G7 countries urge India to join Just Energy Transition Partnership

India has not responded to the partnership offer as yet, officials aware of the matter said, adding that the external affairs ministry is now co-ordinating interministerial consultations on the matter.

G7 countries have asked India to join a Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) that will help finance rapid deployment of clean energy projects in India and possibly reduce the country’s dependence on coal. India has not responded to the partnership offer as yet, officials aware of the matter said, adding that the external affairs ministry is now co-ordinating interministerial consultations on the matter. If India accepts, the JETP will likely be announced at the upcoming UN Climate Conference (COP27) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in November. The contentious issue is whether India should concede to any clauses on reducing coal consumption as part of the partnership, the officials added, asking not to be named.
“Yes, the G7 has approached us. We (India) have not rejected the partnership. MEA is anchoring consultations. It depends on government’s stand on these matters,” said one of them, a senior official in environment ministry.
Antonio Guterres, United Nations General Secretary referred to the G7 offer a couple of times during his visit to India and during the launch of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP’s) Emissions Gap report on Thursday. He urged India to join the partnership.

“Developed countries must do more. That is why I have called for coalitions of support around countries including India, with ambitious plans to accelerate the deployment of renewables. I therefore welcome the establishment of Just Energy Transition Partnerships. Such partnerships can help countries like India to accelerate the deployment of renewables, through a closely coordinated process that is nationally owned. Above all, a just energy transition will benefit millions of Indians who suffer the triple impact of pollution, energy poverty and the climate crisis,” Guterres said during his speech at Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai on October 19.

On Thursday, Guterres said: “Developed countries must lead in boosting their national climate plans. I recognize the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in the light of national circumstances. But emerging economies must also do more if we are to have a fighting chance of keeping 1.5 alive. They need financial and technical support to do so. Just Transition Energy Partnerships are poised to help heavily coal-dependent emerging economies speed their shift to renewables. These partnerships are moving ahead in India, Indonesia, South Africa and Vietnam. These coalitions of support must be expanded to even more countries.”

The concept of JETP began with South Africa last year at COP 26. France, Germany, the UK, US, and EU (the International Partners Group, or IPG) committed to providing $ 8.5 billion over three to five years to support South Africa’s national climate plan. Following the South Africa partnership, the G7 in its G7 Leaders’ communique dated June 28 this year said the G7 is working with India, Indonesia, Vietnam on more such partnerships.

India has a nuanced position on coal. Last year during COP 26 in Glasgow, India was opposed to hard targets on phasing out coal , still among the key sources of energy for developing nations.

India was among developing countries that opposed the language on coal and phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies in the Glasgow pact. It pushed to introduce equity and safeguards on fossil fuel subsidies for the poor following which the text in the final pact was reworded based on a mutual agreement among UK, US, China, India and EU and others.

To a question in Rajya Sabha December 2 last year on when India will phase out coal powered plants in India, the environment ministry said that coal will stay a major source of energy in India.

“India’s climate actions under Paris Agreement are nationally determined, and are undertaken in the context of equity, and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the light of national circumstances. Being an affordable source of energy with substantial reserve, coal is going to stay as a major source of energy in the foreseeable future. Despite the push for renewables, the country will require a base load capacity of coal-based generation for stability and also for energy security,” the ministry said in a response.

How India’s position on coal will be incorporated in the JETP remains to be seen.

According to a briefing paper by Zero Carbon Analytics, an international research group, JETPs could fill a key gap in international climate finance. India has been an important voice for developing nations in the climate negotiations particularly on matters of equity, common but differentiated responsibilities (all countries will act against climate change based on their economic and development status) and transfer of climate finance. During Glasgow, PM Modi during his speech at Glasgow called upon developed economies to make $1 trillion available for climate financing.

“Rapid growth in energy demand fuelled by fast economic growth makes phase down of coal in India’s power sector a daunting challenge for the next two decades. However, committing to no new coal power plants after 2035 is still possible, if coupled with aggressive investment in energy efficiency improvements across sectors and investment in RE ready transmission and distribution infrastructure supported by generous financial support provided through a JETP. It also implies structural reforms in India’s power sector in the next two decades,” said Vaibhav Chaturvedi, fellow, Council on Energy, Environment and Water.