The Inaugural Session of the 2nd Energy Finance Conference India 2020 builds the blueprint for an economically and socio-politically feasible sustainable energy transition

A distinguished panel of academics, policy experts and activists pitches for restructuring the energy systems to drive home a meaningful low-carbon energy transition

Press Release | December 7, 2020

New Delhi: “Tribute to the farmers who are protesting. After all it is the energy of the farmer, which feeds 1.3 Billion people,” Vandana Shiva, noted environmental activist and food sovereignty advocate, said in her inaugural address. She was speaking at the second Energy Finance Conference India, jointly organised by Indian Institute of Technology-Madras and Centre for Financial Accountability with Climate Trends as the knowledge partner.

She was joined by Makoma Lekalakala, South African activist and winner of Goldman Environment Award 2018, Ajay Shankar, distinguished fellow, TERI, EAS Sarma, Former Power Ministry & Finance Ministry Secretary and Sagar Dhara, Climate Justice activist. Prof. Sudhir Chella Rajan, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Madras chaired the session.

Bringing forth the urgency of situation, Makoma Lekalakala said, “India, like South Africa, needs just energy transition right now because of the energy poverty we are experiencing.” She added, “Fossil fuel companies need to be held responsible. We must amplify & intensify the challenging of corporates’ financing fossil fuels so that we have an inclusive & robust people-led energy transition process around the world. We need to call for a payment of reparations from the investment companies that have financed fossil fuel for a long time.”

Under the larger framework of political economy of energy transition, the first session captured perspectives and propositions on diverse narratives around the transition paradigm. While Dr. Vandana Shiva spoke of the need to remember the farmer, the soil and our food systems in context of understanding renewable energy, EAS Sharma spoke of the politics of various energy sectors. He said, “Solar energy in our country is not decentralised & democratic. It is extremely corporatized and carries heavy loans crippling. There is no space to talk about the waste that is produced from solar panels either.” 

The Conference started with a strong emphasis on the need for a just transition. Makoma Lekalakala spoke emphatically about the need for a bottom up process for this transition. “Ordinary people, local communities and workers need to be given a space in decision making as well as implementation of this transition because they will be facing the consequences with the least institutional, structural or political support,” she said. 

Emphasizing the critical role that finances play in the transition paradigm, Ajay Shankar said “the policy discussion should be about how we get investments in support of transition of energy to make that transition viable enough. Also we need to assess policy & regulatory measures to push renewable energy projects.”

Drawing strong linkages between energy transition and justice and equity issues, senior activist Sagar Dhara said, “Solutions without energy and climate justice are not really solutions. The entire world needs to be on the same page to ideate and enforce these solutions.” He added, “Privatisation of nature and anthropocentrism has contributed towards extracting more and more energy creating an utilitarian attitude towards energy.”

In economies like those of India the dialogues on the need for transition towards a sustainable energy economy becomes worthwhile due to multiple reasons; one the one hand the Indian national circumstances equates growth in per capita energy consumption with economic growth itself and on the other the skewed character of energy economics in the country refuses to ensure even a minimum access to energy services for a broad section of the population. Accordingly, the EFCI 2020 aims to include further discussions on what constitutes energy transition and what would such a transition embody for the global population in general and Indian public in particular, the economic, socio-political and cultural ramifications of the transition in motion, the myriad sectoral inter- linkages and overlaps within the process of energy transition, the policy statutes and institutional mechanisms guiding energy transition in India and lastly, the role of financial governance and economic regulatory measures in assisting in the attempted energy transition in the country.

The conference, with 6 sessions between December 7 and 18, 2020, will bring together financial & energy experts, academic, civil society organisations and industry with diverse viewpoints to converse, in an effort to understand, share, reflect and critically engage with each other.

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