India has been a bit of a wild card on climate change and clean tech issues. Like China (but not to the same extent), India made the Copenhagen climate negotiations more of a challenge, reluctant to commit to internationally binding targets and international transparency. One day they weren’t willing, then they might be, then they weren’t again. Then, they finally committed to cutting their carbon intensity 20-25% by 2020.
But without a stong, legally-binding, widely-accepted agreement, we are all left wondering what they (and others) will actually do.
Now, we are actually seeing India steam forward. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, following Copenhagen, said, “There is no escaping the truth that the nations of the world have to move to a low-greenhouse-gas-emissions and energy-efficient-development path.” He said that India “must not lag behind” in low-carbon technologies. Jairam Ramesh, Indian environment minister, followed this up by saying that India would go ahead with its carbon intensity reduction plans (above) even despite the lack of a strong agreement. “We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do,” he said.
And just this week, India announced it is launching its “National Solar Mission” which includes creating enough solar power that it could power about 20 million US houses.
It has more going on this month, too.
Copenhagen Accord Continued
India invited emerging economy powerhouses (other members of the so-called BASIC group) to a meeting in New Delhi this month, to try to coordinate their plans and get other developing countries on board with the Copenhagen Accord before January 31. Ramesh says, “The main challenge is that an agreement by 29 countries needs to be converted into one by 194 countries.” Of course, there may be some continued plans for negotiation and hold-outs going on there, as we saw in Copenhagen. We can never be sure and will just have to wait and see.
India’s National Solar Mission
The major national solar campaign India just launched, however, is a sure sign that it, itself, is truly looking at clean energy as the way to the future. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh thinks that this campaign could “establish India as a global leader in solar energy” — in both technology development and power generation.
The broad plan is to reach 20,000 MW of solar energy capacity by 2022 — it is currently at 9,000 MW. To think about the space required for this, imagine 4,000 soccer fields covered in solar panels and equipment.
India on the Clean Tech Rise
With a pre-existing plan to boost wind power, about 10,000 MW of current wind power and a plan to put $200 billion into building a greener, cleaner smart grid, this new solar plan could help move India to the front of the pack in clean tech and in seriously addressing the climate change situation.
India is also planning to institute an energy-efficient cap-and-trade scheme within the next few months.
Despite previous failures and doubts about how genuine its commitment to reduce carbon emissions is, I think India is on the rise in clean tech.
Image Credit 1: Christopher Chan via flickr under a CC license
Image Credit 2: Umang Dutt via flickr under a CC license