Amit Banka, Founder and CEO, WeNaturalists

Amit Banka founded WeNaturalists in 2019 with a simple motive – to give a purpose to  people’s passion for nature. Apart from being a successful entrepreneur, he is also an ardent  nature lover, wilderness explorer, and bird photographer. Holding an MBA in Finance and a Bachelor’s in Science, Amit has led a distinguished career  over 2 decades and spanning across sectors, while identifying key trends and offering strategic  solutions to businesses leading to significant value creation.

 

The world is at the precipice of massive change. This change can be good or bad, depending on our choices as we move forward. Climate change, shrinking glaciers, raging forest fires – there’s so much at stake. The time to turn towards nature-based solutions has never been more urgent. One of the critical focus areas is the energy sector. Among the Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 7 aims to ‘ensure universal access to energy services, increasing the share of renewable energy and doubling the rate of energy efficiency.’

For real change to happen on the ground – we need everyone to come together. What does this mean? The involvement of public and private stakeholders is critical in the fight to protect nature and make the clean energy transition.

Recognizing the need to shift to clean energy

Governments and private organizations have again made pledges to bring down their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – the latest being the 30×30 goal to slow down the loss of nature. But the Net Zero by 2050 report claims that CO2 emissions from energy and industry have risen by 60% since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) signed in 1992. The time for transformative action from private and public stakeholders is now. And recognizing that we need to make sustainable energy reality is the first step.

For public stakeholders, crafting effective public policies, incentivizing the renewable energy sector, and bringing about multilateral trade and cooperation will be beneficial. But it’s also necessary for the private sector to contribute to this transition. There are several strategies required to be applied to effectively make it a reality from digitalization, decarbonization, diversification and discovery.

So how will we decarbonize the economy?

The public sector needs to incentivize solar and wind power and push for innovations in clean energy technologies, including green infrastructure, appliances and more. We also need to find ways to recycle and reuse existing fossil plants, reduce the usage of concrete in construction materials, chemicals, etc. A holistic approach to reducing carbon emissions will be necessary to decarbonize the economy. 

It’s critical for public finance to be integrated with private capital. 

In short, making a transition to clean energy requires a complete overhaul of existing systems. This includes vital shifts towards renewables like solar and wind, as mentioned before. It also contains biofuels, CCUS, hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels.

I’m a firm believer that for any project to succeed, it needs to start on its own to create economic value and business sense. Now more than ever, when the costs of producing clean energy have been reduced, I foresee more serious participation coming from the private players. And it’s bound to happen. When the ability of large-scale projects to stand on their own feet is met and does not require government subsidies, we can work towards a clean energy future.

A case in point is PM Narendra Modi’s Independence Day announcement of the National Hydrogen Mission, made to make India self-reliant in the clean energy business. Soon, one of the country’s most significant private players, Reliance announced investments worth Rs. 75,000 crore in solar and also green hydrogen over the next three years.

So once the opportunity is created by public stakeholders and carried forward by private partners – the transition towards a sustainable future is not just possible. It is inevitable. All we need is political will as well as adoption strategies to make this happen. Systems that can create a level playing field and economic value creation for its stakeholders.

A favorable business environment and creating a level playing field are a must. 

The job of public stakeholders is to pave the way for a positive business environment so that private players find it conducive to bet their money or invest in long-term projects without the fear of losing money.

While the world is moving in this direction, it’s essential for a country like India that houses over 1.3 billion people and burgeoning energy consumption, to lead the world into a renewable future. 

Emerging economies have a huge role to play

A new International Energy Agency (IEA) report states that the world’s energy and climate future depends on developing economies like Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. India, along with Indonesia, shows massive potential due to its rise in demand per capita. Hence, the key is opting for sustainable models of development.

At the same time, current projections indicate that emerging economies could be significant contributors to carbon emissions. Hence, they must shift to clean energy. 

Yet, clean energy investments have gone down by 8% to less than USD 150 billion in 2020. IEA projections state that this needs to expand by more than seven times, to above USD 1 trillion by 2050.

Solutions in Clean Energy

We have to take calculated steps to opt for renewable energies – like solar and wind instead of fossil fuels. All stakeholders will be required to shift away from making new investments in coal, oil and gas. In all economies, primarily developing and emerging markets, there will be many jobs in clean energy. In its Net Zero by 2050, IEA estimates that annual clean energy investment worldwide will need to increase by 2030 to around $4 trillion, which is likely to create millions of jobs. These macroeconomic indicators can only improve when the public-private partnership flourishes in the true sense of the term. 

Where there is a will, there is a way. 

Clean energy technologies are burgeoning, even as the world pushes for more innovations. All we need to do is adopt them and make them a sustainable development model that future generations can reap benefits from.

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