Berkeley, Calif. — This month, the Breakthrough Institute’s Director for Energy and Development Vijaya Ramachandran and Sandeep Pai, Senior Associate at Center for Strategic and International Studies authored an OpEd to impress upon world leaders gathering for COP26 the need for financial assistance from Western Nations if they hope to transition India’s energy system. The OpEd was published in the Times of India, the nation’s largest newspaper with more than 27 million readers.
While India is the third-largest greenhouse gas producer in the world — behind the US and China — they have rightly prioritized lifting millions of Indians out of poverty first. Their “GDP per capita (measured in constant international dollars) is $6,118 — about one-tenth that of the US and a third of that of China.”
“India is undertaking an energy transition even as it works to alleviate poverty — no simple feat. Raising the standard of living for millions of people requires investment in energy-intensive infrastructure such as roads, schools, and hospitals. People need cheap and reliable electricity to power their homes and businesses. To advance its agricultural and industrial ambitions, it will need to raise its consumption of electricity per capita — likely by a factor of four or five over the next decades — as it undergoes a transition from coal to cleaner sources of power.”
“If the international community is serious about helping India to decarbonize and manage the impacts of climate change, they must be prepared to pay.” Ramachandran and Pai estimate that it would take $1 trillion dollars in grants from Western nations to transition India to a carbon-free energy grid over the next decade in addition to India’s own financing.
That aid would only cover a portion of the expenses India will incur as it transitions to a clean energy economy. Analysis by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, for example, reveals that deep decarbonization could cost India $1.3 trillion to several trillion dollars. An additional $10 billion dollars a year could be required to support workers and communities in a just transition away from domestic coal production. Adapting to long-term climate change impacts like droughts and heat waves may also require $1 trillion dollars in this decade.
“If rich countries want India to decarbonise and be more resilient, they should put their money where their mouth is,” write Ramachandran and Pai.