India's Sustainability Crusade Shakes up G20, Boosts Diplomatic Influence
India has assumed the G20 presidency at a time when the geopolitical climate of the world is in a state of flux. As the world faces the concerns of climate change
India takes over the reins of G20 at a juncture best described in the Charles Dickens novel, A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Covid-19, and conflict- cooperation among major global powers has become an unavoidable necessity. The G20 summit shall be the most prestigious diplomatic fete hosted in the country since the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in 1983. It will be a unique opportunity for India to demonstrate its leadership in six key areas which include accelerating progress on SDGs; Lifestyle For Environment (LiFE), climate finance; inclusive and resilient growth, and others. Under ‘Agenda 2023’, India will particularly focus on equitable, green, and resilient recovery.
In the 2023 Climate Change Performance Index, India has been ranked among the top 8 strong performers. As per the data, India has been accorded high ratings in the GHG Emissions and Energy Use categories but rated medium for Climate Policy and Renewable Energy. Its better performance in the latest edition of CCPI owes to the growing use of renewable energy and low emissions. Apart from this, in recent years India led initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance (ISA), Swachh Bharat Mission, and its commitments at the COP26 Glasglow Summit have been instrumental for the country in making strides towards managing climate change.
India's standing in the G20 and beyond will strengthen as a result of the climate change challenge and the action plan. India would advocate for the availability of technology and financing as essential enablers for meeting the climate targets set forth by the Paris Accord in its capacity as G20 chair. A ‘loss and damage fund’ was announced at the recently finished COP27 to assist resource-constrained, disadvantaged nations combating climate change. In keeping with this, it is anticipated that the G20 would reiterate the importance of more effective financial targeting to maintain a clean economy under India's Presidency.
Against the backdrop of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, under India’s captaincy the G20 troika constituted of India, Brazil and Indonesia have immense potential to work towards achieving SDG 1,2, and 3 (No poverty, hunger, and ensuring good health). Being the fastest growing economies of the Global South, this can prove to be a promising trio. Moreover, the increase in the number of droughts in parts of South Asia is expected to have spill-over effects on good health and well-being in a monsoon-fed agricultural economy like India.
The rise of tropical diseases and the spill-over of zoonotic to human beings is another hurdle in achieving SDGs. Also, fishermen communities along India’s 7,500km coastline are highly susceptible to annual vagaries of climate change in the form of cloud bursts and tropical cyclones.
In light of more such challenges, India’s G20 presidency must be utilized to extend the reach of initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI). To encounter the above-mentioned challenges measures such as technology-led models and focus on R&D in climate-resilient cropping and organic farming technique, drought-resistant crops, etc need to be worked upon. The Covid-19 pandemic called for collaborative efforts to fight the crisis and saw India providing humanitarian assistance through the Vaccine Maitri initiative. Thus, as the G20 president India can lobby with the major economies for a pandemic treaty. Apart from this, in order to fulfill SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy) India can utilize its tenure to realize the 2018 mandate of OSOWOG (“One Sun, One World, One Grid”), this would also pave paths for the fulfillment of SDG7 (affordable and clean energy).
As India presides over the forum, it shoulders the responsibility of representing developing economies and shaping the international response to the pressing challenges of the decade. This role given to India can help her transition from being a rule-take to a rule-maker.
India jumps two spots higher, now ranks 8th as per CCPI 2023
Are we doing enough for climate change? Can we do more? What is our next step? Find out by following our weekly newsletter here
Authored by Shuchi Shukla, a final year research student at Department of Geopolitics and International Relations, MAHE. Her area of interest lies in the geopolitics of renewable energy and energy transition, health diplomacy in the Global south.