PIC organized an Online National Conference on Climate Economics on ‘Energy, Environment and Economic Growth – Emerging Challenges’ on 22nd and 23rd January 2021 evenings. It was organized in collaboration with Climate Collective Pune, Ecological Society and Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC). The conference received a good response on both days.

Day 1: 22nd January 2021
The conference commenced with the Inaugural Address by Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog. He said that, “Climate Change is a reality, which is causing irreversible damage to the earth. The government, industries and the civil society will have to act together as stakeholders and take responsibility to fight climate change. We have to understand that carbon constraint is a binding constraint and we’ll have to take cognisance of it while preparing our development models.” He talked about the imperative for transition to renewable energy, rational consumerism, natural farming and adopting ‘Green’ Hydrogen where direct electrification is not possible, like transport, cement and steel.

This was followed by welcome address and agenda setting for the Conference by Prof. Amitav Mallik, Conference Convener and Trustee, PIC. Prof. Amitav Mallik said, “The conference is a first-of-its-kind attempt to find synergy between environment and economy so that both can thrive in the future despite many unavoidable disruptions. Climate change is affecting economic progress and its revival is both a personal and social responsibility. Investing in renewable energy and eco-friendly projects today will reduce costs in the future.”

The two sessions of the day were Inter-relationship between Environment and Economics and Low Carbon Economy for Green Growth. Session One introduced the urgency and scope of the topic with talks on Environmental Consequences of Limitless Economic Growth by Dr. Chirag Dhara, Climate Scientist IITM, Pune; Environmental Degradation and Impacts on Economic Resilience by Dr. Ramprasad Sengupta, Professor Emeritus, JNU, Delhi and Building Synergy between Environment and Economy by Dr. Gurudas Nulkar, Faculty and Trustee, Ecological Society, Pune. The second session focused on ways to achieve green development and was led by a keynote talk by Dr. Ashok Khosla, OBE, Former Co-Chair, UNEP International Resource Panel on Development Alternatives for Resource Conservation. The session speakers included Dr. Dipak Dasgupta, Lead Author, UN-IPCC on Green Investment Mechanisms and Performance Indices, Dr. Peter Heck, MD, Institute of Material Flow Management, Germany on Integrating Circular Economy in Industrial Ecosystem and Dr. Priyadarshini Karve, National Convener, INECC on Leveraging Low Carbon Economy for Green Development.

Day 2: 23rd January 2021
The second day started with the third session on Changing Energy Dynamics for India. Dr. Rahool Panandiker, MD, Boston Consulting Group, gave the keynote talk on Imperatives for Transition to Renewable Energy (RE). Mr. Ajit Kapadia, Vice Chairman, Centre for Fuel Studies and Research (CFSR) spoke on A Strategy for Rapid Shift to Renewable Energy in India, Dr. Saon Ray, Economist and Senior Fellow, ICRIER, Delhi on Energy Economics and Green Financing and Dr. Nitant Mate on 24X7 RE and Storage Technology. The last and fourth session was a panel discussion on Pathway to an Integrated Environmental-Economic Policy in order to realize the actions and ideas shared in the conference. It was moderated by Prof. Amitav Mallik. The themes discussed were Limitations to Environmental-Economic Synergy and Ecological Integrity by Dr. Anupam Saraph, Future Designer; Environmentally Responsible Economic Growth and Development by Dr. Sharachchandra Lele, Distinguished Fellow ATREE, Bengaluru; Innovation and Governance for a sustainable future by Prof. L S Shashidhara, Ashoka University, Sonipat and President, IUBS; and Technology challenges for Net Carbon Neutrality by Mr. Arvind Karandikar, Managing Director, Nexus Energy Tech. It also included youth perspectives and questions from PIC EECC team.

The session ended with a Special Address by Adv. Vandana Chavan, Hon MP, Rajya Sabha, who has led and represented many environmental initiatives and movements. MP Chavan said, “We have to create a clean, green and healthy environment and adopt sustainable development patterns and also involve businesses and industries to play a significant role in reducing carbon emissions… Environment and economy should be treated as two sides of the same coin and the need for coordination and balance between economic development and environment protection for sustainable development is critical. ”

Prof. Amitav Mallik, Conference Convener, gave the conference highlights and said, “We cannot change the global crisis, but through dialogues, we can make a difference. Our focus should be on identifying environmental priorities with economic priorities and containing human greed. He called for a movement from governments, businesses and citizens to work together to avoid damages caused by ecological and climate crises.” Dr. Vijay Kelkar, Vice President, PIC, in his concluding remarks said, “We have two challenges – decarbonisation and eliminating poverty and hunger. We have to persuade the corporations and policy-holders to be a part of the solution.”