The G20 summit held in Delhi on September 9 and 10 in New Delhi under India’s Presidency was significant for the global fight against climate change. Among other things, the meet addressed a key issue related to climate mitigation goals, namely climate finance. In fact, the declaration at the end of the summit underlined the need to make funds available for developing nations struggling to balance their developmental goals and climate challenges. The global leaders also adopted a ‘green development pact’ to speed up measures to tackle the challenges of environment and climate change.

Significantly, the Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA), a grouping of over 30 countries and international institutions, launched by G20 leaders on September 9 recognised the importance of biofuels in the energy transition mix. The GBA said it would focus on sustainable and low emission development.

India, which had come up with the Green Grids Initiative — One Sun, One World, One Grid — at COP26, pushed for biofuels to encourage use of blended fuels. Taking a cue from the use of ethanol blending in India and other parts of the world, the GBA will serve as a central repository and a catalytic platform, fostering global collaboration for the advancement and adoption of biofuels.

Climate finance

The G20 meet estimated the need for $5.8-5.9 trillion before 2030 to achieve climate goals and an additional $4 trillion per annum to touch net zero by 2050. The Delhi Summit obtained a commitment from developed countries on increasing low-cost financing and reiterated the $100-billion commitment from developed countries starting 2023 and then scaling it up through a collective quantified goal.

On climate concerns, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated, “Interconnected world means our challenges across domains are interlinked. The G20’s 2023 action plan to accelerate SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) will spearhead the future direction. ...Democratising climate action is the best way to impart momentum to the movement. Just as individuals make daily decisions based on their long-term health, they can make lifestyle decisions based on impact on the planet’s long-term health.”

As part of the declaration, the Green Development Pact and the importance given to biofuels provide the much-needed boost to addressing the global climate change challenge. This is a major development ahead of the COP28 Summit to be held in December this year.

Notes Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW): “2023 is at the midway point of the action agenda to 2030 for the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Green Development Pact is trying to bring the energy transition closer to people. The Global Biofuels Alliance is important along with the push for green hydrogen and the tripling of renewable energy capacity across the world by 2030.”

New funding initiatives

In tune with the growing requirement for finance, the Rishi Sunak government announced its decision to provide $2 billion to the Green Climate Fund and a joint investment fund of up to $1 billion was announced by the US and India to support India’s energy transition through green technologies. As a part of this development, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund and US Development Finance Corporation have agreed to each provide $500 million to support a Renewable Infrastructure Investment Fund.

But the switchover to greener fuels has to be a collective effort. Points out Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, International Solar Alliance (ISA): “The Indian Presidency has led to the Global South gathering inputs and ideas which will lead to solutions that are more easily deployable. The ISA has launched the Green Hydrogen Innovation Centre to enable this action. We need to enable solar mini grids to provide universal energy access, especially where grid extension is too expensive. The work is huge, and the time to accomplish it is short. We need new partnerships between international organizations and countries to accelerate solarisation.”

The declaration leaves it to individual countries to choose their own pathway to achieve net zero. However, experts feel there has been no new commitment to phasing down coal fired thermal power plants.

While making new commitments towards funding, it is to be seen if the G20 members will walk the talk. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.