G20 from a Climate Lens: Analysing Climate Contributions and India’s Standing

Author: Rishya Dharmani
July 2023 was the hottest month in recorded history  (Scientific American, 2023) For more than a century, the grand state centric narratives refrained from discussion on climate,  which was then seen as a  part of ‘low politics’. Today, the science in climate change discourse has been replaced by geopolitical stunts in high-profile climate summits. And yet the baulking response of the world to devise actionable policies in the face of this existential crisis is not confounding. Even as record-breaking disasters are being reported, most countries and their populations do not see global warming as causing epic future disruptions. India, increasingly considered the fastest-growing among newer debates seize the day in climate change conferences even as old issues remain unresolved. 
Advanced economies [AEs] with favourable international relations, demographics, and massive public investments hold the reins of climate leadership. It has pioneered leadership in steering global discourse on the climate crisis and national policies to secure EV transition, greenhouse gas reductions, curb deforestation and protect biodiversity. The Ministry of External Affairs [MEA] has specified that the Indian presidency will focus on climate finance, development of green hydrogen and energy security (Ministry of External Affairs, 2022). Continuous attempts of the erstwhile first world to dictate the environmental ‘terms of trade’ in global stocktakes including even the contours of mitigation policies of Least Developed Countries [LDCs] is an infringement of their sovereign rights. The developing world must balance its developmental needs with climate commitments over the renewable transition and claim technology transfer. G20 offers a viable platform for actionable goals and agenda setting by securing civil society, business, and G2G engagement. 
Managing climate change means future-proofing communities from the inevitable catastrophic impacts of a wide array of destructive events like droughts, floods, landslides, unseasonal rainfall, increasing cyclonic formations, and wildfires among others. G20 members count as the fastest growing economies of the world and their societies remain threatened by multifarious impacts of climate change which include income security, access to infrastructure, health, education services and threat to ecosystem services. 
Regional imbalances and domestic policies of these countries over energy transition, management of bioresources, and disaster risk reduction will impact the world. Conflicts over resources can easily spiral into geopolitical showdowns, the possibility of which will increasingly become clearer as climate emergency approaches a point of no return. The food-fuel-fertiliser crisis initiated by the Russian-Ukraine war is a case in point for the G20 to conflict-proof its nutrition and energy security.