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India Focuses on Climate      12/01 05:27

   India officially takes up its role as chair of the Group of 20 leading 
economies for the coming year Thursday and it's putting climate at the top of 
the group's priorities.

   BENGALURU, India (AP) -- India officially takes up its role as chair of the 
Group of 20 leading economies for the coming year Thursday and it's putting 
climate at the top of the group's priorities.

   Programs to encourage sustainable living and money for countries to 
transition to clean energy and deal with the effects of a warming world are 
some of the key areas that India will focus on during its presidency, experts 
say. Some say India will also use its new position to boost its climate 
credentials and act as a bridge between the interests of industrialized nations 
and developing ones.

   The country has made considerable moves toward its climate goals in recent 
years but is currently one of the world's top emitters of planet-warming gases.

   The G-20, made up of the world's largest economies, has a rolling presidency 
with a different member state in charge of the group's agenda and priorities 
each year. Experts believe India will use the "big stage" of the G-20 
presidency to drive forward its climate and development plans.

   The country "will focus heavily on responding to the current and future 
challenges posed by climate change," said Samir Saran, president of the 
Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank. The ORF will be 
anchoring the T-20 -- a group of think tanks from the 20 member countries whose 
participants meet alongside the G-20.

   Saran said that India will work to ensure that money is flowing from rich 
industrialized nations to emerging economies to help them combat global 
warming, such as a promise of $100 billion a year for clean energy and adapting 
to climate change for poorer nations that has not yet been fulfilled and a 
recent pledge to vulnerable countries that there will be a fund for the loss 
and damage caused by extreme weather.

   He added that India will also use the presidency to push its flagship 
"Mission Life" program that encourages more sustainable lifestyles in the 
country, which is set to soon become most populous in the world.

   When outgoing chair Indonesia symbolically handed the presidency to India in 
Bali last month by passing the gavel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the 
opportunity to promote the program, saying it could make "a big contribution" 
by turning sustainable living into "a mass movement."

   The impact of lifestyle "has not received as much attention in the global 
discourse as it should," said RR Rashmi, a distinguished fellow at The Energy 
Research Institute in New Delhi. He added that the issue "may get some 
prominence" at the G-20 which would be a success for the Indian government, but 
critics say the focus on lifestyle changes must be backed by policy to have 
credibility.

   India has been beefing up its climate credentials, with its recent domestic 
targets to transition to renewable energy more ambitious than the goals it 
submitted to the U.N. as part of the Paris Agreement, which requires countries 
to show how they plan to limit warming to temperature targets set in 2015.

   Analysts say nations' climate ambitions and actions -- including India's -- 
are not in line with temperature targets.

   Many of India's big industrialists are investing heavily in renewable energy 
domestically as well as globally, but the Indian government is also preparing 
to invest in coal-based power plants at the cost of $33 billion over the next 
four years.

   At the U.N. climate conference last month, India -- currently the world's 
third largest emitter of greenhouse gases -- proposed a phaseout of all fossil 
fuels and repeatedly emphasized the need to revamp global climate finance. The 
country says it cannot reach its climate goals and reduce carbon dioxide 
emissions without significantly more finance from richer nations, a claim which 
those countries dispute.

   Navroz Dubash, author of several U.N. climate reports and professor at the 
Centre for Policy Research, said that a key question for many countries is how 
"emerging economies address development needs and do it in a low carbon 
pathway" with several in the global south, like India, pointing to a need for 
outside investment.

   As the chair of the G-20, India is a good position "to say what it will take 
for us to develop in ways that don't lock up the remaining carbon budget," 
Dubash added, referring to the amount of carbon dioxide the world can emit 
while still containing global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 
Fahrenheit) compared with preindustrial levels.

   "Developing countries are making a convincing case that green industrial 
policies are actually quite dependent on having public money to throw at the 
problems," said Dubash. Some experts say more than $2 trillion is needed each 
year by 2030 to help developing countries cut emissions and deal with the 
effects of a warming climate, with $1 trillion from domestic sources and the 
rest coming from external sources such as developed countries or multilateral 
development banks.

   "This public money can also be a way of getting in private money, which is 
what the U.S. has done in its Inflation Reduction Act," Dubash added. The 
U.S.'s flagship climate package that passed earlier this year includes 
incentives for building out clean energy infrastructure.

   The G-20 will also be looking closely at alternative means to getting 
climate finance, experts say. The group could potentially take a leaf out of 
the Bridgetown initiative proposed by the prime minister of Barbados, Mia 
Mottley, which involves unlocking large sums of money from multilateral 
development banks and international financial institutions to help countries 
adapt to climate change and transition to cleaner energy.

   ORF's Saran said that as G-20 chair India can help move forward the 
conversation on the initiative. Developing countries are often charged higher 
rates of interest when borrowing from global financial institutions. Rejigging 
global finance to make renewable energy more affordable in the developing world 
is key to curbing climate change, Saran said.

   The idea has recently gained traction amongst developed nations, with 
France's Macron recently vocalizing his support.

   "A large share of emissions will come from the developing world in the 
future," Saran said. "If we make it easier for them to shift to clean energy, 
then these emissions can be avoided."

 
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