India’s renewable energy sector can create 3.5 million jobs by 2030, help the country reduce dependency on oil imports, and provide economic benefits as renewable energy is increasingly costing less than conventional modes, Francesco La Camera, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, said in an interview. However, the lack of physical and policy infrastructure for the rapid adoption of renewables globally is a barrier that can lead to failure in achieving the goals of the Paris climate pact of containing planetary temperature rise within 1.5°C or even 2°C, La Camera said.
India announced a huge outlay of ₹35,000 crores towards net zero transition by 2070. What is your view of India?
India thinks it can reach zero before 2070. We are very confident in India’s energy transition as the current renewable energy targets for 2030 and 2025 have already been met or are close to being achieved. We must also understand the complexities of India’s energy transition challenges. But the benefits of transition are clear, and there is political will behind them.
Today, India already has around 700,000 jobs in the renewable energy sector. By 2030, it could grow to 3.5 million socially significant jobs. India’s dependence on fossil fuels will decrease, which will be more important from an economic point of view as renewables are expected to cost less than conventional methods of generating electricity. India is moving fast towards greening its steel sector.
India is already ranked fourth in terms of installed renewable energy capacity.
Ukraine War has once again put energy security in the spotlight around the world. There are reports of a recovery in coal mining in Europe. Do you think countries will back down on their climate commitments?
I don’t believe this will happen.
Distinguish between short-term, medium-term, and long-term perspectives. We’ve also seen some bad investments. But the fear of creating distressed assets is too strong. So I guess that we can retain some of our older factories and increase some of our use of existing fossil fuels, but that will be short term. In the mid-to-long term, the development of new and renewable energy will be accelerated.
The dependencies are all too obvious. The Ukraine crisis has shown that 80% of the world’s countries are dependent on fossil fuels. This dependence can only be reduced by choosing renewable energy sources and decentralized energy systems. The combination can therefore consist of sustainable use of renewable energy, hydrogen, and biomass.
So, I don’t think the country needs to be afraid of breaking its promises.
It is important to remember that we are not on track to meet the Paris Agreement goals of keeping global warming below 1.5°C and 2°C. Unless we dramatically accelerate renewables, we won’t be in line. By 2030, annual growth in renewable energy capacity should triple. A transition is inevitable, but we are not sure the speed and scale of the transition will be sufficient to get us on the path to the Paris Agreement.
What can we do to align with Paris’ goals? Do you think there will be a resolution at this year’s UN climate conference?
The main tasks of the meeting will be summarized. This will be the first assessment of how far we have been able to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Of course, the Dubai summit will confirm that we are not on the right track.
The inventory should also indicate how to close this gap. IRENA will try to build a narrative to bridge this gap. From our point of view, the main barrier to the rapid adoption of renewable energy sources today is not the economy, as they are cost-effective, environmentally friendly, socially acceptable, and create jobs. The barrier is that we don’t have the infrastructure yet.
The three pillars of this infrastructure are the network. legal and political factors; Third, institutional competence or professional skills.
Older energy systems based on fossil fuels are supported by already-built infrastructure. There are ways to extract oil and gas and deliver or use it at home. We have to change now because we don’t have time. Traditional electrical infrastructure has been built for more than a century and there are still places without electricity. Infrastructure will also determine how global cooperation will work in the future.
What are your thoughts on the G20? Do you think there will be strong signals for fossil fuels?
We are working with the G20 and Energy Transition Group. Given the geopolitical situation, none of the G20 countries want more dependence, so we are trying to build a renewable energy narrative. India is also chairing IRENA this year.
India’s G20 presidency is very important. With her experience in the energy transition and India’s unwavering commitment to adopting new technologies like green hydrogen, we hope she can help set the G20 agenda. This could be the beginning of a global energy transition reset to meet the 2030 and 2050 targets.
Arab Emirates (UAE) is investing heavily in oil and hosting the next climate summit. Does it apply?
Will this affect the results of fossil fuels?
This is not going to happen. The United Arab Emirates has arguably the largest foreign investment in renewable energy. Through MASDAR (also known as Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company), it has invested in approximately 44 countries. They started investing in renewables when there were no renewables.
The UAE has ambitious plans domestically. They are already investing in hydrogen and exporting ammonia. So they are seeing a new world. They are very interested in the success of the climate summit.