President Obama is doing everything he can to solidify the Paris Agreement before he leaves office. And the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Washington, D.C. this week afforded him yet another opportunity to do just that.
The White House on Tuesday announced a slew of new initiatives and agreements with India, including major steps on clean energy finance.
“The Indians have agreed to develop, long term, a low greenhouse gas emissions development strategy,” White House spokesman Brian Deese said on a call with reporters Tuesday. “That is something that the Paris agreement invited countries to do, to put together a mid-century low greenhouse gas emissions strategy. The Indians for the first time are signalling their commitment to develop such a strategy.”
The World’s Fourth-Largest Carbon Emitter Is Making A Big Move To RenewablesClimate by CREDIT: AP PHOTO/SAURABH DAS India submitted its carbon reduction pledge to the United Nations on Thursday…thinkprogress.orgThe new $20-million U.S.-India Clean Energy Finance (USICEF) initiative will mobilize up to $400 million to provide clean and renewable electricity to up to 1 million households by 2020, the White House said. Another $40-million U.S.-India Catalytic Solar Finance Program will provide financing for small-scale renewable energy investment, “particularly in poorer, rural villages that are not connected to the grid.” That initiative is expected to catalyze up to $1 billion worth of projects. Both financing projects will be equally supported by the two countries.
“We have worked very collaboratively with India to try to address in practical ways the issue of trying to drive additional finance and additional investment into India’s renewable sector,” Deese said. “The goal will be to provide the risk capital that is often identified as the key missing variable.”
India has a notoriously tight financing market, which has hindered clean energy development.
Initiatives like these are critical to building a clean energy economy in India, where some 300 million people lack access to electricity. Given the fact that electricity generation infrastructure can last for decades, building renewable power rather than fossil-fuel dependent power means eliminating decades of future emissions.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi previously announced that his country has a goal of 175 gigawatts of renewable capacity installed by 2020, with 100 gigawatts of that dedicated to solar. He has called for $100 billion of investment in the solar industry from foreign companies. The country’s power ministry also plans to shut down its dirtiest coal plants, and already requires utilities to sell electricity from solar power along with electricity from coal-fired power in order to boost solar’s position in the country.
India Just Upped Its Solar Target Five-Fold, Will Install More Solar This Year Than GermanyClimate by CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/BKWCREATOR On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian Cabinet…thinkprogress.orgIn Tuesday’s announcement, the two countries also committed to working together to strengthen international efforts under the Montreal Protocol to phase down the use of hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs), a potent greenhouse gas used primarily in air-conditioners and refrigerators. They will also work together at the upcoming International Civil Aviation Organization Assembly, where curbing emissions from the airline industry is a major priority. Another initiative, to build six nuclear reactors in India, appears to have gained traction, as well.
Questioned about the vagueness of those announcements, Deese referenced the previous U.S.-China commitments, which were likewise couched in terms of common goals, but paved the way for multi-lateral commitments and the Paris agreement.