New Delhi: Union Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy RK Singh has called for a change in the global climate change discourse and narrative, shifting from a focus on total emissions to per capita emissions of each country. “India’s per capita emissions are one-third of the global average, one of the lowest in the world, despite that, the developed countries until recently had been putting pressure on large countries like India, to reduce emissions. Their per capita emissions remained 3-4 times the global average. The narrative was on the total emissions of each country.”
The minister asserted that the narrative and discourse should not be about total emissions. “If we talk about total emissions, the country with minimum emissions could be an island nation with small population, even though they may be consuming huge amounts of energy and emitting huge quantities of carbon dioxide per person. Hence, the point of comparison has to be per capita emissions. This is the change in discourse which is needed, and I want institutions like TERI to talk about this,” Singh said during his presidential address at the Twenty-Second Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture held in New Delhi on Friday in the memory of Late Darbari Seth, the founder of TERI.
Noting that developed countries would talk about phasing out of coal, but not about phasing out of natural gas or other fossil fuels, the minister exhorted TERI to come out with studies on climate actions by various countries. Once the global South starts controlling the narrative, the world will be a much fairer place, said the Minister, adding that India has been insisting on phasing out of all fossil fuels.
Speaking about India’s actions towards reducing carbon emissions, the Union Minister said that India has achieved its NDC target of 40 percent of our installed electricity capacity coming from non-fossil energy sources nine years ahead of schedule, in 2021 itself. “Today, 43 percent of our capacity is from non-fossil fuel sources. No other country has added renewable energy capacity at a rate at which we have done. We pledged at COP-21 in 2015 that we will reduce our emissions intensity by 33 percent by 2030. We did this by 2022, eight years in advance. So, in Glasgow, we have said that by 2030, we will have 50 percent of our capacity coming from renewables and that we will reduce our emission intensity by 45 percent. We will achieve that too well before time.”
Singh said that the developed countries have reached their peak of development, so, their emissions will either remain static or come down. “However, the building stock of developing countries will multiply, since we are developing; we will need more cement, steel and aluminium to construct those buildings and plants. This will lead to more emissions. So, we need space to grow. This point needs to be made by think tanks like TERI, that this is the space which is required by developing countries to grow.”
The Minister said that the nation is not going to compromise on the availability of energy for our growth, adding that the country is responsible for only 4 percent of legacy carbon dioxide load in the environment, whereas our population is around 17 percent of the world population. The minister said that this discourse needs to be changed not only at the level of world leaders, but also among the people around the world in the developed countries. “The truth needs to be told, I want institutions like TERI to step up and change the discourse,” he said.
Paying tribute to Seth, the late founder of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), the Union Power and New & Renewable Energy Minister asked the gathering, “Can you imagine someone thinking about climate change in the year 1974?” The minister said that this occasion serves to honour Seth’s unwavering determination, entrepreneurial spirit, and strength of mind. “As a towering figure of his era, Shri Seth moulded Tata enterprises’ destiny, dedicating his time and effort fervently to the noble cause of sustainable development. This commitment steered TERI’s journey, propelling it toward a future committed to fostering a greener world and a safer planet.”
The minister said that the organisation which Seth founded has grown and spans the total spectrum of issues that affect sustainability. “TERI has done well. It has earned the reputation for probity and publications which we can rely upon,” he said.
The 22nd Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture year marks the 102nd birth anniversary of Seth. It brought together thought leaders, industry, and policymakers for insightful discussions, inspired by the ideals of Seth, towards fostering collaborative efforts and finding meaningful solutions for climate change.
The 22nd Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture was delivered by Siddharth Sharma, Chief Executive Officer, Tata Trusts. On the occasion, Winners of “TERI Roll of Honour” were felicitated and mementos were presented to TERI employees who have completed 20 and 10 years of service in TERI. TERI Governing Council Chairman Nitin Desai delivered the welcome address and TERI Director General Dr Vibha Dhawan delivered the vote of thanks.
In the 22nd Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture, Chief Executive Officer, Tata Trusts, Siddharth Sharma said that Darbari Seth was an extraordinary leader who could get his people to move mountains. “It is his defining interest in his energy, energy conservation and environmental sustainability much before it became the existential issue of our times which made him take the lead and set up TERI. Men like him leave behind enduring legacies and uplift the generations that follow,” he said.
Sharma said that TERI has grown from humble beginnings into a globally-renowned institution at the forefront of sustainable development and environmental research and that the institute has taken pioneering steps in addressing climate change. He said that the institution must continue to push the boundaries of knowledge, drive transformative change and advocate for policies which promote sustainable development.