India will be starting the G20 meet under its Presidency in New Delhi in September. This is a golden opportunity for India to reinforce its commitment for a just energy transition while shaping international collaborations towards a sustainable future.

The 15th BRICS Summit has already made a positive attempt in addressing issues of climate change. The Johannesburg II Declaration has agreed to address “challenges posed by climate change while also ensuring a just, affordable and sustainable transition to a low carbon and low-emission economy in line with the principles of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC), in light of different national circumstances.”

The BRICS Summit also declared that the member nations share a common view, taking into consideration national priorities and circumstances, on the efficient use of all energy sources, which are crucial for a just transition towards more flexible, resilient and sustainable energy systems. Since India is an integral party to this declaration, it lays down a clear roadmap for India to harness on ‘just transition’ commitment in the upcoming G20 meet.

The meet assumes greater importance as India positions itself as a frontrunner in the global climate agenda. India has set an ambitious target of achieving net-zero emissions by the year 2070 and meeting 50 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030. This goal is not only essential for combatting climate change but also for addressing the three conflicting challenges of energy security, energy equity and environmental sustainability.

The commitments align seamlessly with the principles of a just transition, which emphasises the need to balanced economic development with environmental stewardship and social equity. Therefore, in India’s energy transition journey, a vital facet that cannot be overlooked is the intersection of justice with these transformative efforts.

Critical juncture

India’s presidency at the G20 comes at a critical time, offering a platform to showcase that its commitments are action-oriented and it can smoothly lead a mission for sustainable and equitable transition as it efficiently discharged its presidency commitments under G20.

India can also leverage this opportunity by presenting its successful models, best practices of achieving net zero emissions and progress in expanding renewable energy capacity. This could be more challenging than it sounds but even if India can present reasonable initiatives made in this direction, it can serve two purposes. First, it could be a moral win over G20 member-states and, second, it may offer India a head-start on the negotiation tables to bet for technology share, capacity building, and sustainable investments in renewable energy projects.

This can be in line with India’s voluntary action plan for doubling the pace of energy efficiency by the year 2030 which it also proposed in the 4th and last Energy Transitions Working Group Meeting of the G20 in Goa in July. The working group also acknowledged and took note of India’s proposal for establishing a Green Hydrogen Innovation Centre and the Global Biofuel Alliance in India.

India’s energy landscape has been undergoing a paradigm shift over the past decade, marked by a growing commitment to reduce its carbon footprint and increase the share of renewable energy in its power mix. However, the transition to cleaner energy sources presents both opportunities and challenges in terms of social and environmental justice and India has the chance to create a legacy that transcends borders and ushers in a brighter and more inclusive world.

The writer is Consultant, NITI Aayog