Collaboration in renewable energy between the United States and India is crucial to maintaining the pre-eminence of both countries on the international stage, according to panelists at a Harvard College Global Energy Initiative-sponsored event on Monday night.
The panel, titled “Igniting U.S.-India Renewable Energy Collaboration and Innovation,” brought together three experts in the field of renewable energy: President and CEO of green non-profit invVest Probir Ghosh, invVest Ambassador for Alternative Energy for Transportation Vinod Kumar, and senior adviser to the World Bank Dilip R. Limaye.
With the consequences of climate change looming, the panelists emphasized the importance of renewable resources, arguing that climate change can be addressed while ensuring economic growth.
“Increasing energy efficiency is absolutely the most cost-effective way to reduce the energy supply and demand gap while also mitigating climate change,” said Limaye.
The panelists also drew connections between the transition to cleaner energy and maintaining the influence of the United States and India on the world stage—especially in light of China’s “unprecedented” economic growth, Ghosh said.
According to the panelists, China’s burgeoning economic power stems in part from the country’s ability to decree economic policy in ways that India and the United States cannot.
“In China, you do what the government says or you’re arrested. In India, we don’t have that kind of system,” Limaye said.
“As two slow-moving democracies, the question is: how can we be more competitive than China?” asked Ghosh, noting the opportunities for India to learn from American innovation and technical expertise and for American companies to invest in renewable resources in India.
“The two largest democratic societies in the world have a great opportunity to work together in this area,” he added.
The panelists concluded by stressing the importance of student activism in promoting energy efficiency.
“Your personal involvement can make a huge difference in the lives of people in emerging countries,” said Ghosh.
Riju Agrawal ’13, the event’s organizer, echoed Ghosh’s sentiments, adding that one of the goals of the Global Energy Initiative is to empower students to get involved.
“The intent of this event was to help students understand that energy issues are not unique to the United States. India and the United States both need solutions, leading to natural synergy and cooperation,” Agrawal said. “Unless students do something, all this talk doesn’t amount to much.”