In new role as G-20 chair, India set to focus on climate
India officially takes up its role as chair of the Group of 20 (G-20) leading economies for the coming year Thursday, and it’s putting climate at the top of the group’s priorities.
Programmes to encourage sustainable living and money for countries to transition to clean energy and deal with the effects of a warming world are some of the key areas that India will focus on during its presidency, experts say. Some say India will also use its new position to boost its climate credentials and act as a bridge between the interests of industrialisd nations and developing ones.
The country has made considerable moves towards its climate goals in recent years but is currently one of the world’s top emitters of planet-warming gases.
The G-20, made up of the world’s largest economies, has a rolling presidency with a different member state in charge of the group’s agenda and priorities each year. Experts believe India will use the “big stage” of the G-20 presidency to drive forward its climate and development plans.
The country “will focus heavily on responding to the current and future challenges posed by climate change”, said Samir Saran, president of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a New Delhi-based think tank. The ORF will be anchoring the T-20 – a group of think tanks from the 20 member countries whose participants meet alongside the G-20.
Saran said that India will work to ensure that money is flowing from rich industrialised nations to emerging economies to help them combat global warming, such as a promise of US$100 billion a year for clean energy and adapting to climate change for poorer nations that has not yet been fulfilled and a recent pledge to vulnerable countries that there will be a fund for the loss and damage caused by extreme weather.
He added that India will also use the presidency to push its flagship ‘Mission Life’ programme that encourages more sustainable lifestyles in the country, which is set to soon become the most populous in the world.
When outgoing chair Indonesia symbolically handed the presidency to India in Bali last month by passing the gavel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the opportunity to promote the programme, saying it could make “a big contribution” by turning sustainable living into “a mass movement”.
The impact of lifestyle “has not received as much attention in the global discourse as it should”, said RR Rashmi, a distinguished fellow at The Energy Research Institute in New Delhi. He added that the issue “may get some prominence” at the G-20, which would be a success for the Indian government, but critics say the focus on lifestyle changes must be backed by policy to have credibility.
India has been beefing up its climate credentials, with its recent domestic targets to transition to renewable energy more ambitious than the goals it submitted to the UN as part of the Paris Agreement, which requires countries to show how they plan to limit warming to temperature targets set in 2015.
Analysts say nations’ climate ambitions and actions – including India’s – are not in line with temperature targets.