In order to avert the disastrous consequences of climate change, we need to reduce
the global temperature further down to 1.5°C

By Surabhi Tomar

A few years back, our world’s temperature was increasing every year by about 4°C which came down to 3°C per year.While this reduction in temperature is good, but it is still disastrous as the Arctic, Antartica and Himalayan ice will melt even at this rate, draining all ice into the oceans. We have already witnessed the Uttarakhand floods as its first and immediate consequence. The source of our rivers, Himalayan ice is already melting, with droughts and floods already staring at the very face of our farmers.

If we want to avert the disastrous impacts of climate change, which may cause various of our coastal cities going underwater,drought-like situations in all of North India, all rivers emanating from the Himalayas drying up, we would require to reduce the global temperature further down to 1.5°C.

To achieve this, we would have to reduce carbon foot-prints/emissions. Greenhouse gases trap the Sun’s heat and heat our Earth. We have to reduce global emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and go to zero emissions by 2050. Currently, 81% of the energy needs worldwide come from fossil fuels like coal. And it’s a matter of grace concern that this percentage has not changed in last many years.

Though India theoretically lies towards the lower end of this spectrum, we meet about 78.9% of our energy needs through

thermal or coal which stood at. 75.9% last year. Here lies a big opportunity for India. From the current 78.9% down to net zero emissions, we need innovations and systems that will drive economic growth, increase longevity and provide a better life for our citizens.

Mere policy interventions/restrictions on carbon emissions might not help us achieve the zero emission target. But by combining it with some kind of stimulus for alternative energy sources and funding innovations, we can create new markets, spurring a big growth. Policy restrictions on carbon emissions without alternatives can also invite resistance from the society. As a consequence, the energy deficit thus caused can have negative impacts like black-marketeers and smugglers would come up. We can pre-empt this deficit by funding innovations and announcing stimulus and investments packages to encourage alternative energy sources development.

The last century saw the economy being driven by Industries, manufacturing and later digital firms but future lies with the renewable or alternative energy sector for economic growth.The more we attempt to replace fossil fuels with renewable, clean or alternative sources of energy, the more we would prompt innovation and R&D which in turn, would stimulate startups and entrepreneurs whether high-tech or grassroots.Zero-emission target will entail adoption of new technologies,innovations and in many places going back to our cultural and traditional methods. Large spread adoption of this will disrupt the economic landscape with creation of jobs and new markets.

China is currently setting itself up as the powerhouse for clean energy. India is in a geographic advantage to be able to compete with China on this topic. We have large land areas that are ideal for solar and wind farms. We have many universities that with proper direction can lead the innovation,research and entrepreneurship.

If we look at the case study of how United States, South Korea, China and EU used green investments after the global financial crisis of 2008 to recover their economies and create jobs, we will have a better idea for our future roadmap. The fact that these four economies focussed about one-sixth of their stimulus packages after 2008 largely to green initiatives and research which eventually helped them build new industries,create jobs and recover their economy.

To give China competition in clean energy, India needs to ramp up its investment in the innovation and startup ecosystem.Globally, by 2035 we need more than USD 50 trillion in investments to revamp existing infrastructure and reduce emissions. This investment will go into startups, infrastructure,industries and research. There is a multi-hundred billion dollar gap between what needs to be invested and what is being currently invested. This gap is another opportunity for India. We can emerge as a global financial innovation
centre. A few ideas being discussed are “Blended capital” vehicles that can bring together investors of different return
expectations, “green bonds” that can help finances flow into green investments and a new way of social investing.

Grassroots entrepreneurship can also get a big boost when we support green initiatives through it. One part that can also be touched upon is historical innovation. Innovation where

we look back at our traditional practices and then reinvent them from a current perspective will be historical innovation.Whether it is tech innovation, bio innovation, grassroots innovation or financial system innovation,India has the potential and the opportunity to lead the globe through environmentally effective and useful investments.

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