India takes lead on climate change

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the COP21 climate change summit in France on Nov. 30, where he launched an international solar alliance of over 120 countries.

Modi asserted that the prolonged use of fossil fuels was putting our planet at great risk. “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.”

Washing of the solar panels recently installed in Rajasthan, India. Photo credit: Agenciaaddress.com

Washing of the solar panels recently installed in Rajasthan, India. Photo credit: Agenciaaddress.com

For families living in villages that experience regular power cuts, load shedding or even no power at all, this will surely improve their standard of living. All aspects of the economic and social growth would improve. An initial $30 million will be invested by the Indian government to set up the alliance’s headquarters in India. An article in the Guardian reports, “The eventual goal is to raise $400 million from membership fees, and international agencies.” During the summit India pledged to draw 40 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030.

While most of the alliance’s members are solar-rich tropical countries, several European nations, including France, have joined the International Solar Alliance. The group resolves to share collective ambitions to reduce the cost of finance and technology needed to deploy solar power widely. The nations will cooperate in training, building institutions, standardizing regulatory issues, setting common standards and investing in joint ventures. Companies involved in the project include Areva, Engie, Enel, HSBC France and Tata Steel.

The impacts of climate change are increasingly apparent today. Global warming is causing extreme weather changes. In the United States, an increasing number of climatic natural disasters like hurricane Katrina and Sandy have claimed so many lives and collapsed local infrastructure. Disasters of this magnitude have changed people's perspectives on climate change. Today, political leaders are addressing the issue and emerging countries are making it a priority.

India’s initiative is inspiring especially since climate change was never discussed globally or addressed directly in the past. James Watson, the director of SolarPower Europe says, “It is very, very exciting to see India nailing its colors to the mast and providing leadership on this issue.” Considering India’s growing population, leadership is taking bold steps toward conservation and sustainability.