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The New Decade Times | REI Summit 2034

by Neil Walker, May 29
6 minutes read

The following article is a fictional article from the perspective of someone writing ten years from now. The basis for the article is a futures game played with participants of the Responsible Renewable Energy Summit in New Delhi 2024 focused on revealing dominant mindsets and beliefs.  

It is not intended to be determinative as to what the author, Forum for the Future, or the Responsible Energy Initiative believe will or should happen in the future. The hope is that by providing glimpses of possible futures, it will provoke ideas and stimulate dialogue.  

Tuesday 14th March 2034 


Author: Neil Walker

There has been much talk in the four years since 2030 of what was achieved and what was not in the ‘20 – the so-called decade of action. It was a point of pride for Americans, how the US altered the course of its future with the Inflation Reduction Act in 2023, Europeans point to the (somewhat torturous) Green Deal legislation as leading the way in terms of policy, and the Japanese as ever are eager to point out that it was Toyota which first sold an affordable Sodium-Ion battery car commercially. However, the line in the sand wasn’t drawn by Washington, Brussels or Tokyo. It was in New Delhi, a decade ago today, that the transition to the responsible energy system we have today TRULY began. 

Admittedly, it didn’t start as a large movement. Nor was it particularly auspicious; there was no dramatic flourish, or a triumphant rallying cry. Yet the Responsible Renewable Energy Summit of 2024 marked the beginning of a new chapter: the beginning of the end for business as usual in the energy sector, and perhaps the end of the beginning for our current radical, transformative new era of clean energy. 

Scenes from REI 2024, New Delhi

I remember the event like it was yesterday. The morning crowd gathered to hear the minister from Uttar Pradesh kick off the event, launching a day of idea exchange and the development of a connective tissue that proved, to the surprise of myself and many like me, resilient. It was hot, but the crowd was attentive. Industry leaders, embassy representatives, students and third sector people like myself were all looking for answers, or at least hope that answers could be found. 

When the right mix of inspiration and ideas come together, change can happen quickly. Many aspects of life can seem immovable and immutable, like boulders parting a stream, until they too are swept away by the currents of transition. Triggers can come from many places. This proved to be the case following the establishment of the Eastern Network for Energy Investors (ENEgI) in late ’25. Building on the guidelines developed by REI as well as the systems change investor movement of 2024, this group of mainly global majority investors chose to make initially dozens but eventually hundreds of relatively small-scale, high risk investments that focused on social and environmental responsibility, adaption and resilience. The results were astounding.  

I’ll never forget the first day I saw my first organic agri-PV plant (nicknamed “Kukurmuttas” or “Kukus” for short), stretching across Maharashtrian farmland, covering the precious harvests underneath from the harsh sun. The advancements leading to the production of these PVs were remarkable in the combination of the natural and the technological, but it is the cultural shift that I was too cynical to believe in initially. The Samadayika (cooperatives) that were established shortly after the invention and spread of this low-cost, highly durable approach are not just the unlock to establishing effective land management and ensuring dispute resolution, they have changed the societal landscape as much as the Kukus and ecosystem developing tidal modulars have changed the physical one. 

Image by Aditya Prakash

It has not been a straightforward journey. Heatwaves derailed the urban mining operations in five cities, causing havoc to the cooperatives rising from the informal communities who had contributed so much to the critical mineral challenge. After 2024, it took five years to clean up the streets of Delhi from fume-spitting exhaust engines, replaced by the modernising metro system and electric alternatives, and two years of intense heat as the sky cleared of sulphur-dioxide. As we are all too aware of anywhere in the world now, the temperature leap was horrendous, wet bulb temperatures far exceeding global records. Responsible Renewable Energy Summit 24’ cautioned about irresponsibility in the pursuit of radicalism. We didn’t always listen. At times, policymakers have been too rash to compete internationally to consider those on the front line of supply chains, the private sector guilty of too strict a focus on decarbonisation at all costs. Ten years on from Responsible Renewable Energy Summit 24’, the industry has learned a lot. 

Now, the houses of New Delhi are whitewashed, the roofs a mirror of solar panels and rain collectors. The streets are loud with the call of hawkers and the beeps of horns (my note: some things never change), but not engines. My walk to my favourite chaat seller in Nehru Place was covered by biom-trees that scan for parasites and spray a thin mist, a new measure brought in after I was last here in ’31. The heat in early March was incredible, I shuddered to think of summer, but the people were still here, the pani puri still delicious. 

I’m looking forward to this year’s summit, I always do. It may have grown from few hundred to several thousand, but it was still a time to meet with old friends and colleagues, a moment to share ideas and ambition.

About REI Summit 2024

This insight shares a speculative future building from the experience of the Responsible Renewable Energy Summit held in New Delhi in March 2024. The summit was hosted by the Responsible Energy Initiative (REI) in partnership with the National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI). Embarking on its second year, the Summit brought together renewable energy experts, industry pioneers, policymakers, innovators, and civil society representatives. Their collective aim was to chart a course for India to lead the global charge towards responsible renewable energy adoption.

A highlight of the summit was the engagement with “Shocks to the System,” a cooperative game about time travelers making decisions that will determine the trajectory of the future. The game, which involved 30% of the participants, aimed to reveal assumptions and mindsets through a gamified approach to futures thinking. By the end of the summit, participants chose a radical, uncertain, but hopeful path ahead.

You can find out more at


by Neil Walker Spotted 2 signals

A sustainability strategist with Forum, working on the reimagining what future value chains may look like

Focus areas: Circular economy, Agriculture, Supply chains, Energy, Fashion & textiles, Workforce & employment, Transport

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