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There is a clear business case for renewable investment: Earth Day Webinar

Emerging Technology News commemorated the 51st anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, 2021, with the release of the Earth Day special issue of ETN magazine and by organizing a dialogue on this year's Earth Day theme: "Restore Our Earth: The Importance of Climate Literacy."

The webinar was jointly organized by Earthday.Org and India Energy Storage Alliance along with the ETN magazine. The virtual dialogue received an impressive attendance followed by a lively discussion between learned panelists touching on a gamut of environmental topics including climate education, circular economy, energy transition, climate action, and more. The panelist for the webinar included:

Karuna Singh, Regional Director- Asia, Earth Day Network

Vaishali Nigam Sinha, Chief Sustainability Officer, ReNew Power

Dr. Shalini Sarin, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Electromobilitat

Peter Saling, Director - Global Sustainability, BASF

Ajay Shankar, Distinguished Fellow, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)

Dr. Reji Mathai, Director, ‎Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI)

Dr. Rahul Walawalkar, President & MD, Customized Energy Solutions (India)

Ashok Thakur, Editor-in-Chief, ETN Magazine opened the virtual dialogue on an optimistic note acknowledging the green shift taking place globally.  

"The sense of urgency is not just because we might lose the opportunity we have, but also, and mainly, because nature is demanding it. A lost opportunity can be got again, but if we lose the climate war, we have no planet B," he added.

A common idea that all the panelists agreed with was, there is a clear business case for companies -- both globally and in India -- to invest in green energy and clean transportation today. Speaking majorly on the significance of adopting renewable energy and electric mobility, the panel gave a call to action to restore our environment using innovations in technology, natural solutions, education, and civic action. The panelist emphasized the significance of 'climate literacy' as a first step in curbing emissions and carbon footprint.

Renewable energy along with energy storage can be a 'climate-positive business asset' to mitigate price and regulatory risk the panelist underscored. A shift from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric ones is also a big part of lowering CO2 emissions, the panelist agreed, but electric vehicles are only as clean as the grid from which they are charged. Therefore, the panelist stressed the need for increasing share of RE in the energy mix for a serious transition to clean transportation.

Here are some excerpts from Earth Day webinar:

 Karuna Singh, Regional Director-Asia, Earth Day Network

- Climate Literacy is the foundation on which everything else rests. The broader theme is to redirect the earth sustainably and it can only happen with climate literacy.

- There is a growing body of evidence that suggests the relationship between ecology and economics is not as competitive as assumed. There is a clear business case for switching to a circular economy.

-  All sectors have to adopt green practices. In the case of circular economy, it has to make a shift to mainstream. 

Vaishali Nigam Sinha, Chief Sustainability Officer, ReNew Power

Adoption of clean energy is necessary and has to be encouraged at all levels. 

- We weren't talking about these things [renewable energy, electric vehicles, and energy storage] a few years ago and now we have strategies, we are committing funds and investors are willing to invest in these ideas.

- India's renewables sector is a good example that when as government, policymakers, private players and other stakeholders commit to working towards a goal systematically, you can get to action. Shared efforts have to be put in to enhance the response towards climate change.

 Dr. Reji Mathai, Director, ARAI

- India is adopting stringent international emissions standards for cutting down CO2 emissions. India has jumped to BS-VI from BS-IV even though this transition was tough, the transportation sector has coped well.

-  Low-carbon intensity fuel, bio-fuels, LNG are some of the developments that will have a great impact and helped in decreasing emissions. One of the areas, the government has started focussing on is electric vehicles and incentive schemes for scrappage are also now being offered.

-  ARAI is actively working on skill development. We have an academy to train the industry people and make them future-ready in new areas such as electric vehicles, startups, and others.

Peter Saling, Director Global Sustainability, BASF

- We acknowledge climate change as one of the major challenges of the 21st century and are working on transformation towards sustainability. We focus on scaling up low-emission technology to industrial levels.

-  Ambitious targets are technically feasible, so BASF intends to reinforce its targets and commitments. BASF has set an ambitious goal of net neutrality by 2050. We aim to achieve it by deploying sustainable technologies.

- BASF continues to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions worldwide by 25 percent compared with 2018.

 Dr. Rahul Walawalkar, President & MD, Customized Energy Solutions (India)

- We see energy storage as an enable for both greener grid and electric transportation.

-  The economics of renewables are undeniable. Similar to the cost reduction witnessed in the solar industry, energy storage technologies have also witnessed significant cost reduction through the years. The scale-up in manufacturing capabilities has led to this significant cost reduction.

- We need a 'cradle-to-grave approach' for resource conservation and sustainability. Urban mining has to be encouraged as batteries [used in energy storage systems] are completely recyclable. We can recover 99% of materials and they can be reused. Recycling has to be made a part of sustainable practices.

Dr. Shalini Sarin, Co-Founder & Executive Director Electromobilitat

- In India, the narrative must shift when we speak of climate action.

- Public has to take pride in recycling, conserving, making day-to-day lifestyle changes, the net outcome of this will be something the society gains from.

- Switching from ICE-based vehicles to electric vehicles will definitely help curb pollution but our efforts should also focus on increasing RE in the electricity grid. For this, EV OEMs, battery manufacturers, utilities, and all stakeholders have to come together.

Ajay Shankar, Distinguished Fellow, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)

- This year we have reached an inflection point globally, the public opinion has shifted massively in favor of doing things in a sustainable way. Green energy and clean transportation are the two major building blocks for the transition to a sustainable future.

- Several studies also indicate if you increase the share of renewables in electricity generation, there is no additional cost at the system level. Another cause of optimism is technology and cot have also come down in the sector.

- My personal opinion is we should directly switch to electric vehicles than using gas as an intermediary because that would mean we again have to phase out gas at some point.

To watch the recording of the 51st Earth Day webinar, visit:

Author : Shraddha Kakade
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