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Is India’s Green Transition Inclusive?

  • IASbaba
  • September 22, 2021
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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Sep 17: A ‘just transition’: Is India’s green transition inclusive? – https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/a-just-transition-is-indias-green-transition-inclusive/  

GOVERNANCE/ ECONOMY/ SOCIETY

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • GS-3: Conservation

Is India’s Green Transition Inclusive?

India’s Status: India crossed the 100-GigaWatts mark for installed renewable power generation capacity and with this, the share of renewables stands at approx. 26 percent of the total installed power generation capacity. If other non-fossil-based energy resources such as nuclear and hydro are accounted for, the share of non-fossils in the cumulative installed power generation capacity stands at 39 percent, which is very close to the 40 percent target enshrined in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

What is missing – Putting people at the heart of the ‘Green’ transition?

It is time the policymakers, environmental activists, sector experts, and other relevant stakeholders to emerge out of the fact that estimations, figures, and numbers are the only ways to measure the success of the energy transition journey.

Lack of Social Dialogue: There is wide disarray and disagreement within different stakeholders regarding the form, shape, and nature of energy transition which is being pursued nationally. For example, the chase for higher and higher levels of renewable energy capacity or the existing “coal is bad, green is great” mindset that appears to be governing the clean energy transition. The social dialogue needs to change in the very first stages of planning and articulating the vision of energy transition.

What about the quality of life?: The quantitative numbers are often delusional when it comes to their manifestation on the quality of life of the people concerned. 

  • An unbiased exploration of the nature of jobs in the outgoing as well as incoming sectors is required so that the transition weeds out the ills of the past and does not repeat them while reimagining the shape of the energy ecosystem. 
  • Seriously monitor the quality of jobs that the ‘green’ investments are creating as merely being a renewable energy project does not guarantee a job that is well-paying, has scope of skill and income enhancement, is safe from occupational hazards, promotes collectivism amongst workers and provides the social safety net required for leading a dignified life.

Lack of transparency, accountability, and social participation in the decision-making processes related to clean energy transition: As per several ground reports, the processes of land acquisition pertaining to various solar projects and wind projects in various parts of the country has been evasive of public concerns and lacks public participation. 

  • Locals are hardly aware of even the basic distinction between any private project and public project, especially when the entity acquiring their land is the State.
  • In many instances, this information asymmetry has been used by the private parties to voice down, sometimes using the force of law and local police, any dissent or resistance which came up while the land acquisition or project construction was being done. 
  • Similarly, in case of public utility lands, the ‘public’ which was utilising such land for livelihood, agriculture, and other purposes is hardly informed and consulted before acquiring their lands. Often, the locals are cheated on by being given promises of preference in jobs but without any written assurance for the same by the renewable energy companies.

Thus, with the motive of profiteering on any cost, the green energy projects seem to be treading the same path that various exploitative industries and capitalists have been treading for a long time now.

The Way Forward – To truly make the energy transition a ‘just’ one, unbiased, inclusive and rigorous

  • Each and every stakeholder must introspect, drop their respective biases, come clean about their own motives and then listen carefully to the concerns of each other so that the dialogue does not become a war of words, but a constructive and forward-looking strategy-making process. This will actuate the optimal usage of one of the most important and often overlooked pillar of the just transition framework – social dialogue.
  • Dialogues are required to hear the historically unheard voices from the ground – each stakeholder shoul come together on a platform and collectively shape the facets of energy transition.

Must Read: Climate Change and India in 2021

Can you answer this question?

  1. Examine how can the ‘green’ transition address the challenges in the existing scheme of things and capitalise on the opportunities to come from the transition? 
  2. What institutional and procedural systems are required to check the smoothness of transition and address the unintended consequences, if any? Discuss.

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