With the built urban form witnessing increasing intensity and frequency of adverse climate events, cities will have to play a central role in achieving India's ambitious ‘Net Zero’ target by 2070. Maharashtra is implementing Climate Action Plans (CAPs) for five major cities, including Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Nashik. It has also unveiled the ‘Net Zero Plan’ for 42 AMRUT cities. At the national level, MoHUA’s Cities Readiness Report 2021, under the ClimateSmart Cities Assessment Framework 2.0, reveals that 35 cities have initiated the development of disaster management plans. Thirty others have started work on creating vulnerability assessments and Greenhouse Gas inventories as an initial step for preparing CAPs. Across India, only nine cities have designed city-level CAPs. This is a mere drop in India’s vast urban landscape; evidently, much remains to be done for urban India to become climate-resilient.
The scale of the systemic green transition demanded by climate change is so overwhelmingly extensive and urgent that it cannot be delivered without the engagement of the private sector. Increasing political will is making cities join the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ‘Race to Zero’ global campaign; however, such policy intervention and reforms for mitigation and adaptation will not succeed without private sector participation. For example, Mumbai’s CAP target to increase the share of renewable energy in the city’s energy mix to 50 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050 will need enormous private sector involvement in exploiting the city’s rooftop Solar PV potential, which can meet more than 50 percent of its peak demand.
Additionally, the complexities of supplying critical environmental public goods such as low-carbon infrastructure have also made public-private partnerships (PPPs) inevitable. Therefore, exploring how to leverage the enterprise of PPPs is imperative. However, while public-private partnerships aim at harnessing the scale of the public sector on the one hand and the private sector’s financial resources and technical capacities on the other, India’s chequered experience with infrastructure PPPs has necessitated the search for sustainable PPP models in climate action. A model that can ensure the optimal provision of environmental public goods while favourably impacting the public sector’s efficiency and operational capacity and facilitating the private sector’s productive involvement.
This roundtable will deliberate on the following essential questions in envisioning the contours of such a public-private partnership:
- What challenges must be overcome to envision a sustainable institutional framework for PPPs in climate action?
- What are essential features that will characterise the structure of sustainable PPP models for environmental public goods?
- What kind of financial architecture will underpin such PPPs?
- What incentives can enhance private sector engagement in climate action PPPs?
- How can MSMEs and the start-up ecosystem be leveraged in delivering a PPP model for the provision of environmental public goods at scale?