India and Nordic countries: Bound together by shared commitment for clean and green earth
India is pulling out all stops to go green and clean especially when it comes to energy generation and consumption
Blue comes a close second with the emphasis on 'blue economy” as “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth'. With green and blue in the colour spectrum, can India put the environmental red far away? How is India faring in this arena? The energy-efficient Volvo buses that dot the Indian roads stand testimony to India's early adoption of environmentally friendly ways.
These Made in Sweden buses are among the first 'inspirations' from the Nordic countries - Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden - which are leaders in green energy.
India is leveraging its diplomatic goodwill with the Nordic countries for clean and green energy. Comprehend these astounding facts for a minute to understand why the Nordic nations rule in this sector.
Denmark is set to generate 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030; Finland will touch the carbon-neutral goal by 2035 by investing heavily in bioenergy, wind power, and hydropower. Iceland, which is almost entirely powered by renewable energy, has set a goal to become carbon neutral by 2040. Norway aims to be carbon neutral by 2030. Sweden - a leader in using renewable energy sources such as hydropower and biomass - aims to be carbon neutral by 2045.
Technological collaboration between India and Nordic countries
Nordic countries, armed with environment-friendly technologies, are helping India in its green transition. For example, Denmark has announced sharing expertise in cleaning river water. Ranked on the top on the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), the Nordic country is planning to set up a smart river laboratory in Varanasi to monitor the cleaning of the Ganga, and also its tributary, the river Varuna.
India and Denmark signed a MoU worth Rs 1000 crore to this regard in February this year. Similarly, Norway, which has technology and experience in generating green energy, is cooperating with India in the field of offshore wind, battery storage, hydrogen safety and energy efficiency.
Last year, Norwegian Climate Investment Fund, managed by Norfund and KLP, Norway’s largest pension company entered into an agreement to take a 49% stake in a 420 MW solar power plant in Rajasthan developed by Italian Enel Green Power. Under the India-Norway Joint Marine Pollution Initiative, India and Norwegian organisations are working together to tackle plastic and chemical pollutants in India. In the recent past, India’s plastic waste has increased very high.
According to a report prepared by the Mumbai-based Marico Innovation Foundation, India generates around 3.4 million tonnes (MT) of plastic waste. Over a five-year period, plastic consumption in the country has risen from 14 MT in the 2016-17 to 20 MT in 2019-20. On the other hand, a report prepared by the Indian Institute of Science and Praxis Global Alliance said Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu together contribute 38% to the total plastic waste that is generated in India.
In this view, Norway’s help in managing plastic waste is of high significance. Last year in June, a virtual workshop on “Effective Plastic Waste Management to Tackle Plastic Pollution was organised under the aegis of the “India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative” by India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and New Delhi-based Norwegian Embassy. Already, a Norwegian cooperation project on capacity building for reducing plastic and chemical pollution in India (INOPOL) is on the track in Gujarat. It is providing science-based knowledge to India in reducing plastic pollution in the catchment areas of the river Tapi and Daman Ganga in Gujarat.
Similarly, Finish company ‘Clean Tech’ has decided to invest around US $2 million on waste management in Uttar Pradesh. It is about to set up a new waste disposal plant in Lucknow. Finland is supporting India in the prevention of air and water pollution; waste management; promotion of circular economy, low-carbon solutions, and sustainable management of natural resources, including forest, climate change, conservation of marine and coastal resources.
The joint statement released after the India-Finland virtual summit in March 2021, stressed on the need for promoting an inclusive and fair circular economy for combating climate change, protecting biodiversity, and achieving sustainable use of our natural resources.
India and Finland have also agreed to a sustainable partnership to bring out convergence in emerging technology and in areas like gas-based economy, biofuels, renewable energy, waste-to-energy, electricity storage and emerging fuels such as hydrogen. In the meanwhile, the Assam-based Numaligarh Refinery Limited is implementing with the help of Finish collaborators a first of its kind bio-refinery with bamboo biomass as feedstock.
Sweden, the largest Nordic country, has partnered with India in its green transition; six Swedish companies like Absortech, Alfa Laval, Alleima, Hitachi Energy, KraftPowercon and SKF have agreed to help India’s cement, iron and steel and automotive sectors in their efforts towards having successful green transition.
In November 2022, India and Sweden launched the Green Transition Partnership with an aim to collectively build a strong green and clean future for all. Sustainability, green transition, and innovation serve as key focus areas of ongoing trade and economic relations between India and Sweden.
Finland, which co-sponsored India’s Resolution at the UN to declare June 21 as the ‘International Day of Yoga,’ is sharing its expertise in geothermal energy, a renewable source of energy, with India. Geothermal energy is heat that is generated deep within the earth’s core. It is a clean, green, and renewable source and can be harnessed 24/7 for power generation.
India and Nordic countries are working together to fight climate change and are committed to protect the natural environment in accordance with the Paris Agreement. Known for its expertise in green technology, Nordic countries are cooperating with India in its goal towards green transition. Sharing warm relations between them, India and Nordic countries are committed to ambitious cooperation in renewable energy, energy diversification, smart grids and energy efficiency.
*** The author is a Hyderabad-based journalist; views expressed are her own