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India plans much solar power, slower emissions rise

BONN (Reuters) - India will submit plans within weeks to slow its rise in carbon emissions significantly and to generate more solar power by 2020 than the whole world generates now, a senior climate official said on Thursday.

Shyam Saran speaks at a news conference at the Indian High Commission in London in this May 25, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/Files

But the world’s fourth biggest emitter of greenhouse gases cannot say when its emissions will peak and start to decline, said Shyam Saran, special climate envoy to Prime Minster Manmohan Singh.

Saran was speaking on the sidelines of a June 1-12 climate meeting in Bonn, the latest round of U.N. talks meant to lead to agreement in December on a pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

The talks are stuck on how far developing countries should share the cost of preparing for and curbing the worst effects of climate change and helping its victims.

“We are prepared to look at a significant deviation from business as usual (emissions)”, provided this is supported by financing from rich countries, said Saran.

The European Union wants developing countries collectively to reduce their emissions of planet-warming gases by 15-30 percent below current trends by 2020.

India can neither be so specific nor say when its emissions will peak, Saran said. That depends on ambitious carbon caps and financial support from rich countries which are not yet on the table, he said.

India is about to publish eight climate “missions” to boost efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable development.

“We hope that will be completed in the next few weeks,” said Saran. One policy aim is to install about 20 gigawatts of solar power by 2020, he told Reuters.

“It’s around 20 gigawatts, that’s something we’ve been talking about.”


The world now produces about 14 gigawatts (GW) of solar power, about half of it added last year. Analysts said they want details of the Indian plan before hailing what would be a big lift to a small but burgeoning market.

“Targets are great but meaningless without policies behind them,” Jefferies Bank analyst Michael McNamara told Reuters in response to the mooted Indian target. “We need to know what the incentives are, where the funding is coming from.”

Environmental groups and most developing countries have criticised the level of ambition shown by many rich countries at the Bonn talks, including a new Japanese climate goal announced on Wednesday.

“Some individual targets ... fall far short of what is required,” said Saran. He declined to comment on Japan’s plan to cut emissions by 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, compared with a goal to cut these by 6 percent by 2008-12 under Kyoto.

Russia is the last large developed country still to announce a 2020 target. Victor Blinov, head of the Russian delegation told Reuters on Thursday: “This issue is under very serious consideration”.