Voicing concern over "painfully slow" progress in climate talks, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the goal of stabilising global temperatures was "nowhere in sight" and pitched for individual countries to take action to increase energy efficiency on Wednesday.
Singh, inaugurating the Fourth Clean Energy Ministerial, also made it clear that rich nations, who were responsible for a bulk of greenhouse gas emissions, were best placed to provide workable solutions to mitigate climate change. Read full speech
They (industrialised nations) also have high per capita incomes which gives them the highest capacity to bear the burden. They are technically most advanced, and to that extent best placed to provide workable solutions not only for themselves but for the whole world," he said.
At the same time, Singh said issues of financing mitigation actions to tackle climate change have been a focus of intense discussion in negotiations under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
"Unfortunately, progress in these negotiations is painfully slow. The goal of stabilising global temperatures at acceptable levels is nowhere in sight," he told Energy Ministers of 20 leading economies gathered here to discuss speedy transition to a global clean energy economy.
Singh said while it must be ensured that the UNFCCC process reaches some acceptable outcome, individual countries have to take action to increase energy efficiency and also to promote clean energy.
The Prime Minister said India was taking steps to exploit non-conventional clean energy sources like solar and wind power and has proposed to double renewable energy capacity in the country from 25,000 MW in 2012 to 55,000 MW by 2017.
Singh said the pace of reliance on new energy sources was constrained by the fact that they were more expensive than conventional energy.
He said the costs of solar energy had nearly halved over the last two years, but was still higher than the cost of fossil fuel based electricity.
"If the cost imposed by carbon emissions is taken into account, then solar energy is more cost effective, but it is still more expensive," Singh said.
He said counting on the probability of falling costs, India has launched Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission with the objective of developing 22,000 MW of solar capacity by the year 2022 covering both solar photovoltaic and solar thermal.
Solar capacity of about 1500 MW has already been installed in the country, and an additional 10,000 MW will be implemented by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan, ending in 2017, he said.
Singh said India was keen to ensure induction of the best technology and also to encourage domestic production of the equipment needed for adding solar capacity.
Noting that India was potentially a large market for production of such equipment, he urged global manufacturers to set up production facilities in the country in this area.
Singh said India was also re-assessing its wind potential in both onshore and offshore areas to draw a long term plan for exploiting this source of energy.
"It appears that our potential for harnessing wind power is much larger than was earlier anticipated, though the potential is concentrated in certain parts of our country," he said.
Flagging financing as one of the critical issues in promoting expansion of clean energy, Singh said investments in this area were subject to technological, commercial and regulatory risk.
"For the moment green energy is not viable on its own without subsidy or regulatory incentives. Investors obviously need assurance that these incentives will continue. Market forces alone will not provide sufficient financing in this environment unless the risks of policy change are appropriately addressed," he said.
Singh said India has also launched a National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency to focus on energy efficiency in sectors ranging from appliances, buildings, transport and industries.
The Mission focuses on establishment of standards and also on market related incentives based on the imposition of mandated efficiency standards in selected industries with tradable energy certificates incentivising companies to do better than the standard.
"We are in the process of raising fuel efficiency standards in our transport sector. We have already decided to mandate five per cent blending of ethanol in motor spirit," he said.
Singh said India would also launch a National Mission on Electric Mobility and join the Electric Vehicle Initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial.