Echoes from India on COP27

As COP27 winds down in Sharm-El-Sheikh, the CLASP India team spoke with a journalist, energy experts, and a business leader to gain a deeper view on what they think, see and take away from India’s role in climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience.

At the UN Climate COP26 last year, India committed to meet 50% of its energy needs from renewable fuels by 2030 and transition to a net zero carbon economy by 2070. For Indians navigating our daily lives, conversations in faraway lands are often abstract. Yet, the realities we are facing – heat waves, extended dry or excessively wet periods, food shortages and more virulent seasonal diseases – disrupt our routines and weigh heavy on our minds.

As COP27 winds down in Sharm-El-Sheikh, the CLASP India team spoke with a journalist, energy experts, and a business leader to gain a deeper view on what they think, see and take-away from India’s role in climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience.

  • A revised global commitment to Climate Finance 

A science journalist at a leading digital publication in India noted that for developing countries to continue to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change, access to both financial and technological resources is important.

Commitments made by developed countries at COP15 to disburse USD 100 billion by 2020 as climate finance for developing countries remains to be achieved. It is currently a minimal portion of the realistic amount needed – believed to be in the order of trillions.

Climate finance needs a clearer definition that has been mutually agreed upon by all nations. India proposed at COP27 that there be much more transparency in the definition, scope, and disbursement of climate finance. India’s Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav said slow disbursements, lack of flexibility and long complex approval procedures with stringent eligibility criteria make access to climate finance difficult.

In the absence of climate finance that is explicitly defined, developed nations may continue countries to greenwash their finances and pass off loans as climate-related aid.

  • Urgent need for increased forest cover 

Sanjay Chhetri, a Project Manager at EDS was excited that India put forward Mission LiFE – Lifestyle for Environment, which aims to support at least 80% of all Indian villages and urban local bodies to become environment-friendly by 2028. The country is already working towards the earlier commitments of Net Zero Carbon by 2070.

Between 2001 and 2019, the world’s forests stored roughly twice as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as they released, according to a 2021 study published in Nature Climate Change. This is a trend that thrills Sanjay. But there is also a flip side. The overall forest cover is dwindling; India alone lost natural forest cover of 127kha equivalent to 64.4Mt CO2e, with the dominant cause being deforestation, Sanjay pointed out. India also accounted for 12.5% of global coal consumption in 2021. Sanjay adds that all climate change mitigation measures will fail us if we don’t stick to basics, increasing forest cover – snowballing natural carbon sinks.

  • Need for collaborative efforts at a national and international level

Manoj Kumar Muthumanickam, Project Specialist at UNEP cautioned that for India to successfully achieve its climate ambitions, there needs to be collaborative efforts that leverage the interdependent nature between states, countries and multilateral institutions. For example, without states and central governments collaborating, a comprehensive climate action plan cannot be devised. In this vein, without aid in the form of climate finance, disbursed by developed countries and multilateral institutions, the climate action plans will pose challenges during execution.

Muthumanickam is optimistic about an approach that seizes all available opportunities from different avenues such as renewable energy, increased energy efficiency, e-mobility innovations, etc. to achieve net zero targets.

It would be beneficial if largescale efforts are taken to support states to develop and implement climate action plans that aid the nation to achieve its targets.

  • Streamlining regulation to increase adoption of clean energy technologies

Integration of clean energy and sustainability is being heralded as a favourable economic decision in green real estate companies. Rohit Hegde is the Managing Director of KSH Infra, a company that aims to inspire green development by using certified buildings that reduce stress on the environment. Hegde noted that despite having ambitions to scale the adoption of solar energy via rooftop installations, they are often constrained by regulations. There is an urgent need for supportive net metering rules that can help enterprises such as KSH Infra realise the economic gains of championing sustainability in the real estate industry.

As COP27 comes to a close, citizens find India’s climate targets are ambitious but necessary. The country’s new energy initiatives at a state, national and international are a testimony to collective action for global good.

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