Climate progress without climate justice?
By Suha Chari
Sustainable Scripps Ranch
(INDIA) Here, in the land of this year’s G20 [New Delhi, Sept. 9-10, 2023], buses, auto-rickshaws and even taxis have switched to compressed natural gas (CNG). There seems to be an urgency in the air regarding climate change.
While it is not uppermost on anyone’s mind, governments are mobilizing for massive changes all over the country. Of course, CNG is not ideal, but in such a populous country where basic necessities are not wholly met, where the working class is striving for a better standard of living, this is a feat, indeed.
Another remarkable fact is that, as cow manure is available in plenty, more and more small establishments are able to produce biogas cheaply, to be used for cooking, heating, electricity generation and even transportation. India is still the second largest consumer of biogas in the world. In 2022, there were a total of more than 5 million units all over India, with Maharashtra having the most, at 1 million, followed by Karnataka, at half a million units. However, due to lack of technical know-how, the growth of these plants has been slower than expected.
This is an area where first world countries can help with aid and technology. I’ve often wondered why even the upper middle class in India are slow to install solar panels. The oft quoted reason is that it is too expensive, though panels from China are available at reasonable prices. With about 300 sunny days in most parts of the country, solar power is very attractive and feasible. It comprises more than 13 percent of power generated in India, and makes up 34 percent of the renewable energy produced. Most of this government initiative is in solar parks where large areas are devoted to the panels, unlike California where rooftop solar is popular.
There are a couple of good reasons for the slow growth of solar: One is the subsidy, and another is grid capacity and connectivity to individual homes, which is not available in most places. Moreover, when it comes to emissions, it is true that the West is vastly responsible for the state we’re in now. It’s only fair that the same countries responsible for major emissions, help struggling nations like India to follow a safer path to development, and provide a better future for their citizens.
India is trying hard to use the age-old technology of biogas production while also adopting solar technology, in order to avert the disastrous consequences of climate change.
It surely will benefit the whole world if richer countries step forward willingly to help those who have done the least to cause it, yet will suffer the most from its effects.
Sustainable Scripps Ranch is a standing committee of the Scripps Ranch Civic Association. To learn more about Sustainable Scripps Ranch, visit scrippsranch.org/ssr or email SustainableSR@scrippsranch.org.