During the inauguration of the first three-day Renewable Energy Global Investors Meet and Expo (Re-Invest), last week, the Indian Prime Minister said that India can lead the fight against global warming.
“If there is one country to show the world the way to combat global warming it is India,“ Modi said, highlighting India’s spiritual connection to nature: “We worship our rivers as mother.”
In our mythology we have imagined the sun god Surya riding on seven horses. In today’s age the first four of the seven horses would respectively be thermal (coal), gas, hydro and nuclear energy.
We need to utilize more the three other horses of solar, wind and biomass.
Last year, the government announced a fivefold increase in its target for solar energy generation, from 20,000 MW by 2022 to 100,000 MW by 2020.
Furthermore, last month Modi and Barack Obama agreed that investment in the coal industry needs to be reduced.
According to Modi, of the $250 billion spent on energy, $100 billion will go directly on renewables, $50 billion will go on transmission and distribution, and $60-$70 billion on stalled and new coal projects.
Assessing the ambitious solar goal last week, Michael Bloomberg, the UN’s special envoy for cities and climate change, concluded that, despite the fact that no other country faces an energy challenge – or opportunity – on the same scale, India’s plans are realistic, since ‘the market is moving in the right direction’.
Numbers from a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) prove India’s opportunities for mass solar power generation, showing that India has some of the lowest costs worldwide for developing renewable technology.
A kilowatt of wind energy capacity costs between US$1,240 and $1,390 in India on average, compared to $2,000 in Europe. Furthermore, the cost of large scale solar PV is now $1,670 per kilowatt (compared to $2,330 in Europe).
And globally more money is being pumped into the renewable energy industry, rising by 13% in 2014. Investment in renewables is expected to surpass $10 billion this year.
Yet despite increase investment, one billion people, including 250 million in India, still currently have no access to electricity, and 2.6 billion lack modern cooking facilities.
These numbers set to decrease continuously in coming decades.
But with this increase in energy demand and availability greenhouse gas emissions are expected to soar, unless drastic action is taken to transition away from dirty energy and towards a 100% renewable future.
In light of this, the UN has declared 2014-24 as the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, and the Gujarat government signed a memorandum of understanding in January to support the UN objective to make sustainable energy accessible for all.
India’s role in the Road to ParisIndia is the world’s fourth largest emitter.
In the coming month, the world’s major economies will put forward their national climate pledges, forming the basis of the new global agreement to tackle rising emissions, expected to be signed at the UN climate talks in Paris this December.
Writing in RTCC, Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director of Centre for Science and Environment says it is in India’s interest to slow emissions, as it is for other developing nations, since they will bear the brunt of climate change, and require increasing carbon budgets in coming decades, when these may not be available.
However, Bhushan warns that India will need to cooperate with other developing nations, and push for an ambitious, fair global deal at the climate summit in Paris in December in order to prevent climate chaos.
Asked about India’s proposed peak year of emissions, a senior official of the environment ministry told indiaclimatedialogue.net: ‘All options between 2035 and 2050 are on the table’.
Yet the government’s ambitious targets show that India can play a leading role in battling climate change, as announced by Modi.