Adani’s deceptive push in green energy

Gautam Adani and his company’s move to green energy would be funny, if not so serious, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark.

Imagine the tobacco company investing in smoking-reduction programs, or the arms manufacturer attending a conference proposing to ban guns and seek a better future. Gautam Adani, one of India’s most ruthlessly adept billionaires, has added his name to the growing list of corporate cross-dressing, using ecological credentials as his camouflage for fossil fuel predation.

The central feature of Adani is having a nose to step on the cart and push forward. Everyone does it, at least when it comes to renewable energy sources. Recently, the Adani Group, an entity specializing in power generation, real estate, commodities and port infrastructure, pledged to invest $70 billion dollars in the green energy transition and associated infrastructure in what it calls “an integrated hydrogen-based value chain.” .

In the field of solar energy, the company has forged its way up through Adani Green Energy and has created vast “solar parks” spanning thousands of hectares in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The acquisition of such land has entailed significant costs for the local farmers, many of whom have protested this alienation and loss of fertile land.

Adani’s job promise is wrong

Despite the grants from the Queensland government, it appears that the Adani mine in central Queensland could employ as many as 300 production workers.

Adani’s program has expanded relentlessly and is part of a series of approaches that appear to be winning investment from companies like French multinational corporation TotalEnergies, which has poured in to acquire 25 percent of a stake in Adani New Industries.

In it, the Indian billionaire is simply chasing what his other colleagues in the fossil fuel line are doing: pretending to go green and hoping no one notices the lame joke. In this venture, Adani hopes to make his company the largest renewable energy producer in the world by 2030 (certainly the joke), which may be tempting for some laughter, but for the seriousness of it.

At the Forbes Global CEO conference held in Singapore, Adani was confident and displayed the confident consciousness of a transvestite.

He said:

He also told his audience that, in addition to “our existing 20 GW renewable energy portfolio,” the new business would be “expanded with an additional 45 GW of hybrid renewable energy generation across 100,000 acres.” He proudly reminded listeners that this was “an area 1.4 times the size of Singapore”.

In April this year, he told the India Economic Conclave that his country was “on the cusp of decades of growth that the world wants to tap into. Therefore, there can be no better defense of our interests than atmanirbhar right now”. The Hindi word in the statement, which stands for self-reliance, is instructive enough, a hallmark of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nationalist drive.

As with most billionaires in history, success is an easy wedding of self-aggrandizement and patriotic purposes, a matter of making money and wrapping oneself in the flag. In fact, it is a blatantly calculating urge to combine interests of a different kind, especially those of an environmentally friendly nature. “For India,” Adani told the audience at the IEC, “the combination of solar and wind power coupled with green hydrogen opens up unprecedented possibilities.”

By making greenwashing an essential part of its public relations, the Adani Group is promoting ramped up ecological crossdressing worldwide. In October 2021, the London Science Museum announced a sponsorship deal with Adani at the Global Investment Summit, leading up to the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow.

The agreement includes the development of an exhibition space titled “Energy Revolution: The Adani Green Energy Gallery”.

Dame Mary Archer, Chair of the Science Museum Group, explained that the gallery would provide “a truly global perspective on the world’s most pressing challenge. We face a serious threat, but the future is not predestined”.

Adani pirates hold Australia hostage

Unsurprisingly, Adani may have lied to secure government approval for his mine, writes editor-in-chief Michelle Pini.

Critics were less than impressed by the museum’s lighthearted refusal to take into account Adani’s spotty record on human rights and treatment of Indigenous communities in both India and Australia. Protests were organized at the entrance to the museum. Two trustees have resigned.

However, nothing escapes the core business of the Adani Group, which has close ties to the Modi government, which is always eager to shape it as a sphere of influence. The renewable energy source cannot hide the practical, solid elements that keep Adani great in mining, gas distribution and transportation.

The latter was particularly noteworthy: the company won government tenders to operate a number of airport facilities, despite lacking any aviation experience. This was a source of consternation for Thomas Isaac, Kerala’s finance minister, whose state government was ignored in the bid for Thiruvananthapuram airport. “People of Kerala will not accept this act of brutal favoritism,” he stated in 2020.

Whether it’s brazen cronyism or fat-as-thief solidarity, no one, in size and influence, has as much influence on New Delhi as Adani. As Tim Buckley of Climate Energy Finance, a Sydney-based think tank, explains, “his political power, his ability to understand the country’s location in India, is unmatched”.

The Adani Group also remains controversial and deeply entrenched in controversial projects like the Carmichael Mine in Queensland, Australia, where it increasingly resembles a relic, an echo of ordinary ecological vandalism best put away.

The company made a concerted effort to suppress the findings of a university report over the lack of consultation in mining operations with traditional owners, who had not “given their free, prior and informed consent” to the operations. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination also expressed concern in 2019 that Adani’s consultations on the Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) “may not have been conducted in good faith”.

All of this paints a picture of a company bent on stepping on its toes with ruthless disdain. For his efforts, Gautam Adani is at a point below the peak of wealth, the second richest man in the world. Only the alien-minded Elon Musk is barring his route on the list of the rich list. Ecological travesty, it seems, pays off.

dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Cambridge Scholar and Lecturer at RMIT University. you can dr. Follow Kampmark on Twitter @BKampmark.

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