COP21 and its implication on India’s solar power targets

Climate talks in Paris over the past week have been hailed largely as successful by most analysts. After much anticipation, an agreement was adopted by 195 countries. Piyush Goyal, India’s minister for coal and power, has said that India lived up to expectations and that the country’s interests have been safeguarded in the final agreement (refer). India’s environment minister, Prakash Javadekar, called the agreement as balanced and an important achievement for the country (refer).

  • India in its INDC has not made a commitment on reducing its emissions like the developed countries have, but has pledged to reduce its carbon intensity
  • USD 100 billion finance from developed countries is unlikely to become a key factor for the Indian solar sector as it only comes into play from 2020
  • A key benefit of these climate negotiations has been that it prodded India and other countries to define their ambitious targets

Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) are a core element of the COP21 process, and are meant to ensure that each country has identified its own contextually-appropriate targets and actions. India has not made an INDC commitment on reducing emissions unlike most of the developed countries, but it has pledged to reduce its carbon intensity by 33 percent by 2030 (over 2005 level), which means that the emissions would come down in relation to total energy consumption. As part of this target, India has declared that it wants to achieve 100 GW of solar capacity addition by 2022 (refer).

The final agreement also includes a commitment from developed countries to provide USD 100 billion a year to developing countries for mitigation and adaptation from 2020 onwards. Investments into solar power should benefit from these funds but only from 2020 onwards.

BRIDGE TO INDIA believes that the main benefit of these climate negotiations has been to provide a short-term catalyst effect to the solar sector. But actual progress towards achieving the 100 GW target will depend more on improvements in solar technology (improving efficiency, falling cost) and domestic factors such as growing power demand and increasing public pressure for pollution abatement rather than execution of the COP21 agreement. India needs political will at both the central and state government level to overcome operational challenges like land procurement, transmission and financing to achieve its solar potential.

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