As the much-awaited Union Budget took centrestage in the Parliament, the prominence was clearly held by Green growth throughout the announcements. From green credits to green energy to green mobility to green farming, the finance minister had some major priorities lined up in the budget for the coming years.
The finance minister declared that the government will undertake multiple programmes for green growth, as well as policies for energy efficiency across various economic sectors. According to the minister, these green growth initiatives serve to reduce the carbon intensity of the economy and provide large-scale green job possibilities.
What is green growth?
Green growth is the practice of designing structures and employing processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life cycle. It incorporates activities from site selection to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and deconstruction that efficiently use energy, water, and other resources, reduce waste, pollution, and environmental degradation, and protect occupant health.
The finance minister spoke about forging ahead for a new India through green growth initiatives to reduce the carbon intensity of the economy while also creating large-scale green job possibilities. These initiatives are in line with the Electricity (Promoting Renewable Energy Through Green Energy Open Access) Rules notified by the Ministry of Power in 2022. The policies are aimed at further accelerating our ambitious renewable energy programmes, with the goal of ensuring everybody has access to affordable, dependable, sustainable, and green energy. The decrease of the Open Access Transaction limit from 1 MW to 100 kW, as well as adequate provisions for the cross-subsidy fee, supplementary surcharge, and standby charge, will encourage common customers to purchase green power at reasonable costs. Furthermore, because the Rules resolve other concerns that have hampered the spread of open access, ordinary consumers can now readily obtain renewable energy electricity.
Several announcements on green growth were made by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the Union Budget 2023 on Wednesday, February 1. Several experts predicted that this year’s scientific budget would emphasise green energy and clean water supplies, and the Union Budget did just that.
Green growth efforts, according to Sitharaman, can help to reduce carbon emissions substantially in the future. These activities will also create many green job opportunities. Green employment, according to the International Labour Organization, contributes to the preservation or restoration of the environment, whether in established sectors like manufacturing and construction or in new, developing green industries like renewable energy and energy efficiency.
As green growth stands for fostering economic growth and development, it ensures that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which the world’s well-being depends, and it can be achieved by catalysing investment and innovation to underpin sustained growth. Furthermore, green growth is not a substitute for sustainable development, but rather a practical and adaptable way to achieve quantifiable progress across its economic and environmental pillars. In fact, green jobs will help to increase energy and raw material efficiency, reduce waste and pollution, aid in climate change adaptation, limit greenhouse gas emissions, and protect and restore ecosystems.
Sitharaman declared that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has provided a vision for “LiFE,” or “Lifestyle for Environment,” to “drive a movement of ecologically conscious lifestyles.” She went on to say that India is strongly committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2070 in order to usher in a green industrial and economic transition.
What’s in the pipeline?
Ms. Sitharaman noted the following green projects that are being carried out in accordance with this priority:
- Green Hydrogen: The Minister announced an outlay of ₹19,700 crore for the recently launched National Green Hydrogen Mission, which will facilitate the transition of the economy to low carbon intensity. It will reduce India’s dependence on fossil fuel imports and make the country “assume technology and market leadership in this sunrise sector.” The budget for the project was kept at ₹19,700 crore. The goal, as per the government, is to produce 500 MMT (million metric tonnes) of green hydrogen per year by the year 2030.
- Energy transition: The Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has budgeted ₹35,000 crores for priority capital investment in energy transition, net zero targets, and energy security.
- Battery Storage: To promote long-term development, the Finance Minister approved viability gap funding for 4,000 MWh of battery energy storage systems. A detailed framework for pumped storage projects will be developed based on the project as well.
- Re-evacuation of renewable energy: Re-evacuation allows generated power to be quickly evacuated to the power system for distribution. Ms. Sitharaman declared that a ₹20,700 crore interstate transmission infrastructure for evacuation and grid integration of 13 gigatonnes of renewable energy from Ladakh will be built, with a government support of ₹8,300 crore for the entire project.
- Green Credit Programme: The Minister announced that a Green Credit Programme will be notified under the Environment Protection Act of 1986 in order to induce behavioural change. According to her, this will incentivize environmentally sustainable and responsive actions by businesses, individuals, and local governments, as well as help mobilise more resources for such initiatives.
- Vehicle replacement: According to the Finance Minister, replacing obsolete polluting vehicles is a crucial aspect of greening our economy. In addition to the vehicle scrapping policy outlined, the cash to scrap outdated central government vehicles has also been authorised in the budget. States will also be helped to replace obsolete cars and ambulances.
The finance minister also announced the GOBARdhan scheme (Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan), under which 500 new waste-to-wealth plants will be developed. This will assist in promoting a circular economy where materials, services, and products will be kept in circulation for as long as possible.
200 compressed biogas (CNG) plants, including 75 in metropolitan areas, and 300 community or cluster-based plants will be among the 500 ‘waste-to-wealth’ facilities. This project will include a total of ₹10,000 crore investment. The finance minister also announced that a 5% compressed biogas (CBG) tax will be implemented for all organisations marketing natural gas and biogas. CBG is purified biogas with a high methane content. Appropriate financial support will be provided for biomass collection and biomanure distribution.
Viewed holistically, these efforts will help drive India towards a brighter future while achieving its eco-friendly, green objectives.