Approaching G–20 Summit in India and Renewable Energy: Global Energy Transition, Renewable Energy Trends and Challenges


Doç. Dr. Ali Oğuz DİRİÖZ

The ministerial meetings of the Group of 20 (G20) have already started and the approaching G20 Summit in India in September 2023 will be an important forum of world leaders. Several important issues will be addressed ranging from the environment, new crypto currencies regulation regime envisaged by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), artificial intelligence (AI) as well as geopolitics and geo-economics.

Host nation India has put forward a slogan of ‘one earth, one family and one future’, which clearly draws attention to global warming and environmental problems. This article will assess the global progress regarding renewable energies in light of the approaching G-20 Summit. Global Energy Transition and Renewable Energy trends and challenges will also be addressed, with some examples from the host nation India.

The War in Ukraine and Russia, including the non-renewal of the grain corridor agreement so far (as of July 2023 the agreement was not extended for a 3rd time and uncertainties remain) has created significant uncertainties in global food security related issues. This will also be the first meeting since the host nation, India, became the most populous country in the world, ahead of China as of 2023. Therefore, this article particularly scrutinizes the upcoming G20 Summit with examples from India, in light of global challenges.

The Leaders (heads of state and heads of government) meeting in the 18th Summit of the Group of 20 (G 20), will be in New Delhi, India 9-10 September 2023. The G20 consists of the 5 Permanent member states of the United Nations Security Council (United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom), 14 other leading global economies including Brazil, Germany, India, South Africa and Turkiye, and the European Union as a regional organization (G20, 2023). Typically some nations such as Spain are permanent invited guests. This tradition of summit meetings and Congress Diplomacy is dating back to the days of the Westphalia Peace in the 17th Century and the Congress of Vienna as well as the Concert of Europe in the 19th Century. Although concrete results are not always immediately observable in such multilateral platforms, they are still valuable settings for multilateral diplomacy and sustaining dialogue among major nations with sizable economies, considered as great powers and regional powers.  Often such summits serve mainly as a consultative mechanism, in which challenges are discussed, and yet limited concrete commitments are made. Climate Change comes to mind as a major common global challenge to be addressed by all of G20, regardless of their various and differing political positions on many issues.

One of the main issue regarding climate ‘Justice’ and ‘Equitable’ sustainable development is the issue that many of the developed nations had for many years polluted and colonized the Global South in order to reach a certain level of industrialization and development. However, now the regions that were colonized and have many underdeveloped regions were expected to adopt policies that require considerable investment or renewable energy sources. Albeit technology is rapidly developing, output of energy from conventional coal powered plants are still cheaper and more readily available, but the consequences are considerable amounts of emissions. Air pollution is a considerable issue both in China’s and India’s capitals. Which is why the issue of equitable and affordable access to clean and renewable energy is one of the main topics that have been highlighted as understood by the One Earth, One Family, One Future motto by the 2023 G20 host nation India.

India has traditionally been an important actor vocal in anti-imperialist and post-colonial movements. In the Global South, India has a policy of balancing different actors. For instance, India is involved in the Quad groups of states along with the United States (India’s Prime Minister Modi made an official visit to the United States and addressed the United States Congress in June 2023) on the one hand, and on the other hand has broad relations with non-OECD states such as Russia and China through the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) groupings. India is also part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), albeit continuing to have differences of opinion with many of its member states. Nonetheless, advancing peaceful cooperation without being stuck on differences is essential to promote regional and global stability. However, the climate crisis nowadays requires more regional and global cooperation as the pollution of a single country can create significant global problems.

India, has a comparatively peaceful reputation in light of global politics, including membership to many global sustainability and renewable energy initiatives. India is a member of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), as well as the founder of the International Solar Alliance (IRENA, 2023; Solar Alliance, 2023). The Solar Alliance, in particular, has been a major initiative by the current Modi government in India. India has also been a major investor in the Wind Power industry with increased investments. The ‘cleanest’ and one of the environmentally most friendly villages in Asia is the village of Mawlynnong, also located in India. Located in the Northeastern part of India, Mawlynnong does not allow plastic and typically has no plastic waste (if any, they are taken to a recycling center) and inhabitants take daily cleanliness tasks and every Saturday are assembled to have their weekly tasks distributed by the village chief (WEF, 2023). Yet this is one tiny village of about 500 inhabitants in the most populous country in the World, hence the model has not been extended to a national level so far. By contrast, however, high population growth means that India is also responsible (from a neo-Malthusianism perspective) for causing more stress on many of the world’s limited natural resources because of high growth rates. In 2021 at COP-26 (United Nations Climate Conference), India proclaimed a net zero Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission target by 2070. Achieving this objective is not easy and would annually require significant investments to renewables; including Solar and Wind (Gupta, 2023). Furthermore, at this rate of global warming and climate related crises, targets of having zero emissions by 2070 may be too distant of a future while climate action is immediately required within this decade.

Shared global goals require enhanced cooperation for creating more sustainable opportunities in the future. In this context, it is worth remembering, for instance, that the new World Bank President, AJ Banga is a US citizen of Indian origin (born and raised in India and later became a naturalized citizen of the United States). Notable world leaders of Indian origin, who will likely be in the G20 include British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (and possibly US Vice President Kamala Harris, if President Biden cannot attend). India’s fast-growing population will be presenting challenges as well as numerous opportunities for our planet.

In this context, the importance of developing reasonable, balanced policies and principles that spread stability is also important for the rapidly developing inter-organizational cooperation such as more joint meetings between the G20 and other organizations such as the OTS. Turkiye, as a G20 member and still a candidate state for membership to the European Union (EU) needs to further abide by the norms and values of furthering Green transition and policies compatible to the EU’s Green Deal. Such values and principles should also be encouraged and adopted by the host nation India, the biggest democracy in the world and now the most populous country in the world. Therefore, in the G20 summit, it is important that Turkiye and the other G20 countries continue to espouse principles of green economy and sustainability. It is unfortunate that as this article was being prepared, the Energy Ministers of the G20 had failed to reach an agreement on reducing global emissions and on how to proceed with energy transition.  G20 energy ministers, specifically due to objections by major petroleum exporters Russia and Saudi Arabia, disagreed on the language relating to phasing down fossil fuels (Nandi and de Souza, 2023). However, a consolation of the July 2023 Goa Energy Ministers meeting can be that significant dialogue occurred prior to the upcoming COP-28 United Nations Climate Change Conference from November – December 2023 in Dubai, UAE.

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