Indian PM Wants Developed World to Pay $1 Trillion to Fight Pollution, Pushes Global Solar Grid

By Jonathan Walker | November 4, 2021
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
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Modi asked for $1 trillion from developed nations as part of the fight against pollution and climate change. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

At the recently concluded COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi put forward a proposal to wealthy countries to contribute at least one trillion dollars to fund programs to combat climate change and pollution.

Modi pledged to make India reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2070. This is 20 years later than the target set by COP26. However, this is also the first time that India has publicly set a target of net-zero emissions which would mean that the country will not be adding any greenhouse gases into the atmosphere roughly 50 years from now. While the U.S. and EU have set a target of 2050, China is targeting 2060.

The Indian PM also raised his country’s target for non-fossil fuel power capacity from 450GW by the end of this decade to 500GW. He promised that roughly 50 percent of India’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2030. Modi asked wealthy nations to boost their contributions to help less-developed nations decarbonize.

“It is India’s expectation that the world’s developed nations make $1 trillion available as climate finance as soon as possible… Justice would demand that those nations that have not kept their climate commitments should be pressured,” Modi said

His comments come in the context of developed nations promising at COP15 that they would provide $100 billion in funding to aid less well-off nations to adapt to climate change. However, the commitment has not been fulfilled.

Modi’s call for a trillion in funding has attracted both critics and supporters. Some argue that western nations shouldn’t cough up such a huge amount to be invested in less developed nations. Others point out that the entire global decarbonization initiative was pushed forward by the West and thus western nations have an obligation to fund it to an extent.

In terms of the biggest carbon emitters, China ranks at the top with a total annual output of 11,535 megatons. The U.S. comes in second with 5,107 MT, EU third with 3,304 MT, India fourth with 2,597 MT, and Russia fifth with 1,795 MT in emissions. 

On a per capita basis, the U.S. ranks first with 15.5 tons, Russia second with 12.5 tons, China third with 8.1 tons, EU fourth with 6.5 tons, and India fifth with 1.9 tons.

At the summit, Modi also highlighted his ambitious global solar project. “One Sun, One World & One Grid (OSOWOG) will not only reduce storage needs but also enhance the viability of solar projects. This creative initiative will not only reduce carbon footprints and energy cost but also open a new avenue for cooperation between different countries and regions,” Modi said.

OSOWOG plans to connect 140 nations across the world via a common power grid through which solar power will be transmitted. The plan is based on the fact that the sun is always shining in some part of the world at any given point in time. As such, by connecting various regions through a single solar power grid, continuous electricity can be supplied everywhere.

OSOWOG has been planned out in three phases. In the first phase, the Indian grid will connect with the rest of South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. In the second phase, Africa will join in. And in the final phase, all remaining countries that are part of the project will be connected.

In an interview with Business Standard, Vinay Rustagi, managing director, Bridge to India, a research agency tracking renewable sector in India, said that a new “energy sector paradigm” is needed as the world faces a “huge inflexion point” in electricity generation and consumption.

“Potential benefits include widespread scale up in energy access, abatement in carbon emissions, lower cost, and improved livelihoods. India will need a strong coalition of international partners to realize this vision,” Rustagi said.