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Asia-Pacific

Hollande makes Modi’s solar alliance symbol of Cop21 climate conference

media French President François Hollande (C), Indian PM Narendra Modi ande US President Barack Obama, at Cop21 on Monday Reuters/Ian Langsdon/Pool

French President François Hollande threw his weight behind renewable energy on Monday at the Cop21 climate conference near Paris. India initiated the International Solar Alliance project at the Africa-India summit recently and France has championed it.

India’s idea is that a maximum amount of free sunshine can be harnessed with the help of engineering knowhow and investments, to bring affordable electricity to all.

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This, said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the launch, will improve development. In recent years, India has made much progress in bringing electricity to its population, however hundreds of millions of people still aren’t connected to any grid and in some areas, including urban ones, there are regular if not permanent power shortages.

The International Solar Alliance includes about 120 countries between the tropics with more than 300 days of sun per year, not only Asia, but also Africa, Australia and New Zealand. But cooperation from developed to developing countries in key. And France and the Netherlands are leading the way.

Choosing to schedule the launch on the opening day of Cop21, Hollande, as host, made the Indian initiative a symbol of the conference.

He described the new Solar Alliance as the illustration of the future Paris Accord, being about about sharing technology, mobilising finance and cooperation.

“Climate justice, as Prime Minister Modi has called it, must be our aim… not just in Asia, but also for all of Africa,” he said. “And France is mobilising financing at this conference and the use of technology to be shared so that Africa can access energy and electricity with the help of solar power.”

Modi picked up the baton.

“This is an Alliance that brings together developed and developing countries, governments and industries, laboratories and institutions in a common enterprise,” he said.

The Indian government is investing an initial 28 million euros to set up the Solar Alliance headquarters at home and Modi pledged to maintain it for five years.

“Markets need to scale up investment in solar and other clean energies and to accelerate a low carbon transmission of the global economy,” said Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Congratulating Modi for the initiative at the launch towards producing cheap sustainable energy and pledging UN support for it, he also reproached the politicians for having too many unresolved issues on the table. “You simply have not taken decisions… please show flexibility and sense of compromise for foreign good. We cannot waste any further time.”

Ahead of Cop21 Indian Energy Minister Piyush Goyal, who read the founding International Solar Alliance declaration, that his country could end coal imports by 2017.
 

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