Green recovery & co-benefits: new policy report India

The cur­rent COVID-19 pan­dem­ic pos­es a major chal­lenge for nation­al health sys­tems. Our new pol­i­cy report presents how the co-ben­e­fits of decar­bon­is­ing the Indi­an pow­er sec­tor can con­tribute to reviv­ing the nation­al health sys­tem and a green recov­ery in face of the cur­rent pandemic’s impacts.

Recov­er­ing from the eco­nom­ic shocks of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic and avoid­ing severe future shocks trig­gered through the cli­mate cri­sis do not rep­re­sent con­flict­ing inter­ests but instead a mutu­al­ly rein­forc­ing cop­ing strat­e­gy. Our study for­mu­lates a set of pol­i­cy actions to allow gov­ern­ment insti­tu­tions to cre­ate an enabling polit­i­cal envi­ron­ment to unlock the social and eco­nom­ic co-ben­e­fits of the new ener­gy world of renew­ables for the peo­ple of India. It focuss­es in par­tic­u­lar on skills devel­op­ment, eco­nom­ic pros­per­i­ty in rur­al areas and health ben­e­fits relat­ed to a less car­bon-inten­sive pow­er sector.

Ener­gy access: fos­ter­ing rur­al devel­op­ment
Pol­i­cy mak­ers can enhance rur­al devel­op­ment by sup­port­ing the instal­la­tion of solar mini-grid sys­tems. These can pro­vide a low cost elec­tric­i­ty sup­ply to rur­al con­sumers. Mini-grids can remain eco­nom­i­cal­ly viable and cost-com­pet­i­tive with the cen­tralised grid in rur­al areas of India.

Skill devel­op­ment: boost­ing job cre­ation
India can sig­nif­i­cant­ly boost employ­ment by increas­ing the share of renew­ables. Cre­at­ing a cen­tral authority/agency/body to train or re-skill work­ers from the coal sec­tor will sup­port them in ben­e­fit­ing from direct employ­ment in the renew­able ener­gy sec­tor. These tech­nolo­gies tend to be more labour inten­sive than con­ven­tion­al tech­nolo­gies: by 2050 more than 3.5 mil­lion peo­ple could be employed in the renew­able ener­gy sector.

Cre­at­ing a resilient health sys­tem: improv­ing people’s health
India can marked­ly improve the liveli­hoods of its cit­i­zens by reduc­ing ambi­ent air pol­lu­tion. Pre­ma­ture deaths can be avoid­ed by adopt­ing an accel­er­at­ed decar­bon­i­sa­tion path­way. Under the cur­rent sce­nario, the num­ber of pre­ma­ture deaths would rise to 830,000 dur­ing 2050. Mov­ing to an accel­er­at­ed decar­bon­i­sa­tion path­way would lead to the avoid­ance of more than 200,000 pre­ma­ture deaths.

With many old coal pow­er plants in India and lack­ing emis­sion con­trol tech­nol­o­gy, the coun­try is at a greater risk of health epi­demics. More sup­port­ive steps are required, apart from the above men­tioned pol­i­cy mes­sages. Fur­ther mea­sure such as the inclu­sion of air qual­i­ty aspects with­in the retire­ment plan­ning of pow­er plants and advanced mon­i­tor­ing and law enforce­ment can con­tribute to a more resilient health system.


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The report is the first of a four-part series pre­sent­ing co-ben­e­fits pol­i­cy oppor­tu­ni­ties for South Africa, Viet­nam, India and Turkey in light of cur­rent chal­lenges for health sys­tems and the econ­o­my due to the COVID-19 pandemic.