‘Solar alliance must be agile, results-oriented’
French minister of state for ecological and inclusive transition, Brune Poirson, is set to co-chair on Wednesday the first assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA). In an interview to Vishwa Mohan, she responded to questions on range of issues relating to solar energy and climate change. Excerpts:
Q. How would the first Assembly of the ISA drive the solar rich nations towards the global renewable energy goal?
A. It is an opportunity to set high standards for the ISA’s governance and working methods. The ISA must be agile, transparent, efficient, and results-oriented. Its missions necessitate strong leadership and an inclusive approach towards all stakeholders. Adopting clear, transparent and efficient procedures and work programmes is a prerequisite for meeting the ambitious goal of the Alliance: mobilizing 1000 billion USD and installing 1 TW (terrawatt) by 2030. France is fully committed to facilitate and support initiatives that would help meet these goals.
Q. How would France contribute towards it in terms of finance, technology and extending other supports?
A. As President Emmanuel Macron announced last March, the French Development Agency has pledged to invest more than 1 billion euros in solar energy projects in ISA countries between 2016 and 2022. I am happy to announce that, to date, more than 800 million euros have already been committed for 34 projects in 23 countries. We will continue to support ISA countries in identifying and financing new projects.
The French private sector is also deeply committed to the ISA. Together with their Indian partners, these French business organizations have established a dedicated private sector body to interact with, inform and advise ISA officials for the organisation’s activities.
Q. Are the current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) pledges under the Paris Agreement enough to face the challenges of climate change?
A. To date, NDC pledges under the Paris Agreement are clearly not sufficient to meet the 2°C target as they would lead to an increase of mean temperature of 3 to 4°C. We’ve known this since the COP21 when these pledges were made. That is why the Paris Agreement anticipates the necessity for each review of NDC to enhance the ambition. This is a ratcheting up process that might eventually drive collective efforts towards the 2°C target.
Q. What more can be done to keep the global temperature rise within 2 degree Celsius and make efforts towards 1.5 degree Celsius goal as pledged under the Paris Agreement?
A. Once the electricity sector is fully decarbonized, essentially two key emitting sectors will remain: transportation and agriculture. It will require major technological breakthrough to make zero-emission vehicles affordable and profound changes in the farming process. Note that land use will be critical to provide the negative emissions we need to be net zero as soon as possible. This is the only credible GHG sink we have.
Q. Has the US move to withdraw from the Paris Agreement affected the progress towards its implementation?
A. The US withdrawal is clearly not neutral on the implementation of the Paris Agreement. In fact, it could have blocked the progress of some countries and critically undermines our collective ability to reach its goal. That is why President Macron decided to launch the One Planet Summit, to address this rise of climate scepticism with action. Action and massive redirection of financial flows toward low-carbon opportunities are the best answer to preserve the 2015 Paris Agreement momentum. Action makes its implementation irreversible. This irreversibility was clearly reaffirmed by all the leaders who participated in the OPS last week in New York.
Q. Pre-2020 actions of developed countries and their low financial contribution under GCF are still the major sticking points. Do you think the countries will finalise the rules for implementation of Paris Agreement without resolving those issues at COP24 in Poland?
A. Action against climate change is required urgently. That is why the EU and its member States have exceeded their 2020 target and intend to increase their efforts. Financing for climate action is crucial. It is essential that the GCF succeeds and that its next Board in October approves new projects, paving the way to its replenishment. To accelerate action, President Macron convened the One Planet Summit and additional commitments were made last week in New York. As for the rules of implementation of the Paris Agreement, they will enable us to fully implement the Agreement and guide our action. We must therefore adopt them at COP24. We have to fight on all fronts at the same time: action, finance, rules.