India scores victory in climate talks, China announces plan to join International Solar Alliance
BONN (GERMANY): India has scored a significant victory at the UN-sponsored climate change talks with China announcing that it has plans to join the International Solar Alliance — an initiative of the Indian government. China’s decision to join the sunshine alliance is significant since it the largest manufacturer of renewable energy equipment.
Speaking at an event hosted at the India Pavillion here at the climate change conference on Sunday, Xie Zhenhua, leader of the Chinese delegation at the talks, lauded India for its leadership in getting the International Solar Alliance underway.
Sources said Xie was not among those slated to speak at the programme on the renewable energy market in India. However, the Chinese leader, it would seem, had stopped by to see the India Pavillion and its programmes.
“He is a senior leader in the climate process so when he came in, he was invited to speak,” said a delegate participating in the programme.
China was among the 121 countries India identified for inclusion in the International Solar Alliance (ISA). Though approached to join the alliance ahead of the climate change conference in Paris in 2015, China neither responded to the invitation nor commented about ISA, maintaining a studied silence on the Indian initiative for nearly two years.
Now Beijing’s public statement that it will join the solar alliance makes clear the huge opportunities the Indian initiative presents. The key aim of ISA is to ensure access to clean, affordable and accessible energy. The bulk of countries included in the ISA — between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn — are poor, have huge development deficits and unmet energy demands.
ISA proposes to provide solar energy solution, given these are countries with up to 300 days of bright sunshine, at a cost that is affordable. The plan is to drive down cost by aggregating demand across countries. This presents a big opportunity for businesses and innovation.
With ISA becoming a UNtreaty body on December 6, the promise of the alliance has edged closer to reality. Observers said China’s decision to join ISA at this juncture should be seen in the context of its efforts to corner the solar energy market.
For Indian industry, it is a wake-up call. It now needs to step up with credible affordable solutions. Or else, it may not be able to take advantage of the aggregation of opportunity that will take place through ISA. China has expressed its intention of joining the alliance even though India officially declined endorsing and participating in its One Belt, One Road Initiative. This is part of Beijing’s strategy of being in diverse groups of initiatives. It allows China to make the most of emerging opportunities and shape efforts and activities of these groups in a manner that either supplements or furthers its interests. Yet, China’s announcement that it proposes to join the ISA is a diplomatic gain for India given the recent history between the two countries.