You may have noticed Lights On has been quiet for some time, and not because of a lack of stories from this corner of the world.
In fact, as the footprint of climate change grows deeper on all facets of life, South Asia’s frontlines matter more than ever. From altering the price of staples such as rice and wheat, to increasing energy demand among a vast population striving for better living standards, erratic weather - and the way India responds to it - affect the economy and the energy transition globally.
India and its neighbouring countries are lands of extremes. People in this part of the world have been coping with scorching temperatures, pounding rains and floods for centuries, and they have learned to expect and prepare for their onset. It’s easy to imagine they may be better equipped for the same disasters the rest of the world is only now starting to experience, from heat waves and devastating floods across Europe to wildfires in the US. But in this respect, climate change is the great equaliser. Monsoons that used to sweep across South Asia every year like clockwork are now delayed or early, their intensity unpredictable. Seasonal heat waves coming weeks earlier than expected devastate yields and put massive strain on the country’s grid. When it comes to disasters, the world is united.
What sets India apart from industrialised countries and most of the Global South are its development challenges combined with a rapid economic growth, which has the potential to release huge amounts of carbon in the coming years. The world’s most populous country and already the (distant) third largest global emitter of greenhouse gases, by 2040 India is expected to see the biggest increase in energy demand of all countries. The way it handles the compounding threats of poverty and climate change, fueling its development with more fossil sources or clean energy, will influence the global climate response.
But great risks are not all that’s worth attention. A carmaking powerhouse, India wants to become a leader in electric mobility. As well as consolidating its leadership in the solar energy space, it sets out to become a global competitor in green hydrogen and, down the line, it hopes to become an attractive alternative to China’s clean tech dominance.
Dear Reader, while the story of South Asia’s climate change battle and energy transition grows more urgent than ever, Lights On’s journey is coming to an end.
I am proud of all the stories I covered and the voices I gave a platform to since I launched the project in the throes of the first Covid-19 wave, in May 2020. While Delhi was on and off lockdown for the following two years, Lights On explored the consequences of the pandemic on the energy sector and imagined solutions for the mass distribution of vaccines, before one was even developed. Indian experts helped me unpack India’s net zero strategy and the significance of the global climate talks for South Asia. I wrote about how India trades with its neighbours and the world while navigating hostilities with China, and uncovered the fragilities of India’s carbon market.
Saying goodbye to Lights On is bittersweet, but my work in the climate and energy space doesn’t stop here. Starting from next week, I am joining Bloomberg as Commodities and Energy Editor for India. I will still be based in Delhi, where I will help shape the energy transition coverage as well as reporting for Bloomberg’s magazine Green. Joining a world class organisation that covers climate change like no other is a dream come true, and I can’t wait to work on bolder, more ambitious stories. I am grateful to you and the many others who helped me get there with feedback, tips and countless insightful conversations over the past three years - you made me the energy nerd I am today.
I will keep the newsletter archives online for a few months at least, hoping that a new editor will come along to take over the management of Lights On 2.0… if that’s you, please get in touch. Either way, I hope you will like to stay in touch and follow my stories on the Bloomberg platforms, on Twitter, LinkedIn and Threads.
All the very best,