The world is on the cusp of a major transformation. The changes that are sweeping the world will change not only in the way businesses are conducted, but also people’s lives. The path to the new equilibrium will call for managing transition with a focus on minimising costs and keeping people at the centre of decision-making where Artificial Intelligence and machine learning will lead to `smart’ living in a more and more app-driven world.

All these changes, however, could come at a cost, particularly for the planet, pitching sustainability and the climate crisis into the mainstream of global policy making and business decision-making. Smart living is about adapting to technology through models that are scalable, profitable and, importantly, ecologically and socially more sustainable.

This will force rapid changes in the regulatory and administrative architectures leading to the evolution of new systems and processes.

India faces a peculiar paradox in balancing its economic growth ambitions while still being on the correct side of the climate crisis fence. Seven years ago, on August 15, 2014, delivering his first Independence Day address as prime minister (PM) from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Narendra Modi gave a call to Indian entrepreneurs to adopt a ‘zero defect, zero effect’ mantra in their products—a direct reference to the need to make things without causing environmental harm.

In Glasgow, in 2021, PM Modi coined a new acronym—LiFE, shorthand for Lifestyle for Environment—to combat the climate crisis.

With the PM setting the agenda, it is now for stakeholders from across the spectrum to forge innovative partnerships to propel the energy transition, gaps that need to be plugged to ensure energy security, industrial acceleration and also achieve climate targets.

For its part, India has been a shining example in the transition to clean energy. India has taken several initiatives, including setting up of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), for raising the domestic renewable energy target to 450 GW by 2030, putting in place an ambitious National Hydrogen Mission and continuing efforts to decouple its emissions from economic growth. The country has achieved the remarkable feat of connecting nearly all households to electricity while also creating one of the world’s largest markets for renewable energy.

India has announced its Nationally Determined Contribution of reducing emissions intensity of Gross Domestic Product by 33-35% by 2030 along with its renewable energy and forest cover targets.

India figured among the top 10 high performers in the Climate Change Performance Index in 2020 whereas big polluters such as China and the United States (US) figured much below in the list. The biggest current emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG), China, is at the 33rd rank, while the largest historical polluter, the US, appears at the bottom of the list.

The shifts in the geo political calculus is visible through the change in the global comity of nations. This has had consequences across the world, particularly in global trade alliances, besides stirring the energy market cauldron. India, which will host the G20 summit in 2023, has been able to drive home the point on several key themes, including climate finance.

The change agents of dominance will be determined by the ability to manage the transition from the worldwide slide through smart policies, rapid adoption of appropriate technologies, being on the correct side of the global climate crisis fence, and sewing up new strategic global relationships. These will have to factor in the implications for people that may not be visible on the immediate horizon but can play out across generations.

India’s G20 presidency is the best hope for the world in its fight against the climate crisis. As India assumed the G20 presidency and inspired by the theme of “One Earth, One Family, One Future”, PM Modi has listed the climate crisis along with terror and the pandemic, as among the most significant challenges the world needs to fight together. While India must negotiate its vital interests in highly complex climate negotiations, the world is now ready to listen and follow India’s strategic and vision-led initiatives. There is a vacuum in the thought leadership space and this is the best opportunity for India to take the lead.

The article has been authored by Prateek Kanakia, founder, The GreenBillions Ltd.

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