has assumed the G20 presidency at a critical and opportune time in history, even as the half-yearly report card indicates that consensus-building in the grouping has been more difficult than India may have expected. This brief identifies six areas where India can manifest its capability to lead the building of an effective and plausible climate action plan. Globally, championing the tracking of per-capita emissions and fossil fuel-based power generation will be vital, whilst building on the momentum of successive G20 presidencies under countries from the Global South. Engagements with the G20’s business track towards private finance, ESG investments, and principles of circular economy must be operationalised. Lastly, it is imperative that India build its diplomatic heft in the field of climate action, to fuel its own growth trajectory.

India’s G20 presidency provides an opportunity to set and drive global discourse on key issues. (ANI)
India’s G20 presidency provides an opportunity to set and drive global discourse on key issues. (ANI)

India has had to deal with the conundrum of development versus climate action for some time now. Yet, “certainties are words from the past,” and the ‘Summary for Policymakers’ of 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. A majority of this population 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.

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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. India is the only 2 degrees-compatible country in the G20 that is projected to meet its climate goals. A number of important initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance (ISA), Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), and the National Green Hydrogen Mission, as well as the rise in renewable energy aid its efforts to decouple emissions from economic growth.

At the time of writing this brief, nearly half a year had passed since India assumed the G20 presidency and there are signs that building a consensus is tougher than it may have first seemed. How can India leverage the remaining months of its G20 presidency to translate global climate goals into action? What key action points can help it further its climate agenda even as it builds its own diplomatic heft? This brief evaluates the G20’s collective weight and analyses the priority accorded to climate action by G20 presidencies so far. It delves into the learnings it offers for the Indian presidency, and recommends a six-point agenda for India.

The paper can be accessed by clicking here.

Authored by: Aparna Roy and Charmi Mehta.

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