The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed to the world how capable the global economy is to deal with systemic risks. As a developing country, India is at the crossroads of economic development and environmental sustainability. The pandemic might have slowed down our growth at the moment but the transition to an environment-friendly growth paradigm would require a shift to a resource-efficient economy.
Many believe that the pandemic is a crisis of our own making. Biodiversity is declining faster than at any time in human history, climate change is destroying natural habitats and multiplying risks, natural resources like fossil fuels, water and minerals are depleting rapidly and unchecked pollution of air and water bodies is undermining ecosystem health. Many countries and policy leaders are now looking at adopting environment-friendly and sustainable practices & technology.
The situation at hand has opened their eyes to the way we are treating the environment and what can happen if we do not pick sustainable practices over short-term benefits. Recently, a global think tank, The Energy Transitions Commission (ETC), comprising leaders from across energy, industry, finance and civil society, outlined key priorities to support economic recovery from the ongoing coronavirus crisis and highlighted the energy transition required to avoid a climate crisis in the future.
Clean technology is being looked at as the underpinning of inclusive growth everywhere. Every sector of the economy, be it industry, infrastructure, the service sector, solar, agriculture, has potential for clean technology interventions that will help in the transition to a sustainable growth path in the long term. Going forward, let’s look at how the ecosystem can support cleantech entrepreneurs to bring about deep-rooted transformational change in the country.
Developing Consistent Policy Frameworks
The role government and legislators play is key to the future of cleantech and there is much that they can do to improve the regulatory and policy environment for innovators and entrepreneurs. For example, a report by EY & FICCI states that China has been stepping up its efforts to support it’s flagging solar sector. It’s been doing so by urging lenders to ease financing constraints and give tax breaks to companies, using M&A to reorganize their operations. It had also increased its 2015 domestic solar target by 67% to 35GW and was promoting competition in the market through consolidation and overseas investment.
Today, China’s renewables and energy efficiency targets have made it one of the global leaders in the cleantech market.
Investing In Sustainable Technologies
According to a study conducted by the German govt, the global cleantech market is anticipated to reach $3 Tn by 2025, up from $601 Bn in 2014. This will give investors an exciting opportunity to invest in new businesses that not only impact the environment but also offer significant growth potential for years to come. Strong drivers like population growth, resource constraints, alternative jobs will see more public opinion recognizing the need for cleantech.
In the US, a recent Cleantech Group report has shown that big corporations and ‘Big IT’ like GE, BP, Google and Apple, are increasingly making major investments in cleantech. These companies are realizing that cleantech can help them drive durable growth and create differentiation while at the same time increase the sustainability of their businesses.
Create A Supportive Network For Cleantech Innovators
Innovation needs to go hand in hand with entrepreneurship and for innovators to pursue their business ideas in cleantech, having a supportive network of advisors, industry leaders, policymakers, technology experts are crucial. Transforming an idea into a commercially viable business is not an easy task and entrepreneurs need all the support they can get. The startup ecosystem can foster greater knowledge sharing, partnerships and support for innovators who want to explore opportunities in this sector.
Encourage Big Vision And Ambition
Over the past decade, more than 200 cleantech startups have been founded in Switzerland which are still active today. The industry in 2017 accounted for almost 5% of Swiss GDP and the number of jobs had increased by 25% over the last five years.
The important lesson for other regions is that this has been achieved because Switzerland has shown huge ambition and commitment to supporting cleantech on a large scale. There is also a Swiss Cleantech Masterplan which is being implemented, that was set up by the government in 2010. It includes a broader vision and a number of objectives designed to strengthen the innovation capacities of cleantech companies and research institutions in Switzerland.
If our goal is to see new sustainable technologies succeed in reducing carbon emissions, overcome climate change, water scarcity, air pollution we must create products that consumers and businesses want and can adopt in large numbers.
Merely solving a technology challenge means little if investors do not back the creative startups that will take every advance and run with it till the end. We need to create an ecosystem that will incentivise and nurture clean technology innovation and diffusion, and also encourage development and widespread adoption.