Three years ago, India had surprised many by announcing that it would develop 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy by the year 2022, scaling up its then-existing target by almost five times. Now, the International Solar Alliance, a new intergovernmental body set up India’s behest at the Paris climate change conference in 2015, has set its eyes on installing 1000 GW of solar energy by the year 2030.
“The International Solar Alliance (ISA) has just been ratified by enough number of countries to make it operational. It will become operational by December 6 this year. The ISA has a set for itself a target of installing 1000 GW of solar electricity in its member countries by the year 2030. This will be one of the biggest global efforts to shift away from fossil fuels and move towards cleaner sources of energy,” Anand Kumar, Secretary in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, told reporters here.
To be sure, it is not the first time that the ISA has talked about the 1000-GW objective. At the launch of ISA in Gurgaon in January last year, the then French President Francois Hollande had said that the ISA was aiming to install 1000 GW of solar energy and would require an investment of about 1200 billion euros to do so. France is a key partner in the ISA which is open for membership to 121 countries lying in the tropical regions. So far, 44 countries have signed on to the alliance while 16 of them have also ratified it.
The 1000-GW objective, more of a desire when the ISA was launched last year, has now become its official target.
The announcement came on a day when the climate change conference in Bonn recorded some concrete progress in some areas of negotiations, ahead of the last two days of the ministerial rounds of meetings where political decisions would be taken to resolve the deadlock over contentious issues.
Late on Monday evening, countries reached an agreement on discussions over efforts to make agriculture resilient to climate change while attempting to reduce non-CO2 emissions from agriculture. Agriculture is just one of the several components of the overall negotiations but it brought cheers at the conference which has seen slow progress till now.
There was a similar agreement on the issue of loss and damages, one of the main items under discussions here, though many of the demands of the developing countries, especially small island nations, were not accommodated. The small island countries, also some of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, have been asking for a loss and damage mechanism through which they can seek financial help to compensate for the destruction caused by climate change-induced extreme weather events.
The agreements over agriculture and loss and damages will be integrated to the final decision outcomes at the conference.
There was a fresh proposal to resolve the deadlock over the issue of ‘pre-2020 actions’ as well, and though it still did not address the developing countries’ key demands of inclusion of ‘pre-2020 actions’ in the official agenda of negotiations and setting up of a timeline for the developed countries to ratify the Doha amendments of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, Indian negotiators said it marked some movement forward. ‘Pre-2020 actions’ refer mainly to the obligations of the developed countries under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that has still three years to run.
Meanwhile, India, China, Brazil and South Africa — together known as the BASIC group of countries — held a meeting on Monday evening where they reviewed the progress made at the conference so far. In a joint statement released on Tuesday, the four countries noted that developing countries, including they themselves, had made much more efforts in tackling climate change than they were expected to. While urging the developed countries to do more, they said that their own (BASIC countries’) actions represented “far more ambitious efforts compared to their respective responsibilities and capabilities”.
The BASIC group also expressed its “deepest concern” over attempts by the developed countries to exclude some developing nations from accessing climate finance by applying a new income criteria. There have been suggestions that middle-income developing countries should not be eligible for accessing funds from Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Green Climate Fund (GCF), two existing financial institutions for climate finance. The BASIC countries said such criteria were not compatible with the existing agreements and were “tantamount to renegotiating the Paris Agreement”.