India’s energy strategy is mindful of commitments to the global commons, to green transition and to ensure energy availability, affordability and security to all, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep S Puri has said.

The Minister’s comment gathers significance if one sees it with the 2022 Report of The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change findings, which say “health at the mercy of fossil fuels.”

“New findings presented in this year’s report reveal that governments and companies continue to follow strategies that increasingly threaten the health and survival of all people alive today, and of future generations,” said the report.

Governments and companies, it said, continue to prioritise fossil fuel interests to the detriment of the health and well-being of people in every corner of the world. Eighty per cent of reviewed countries have provided some sort of fossil fuel subsidies in 2021 alone, amounting to $400 billion.

In 31 countries, these net subsidies exceeded 10 per cent of national health spending, and 100 per cent in 5 countries. India allocated a net $34 billion to subsidising fossil fuels in 2019 alone, equivalent to 37.5 per cent of the country’s national health spending that year, it pointed out.

The report further states that oil and gas companies continue to be the worst offenders: regardless of their climate claims and commitments, the current strategies of 15 of the largest oil and gas companies would lead to their greenhouse gas production exceeding their share of emissions compatible with 1.5°C of warming by 37 per cent in 2030, and 103 per cent in 2040.

India’s commitment

At an event in the US on “Opportunities in the India-US Strategic Partnership,” Puri said 25 per cent of global energy demand growth in the next two decades will emanate from India.

Puri emphasised that despite the current challenging energy environment, India’s commitment to energy transitions and climate mitigation goals, is not going to diminish. India has taken many steps towards low carbon development, including through emerging fuels like hydrogen and biofuels.

According to Puri, “India has been successfully following (not just preaching) energy diversity. India is the only country in the world that has brought down the cost of Solar Energy from 25 cents to 3 cents.”

“What do you need to produce Green Hydrogen – you need cheap power and electrolysers. We are getting both. Coming to biofules, we have gone from 1.4 per cent blending in 2014 to 10 per cent now and are chasing 20 per cent. Today, we have 42 compressed biogas plants and are targeting 5000 plants...India is also among ethanol from agriculture waste,” he said.

Co-existing crises

The Lancet report analyses 40+ indicators across five key domains – climate change impacts, exposures, and vulnerability; adaptation planning, and resilience for health; mitigation actions and health co-benefits; economics and finance; and public and political engagement.

“The health impacts of climate change are rapidly aggravating and worsening the effects of other co-existing crises. This is resulting in an increased risk of food insecurity, infectious diseases transmission, heart-related disease, energy poverty, and deaths from exposure to air pollution,” it said.

But, all is not lost. Facilitating increased energy investments to ensure sustainable, affordable, reliable, resilient and cleaner energy systems can be a way out. This can be done by strengthening the power grid, assessing grid-integrated buildings, and advancing renewable energy development and deployment, among other measures.

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