UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, while delivering the 19th Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture, said that India has a pivotal role in promoting clean-energy and strong climate actions. He asked India to lead the transformations in the global economy, the health, and energy sector, save lives with better healthcare, and prevent the consequences of climate change. He highlighted that India could become a true Global Superpower fighting against climate change if it speeds up its transformation from fossil fuels into renewable energy sources.
COVID-19 Pandemic Still Going On
The pandemic is still casting its shadow on the world. India is the third most affected country in the world. The pandemic has stalled many development projects as well as force many countries to adopt unsustainable ways to ease the pandemic situation. The progress made in various sustainable development goals was disturbed. Apart from just that, the pandemic has exposed the flaws in the system and governance, as well as worsen climate change.
The vulnerable communities are taking the highest damage. Mr. Guterres highlighted that making the switch to clean energy could benefit us in a million ways, reduce emission as well as boost the R&D. The renewable sources can extend the availability of electricity to 270 million people across the globe. 33% of the world population still doesn't have proper access to electricity. Moreover, investment in the renewable energy sector will increase job opportunities and improve the standard of living.
Ditching Fossil Fuels
Mr. Guterres highlighted the many actions that India has taken to move towards clean energy. He pointed out that India last year spent more on solar energy than fossil fuels, which is the first time this reversal has happened. India this year inaugurated 750 MW Rewa Solar Park. Coal India and NLC are collaborating to spend 12000 crores on solar power projects. TATA Power is also developing a 225MW renewable energy park. India is also leading the area of clean cooking. India has shown how one can overcome the challenges and make use of the technology in a better way.
Subsidized Fossil Fuels
The secretary-general though pointed out that subsidies for fossil fuels are 7 times higher than subsidies for renewable sources. Similar things are happening around the world, which is extremely concerning. He said that he has asked all the G20 countries, including India, to set more capital in the budget for clean energy sources. Hence, ending the subsidies on fossil fuels is equally important. The countries need to actively say no to fossil fuels from now on if they are aiming to meet the sustainable development goals by 2030.
The fossil fuel industry is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gas, which is not only accelerating climate change but also damaging human lives. The elimination of fossil fuels will increase the life expectancy by 20 months, and prevent almost 5.5 million deaths annually across the globe. Investment in renewable sources is a 'good economy' while investing in fossil fuels is a 'bad economy'.
Bold Leadership Needed
Mr. Guterres said he was extremely inspired by the promising actions that were taken in India and believe every country can follow this trend. The pandemic saw an increase in the energy-driven from renewable sources. The percentage rose from 17% to 24%, while that of coal-power energy dropped from 76% to 66%. He highlighted that India now needs to lead other countries on the same path, and help them develop its energy sector.
Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture
The event has been held annually since 20202, to honor late Indian Industrialist and founder of The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI). Mr. Seth is considered a pioneer in the energy industry who promoted renewable sources of energy.
Author: Subhasri Banerjee
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