Collective Vision, Pre-Emptive Action from Stakeholders Can Facilitate Responsible Transition to RE

There’s a need for a collective vision and pre-emptive action from all industry players, governments, and civil society which can facilitate a responsible transition to renewable energy, says a joint report.

March 26, 2021. By Manu Tayal

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There’s a need for a collective vision and pre-emptive action from all the industry players, governments and civil society which can facilitate responsible transition to renewable energy (RE), advocated a joint report undertaken by the World Resources Institute India (WRI India), The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Landesa, World Wide Fund for Nature - India (WWF-India) and Forum for the Future.

According to the report titled ‘Renewable Energy to Responsible Energy: A Call to Action’, there’s a need for the adoption of a regenerative and justified pathway while achieving the nation’s targets.

The report, which analyzed the environmental and social risks and impacts of the renewable energy (RE) sector’s growth in India, was launched by Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director General of International Solar Alliance (ISA).

Announcing its launch, the organizations made a ‘call to action’ urging stakeholders to join a Responsible Energy Initiative to better understand and take action on the challenges and opportunities the sector faces, and to set a collective vision for achieving an environmentally and socially responsible RE sector.

Renewable energy is expected to deliver a wide range of benefits beyond emissions reduction, including improving air, sound, soil and water quality; enhancing energy access in remote and vulnerable areas; generating green jobs and contributing significantly to the national economy. While the generation of RE is inherently more sustainable than conventional sources of energy like thermal power, the report highlighted that to ensure a holistic long-term growth, the sector must act pre-emptively to manage environmental and social risks in its entire value chain.

At this juncture, resolution is still within reach if multiple actors in the sector see this as an opportunity – and a responsibility – to devise a socially just and ecologically safe transition to a low carbon energy pathway. Acting now would avoid risking the sector’s social license to operate and any slowdown in deployment that may result.

Further, it would ensure that India meets its 450 GW RE ambition in ways that truly meet the Sustainable Development Goals and achieve a just and fair transition to a clean energy future, while also setting an example for RE sectors around the world.

The findings presented in this report are the result of a literature review, semi-structured interviews with industry, investors, civil society and government experts, as well as on-site visits. Here’re the significant highlights of the report:

- It identifies multiple players in the growing RE market landscape and outlines their roles in the 450 GW transition. It draws attention to the current ways in which the RE sector is governed by multiple state actors; the important role played by the judiciary as well as civil society in providing accountability mechanisms, and the currently limited role of corporate governance in this respect.

- It examines the extent to which key market actors – including RE developers, investors, financiers and large procurers –have been responding to these impacts. It highlights where these actors have taken steps to recognize and address the environmental and social impacts in RE value chains, and where further action is needed to enable and incentivize the sector to achieve its full potential in being just and regenerative.

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