India unveils global solar alliance of 120 countries at Paris climate summit
Narendra Modi announces a new alliance of nations and industry on large-scale expansion of solar energy use in the tropics and beyond.India’s prime minister Narendra Modi and France’s president Francois Hollande have launched an international solar alliance in Paris.
India’s prime minister has launched an international solar alliance of over 120 countries with the French president, François Hollande, at the Paris COP21 climate summit.
Narendra Modi told a press conference that as fossil fuels put the planet in peril, hopes for future prosperity in the developing world now rest on bold initiatives.
“Solar technology is evolving, costs are coming down and grid connectivity is improving,” he said. “The dream of universal access to clean energy is becoming more real. This will be the foundation of the new economy of the new century.”
Modi described the solar alliance as “the sunrise of new hope, not just for clean energy but for villages and homes still in darkness, for mornings and evening filled with a clear view of the glory of the sun”.
Earlier, France’s climate change ambassador, Laurence Tubiana, had called the group “a true game-changer”.
While signatory nations mostly hail from the tropics, several European countries are also on board with the initiative, including France.
Hollande described the project as climate justice in action, mobilising public finance from richer states to help deliver universal energy access.
“What we are putting in place is an avant garde of countries that believe in renewable energies,” he told a press conference in Paris. “What we are showing here is an illustration of the future Paris accord, as this initiative gives meaning to sharing technology and mobilising financial resources in an example of what we wish to do in the course of the climate conference.”
The Indian government is investing an initial $30m (£20m) in setting up the alliance’s headquarters in India. The eventual goal is to raise $400m from membership fees, and international agencies.
Companies involved in the project include Areva, Engie, Enel, HSBC France and Tata Steel.
“It is very, very exciting to see India nailing its colours to the mast and providing leadership on this issue,” said James Watson, the director of SolarPower Europe, which represents the continents’ solar photovoltaic industry. “It will mean more opportunities for solar across the world and that can only be positive for combating climate change.”
The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, placed the initiative in the context of the body’s sustainable development goals, particularly a related target, set in 2011, of achieving universal access to sustainable energy by 2030.
India has repeatedly said that it wants to use cheap solar to connect citizens who are currently without access to the electricity grid in remote and rural areas.
“The idea is that larger markets and bigger volumes will lead to lower costs, making it possible to spur demand,” said Ajay Mathur, India’s senior negotiator and spokesperson at the Paris summit.
“This bold effort could bring affordable solar power to tropical villages and communities worldwide,” said Jennifer Morgan, the director of the World Research Institute’s climate programme.