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Special Content

Issue no 10, 03 - 09 June 2023

India's Exemplary Stewardship in Climate Change Mitigation Mission LiFE & Renewable Energy

Dr. Ranjeet Mehta

Climate change has emerged as an exceedingly pressing challenge of our time, presenting a dire threat to the survival of people on Earth. Throughout the past century, human activities, notably the combustion of fossil fuels and the destruction of forests, have resulted in the rapid accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The consequences of this accumulation are clearly manifest in the form of escalating global temperatures, the melting of polar ice caps, the occurrence of extreme weather events, and the disruption of ecosystems. The severe impacts of climate change pose a multifaceted threat to human survival, affecting diverse aspects of our lives, including food security, water resources, health, and overall socio-economic stability. The need for immediate action is imperative, compelling all nations and stakeholders to join forces. Endeavours to mitigate climate change have garnered substantial momentum in recent years, with various stakeholders rising to the occasion to combat this global crisis. Amidst these efforts, India's trailblasing initiatives, such as Mission LiFE and its unwavering commitment to a transition towards renewable energy, stand out as exemplary, contributions in the fight against climate change. Given its vast population and diverse economy, India has acknowledged the necessity for ambitious and impactful strategies to address climate mitigation. Climate change possesses the potential to profoundly disrupt global food security, thus exacerbating hunger and malnutrition on a global scale. The occurrence of extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, and heat-waves is increasingly frequent and intense, consequently adversely impacting crop yields and livestock productivity. Alterations in rainfall patterns and heightened water scarcity further jeopardise agricultural production, particularly in regions heavily reliant on rainfed farming. Furthermore, increasing temperatures also play a contributing role in the proliferation of pests and diseases, thereby inflicting harm upon both crops and livestock. Moreover, climate change disrupts marine ecosystems, ultimately leading to the depletion of fish stocks and posing a threat to the livelihoods of millions who depend on fishing as their primary source of income and sustenance. The cumulative impact of these factors could culminate in food shortages, price surges, and heightened vulnerability, particularly within regions that are already burdened by impoverishment. The availability and quality of water resources experience a profound influence from climate change. Shifting precipitation patterns, encompassing more frequent droughts and erratic rainfall, disrupt the water cycle, thus engendering water scarcity in numerous parts of the world. The reduction in size of glaciers and ice caps, primarily within mountainous regions, further contributes to a diminished supply of freshwater, particularly in regions reliant upon glacial melt as their principal water source. Elevated temperatures also amplify the rates of evaporation, thereby exacerbating concerns regarding water scarcity. The ramifications of such scarcity extend far and wide, impacting domains such as agriculture, sanitation, hygiene, and public health. The competing demands for these limited water resources may give rise to conflicts, further aggravating geopolitical tensions and leading to the displacement of populations. The economic ramifications of climate change are indeed substantial, permeating across multiple sectors including agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, and insurance. The repercussions of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and floods, impose strain upon Government budgets and divert resources away from crucial services such as healthcare and education. Moreover, businesses are confronted with augmented risks and uncertainties, potentially resulting in job losses and diminished productivity.

Climate Mitigation Initiatives of the Indian Government

Mission LiFE: A Comprehensive Climate Mitigation Strategy: India has undertaken significant endeavours to revolutionise climate mitigation, placing a particular emphasis on its flagship programme, Mission LiFE. This pioneering approach not only addresses India's domestic climate concerns but also contributes to the global shift towards sustainable development and decarbonisation. Introduced by Prime Minister Shri Modi at the COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021, Mission LiFE represents an India-led global mass movement that aims to inspire individual and collective actions towards the protection and preservation of the environment. It follows a three-pronged strategy to achieve this overarching goal:

1.       Promotion of environmentally friendly daily practices among people (demand)

2.       Enablement of industries and markets to respond to the evolving demand (supply)

3.       Influence of government and industrial policy to support both sustainable consumption and production (policy).

The mission strives to mobilise a minimum of 1 billion Indians and foreigners to undertake actions that will preserve the environment from 2022 to 2027. By 2028, it aspires to render at least 80 percent of all villages and urban local bodies in India environmentally friendly. Mission LiFE recognises the interconnectedness between economic growth, social development, and environmental sustainability, highlighting the imperative for a holistic approach to climate mitigation. Through a targeted focus on crucial sectors such as energy, transportation, industry, agriculture, and waste management, it seeks to enhance energy efficiency, promote clean technologies, and curtail greenhouse gas emissions.

Renewable Energy Expansion: India's commitment to renewable energy and climate mitigation extends beyond its borders. The country recognises the shared responsibility of all nations in addressing climate change and actively contributes to the global renewable energy transition in several ways. India actively participates in international climate agreements and partnerships, such as the Paris Agreement and the International Solar Alliance. These platforms facilitate cooperation among nations to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy, share best practices, and mobilise financial resources for sustainable development. India's collaboration with other countries reinforces the global perspective on climate change mitigation and fosters a collective approach to combating this global challenge India's efforts in renewable energy and climate mitigation are driven by technological innovations and knowledge sharing. The country has made significant advancements in solar and wind power technologies, making them more affordable and accessible. India actively shares its experiences, best practices, and technological expertise with other developing nations, enabling them to embark on their renewable energy transitions. This knowledge exchange plays a vital role in enhancing the global understanding and implementation of sustainable energy solutions.

Moreover, India's renewable energy transition has the potential to drive global market dynamics. As the country expands its renewable energy capacity, it becomes a major player in the production and deployment of clean technologies. This scale of demand and production has the potential to drive down the costs of renewable energy technologies globally, making them more affordable and accessible to other nations. India's success in revolutionising climate mitigation and renewable energy transition thus has a ripple effect, influencing and inspiring global efforts towards a sustainable future

Under Mission LiFE, India has set ambitious targets for renewable energy deployment, particularly solar and wind power. The Government aims to achieve 450 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2030, which includes 280 GW of solar power and 140 GW of wind power. This significant expansion of renewable energy infrastructure not only reduces India's reliance on fossil fuels but also contributes to the global transition to clean energy sources.

Energy Efficiency and Conservation: Mission LiFE acknowledges the paramount importance of energy efficiency and conservation in the pursuit of climate change mitigation. The programme actively advocates for the adoption of energy-efficient technologies across diverse sectors, encompassing buildings, industries, and transportation. Special emphasis is placed upon the promotion of energy-efficient appliances, the implementation of stringent building codes and standards, and the provision of incentives to foster energysaving practices. These concerted efforts yield not only a reduction in carbon emissions but also engender significant cost savings and bolster energy security.

Sustainable Transport: Transportation stands as a substantial contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. Mission LiFE endeavours to fundamentally transform India's transport sector by championing sustainable and low-carbon alternatives. The programmes earnestly promotes the adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs), the establishment of robust charging infrastructure, and the expansion of comprehensive public transportation systems. Through the transition to EVs and sustainable transport, India not only curtails emissions but also confronts pressing issues such as air pollution and the reliance on imported fossil fuels. In conclusion, climate change poses an existential threat to the survival of humanity, with profound consequences for food security, water resources, public health, and socio-economic stability. Urgent and coordinated action is imperative on a global scale to mitigate the impacts of climate change and adapt to the changes already underway. Mitigation efforts should primarily focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through a transition to clean and renewable energy sources, promoting energy efficiency, and adopting sustainable land-use practices. International cooperation and policy frameworks, such as the Paris Agreement, play a pivotal role in driving these actions and ensuring collective efforts towards a lowcarbon future. Equally important are adaptation measures to address current and anticipated impacts of climate change. This entails investing in resilient infrastructure, establishing early warning systems for extreme weather events, promoting sustainable agricultural practices, and enhancing water resource management. Additionally, efforts should be made to improve healthcare systems, strengthen social safety nets, and support vulnerable communities in adapting to climaterelated risks. Education and awareness also hold significant value in tackling climate change. Public understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change can drive individual and collective actions to reduce carbon footprints, support sustainable practices, and advocate for policy changes. Education programs should emphasise the importance of sustainable living, conservation of natural resources, and the protection of vulnerable communities from climate change impacts. Moreover, fostering innovation and research in renewable energy, climate-resilient infrastructure, and sustainable agriculture can contribute to finding effective solutions for mitigating and adapting to climate change. Public and private sectors should collaborate to expedite the development and implementation of clean technologies and sustainable practices. Climate change presents a grave threat to the existence of humanity. Its far-reaching impacts necessitate immediate action. By mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, implementing adaptation measures, promoting sustainable practices, and raising awareness, we can confront the challenges posed by climate change and safeguard the future of our planet and generations to come. The time to act is now.

(The author is Deputy Secretary General, PHDCCI, New Delhi. He can be reached at ranjeetmehta@gmail.com)

Views expressed are personal.