According to Joseph Nye, “the ability to shape the preference of others” is called ‘soft power’. The resources of soft power may include values, policies and institutions. In the past few years, India has deployed these resources on climate matters. India has deployed three narratives – the power of example; the power of resistance; and the power of institutional leadership.
Power of example
- Since 2008 itself, India has been urging developed countries to act responsibly on climate change while arguing the need to transfer technology and finance for them so that other countries can adopt climate-friendly pathways.
- India has built a quasi-carbon market by introducing Perform, Achieve and Trade scheme mandating energy efficiency targets and trading of energy certificates for large industries.
- Super-Efficient Equipment Programme for appliances, and a national cooling action plan to develop alternative technologies for air-conditioning and refrigeration are some of the other examples where India has shown the world the way to tackle these important issues.
- India has created a large market for LED lightbulbs and has transformed the street lighting system by introducing over 300 million bulbs distributed in less than four years period. There are efficient fans, air-conditioners and electric vehicles which are upcoming to relieve the stress from the energy grids.
- PAHAL Scheme introduced in November 2014 directed subsidies for LPG cylinders directly into bank accounts of poor households by creating a sustainable pool of resources by identifying real beneficiaries through Aadhar linkage platforms.
- Similarly, the ‘Give it Up’ programme created a behavioural nudge with nearly 10 million households surrendering their LPG subsidies within the first year itself.
- UJJWALA programme increased household access to LPG from 56 percent in 2014 to over 80 percent in January 2018.
- The National Solar Mission which began in 2010 targeted 22,000 MW of electricity generation by 2022, whereas the total installed capacity was 17.8 MW. It was revised to reach 175,000 MW to be achieved by 2022 and 69,000 MW has been achieved already by March 2018.
- Unlike European countries which adopted consumer subsidies to push the renewable energy agenda, India utilised reverse auctions and competitive bidding for solar and wind energy projects, the result being the tariffs have turned out to be the lowest in the world. Therefore, India has shown the world that renewable energy can be made cost-effective by using market oriented sound policies.
Power of resistance
- India has resisted inequitable policies of the developed world and demanded climate justice by focusing on equity. India has been employing these tactics since the early 1970s in global environment politics.
- The Copenhagen Accords in 2009 eroded the obligations between developed and developing countries, but India’s power of resistance over equity enshrined a key principle of ‘climate justice’ back into the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.
- In Kigali Amendment to Montreal Protocol in 2016, India successfully used resistance techniques to delay the freezing down of HFC consumption not just for itself but for fellow developing countries. It effectively highlighted difference between itself and China in projected emissions i.e. India’s HFC emissions being 7 percent while that of China’s being 31 percent of the world total. Therefore, India and China would now freeze HFC consumption by 2028 and 2024 respectively.
- In the recent global environment pacts such as Paris and Kigali, India managed to get its way by being perceived as a dealmaker by adopting a flexible approach without compromising on principles of equity, justice and differentiated responsibility.
Power of leadership
- India’s leadership and diplomatic skills were effectively demonstrated when it joined hands with France to launch the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in November 2015 on the sidelines of Paris Agreement.
- ISA has been already ratified by 15 countries in November 2017 giving way to a new treaty-based organisation with more than 61 members out of which 32 countries having already ratified it by March 2018.
India’s climate change actions are its currency for its soft power ambitions. It has used political will domestically, pursued values of equity and justice internationally and upended wisdom on the ability of developing countries to lead the international institutions. But it should remember that soft power continues to rely on hard delivery, so the attention must not wither away with the recent successes.
Source – Business Standard
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