India and France invite countries to join International Solar Alliance

The initiative by the developing world that claims to address solar energy needs will be introduced at COP21

By Aruna Kumarankandath
Published: Friday 27 November 2015

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande, together invited over 100 countries to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA). The initiative would be launched by them on first day of the Climate Change Conference (COP21), on November 30 in Paris. Modi and Hollande have jointly sent written invitations to more than 100 countries for International Solar Initiative.

The idea of solar alliance was announced by Modi during the India-Africa Forum Summit in October. "I invite you to join an alliance of solar-rich countries that I have proposed to launch in Paris on November 30 at the time of COP-21 meeting. Our goal is to make solar energy an integral part of our life and take it to the most unconnected villages and communities," Modi told the delegates from Africa. The working paper of the ISA was released by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) on November 23, Monday. It calls for partnership between the solar resource rich countries lying fully or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.

Ahead of the Paris climate meeting, Modi invited China to join the ISA. He extended the invitation during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang on the sidelines of ASEAN-India Summit on November 21. The ISA is also seen as a push from the developing world to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and indicate its seriousness in confronting climate change challenges.

The working paper however, seemed like an empty promise. According to the working paper, “International Solar Alliance (ISA) is conceived as a coalition of solar resource rich countries to address their special energy needs and will provide a platform to collaborate on addressing the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach.” It has broadly stated five goals:

  1. Promote solar technologies and investment in the solar sector to enhance income generation for the poor and global environment
  2. Formulate projects and programmes to promote solar applications
  3. Develop innovative Financial Mechanisms to reduce cost of capital
  4. Build a common Knowledge e-Portal
  5. Facilitate capacity building for promotion and absorption of solar technologies and R&D among member countries

Although it talks about developing “innovative financial mechanisms”, it does not address how the capital would be provided. There is no mention of funds coming from the developed countries to support the initiative in accomplishing those goals.

Earlier, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has emphasised on the need to look at the 'polluter pays' principle as one of the ways of tackling climate change. He said that India would urge rich nations to deliver climate justice for developing countries at the United Nations Climate Change conference in Paris. “Our stance for climate justice is very clear. India’s share of global carbon emissions is just 2-2.5 per cent. We are far lower than any of the developed economies. The space for carbon emissions has to be vacated by the developed countries for the development needs of emerging economies,” said Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (Independent Charge) Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy.

Statements like these have been made in the past. But the fact remains that the developed world has failed to meet their commitment of $100 billion a year that they have been talking about since 2009. The Green Climate Fund has accumulated only $10 billion in commitments. After 20 conferences over the years, little has been accomplished. Paris hopes to define goals, secure finance and devise an enforceable agreement.

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