Kolkata: Leading academicians, industry experts, and policymakers gathered in Kolkata on January 31 to deliberate upon the myriad challenges and opportunities associated with achieving a Just Transition towards a Net Zero Emission future by 2070.
The day-long seminar, jointly organized by the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines) Dhanbad (IIT (ISM)) in collaboration with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), witnessed insightful discussions and expert insights on the future of coal and strategies for a low carbon footprint.
The seminar commenced with a keynote address by Ajay Kumar Rastogi, Chairman of the Task Force on Sustainable Just Transition and Green Hydrogen for the Government of Jharkhand.
Rastogi emphasized the paramount importance of sustainability in any transition process, asserting that a transition cannot be considered “just” if it is not sustainable.
He highlighted the challenges of the just transition process, focusing on the need to assess the impact of transition on individuals, particularly their livelihoods and employment opportunities. Rastogi cautioned against potential large-scale migration triggered by the loss of livelihoods, drawing parallels with situations in Africa and urging preventive measures.
Furthermore, Rastogi stressed the importance of involving communities in the transition process and adapting their skill sets to align with the evolving energy landscape. He also underscored the need to address land degradation and desertification caused by the transition, advocating for intensive vegetation to combat pollution.
Discussing energy security during the transition, Rastogi suggested exploring solutions such as converting coal to gas, citing ongoing efforts in Australia in this regard.
Professor Rajni, Dean of Corporate Communications at IIT (ISM) Dhanbad and the conference convener, emphasized the central role of human beings in any transformative process. She emphasized the importance of recognizing the heterogeneity among individuals and the necessity for skilling and upskilling of the workforce to ensure a just transition. Prof. Rajni noted that capacity and capability-building exercises were essential for a sustainable and equitable future.
Jayanta Mitra, Senior Fellow at TERI and co-convener of the seminar, set the context for the event. He highlighted the seminar’s objective of engaging multiple stakeholders in discussions about repurposing coal mining infrastructure, supporting coal-consuming MSMEs, addressing energy transition challenges, diversifying the fossil fuel-based economy, fostering cross-learning, and developing a roadmap for an equitable future.
The seminar brought together experts from diverse backgrounds to tackle the complex issues associated with achieving a just transition in the face of the Net Zero Emission goal by 2070. Their insights and recommendations are expected to contribute significantly to shaping India’s path towards a sustainable and equitable future.