Indo-Chinese Cooperation for SDG 7
I am writing this contribution for the newsletter fresh from Annual Workshop conducted in preparation to this year’s G20 conference to be held in Osaka Japan. The workshop was attended by representatives from G20 countries. It was quite important for us as the Presidency of G20 will come to India in 2022. India will be completing 75 years of Independence in 2022. In that special year, India looks forward to welcoming the world to the G-20 Summit. “Come to India, the world’s fastest growing large economy! Know India’s rich history and diversity, and experience the warm Indian hospitality,” is the spirit behind hosting G20. In this regard, Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked Italy for allowing India to play the host, as previously, Italy was to be the host for the international forum of the world’s top 20 economies in 2022. Italy, the designated host for the G20 meet in 2022, gracefully stepped aside accepting Prime Minister’s proposal for India to be the host in 2022 instead of 2021. Be that as it may, the concern for different member countries are different though each of them address concern for SDGs. However, G20 leaders have agreed to include innovative financial mechanisms and partnerships, such as impact investment for inclusive and sustainable growth. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the next host of the G20 Summit, among others, highlighted the urgent need to address climate change on the grounds that it was essential to enhance environmental and economic growth together. He explained, “This meant creating good circular economy-environment system, and have the private sector invest to bring it to life. The Osaka environmental priority would include acting against marine plastic pollution and supporting marine biodiversity. A related priority was energy.” The Ministerial Meeting on Energy Transitions and Global Environment for Sustainable Growth will take place in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture on June 15 and 16, 2019. The other issue, he flagged, was the issue of aging population. The climate Change issue revolves round the issue of energy management where India and China have to play a big role.
Both India and China, big user of energy in the Asian continent, have climate action plan that hinges around energy management. The energy consumption is continuously rising in both the countries, the rate of energy consumption growth being higher in India. Be that as it may, because of the geopolitics, both India and China face huge energy risk. Global Energy Institute’s Energy Security Risk Scores call for the need of immediate partnerships between India and China to ameliorate energy security risks. Among top 25 Large Energy Using Countries, both India ranked at 20 and China ranked at 15 fall in the bottom half. As far as India is concerned, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, monitors SDG 7 for the country. SDG 7 has got linkages with some other SDG goals. As per the country’s estimate, there is a financial gap of US$ 406 billion in implementing SDG 7. After rounds of debate, it was felt that both India and China can actively turn towards international cooperation for blended finance programmes. These programs, of late, have emerged as an excellent solution as they can adequately bridge the SDGs’ budget deficits.
The UN Sustainable Development Solution Network SDG Report 2018 scores India at 59.1 and China at 70.1 in terms of the achievement of SDG 7; Sweden occupies the highest position in this aspect with a score of 85.0. In the domain of energy, while India’s performance is more or less stagnated, China’s performance is moderately getting better, but not at a desired rate. Deliberations on the Sino-Indian cooperation on energy opportunities have been endorsed vociferously for close to a decade now. However, in the purview of SDG 7, as well as the successive reports on the country wise performances, a contemporary revisionist approach may be required for Sino-Indian partnerships on energy cooperation. This is to facilitate energy structure transformation in the long run. As far as energy is concerned, the main overlapping areas for both the nations lie in the growing demand-supply imbalance leading to concerns of long term energy security and the surging import dependency. It is, therefore necessary that both the countries base their bilateral ties on such common grounds, to enhance partnerships on both upstream production of energy resources as well as downstream activities such as transmission and distribution of gas, refinement, marketing of petroleum products, creating translational and networks of energy pipelines.
China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative which has huge potential for reframing global energy cooperation. Though India is not participating in this global project, it is not expected that this will hinder alliances between the two countries. China’s energy demand is likely to fall in the future due to its demography and deviation from investment led growth but most of the business opportunities associated with the SDG 7 lie with the developing countries with large market sizes, such as India. As countries included among the world’s top oil importers, India and China have often collectively bargained for better prices in the global oil market. Iran, being crucial for the energy security of both the nations, has caused huge economic losses due to supply side disruptions following the recent US sanctions. Against this backdrop, India and China have created a joint working group on oil and gas – the first cooperative institutionalized setup on energy issues, following the recent visit of the deputy chief of China’s National Energy Administration to New Delhi.
Sino-Indian partnership has a strong focus on SDGs. For trade enhancement, this partnership will be one of the major in the near future. Energy cooperation on multilateral platforms such as BRICS and the G20 Global Energy Governance agenda calls for both countries to play a substantial role. While leveraging on their individual comparative advantages in expanding energy sector trade and investments on both sides, the way forward for India and China is to work on better bilateral ties. G20, this year, while focussing on the agenda of climate change and thus, energy cooperation will seek answers from these two Asian giants. It is not going to stop in Osaka; it is likely to haunt even in 2022 when India will be playing the host.
Prof. Arunaditya Sahay
Professor and Dean (Research), BIMTECH