In December 2015, the debate on climate action reached a defining moment when world leaders signed an agreement to build a clean global economy at the Climate Change Summit in Paris. On the same platform, the world also saw India emerge as a leader at the forefront of that change, as it accepted the need to curb carbon emissions and reinforced its development imperative. As India stands on the threshold of a major transformation, bringing new opportunities to its 1.3 billion people, adequate energy supply will be crucial. Best practices from countries who have successfully reformed their economies in order to meet their clean energy targets would be crucial. Ontario, Canada, a global leader in clean tech solutions, would be ideally placed to partner with India in this initiative. Indian policymakers are gradually realising the importance of foreign partnerships in the clean and renewable energy space.
Why an Indo-Ontario partnership now?
Ontario has a long history of driving economic growth and building for the future by investing in infrastructure in a sustainable, green and energy-efficient way, making it a natural partner for India as it works towards the goals of the Smart Cities Initiative. There are more than 2,800 environmental industry companies in Ontario that generate about $7 billion in revenue and employ more than 65,000 people. Ontario has held the top spot in renewable electricity for the past few years, topping out at $12.7 billion in investment by the end of 2014.
Both India and Ontario have a well-defined climate change strategy. Ontario is pumping $100 million from the Ontario Green Investment Fund to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency and support clean tech innovation. Employment in Ontario is being generated by giving a fillip to green businesses. India is committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 33-35 per cent by 2030 as compared to 2005 as part of its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC). Research shows that if India meets its target of renewable power capacity of 175 GW by 2022, it will be able to curb carbon emissions well beyond the set target. At the same time, challenges are aplenty. In India, 240 million people still lack access to energy and current renewable energy capacity is 5 GW only. With the objective of building a robust infrastructure in India, PM Narendra Modi has been gathering support from different countries around the world. Earlier this year, Ontario signed 13 agreements worth $59.4 million with various state governments and businesses in India’s clean tech sector.
Ontario: Making tall strides in clean energy
The work done in the clean tech space as part of Indo-Canadian relations also provides a solid foundation for a mutually beneficial Indo-Ontarian partnership in the energy sector. Out of India’s target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, 100 GW will come from tapping solar energy. Canadian companies like SkyPower Global and Canadian Solar have already established themselves as part of major solar power projects across the country. While SkyPower Global has secured 400 MW AC of solar PV projects in Madhya Pradesh and Telangana, Canadian Solar has more than 300 MW of premium and high efficiency modules spread across the length and width of the country. These companies come with a global purchasing power, experience and track record to help meet India’s renewable energy targets. The same is true of clean tech companies based in Ontario. Ontario is investing more than $134 billion over 10 years in infrastructure — the largest in the province’s history — on priority projects such as roads, bridges, public transit, hospitals and schools.
On the right track
On the policy front, Ontario has been agile in enacting positive changes. In June 2015, the Infrastructure for the Jobs and Prosperity Act was put together. Once enacted, it will require current and future governments to regularly table a long-term infrastructure plan covering at least 10 years to support job creation, training opportunities, economic growth, environmental protection and design excellence. As key initiatives and campaigns from the Indian government like Make in India, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and 100 Smart Cities – among others – pick up steam, there will be a growing need for sustainable solutions. To meet the rising energy demands and to secure a lower carbon sustainable future, Indian policymakers are making efforts to promote investments in energy supply. The government is playing an active role in promoting the adoption of clean and renewable energy resources by offering various incentives. An India-Ontario alliance will open up doors for setting up more clean tech micro-grids in India, and will also push imports of advanced technological solutions for Indian beneficiaries from their Ontarian counterparts.
To ensure a sustainable planet for future generations, it is crucial to share our expertise in helping developing economies transition from a coal-fired to a sustainable, low-carbon economy. In just 10 years, Ontario has become a leader in the development, use and manufacturing of clean energy. India can learn by making significant, long-term investments designed to replicate some of the best practices followed by the province in the clean tech space, which would support India’s achievement of its 2022 renewable energy targets.
The author is Counsellor (Commercial – Ontario) and Senior Economic Officer at Government of Ontario, Canada