India walks the climate talk as leader of International Solar Alliance

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) spearheaded by India has emerged as one of the most critical organizations as the world takes on the challenge of global warming.

“The organization now has 116 member countries, and many others who have signed the ISA Framework Agreement are going to ratify it soon,” Power Minister R.K. Singh, who is also the ISA Assembly President, said at a recent conference attended by 96 countries in Delhi.

In a major step forward the ISA Assembly meeting held from October 30-November 2 this year decided to increase viability gap funding for solar projects in developing countries from 10% to 35% which will enable more funds to flow into African countries.

The ISA is facilitating over 9.5 GW of solar applications in 55 developing countries, including LDCs and SIDS, and has already provided training to nearly 4000 people across the developing world on ways to make a living out of supporting solar energy, according to information shared by ISA director general Ajay Mathur.

The ISA is working on developing STAR Centres in countries which will be a hub of technology, knowledge, and expertise on solar energy. In addition, the ISA is enabling solar mini grids to provide universal energy access, especially where grid extension is too expensive.

India is of the view that ISA has a crucial role to play as there are about 733 million people in the world who do not have access to electricity. The ISA has made it a mission to provide energy access to these people using renewable energy sources of which solar is the best, since it is available for a longer period of time, both in terms of seasons and hours per day.

The successful energy access and energy transition practices adopted by India are also being made available to developing countries so that they can replicate them. These include the techno-regulatory framework, dispute settlement mechanisms and payment security mechanisms which can attract private investments.

This is essential as public investment alone cannot ensure universal access to electricity. The ISA has set up a fund for this purpose, which has components for insurance and a payment security mechanism. These steps are expected to pave the way for more investments in Africa.

France is another country that has played a major role in promoting ISA as a key initiative for the development of clean energy to combat climate disruptions. The French Development Agency (AFD), has financed over 1.5 billion euros worth of solar projects since 2016. Last year, it provided over 7.5 billion euros in climate finance.

However, there is a need for developed countries to provide more green funds as per their COP21 commitments in order to boost efforts to fight climate change.

India during its ISA assembly presidency highlighted that around 80 percent of the global population, totalling a staggering 6 billion people, reside in countries that depend on fossil fuel imports. Renewable energy sources have the potential to supply 65 percent of the world’s total electricity by 2030 and decarbonise 90 percent of the power sector by 2050.

The ISA is steadfast in its commitment to member nations to make the sun the energy source of choice, foster environments conducive to attracting investments and ensure ample energy availability to meet the surging global demand.

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