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Industry honchos to 'supercharge' net zero goal sans viable Govt of India policy?

By Shankar Sharma* 

The Union government seems to have more success in getting accolades in the international fora, such as the World Economic Forum (WEF), COP26, UN etc., than by our own people as far as its lofty announcements are concerned.
A news report quotes WEF as saying: "A just transition could generate annual business opportunities worth over USD 10 trillion and create 395 million jobs by 2030 worldwide. India alone could create more than 50 million net new jobs and generate over USD 15 trillion in economic value."
It also says: “WEF forms Indian CEOs' alliance to supercharge race to net-zero.”
It is fine to have such a forum. After all the industries and commerce have the maximum impact in the context of climate change. But it is also obvious that the lack of necessary initiatives by the Union government cannot allow such fora to provide the optimum results.
It is almost impossible to notice any effective policy/ action plan by the Union government in the areas of forests and biodiversity, freshwater resources, energy, agriculture, industry etc. and especially with regard to the specific objective of the containment of pollution/ contamination of air, water and soil.
Without such overarching policies at the national level, the companies/ corporate houses will all go their own way, even assuming that they all have the same noble intentions, which may not necessarily be in the correct direction and at a suitable pace.
The case of the energy sector and the ongoing power crises linked to coal supply shortage and ever increasing impacts of climate change should indicate that the associated policies/ practices of the Union government are either unsuitable or inadequate or both.
Compare such lack of suitable and farsighted policies with that of Euro-Commission's latest policy, which aims at solar panels on every rooftop:
"In its effort to quickly wean Europe off Russian gas and fossil fuels, the European Commission has presented its proposal for a dedicated solar energy strategy, which basically seeks to transform homes, shops and businesses into energy-efficient buildings and their occupants into electricity producers, promising a drastic reduction in prices."

The highlights of such a policy are:
  • A dedicated EU Solar Strategy to double solar photovoltaic capacity by 2025 and install 600GW by 2030.
  • A Solar Rooftop Initiative with a phased-in legal obligation to install solar panels on new public and commercial buildings and new residential buildings.
Many of us in India have been shouting from roof-tops for more than a decade to optimally harness the rooftop solar power potential, including shifting our IP sets to solar power. But sadly, other than the rhetoric associated with the ambitious but vague target of 500 GW of RE capacity by 2030, it is hard to notice any specific and enabling policies in the power sector.
In contrast to such a forward looking policy of the EU, our government here seems to be bent on going back on its global commitment with regard to climate change, a clear indication of which is its latest announcement to open a new big coal mine.
This development can also be described as the biggest blunder in 2022. There are also reports that the country has scores of old coal mines which are not operating due to higher mining costs. How nice it would be If these old mines were revived, even at slightly higher costs, than opening a new coal mine at enormous costs to society.
So, goes our policies; no lessons learnt from the past, nor do we look to the future.
We do not even have a national energy policy to talk about.
---
*Power & Climate Policy Analyst

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