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IEA launches first in-depth review of India’s energy policies

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In partnership with NITI Aayog, the International Energy Agency (IEA) today released the first in-depth review of India’s energy policies

The report highlights the achievements of India’s energy policies and provides recommendations to support the government’s goals of promoting well-functioning energy markets and boosting deployment of renewables. 

Dr Fatih Birol (Executive Director of the IEA) presented the key findings of the IEA in-depth review of India’s energy policies in New Delhi in the presence of Shri Pralhad Joshi (Minister of Coal), Shri Dharmendra Pradhan (Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Steel), Shri R K Singh (Minister for Power and Renewable Energy), Dr Rajiv Kumar (Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog), Shri Amitabh Kant (CEO of NITI Aayog), key energy secretaries, ambassadors, think tanks and the media. 

The IEA regularly conducts in-depth reviews of energy policies for its member and association countries. This is the first review carried out for India, which has been an IEA association country since March 2017. 

Introducing the report, NITI Aayog Special Secretary Shri. R.P. Gupta welcomed and commended the hard work of the IEA and said, “As India builds on the remarkable growth and development of its energy sector, this in-depth review will help the Government in meeting its energy objectives by setting out a range of recommendations in each energy policy area.” 

NITI Aayog CEO Kant, who brought up the idea with the IEA to conduct the review, said: “With clear goals in place, the country is making great strides towards affordable, secure and cleaner energy for all its citizens. India is working hard to move towards its aspirations of transforming the energy sector” 

“The IEA has the privilege of enjoying a close relationship with India. This first in-depth review of the country’s energy policies illustrates the value of our growing collaboration,” said Dr Birol. “The energy choices that India makes will be critical for Indian citizens as well as the future of the planet. This was demonstrated at the IEA’s 2019 Ministerial Meeting, which mandated the Agency to start consultations with India for a strategic partnership that could serve as a path to eventual membership, a game-changer for international energy governance.” 

The IEA report congratulates the Indian government on its outstanding achievements in extending citizens’ access to electricity, affordable efficient lighting and clean cooking in record time through historic schemes like SAUBHAGYA, UJALA and UJJWALA, while pursuing energy market reforms and the swift deployment of renewable technologies. The report highlights the strong growth of renewables in India, which now account for almost 23% of the country’s total installed capacity. The review also found that energy efficiency improvements in India avoided 15% of additional energy demand, oil and gas imports, and air pollution as well as 300 million tonnes of CO2 emissions between 2000 and 2018.

India is becoming increasingly influential in global energy trends. The country’s demand for energy is set to double by 2040, and its electricity demand may triple, according to the IEA report. Indian oil consumption is expected to grow faster than that of any other major economy. This makes further improving energy security a key priority for India’s economy, the report says.

The IEA welcomes Indian government policies designed to conduct large-scale renewable energy auctions, open up coal mining to private companies, and promote access to oil and gas markets for foreign investors. The report offers a wide range of recommendations for reforms in support of India’s goal of promoting open and well-functioning energy markets in sectors such as coal, gas and electricity. These include building strong regulators to ensure non-discriminatory access, moving from state allocation to market pricing, and further rationalising energy subsidies. 

In India’s renewables-rich states, the share of variable renewables in electricity generation is already above 15%, a level that calls for dedicated policies to ensure they integrate smoothly into the power system. NITI Aayog can play a strong role in working with the states to implement power sector reforms, advance grid integration, improve flexibility and coordinate energy policy decisions.

The review also strongly encourages India to institutionalise energy policy coordination across government with a national energy policy framework. 

NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Dr Kumar emphasised that India’s energy goals cannot be achieved without strong coordination of policies and targets between central and state governments, notably on electricity market design and renewable targets, and that a stronger cooperation is therefore needed on these fronts.

Coal Minister Joshi said: “With the support of Amitabh Kant and Dr. Rajiv Kumar, India recently launched commercial mining operations. IEA’s report will be very helpful for designing our future course of action in the energy sector.” 

Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Pradhan said: “NITI Aayog is already preparing a National Energy Strategy, and I would like to propose an annual event where NITI Aayog and the IEA bring together global energy stakeholders to have structured energy dialogue. We look forward to engaging with the IEA on oil security and on helping India move towards a natural gas-based economy.” 

Power and Renewable Energy Minister Singh congratulated the IEA and NITI Aayog for the launch of the report: “India’s energy policy is a global story. India has the largest unified power grid that operates in single frequency. India has moved from scarcity to surplus electricity over the past few years while implementing the largest and the fastest energy access and energy efficiency programmes in the world.” 

The report will help India to design implementation strategies to achieve secure and sustainable energy access for its citizens.

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Post-COVID-19, regaining citizen’s trust should be a priority for governments

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coronavirus people

The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated governments’ ability to respond to a major global crisis with extraordinary flexibility, innovation and determination. However, emerging evidence suggests that much more could have been done in advance to bolster resilience and many actions may have undermined trust and transparency between governments and their citizens, according to a new OECD report.

Government at a Glance 2021 says that one of the biggest lessons of the pandemic is that governments will need to respond to future crises at speed and scale while safeguarding trust and transparency. “Looking forward, we must focus simultaneously on promoting the economic recovery and avoiding democratic decline” said OECD Director of Public Governance Elsa Pilichowski. “Reinforcing democracy should be one of our highest priorities.”

 Countries have introduced thousands of emergency regulations, often on a fast track. Some alleviation of standards is inevitable in an emergency, but must be limited in scope and time to avoid damaging citizen perceptions of the competence, openness, transparency, and fairness of government.

 Governments should step up their efforts in three areas to boost trust and transparency and reinforce democracy:

 Tackling misinformation is key. Even with a boost in trust in government sparked by the pandemic in 2020, on average only 51% of people in OECD countries for which data is available trusted their government. There is a risk that some people and groups may be dissociating themselves from traditional democratic processes.

 It is crucial to enhance representation and participation in a fair and transparent manner. Governments must seek to promote inclusion and diversity, support the representation of young people, women and other under-represented groups in public life and policy consultation. Fine-tuning consultation and engagement practices could improve transparency and trust in public institutions, says the report. Governments must also level the playing field in lobbying. Less than half of countries have transparency requirements covering most of the actors that regularly engage in lobbying.

 Strengthening governance must be prioritised to tackle global challenges while harnessing the potential of new technologies. In 2018, only half of OECD countries had a specific government institution tasked with identifying novel, unforeseen or complex crises. To be fit for the future, and secure the foundations of democracy, governments must be ready to act at speed and scale while safeguarding trust and transparency.

 Governments must also learn to spend better, according to Government at a Glance 2021. OECD countries are providing large amounts of support to citizens and businesses during this crisis: measures ongoing or announced as of March 2021 represented, roughly, 16.4% of GDP in additional spending or foregone revenues, and up to 10.5% of GDP via other means. Governments will need to review public spending to increase efficiency, ensure that spending priorities match people’s needs, and improve the quality of public services.

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Sweden: Invest in skills and the digital economy to bolster the recovery from COVID-19

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Sweden’s economy is on the road to recovery from the shock of the COVID-19 crisis, yet risks remain. Moving ahead with a labour reform to facilitate adaptation in a fast-changing economic environment, and investing in digital skills and infrastructure, will be crucial to revive employment and build a sustainable recovery, according to the latest OECD Economic Survey of Sweden.

The pandemic triggered a severe recession in Sweden, despite mild distancing measures and swift government action to protect people and businesses. GDP fell by less than in many other European economies in 2020, thanks to reinforced short-time work, compensation to firms for lost revenue and measures to prop up the financial system, but unemployment still rose sharply. Solid public finances provided room for further stimulus in 2021 to buttress the recovery.

 The Survey recommends maintaining targeted support to people and firms until the pandemic subsides, then focusing on strengthening vocational training and skills and increasing investment in areas like high-speed internet and low-carbon transport. Addressing regional inequality, which is low but rising, should also be a priority as the recovery takes hold.

 The Survey shows that Sweden has been among the most resilient OECD countries in the face of a historic shock. Yet, like other economies, it faces challenges from demographic changes and the shift to green, digital economies. Investments in education and training, and labour reforms along the lines negotiated by the social partners, will support job creation and strengthen economic resilience. Building on Sweden’s leadership in digital innovation and diffusion will also be key for driving productivity.

 After a 3% contraction in 2020, interrupting several years of growth, the Survey projects a rebound in activity with 3.9% growth in 2021 and 3.4% in 2022 as industrial production resumes and exports recover. The recovery in world trade is bolstering the Swedish economy, however the country remains vulnerable to potential disruptions in global value chains.  

The pandemic has aggravated a mismatch in Sweden’s job market, with unfilled vacancies for highly qualified workers coinciding with high unemployment for low-skilled workers and immigrants. The public employment service needs strengthening to provide better support to jobseekers, including immigrants and women, and labour policies should strike the right balance between supporting businesses and workers and supporting transitions away from declining businesses towards growing sectors.

A rising share of youths and older people in the population, especially in remote areas, is affecting the finances of local governments, which provide the bulk of welfare services. Strengthening local government budgets and ensuring equal welfare provision across the country will require providing tax income to poorer regions more efficiently and raising the economic growth potential across regions through investments in innovation. Improving coordination between government entities and reinforcing the role of universities in local economic networks would help achieve that aim.

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Fewer women than men will regain work during COVID-19 recovery

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Generations of progress stands to be lost on women and girls' empowerment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: ILO

Fewer women will regain jobs lost to the COVID-19 pandemic during the recovery period, than men, according to a new study released on Monday by the UN’s labour agency.  

In Building Forward Fairer: Women’s rights to work and at work at the core of the COVID-19 recovery, the International Labour Organization (ILO) highlights that between 2019 and 2020, women’s employment declined by 4.2 per cent globally, representing 54 million jobs, while men suffered a three per cent decline, or 60 million jobs. 

This means that there will be 13 million fewer women in employment this year compared to 2019, but the number of men in work will likely recover to levels seen two years ago. 

This means that only 43 per cent of the world’s working-age women will be employed in 2021, compared to 69 per cent of their male counterparts. 

The ILO paper suggests that women have seen disproportionate job and income losses because they are over-represented in the sectors hit hardest by lockdowns, such as accommodation, food services and manufacturing. 

Regional differences 

Not all regions have been affected in the same way. For example, the study revealed that women’s employment was hit hardest in the Americas, falling by more than nine per cent.  

This was followed by the Arab States at just over four per cent, then Asia-Pacific at 3.8 per cent, Europe at 2.5 per cent and Central Asia at 1.9 per cent. 

In Africa, men’s employment dropped by just 0.1 per cent between 2019 and 2020, while women’s employment decreased by 1.9 per cent. 

Mitigation efforts 

Throughout the pandemic, women faired considerably better in countries that took measures to prevent them from losing their jobs and allowed them to get back into the workforce as early as possible. 

In Chile and Colombia, for example, wage subsidies were applied to new hires, with higher subsidy rates for women.  

And Colombia and Senegal were among those nations which created or strengthened support for women entrepreneurs.  

Meanwhile, in Mexico and Kenya quotas were established to guarantee that women benefited from public employment programmes. 

Building forward 

To address these imbalances, gender-responsive strategies must be at the core of recovery efforts, says the agency. 

It is essential to invest in the care economy because the health, social work and education sectors are important job generators, especially for women, according to ILO. 

Moreover, care leave policies and flexible working arrangements can also encourage a more even division of work at home between women and men. 

The current gender gap can also be tackled by working towards universal access to comprehensive, adequate and sustainable social protection. 

Promoting equal pay for work of equal value is also a potentially decisive and important step. 

Domestic violence and work-related gender-based violence and harassment has worsened during the pandemic – further undermining women’s ability to be in the workforce – and the report highlights the need to eliminate the scourge immediately. 

Promoting women’s participation in decision-making bodies, and more effective social dialogue, would also make a major difference, said ILO. 

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