According to expert forecasts, India will become the world's third-largest economy within the next ten years. Yet even an emerging superpower has to face global challenges: Air pollution is among the biggest problems in India. Mohaa Vyas, Senior Regional Manager India, provides an insight into the goals the Indian government has set itself and the measures it aims to take during its G20 presidency to push climate action globally.
Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans, in an interview in January 2023, said that the European Union considers India the most important partner in the fight against climate change and believes that the European Union and India will benefit from joint strong cooperation.
Indian cities top among the world's most affected by air pollution
India faces major problems, including severe air pollution and a rising air quality index in cities. A report by the Swiss air quality technology company IQAir confirms that 22 of the world's 30 most polluted cities are in India. In particular, air pollution from nitrogen dioxide peaked at 125 percent in Delhi, according to Greenpeace India.
Given these alarming developments, there is a need to introduce and embed the topic of climate change in schools and universities. The UN has initiated this process under the Action for Climate Empowerment work stream. This includes climate change education, public awareness, training, public involvement, public access to information, and international cooperation in all these matters.
Climate change at the epicenter of environmental policies
The issue of climate change has been very present in India for years, which is why the country is taking on the G20 presidency with the slogan "One earth, one family, one future" and taking a clear stand: India's priorities during its G20 presidency are energy and climate change mitigation. In this way, India can shape its narrative within the international agenda. India is expected to prioritize issues such as climate finance, energy security, and green hydrogen.
At the COP26 conference, India made bold pledges, thus placing climate change at the center of its environmental policies. To harness solar energy, ensuring that generated electricity flows to areas that need it most, India thus launched an initiative titled "One sun, one world, one grid." Through an international solar alliance, it aims to head decarbonization efforts and become a global green hydrogen exporter. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced firm commitments from India to combat climate change.
PM Modi's five commitments from India toward climate action at COP26
- "India will bring its non-fossil fuel energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030."
- "By 2030, India will fulfil 50% of its energy requirement through renewable energy."
- "India will cut down its net projected carbon emission by one billion tonnes from now until 2030."
- "By 2030, India will bring down carbon intensity of its economy by more than 45%."
- "By 2070, India will achieve the 'net zero' carbon emissions target."
Particular focus on climate finance
Climate finance was also the focus of the COP27 conference. India prioritized climate protection in its agenda but concerning the financial aspect. The discussion mainly revolved around defining financing options for climate protection measures.
As the need for action to address and adapt to climate change continues to grow, developing countries said it was also necessary to agree on new global financial targets for climate action.
India's environment ministry also stressed that the discussion must focus on the number of resource flows and their quality and scale. Overall, all financing mechanisms would need to lead to a transparent process with dialogues to improve function.
The conference also took up the term Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE), coined by Prime Minister Modi. It refers to the individual's conscious approach to the environment and their lifestyle to protect and preserve it for future generations.
Cooperation on climate protection – dialogue between TUM and Indian partners
Climate protection is an essential topic for everyone. The Technical University of Munich is aware of its responsibility for climate change and is therefore reviewing its activities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Climate Protection Management team, TUM aims to be climate neutral regarding its energy consumption by 2028. The university not only has an action plan but also its own climate and environmental policy department, which is also involved in exchanges with Indian partners.
For more information on India-related events and projects on climate change and the environment, please contact TUM Mumbai Liaison Officer Mohaa Vyas.
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