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“A one hundred percent shift to renewables looks unlikely in the near future”

“In renewable energies majorly depend on mix of solar power, wind, hydro; any aberration such as cloud cover over sun or rains or lower velocity of wind on a particular day will lead to power blips and it is not available round the clock”, Aishwarya Vinay Kumar states in an interview to BIZweek.  She underscores that though we are working on storage capacity such as battery technologies, these require significant investments. For now, unfortunately, our current businesses are modeled to run on fossil fuel which assures constant power supply and not intermittent energy blips, the Head of Strategy & Business at Care Edge Ratings Africa, concludes.

Aishwarya Vinay Kumar, Head Srategy & Business, Care Edge Ratings Africa

What is your definition of climate change and what is your assessment of the situation at global level?

Before I go on to quote a pseudo-scientific definition of climate change, I would like to take a step back to grasp a pragmatic and holistic view towards understanding these phenomena that’s impacting the collective global and questioning our very survival on the planet. The summers are torrid, winters cooler, intense and frequent rains, upheaval in severity of cyclones-hurricanes- tornados, raging forest fires, flash floods, prolonged droughts, accelerated coral bleaching, ocean eutrophication, melting polar caps, rising sea levels, decline in population of pollinators, global loss of wildlife at an unprecedented pace et al are all climate induced disasters, signifying the dynamic physical forces of nature shaping our world in this century.

These events are largely perceptible to us and can be felt in varying degrees of distress. Studies largely point to anthropogenic activities as the singular factor for current climate crises. The term ‘global warming’ has been put on back burner, due to its significant cause of socio-political tensions amongst policy makers, reality being, according to scientists, that we are entering ‘the sixth mass extinction’, albeit caused by humans this time.  Nine out of ten warmest years since the 1880s have occurred since 2005 and the last five warmest years on record have all occurred since 2015.

As we speak, heatwaves in EU are being recorded at 104°F / 40°C wherein Greece is already fearing wildfires, especially in areas with high winds; torrential flooding in Northern states of India; flash floods in US Northeast and extreme heatwave in Western US with temperatures reaching 128°F/53°C  due to stubborn heat dome trapping a third of the population in ‘opposite sides of the coin’ weather; Not to forget the 2023 Canadian wildfires; Ethiopia heading towards 6th consecutive failed rainy season indicating a prolonged drought disrupting the lives of approximately 24 million people in the Horn of Africa. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2022 report states that every tenth of a degree of additional warming will accelerate the threat of survival of all living beings and the ecosystems. Consequently, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is not a safe proposition for sustenance of life on earth.

According to me, it is dramatic, yet logical to conclude that climate change crises cannot be ignored by governments, enterprises, individuals, in pursuit of prolonged economic developments causing irreversible damages. A collective efficacy by all stakeholders in the ecosystem could perhaps avert climate crises as we stagger toward a tipping point that is dangerously not too far away.


You have been here for some time now. What is the impact of climate change with respect to Mauritius and how is it likely to evolve since we are Small Island Developing States?

Small Island Developing States (SIDs) are extremely or severely vulnerable to climate change, primarily due to rising sea levels and geographic location in active tropical cyclone basins, despite contributing to less than 1 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. SIDs face a direct physical threat such as submergence of land mass, increased storms and cyclones destroying crops, rise in vector-borne disease such as dengue and malaria, economic vulnerabilities such as supply chain disruptions due to pandemic.

Firstly, with respect to sea level rise for SIDs, a steady increase in the Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL), poses a grave situation. As per NASA’s satellite sea level observations, ocean surface area rose from 0 mm in 1993 to 98.5 mm as of February 2023. It is proven in research that melting glaciers and ice sheets is one the dominant sources of GMSL rise apart from thermal expansion. Around the islands, coastal cities and settlements, low-lying land masses are all subject to GMSL assault, in future time scales.

For over 27 years, satellite altimeters have measured the sea surface height of our ever-changing oceans.

Secondly, the repercussions of atmospheric warming on SIDS would mean frequent rains, extreme temperature variations leading to disruptions to routine course of life. The IPCC states that the only way to thwart warming to 1.5°C and achieve the Paris Agreement goal is to take immediate action on short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), which clear from the atmosphere anywhere between several days to 15 years, compared to CO2. Yet their potential to warm the atmosphere can be many times greater. Reducing SLCPs has the potential to avoid up to 0.6°C of global warming by 2050. For SIDS, this silver lining could mean slowing the rate of rise in GMSL by approximately 20% in the coming 27 years and 50% by 2100, thereby giving time to adapt.

Finally, as SIDS, we are limited by land mass and resource efficiency is a key area of priority for cutting down short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs). SLCPs comprise anthropogenic black carbon, GHG gases including methane, hydrofluorocarbons. These pose damage to local crop production, disturbing rainfall cycles and islanders’ health. Apart from tourism and fishing, which are the primary drivers of SLCPs in island nations, we need to find alternatives for sustained growth and development.

For Mauritius, we are guided by SAMOA Pathway (SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action), which has enabled us to adopt the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To fortify ourselves and be resilient, the Government has chartered a pathway of transitioning into a high income economy, focusing on inclusivity and greening the economy, providing a safe environment to residents and tourists alike.

You see, balancing acts is a levitating task that policy makers around the world are fraught with. The consequences on response and reactionary mechanism levers need a paradigm shift in designing dynamic economic models that resonate with UN SDGs for a sustained future for humans, ecosystems, species alike.


We have been talking about the rise of sea level affecting SIDs, can we have an indication with regards to what will be the impact on our coastal resources and the number of years we should expect the impact to happen?

The coastal and marine zones comprise a whole network of interconnected ecosystems of beaches, lagoons, fishing villages, coves, mangroves, salt marshes, wetlands, estuaries, intertidal zones, marine parks. The chronic impact of climate change on coastal resources is stifled with environmental degradation and economic damages. Natural phenomena such as storm surges and cyclones coupled with anthropogenic activities of land development on coastline, has led to increased soil and coastal erosion in our country.

The brutal implications of coral sand extraction from lagoon, which stands banned from 2001, were severe coastal erosion and led to the death of approximately 27% of living corals. The Government launched a series of restorative efforts to ensure beach nourishment and dune restoration, coral farming, mangrove plantation, rehabilitation of coastal communities, adaptation measures such as transition to basalt rock quarrying for construction.  In retrospect, a number of plausible measures have been chartered to ensure sustainable development for resilience and sustained economic growth.

To stay on the topic, should we understand that there should be a rethinking of the coastal real estate projects and investments.

Mauritius is a magnificent country endowed with abundant natural beauty and rich biodiversity, making it a sublime destination for tourists. It boasts of some of the best beaches in the African Union, with luxurious and élite resorts dotted along the coastline with world class golf courses.  As part of growing sustainability initiatives, real estate / resorts are now being built or refurbished using technology, by incorporating energy efficiencies, rainwater harvesting, green construction materials, recycling and waste management policies.     

Real estate development is an economic indicator of evolving demand and supply of land availability. For had it not been a case of sparse population, Mauritius’ real estate prices would be tantamount to that of Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Mumbai, NYC with limited land space and bursting population. However, through revised budgetary measures to attract investments and foreign currency flow, the Government has proposed attractive property schemes for investors. This is not a formidable idea, considering a whole spectrum of development strategies associated with Mauritius, for imploring reduction on external debt, boosting local employment and domestic consumption, especially in a post-pandemic landscape.


As per the Ministry of Environment, commercial / residential real estate / manufacturing / infrastructure projects entail environmental impact assessment (EIA) or Preliminary Environment Report (PER) depending on pollution levels and scale of projects. EIAs or PERs are typically part of project feasibility study and are commissioned at the conceptual stage of the projects.  These reports clearly outline environmental risks and measures to mitigate risks associated with the projects.

As we stand witness to several rampant real estate projects on the island, we are fraught with a dilemma of dichotomy between sustainability and economic growth, whilst encouraging investments. The lacuna being, do stakeholders pause and deliberate on EIA / PER reports before financing or investing in them?


In a conversation prior to this interview, you spoke about differences between adaptation and mitigation in the context of climate change. Could you please elaborate the same for our readers?

Climate change is inevitable, and it is affecting us all, every minute. The repercussions of continued exploitation of natural capital can be overwhelming in case of catastrophes and mankind has bleak chances of survival and withstand, even if we continue to adapt and mitigate through the climate crises.

Both adaptation and mitigation strategies are adopted by Governments around the world, depending on the complex web of growth, which I mean to say, is economic pursuits for development of nations which entail energy mix, food & health security, water resources, fiscal & trade management et al. In the face of climate change, humanity collectively must act on both fronts and at the same time.

In the context of energy sources, mitigation largely points to phasing out dependency on fossil fuels, which contribute to current levels of GHG emissions; whilst adaptation refers to shifting gears to renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind, hydro, biomass.

Mitigation and adaptation policy tools are available to finance the transition that will help us walk toward NetZero goals. Some of the popular ones are carbon trading, carbon tax, green buildings, large scale infrastructure changes, smart cities, battery technologies etc.


There are lots of workshops, panel discussions and conferences on green financing / impact financing. Could you please explain these concepts and tell us how it is related to climate change.

Green financing is a subset of impact financing. Green financing encompasses a gamut of financing options for economic activities that are “environment friendly” or “green” in a rightful sense. As per G20, the estimates for funding requirements are north of USD 100 trillion to achieve sustainable development goals and for the global energy sector alone, north of USD 35 trillion. These financing options help us to adapt and mitigate the challenges posed due to climate changes.

Financial institutions such as Banks, investment managers, insurance companies are responsible for financing emissions, both direct and indirect. Hence, there is an urgent need to enhance the ability of the financial system to mobilize private capital for green and sustainable investments. Adoption of taxonomies helps define activities that are green. The World Bank, IFC, and the EU have their own taxonomies for sustainable financing or investments.

The International Capital Market Association has issued principles and guidelines for sustainable financing tools such as green bonds, social bonds, sustainability linked bonds, and sustainable bonds. By adhering to these principles, enterprises ensure avoidance of greenwashing, build investor confidence and seek better pricing for these financing options.


We have witnessed a number of speeches and initiatives with respect to a complete shift to renewables from fossil fuel by 2030-50. Can we achieve this goal?

As of today, we don’t live in a utopian world by adopting a voluntary degrowth model/ eco-economic decoupling, which is essentially, growth without corresponding increase on environmental resources. However, a three-pronged approach of technology, policy, finance will help increase energy efficiencies on renewable sources and reduce dependencies on fossil fuels.

According to me, however, a one hundred percent shift to renewables looks unlikely in the near future. Countries can formulate their energy mix policies and opt for decarbonization goals based on demand supply complexities. The path to sustainability is a little easier, with limited population, limited industrial output and strict environmental protection acts.

It should come as no surprise that there are countries that have attained carbon neutrality such as Bhutan, Comoros, Gabon, Guyana, Madagascar, Niue, Panama, Suriname. The underlying dynamics are more than 65% – 93% landmass is covered with rainforests, whereby the policies promote forestry management rather than deforestation and sustainable management of natural resources. These countries offer some of the largest global ‘carbon sinks’ which have led them to form carbon credit partnerships to offset emissions and help preserve their forests and ecosystems.


Should we understand that fossil fuel exploitation is here to stay in the long run?

Like I said before, since renewable energies majorly depend on a mix of solar power, wind, hydro; any aberration such as cloud cover over sun or rains or lower velocity of wind on a particular day will lead to power blips and it is not available round the clock.

Though we are working on storage capacity such as battery technologies, these require significant investments. For now, unfortunately, our current businesses are modeled to run on fossil fuel which assures constant power supply and not intermittent energy blips.

In a report titled ‘World Energy Transitions Outlook Preview’ by IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency), calls for a fundamental course correction for energy transition to sustain the 1.5°C climate target. This includes cutting CO2 emissions by approximately 37 Gt from 2022 levels and working toward scaling up to meet energy demand of 1066 GW annually from 2023 to 2050 under the 1.5°C scenario.

On an introspection note, I would first focus on energy efficiency. Not wasting is the first step toward conserving. Not wanting is another world altogether. Green hydrogen is another interesting space to watch out for.

You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

In May 2023, France passed a law to accelerate construction of new nuclear reactors. Your views on this?

Amidst protests from the Greens and radical left party, who voted against the bill, French lawmakers voted to commence construction of at least 4 new nuclear reactors. It is part of the decarbonization pathway the Government has chosen to adopt, stating that it will drastically reduce dependencies on fossil fuel and by adopting nuclear energy as part of the energy mix portfolio, it is transitioning toward cleaner energy. 

As on date, there are 436 active nuclear reactors in 32 countries around the world, with the USA leading the show followed by France, China, Russia, Japan, India. Nuclear energy is clean energy with nil emissions. However, Uranium, the source material though commonly found on the crust of earth, is not non-renewable and the process of extraction requires mining, and building reactors are all energy intensive.  The biggest worry is the management of radioactive waste and water, safety and health hazards of humans and the environment.

On this note I would like to conclude that we don’t have a planet Z as an option. As of now, planet Earth is our only home. In the words of Jane Goodall “you cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

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