Climate Finance From Rich Nations, Capacity Building — How India Can Meet Its G20 Climate Goals


G20 Climate Agenda: The 18th G20 (Group of Twenty) Heads of State and Government Summit, which will be held in New Delhi from September 9 to 10, 2023, has the theme “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or “One Earth • One Family • One Future”. At the conclusion of the 2022 G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia passed the baton of the G20 Presidency to India. India has been holding the G20 Presidency since December 1, 2022, and will hold it till November 30, 2023, following which Brazil will take over. 

At the summit, which is a conclusion of all the G20 processes and meetings that have occurred throughout the year, a declaration will be adopted. Most of these meetings were centred around discussions on protecting all forms of life, understanding their role in the universe, and adopting environmentally sustainable and responsible choices to have a cleaner, greener and bluer future. The G20 meetings also focused on the concept of ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ (LiFE). 

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On July 28, 2023, the fourth and the final Environment and Climate Ministers’ Meet concluded in Chennai. As many as 41 Ministers or their deputies from different nations attended the meeting. The delegates agreed to unanimously commit themselves to creating a sustainable and resilient future, and focused on areas such as land degradation, biodiversity loss, blue economy, water resource management, and circular economy. According to the European Parliament, circular economy refers to a model of production and consumption in which the life cycle of products is increased, and waste is reduced to a minimum through the sharing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling of existing materials as long as possible. The sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs, while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem, is referred to as the blue economy, according to the World Bank. 

A document called the Chennai High Level Principles for a Sustainable and Resilient Blue/Ocean-based Economy was adopted at the climate meet, and this will be submitted to the G20 leaders so that they can consider annexing the document to the G20 New Delhi Leader’s Declaration 2023. 

In order to understand more about India’s objectives and priorities in the G20 climate agenda, how the country can achieve these goals, and what the challenges are, ABP Live spoke to Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy, Climate Action Network International (CAN-I), a global network of over 1,900 civil society organisations in more than 130 countries working on climate change-related aspects; Professor Anamika Barua, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Guwahati; and Dr Anjal Prakash, Clinical Associate Professor (Research) and Research Director, Bharti Institute of Public Policy, Indian School of Business. 

India’s priorities and objectives in the G20 climate agenda

It is important for affluent nations to support developing nations through climate finance and understand their responsibility of implementing policies to meet domestic climate goals, the experts said. Rich countries must commit themselves to considerably reducing emissions, developing nations such as India should focus on capacity building and technology transfer, and carbon markets should be encouraged.

According to the United Nations, carbon markets are trading systems in which carbon credits are sold and bought, and are used by firms or individuals to compensate for their greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing carbon credits from companies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon credits allow a company to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases, and are meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If one trades a carbon credit, it means that one tonne of carbon dioxide or the equivalent amount of a different greenhouse gas is reduced or avoided. 

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Public, grant-based and concessional finance plays an important role in India’s G20 climate agenda, according to the experts. 

“In addressing the G20 climate agenda, India remains steadfast in its commitment to championing a more equitable global approach. Rich nations must rise to the occasion, taking on their rightful share of responsibility by realising their domestic climate goals and committing to holistic emission reductions. The urgency of amplifying climate finance, facilitating technology transfers, and building capacity in developing nations is paramount. India is deeply convinced of the central role that public, grant-based, and concessional finance plays in this mission. Moreover, it’s vital to underscore the importance of preserving the environmental integrity of carbon markets. For developing nations, this emphasises the pressing need for enhanced capacity building, ensuring they can effectively implement these mechanisms,” said Singh.

Dr Prakash said that India’s priorities in the G20 climate agenda include sustainable development, climate resilience and equitable solutions. The successful management of the impacts of climate change, while preventing the adverse effects from becoming worse, is known as climate resilience. A society can be climate resilient by adopting low-carbon emission technologies such as renewable energy practices.

“India’s G20 climate objectives include reducing emissions, increasing renewable energy adoption, and promoting climate finance for developing nations. The timeline for achieving these goals varies, but continuous efforts are crucial,” said Dr Prakash.

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Challenges India must overcome to achieve G20 climate goals

Accessing sufficient climate finance and ensuring technology transfer are some of the challenges India must overcome to achieve the G20 climate objectives. In order to overcome these challenges, India must commit to a low-carbon future.

“Challenges include balancing economic growth with emissions reduction, accessing adequate climate finance, and ensuring technological transfer. Overcoming these hurdles requires coordinated domestic and international cooperation, supportive policies, and innovation. While timeframes are challenging to predict, India’s commitment to a low-carbon future is vital to addressing climate change on a global scale,” said Dr Prakash.

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Certain climate mitigation techniques are hindering other emission reduction efforts, and geopolitical tensions are also an obstacle to efficient climate action.

Singh explained that prevailing geopolitical tensions, such as the Russia-Ukraine War, have hampered a unified agreement on ministerial outcomes. Also, several countries, especially the rich ones, are reluctant to dedicatedly phase out fossil fuels and take responsibility for their actions. If wealthy nations do not support developing nations through climate finance, the latter may never be able to fulfil their climate goals. While it is believed carbon capture, which is a process in which carbon dioxide emissions from industrial processes are captured and stored to prevent them from harming the environment, helps mitigate climate change, the technique may hinder emission reduction efforts. Similarly, hydrogen capture can jeopardise measures to decrease emissions. This is because both carbon and hydrogen capture are energy intensive processes.

“Amid these global challenges, the persistent geopolitical tensions, underscored by the Russian war on Ukraine, have impeded unanimous agreement on ministerial outcomes. Additionally, it’s alarming to note the hesitancy of many countries, particularly the affluent ones, to earnestly phase out fossil fuels and escalate their actions proportionate to their capabilities and historical responsibility. The emerging reliance on technologies such as hydrogen and carbon capture might not just postpone necessary climate action but could also spawn loopholes, jeopardising genuine emission reduction efforts. It’s crucial to acknowledge that without significant financial resources from the richer nations, developing countries might grapple with, or even be rendered incapable of, fulfilling their ambitious climate aspirations,” said Singh.

International cooperation, policy changes and sustainable practices can help address the challenges of climate change, and that it is important to “act now”, because we do not have time, said Professor Barua. “Of course climate finance is also needed for both research and innovations. If we have all of these in place, net zero is possible. But we do not have time. So, we need to act now!”

Read all stories appearing in the Climate Science With ABP Live series here.


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