US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry gestures as he speaks during the launch of Climate Action and Finance Mobilisation Dialogue (CAFMD) as part of the US-India Agenda 2030 partnership, in New Delhi(AFP)
US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry gestures as he speaks during the launch of Climate Action and Finance Mobilisation Dialogue (CAFMD) as part of the US-India Agenda 2030 partnership, in New Delhi(AFP)

Cheapest to build a solar farm in India, says Kerry

  • Kerry also lauded India’s leadership on pushing ahead with clean energy and targeting 450GW of renewable energy by 2030.
By Jayashree Nandi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON SEP 14, 2021 03:50 AM IST

India and the US launched a clean energy financing initiative on Monday, as the US’s special envoy on climate John Kerry held discussions with Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav and nudged New Delhi to commit to net-zero carbon emission goals during his two-day visit to the Capital.

After an hour-long discussion with Yadav in Delhi, the two leaders launched the Climate Action and Finance Mobilisation Dialogue (CAFMD) — an India-US initiative that aims to attract investment and technology in clean energy projects. CAFMD is part of the India-US Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership that was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden at the Leaders’ Summit held in April this year.

“The dialogue will facilitate finance and technology to achieve it. Over the past six months, the six largest banks in America have all publicly committed that over the next 10 years, they will invest a minimum of $4.16 trillion in this effort to make this transition happen,” he said.

Kerry also lauded India’s leadership on pushing ahead with clean energy and targeting 450GW of renewable energy by 2030. “India is a world leader in demonstrating economic development and clean energy can go hand in hand. I am confident that the 450GW goal will be reached,” he said.

But the former US secretary of state, who has been laying the groundwork for a key UN climate conference in November this year, underscored the need for all Paris agreement signatories to commit to a net-zero emissions target by 2050.

“No country can do this alone,” Kerry said. “And the world can’t do it if everybody doesn’t sign up to be part of the solution. That’s why we are rallying the world to address this massive challenge and to raise global ambition in the lead up to the COP26 (UN climate change conference).”

“Floods, forest fires, record levels of rainfall are happening everywhere. And to keep 1.5 degree warming limit in reach, and avoid more catastrophic consequences, we must act now,” he asserted, invoking the findings of the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released last month.

Based on 14,000 scientific papers studied by 234 experts, the first part of the IPCC report said the world will miss its target of keeping global warming to under 1.5°C over pre-industrial levels, and that this will be exceeded in the next two decades, resulting in a higher frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. Attributing the heating almost exclusively to human activity, it also called for immediate action, including a move away from fossil fuels if the world wants to keep global warming to under 2°C.

Under the 2015 Paris agreement, India has pledged to reduce emissions intensity of GDP by 33%-35% below the 2005 level by 2030 and raise the non-fossil share of power generation capacity to 40% by 2030, among other measures.

Ahead of the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Glasgow this November, several other countries including Germany and UK climate chief Alok Sharma have also pushed New Delhi to commit to a net-zero carbon emissions target and enhance its Paris deal goals.

New Delhi, however, maintains that developed countries which have historically contributed the most to global warming and reaped the economic benefits of industrialisation should bear a larger responsibility of battling the climate crisis.

On Monday, Bhupender Yadav said India was committed to fighting climate crisis, but added that he hoped the world will take into account the needs of developing countries. “I believe this dialogue will not only strengthen India-US bilateral cooperation on climate and environment, but will also help demonstrate how the world can align swift climate action with inclusive and resilient economic development, taking into account national circumstances and sustainable development priorities,” the environment minister said at the launch.

An expert on UN climate negotiations too said it will be “unfair” to have a “uniform” timeline for all countries on net-zero emissions. “Keeping equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in sight, its unfair to have uniform timelines for all economies to transition to net zero. The largest polluters with historical responsibility should transition by 2030 or 2040 and give the developing world time. China has committed to net zero emissions only by 2060,” the expert, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

Making his case for net-zero emissions, Kerry said it is now economically feasible for countries to transition to clean energy.

“It is cheaper to build a solar farm in India than anywhere else in the world. Investors are flocking to clean energy and energy transition rebounding after worst of the pandemic… the International Energy Agency forecasts that if India seizes the clean energy opportunity, it could become the world’s largest markets for batteries and solar panels,” he said.

Experts said Kerry’s two-day visit to Delhi — his second since appointment to this post — is a step in the right direction.

“With COP26 around the corner, the visit of John Kerry and the launch of the Climate Action and Finance Mobilisation Dialogue, are steps in the direction of restoring trust between the developed countries and the Global South.... In 2010, India had less than 20 megawatts (MW) of solar energy. Today, it is the largest renewables market that follows market principles... For developed countries like the US, forging new partnerships with India, which would cover co-operation on climate-resilient infrastructure and green hydrogen, creating a joint platform for sustainable finance and building capacity in the Global South would be critical to accelerate the pace of the energy transition and convert climate ambition into action,” said Arunabha Ghosh, CEO of Council on Energy, Environment and Water.

Earlier in the day, Kerry also met Union power minister RK Singh in Delhi and called on external affairs minister S Jaishankar.

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