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India pushes G20 for a grand global solar alliance

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Antalya (Turkey): India on Sunday nudged the G20 to ensure finances and technology worth $100 billion are made available for countries to pursue clean energy during their development, and pushed for its proposal for a grand alliance of solar-rich nations to make this key source of green power as an integral part of people’s lives.

“At G20, we can play an effective role in supporting the multilateral goals of increasing research and development to develop affordable renewable energy. We must also ensure finance and technology is available to meet the universal global aspiration for clean energy,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the G20 Summit here.

“We must meet the target of $100-billion goal per year by 2020,” said the prime minister in this Mediterranean resort, ahead of the crucial meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) in Paris from November 30 to December 11, under the aegis of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The prime minister, who arrived here late Saturday from London, said India itself has agreed to do its bit for a clean-green world. This, by committing an additional capacity of 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, cutting subsidies on fossil fuels, taxing the use of coal, and setting up a National Clean Energy Fund of $3 billion to promote clean technologies.

He said such a firm commitment was also made in its own Intended Nationally Determined Contributions for the Paris talks, in which New Delhi has pledged to cut emission levels by 33-35 percent over the next 15 years in an ambitious, fair, and balanced commitment to protect the environment, married to the country’s own agenda for sustainable development.

“We should shift from ‘carbon credit’ towards ‘green credit’. When we speak of targets, we must not only reduce the use of fossil fuel, but also moderate our lifestyle. Development in harmony with nature is the goal of my proposal to launch, along with French President (François) Hollande, an alliance of solar-rich countries at the time of the COP-21 meeting.”

India is proposing what is called an International Agency for Solar Technologies and Applications (INSTA) to bring together nearly 125 countries rich in solar resources that lie between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, notable from Africa and Asia, to pursue this clean, perennial and sustainable source of energy.

The Indian prime minister also pointed towards some shortfalls in what G20 had agreed last year — to raise the collective gross domestic product by an additional 2 percent by 2018. He also alluded that little was done to encourage the developing world, that had the potential to help realize this goal.

“I propose that we consider how G20 can build support systems that focus on countries with maximum growth potential, help address specific bottlenecks there and facilitate implementation of country strategies,” Modi said, adding that the focus must be on infrastructure as agreed in their previous summit in Brisbane.

As for India, the prime minister said growth was being promoted by investing in skills for new and better jobs and physical infrastructure, as also with the world’s largest financial inclusion program and some bold economic reforms.

He said a 7.5 percent growth was its achievement. “Given our size and scale, India can become a pillar of global growth and stability.”

The Indian prime minister also appealed for easier and cheaper global norms for money transfers to emerging economies. “Remittances are a key source of income for households and support for economies in developing countries. We should define a target date before 2030 to reduce the high costs of transferring remittances.”

Besides India and Turkey, the G20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Britain, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, the US, and the European Union.

Originally formed at the level of finance ministers and central bank governors in 1999 after the East Asian economic crisis, the G20 assumed significance after its elevation to a summit-level forum in 2008, following the global financial crisis.

(IANS)

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Intolerance to inaction on climate change: Modi can be the difference maker

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The attacks overshadowed the G20 summit as they will the Paris climate change talks two weeks from now. However, if the climate summit ends without any legally binding and ambitious treaty, the global community would certainly repeat President Obama’s statement, albeit replacing the word “terrorism” with “climate change”.

US President Barack Obama made his emblematic statement at the G20 summit in Turkey on November 15 that the Paris attacks were an “attack on the civilized world. If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States”.

Minutes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the 60,000-strong audience at London’s Wembley stadium, terrorists struck in Paris, just across the English Channel with deadly bombs and gunfire.

Modi, in his speech, had said: “It is the responsibility of every human living in this world to fight global warming and terrorism…India will show the world the path to fight both.”

While the climate messiah, former US Vice President Al Gore, has described global warming as “inconvenient truth”, Modi has demonstrated, when he was chief minister of Gujarat, by implementing ambitious renewable energy projects there, that the mitigation of global warming is in fact, a “convenient action”.

The convenient action was, however, lacking in the informal meeting of the 62 ministers, hosted by the French government, in Paris November 8-10.

The objective was to avail the final opportunity before the Paris summit to bridge the nagging gaps in the negotiating debates.

When the meeting ended, the inconvenient truth seems to have emerged that there are very few items of agreement among the participants.

It started emerging that legally binding targets would not be decided in Paris but over the years that would follow.

The last high-level opportunity to converge on certain seminal issues seems to have been lost.

The political momentum, particularly in committing to ambitious targets, fairness in delivering climate justice, post-2020 financing for the developing countries and pre-2020 action by the developed countries, has been frittered away.

A day after the start of that meeting, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which monitors global warming, signaled the crying need of action on climate change.

“The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached yet another new record high in 2014…In spring 2015, the global average concentration of CO2 crossed the 400 parts per million (ppm) barrier,” it declared.

Thus, levels of 400 ppm will now be the new “normal” that the world has to live with. At such rising rate, the CO2 levels in the atmosphere will reach to the level of 1200 ppm by the end of this century. And, the global thermometer will show an average temperature rise of about 5 degrees Celsius – against the aimed figure of 2 degrees Celsius.

Sadly, the process of negotiating the treaty in Paris has now become “business-as-usual” diplomacy. Its success elements could include “agreement on continuing post-2015 negotiations” on all major issues of financing and the emission reduction targets.

Modi stands to make the difference at this crucial juncture. He had, in the past, conveyed to the world that two most formidable challenges today are terrorism and climate change.

India is now being hailed globally as a genuine player in addressing climate change, mainly due to its thoughtful INDCs and steps already taken in the area of energy efficiency, renewable energy and forestry. It has acquired a legitimate position by declaring that India is not part of the problem but would like to be part of the solution.

As the leader of the world’s largest democracy and a proponent of inclusive development, Modi knows well that addressing climate change means using clean energy that would reduce air pollution – thereby reducing 1.4 million premature deaths in India.

It means enhancing renewable energy generation that would reduce energy-poverty and provide electricity to the remaining 80,000 villages of India.

It means deploying sustainable agricultural practices for farmers to conserve water and quality of soil, increase their income and reduce their suicides.

It means increasing energy efficiency of the air conditioners by us of non-HFC refrigerants to reduce the peak loads during the summer and subsequent power blackouts. It means reducing poverty – the key sustainable development goal in the post-2015 era.

Modi has convinced the world on International Yoga Day. Can he convince the world to be intolerant towards inaction on climate change?

The G20 leaders observed a minute of silence to remember victims of the Paris attacks. Would Modi lead a minute of silence at the Paris climate summit if the world leaders do not agree on an ambitious and legally binding treaty in the December of 2015? Yoga teaches us to be tolerant, but not towards terrorism and inaction on climate change.

(Rajendra Shende, IANS)