Tuesday, 05.09.2023

India's G20 Presidency - Enhancing G20 Collaboration for Climate Change and Salience of Geo-Politics

India's role in the G20 reflects its ascent as a global power, its commitment to sustainability, and its unique approach to climate change amidst a complex geopolitical dynamics.

India's engagement with the G20 on climate issues is a reflection of the country's growing importance as a global power, as well as its commitment to promoting sustainable development and addressing the challenges of climate change. India is the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, after China and the United States, and is also a rapidly growing economy with significant energy needs. As such, India's position on climate change and clean energy policies is shaped by a range of domestic and international factors, including economic growth, energy security, and global power dynamics.

One of the key factors shaping India's climate policy is the country's ongoing efforts to balance economic development with environmental sustainability. India has argued that developed countries should take greater responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, given their historical contributions to the problem. And developing countries like India would continue to pursue economic growth and poverty abatement while taking steps to reduce emissions. India has also emphasised the importance of adopting a holistic approach to climate change, which takes into account the social and economic impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities, particularly in the Global South.

India's commitment to clean energy and sustainable development is evident in its ambitious targets for renewable energy production and its heavy investment in technologies such as solar and wind power. India's participation in the G20 provides a platform for building partnerships with other countries to accelerate the transition to clean energy and promote sustainable development. India has also been promoting "solar alliances" and "coalitions" with other countries to promote the use of solar energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Additionally, India's pledges under the G20 framework include reducing the intensity of its greenhouse gas emissions, achieving a significant proportion of its installed electricity generation capacity from non-fossil fuel sources, and phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. India has also pledged to increase its forest cover to 95 million hectares by 2030 as part of its efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change. These pledges and initiatives demonstrate India's commitment to promoting sustainable development and its leadership in the transition to clean energy.

India's position on climate and clean energy issues within the G20 is also shaped by complex geo-political dynamics.

India has strong ties with several countries in the Global South, particularly in the area of climate and clean energy issues. One notable example is its relationship with Brazil, with whom India has been collaborating on clean energy research and development. In 2021, India and Brazil launched a joint project to develop a bioenergy roadmap for the two countries, with a focus on sugarcane ethanol production. This partnership has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of the transportation sector in both countries, and to create new opportunities for economic growth. India has been working closely with African countries on renewable energy initiatives through the International Solar Alliance (ISA). The ISA, which was launched by India and France in 2015, aims to mobilize more than $1 trillion of investment to deploy 1,000 GW of solar energy by 2030.

India's ties with China on climate and clean energy issues are complex and multifaceted. On the one hand, India and China are both major emitters of greenhouse gases and have similar challenges in transitioning to a low-carbon economy. On the other hand, the two countries have a history of geopolitical tensions and competition. Despite these challenges, India and China have been working together on a number of climate and clean energy initiatives, such as the BRICS Energy Cooperation Working Group and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Energy Working Group. These initiatives aim to facilitate collaboration on energy security, renewable energy deployment, and energy efficiency.

India's South-South Cooperation network has facilitated numerous collaborations with developing countries. Through its partnership with South Africa, India has been addressing sustainable development issues, such as renewable energy, water management, and agriculture. In 2020, the two countries signed an agreement to collaborate on solar energy research and development, which includes joint research projects and training programs for scientists and engineers from both countries. Similarly, India has been working with Bangladesh on issues related to sustainable development, such as renewable energy, climate change adaptation, and disaster risk reduction. The two countries signed an agreement in 2021 to collaborate on the development of a solar park in Bangladesh, which is expected to generate 500 MW of electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5.5 million tonnes per year. These collaborations have the potential to drive significant progress on clean energy and create new opportunities for trade and investment between India and South Africa.

It is noteworthy that many countries within the South-South Cooperation network that India partners with are also members of the G20. This overlap presents an opportunity for India to leverage its relationships within the South-South Cooperation network to influence outcomes within the G20, and address the challenges of climate change in a collaborative and inclusive manner.


Anurag Shanker is Program Manager of the Socio-Economic Transformation project at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, India office in New Delhi.

For more information about FES India's work on Socio-Economic Transformation project, please contact the India-based Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Office and follow the facebook page for regular updates.

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