Is climate finance the antidote to the trust deficit looming over COP 26?

Photo: UNFCC

A lack of trust between the developed and developing world, largely over the issue of climate finance, needs to be addressed for the COP to become a success this year, say experts  Read more

Still bound by trust? With the COVID-19 global pandemic compounding inequalities and tensions around the world, there are questions on whether the Paris Agreement will be able to deliver on the vision of cooperative action | Photo: UNFCCC

Is climate finance the antidote to the trust deficit looming over COP 26?

A lack of trust between the developed and developing world, largely over issues of equity and climate finance, needs to be addressed for the climate conference to succeed later this year

World leaders descended on New York this week for the 76th session of the UN General Assembly. The meeting is set amidst a backdrop of deep security concerns in Afghanistan, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on global health, brewing tensions between economic and military behemoths US and China, and of course, the rapidly compounding climate crises. The Assembly floor, so far, has been dominated by a shared recognition that resolution to any of these pressing global issues would depend on the ability to present a common front through cooperative efforts between nations. The world is also acutely aware of how profoundly such efforts depend on the maintenance of inter-governmental trust—a commodity that has stood on exceedingly shaky ground in recent years.

With the crucial 26th session of the UN climate conference (COP26) around the corner, the undercurrents of this trust deficit are threatening to widen the schism between developed and developing nation blocs. While the developed world expects increased ambition from developing economies, especially large ones like India, the developing world has pointed to the chronic inadequacy of action taken so far by developed nations of the Global North. According to emerging economies, effective mitigation and climate action will require enormous amounts of capital and technology from the developed world, a promise that has seen historical obfuscation by richer nations. The shoddy rollout of the global vaccine programme in response to COVID-19 pandemic has only further fostered a sense of discrimination and created deep apprehensions regarding other inter-governmental negotiations, particularly around climate, in the Global South.

Thus far, such apprehensions seem justified. Climate finance by developed nations to the developing world have so far been grossly insufficient  compared to their commitments, and remains knotted in a tangle of complicated capital flows.

Experts say that the developing world is under pressure to deliver increased ambition at COP26, despite heavy doubts around financial viability of such pronouncements in the absence of concrete promises of money and technology from the developed world.

Under the Paris Agreement, developed countries, who have also been historical emitters, were mandated to provide climate finance and necessary technology to the developing economies and emerging markets to enable cutting their greenhouse gas emissions. Under the agreement, nations were expected to commit to climate action in line with their national circumstances and capacities, broadly following the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR). The agreement expected the developed world, already having used up their historical emission quota to industrialise, to take the lead in cutting their emissions faster and at a larger scale than emerging economies.  

Turmoil before the moment of truth

Almost a month before its commencement, COP26, stands on shaky ground. One of the biggest challenges ahead of the meet is the difficult diplomatic relations between the two top emitters US and China. US climate envoy John Kerry could not secure any climate promise from China during his visits this year. China put out a statement saying the US’ efforts against global warming were an “oasis, but surrounding the oasis is a desert, and the oasis could be desertified very soon”. In simpler terms, this means China-US climate cooperation cannot be separated from the wider environment of relations between the two countries.

Similarly, Kerry, despite two visits this year, could not get India to announce ambitious climate actions or a net-zero pledge. India has maintained its stance that “reaching net zero alone is not enough” and that developed countries should not only undertake immediate, deep emission cuts and decarbonisation of their economies, but also provide financial assistance owed to developing countries. Despite its per capita emissions being very low compared to the global average, the world’s third-largest emitting nation, India, is under immense pressure to ratchet-up its climate actions at the COP. The top two emitters, USA and China, have announced their net-zero timelines of 2050 and 2060 respectively.

Amidst all this, the group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), hit hardest by the impacts of climate change, continue to struggle to access adequate COVID-19 vaccines. Incidentally, the COP organising committee has come under attack for failing to guarantee an equal conference with fair representation from around the world.

These events are significant enough to make or break COP26.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres and this year’s COP host, the UK, are making efforts to salvage the situation at the ongoing UNGA. On September 20, Guterres and UK PM Boris Johnson hosted a closed-door meeting of world leaders in a bid to “build trust”.

“I believe that we are at risk of not having success at COP26,” Guterres said in an interview to the global news agency Reuters before the September 20 meeting. “There is still a level of mistrust, between north and south, developed and developing countries, that needs to be overcome.”

To overcome this challenge, the US is also keen to re-establish its diplomatic dominance in the climate arena after years of absence from the negotiating table. Apart from US climate envoy Kerry’s jet-setting, the White House is hosting Johnson and India’s PM Narendra Modi for talks that reportedly included climate action.

A persistent deficit of trust

The developed world’s blatant disregard for the principle of equity in global vaccination efforts is a familiar example of why poorer nations find it difficult to trust the developed world. “The first thing we have to recognise is that COP26 is happening in the backdrop of vaccine inequity,” Harjeet Singh, senior advisor, Climate Action Network, told CarbonCopy.

“Look at how the developed countries reacted to it. A few [rich] countries and corporations are not meeting their obligations, sharing their resources. And they do not want to change the systems that are fundamentally responsible for the crisis or rather crises,” Singh adds.

In the whole COVID-19 situation, scaling up vaccination within poor nations requires more than emergency aid transfers or a few million vaccines. The fundamental problem is who holds the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), Singh says. He adds that most of these IPRs are paid through public sources, yet, corporations make money and do not allow patents to be leased to enable local production and distribution of vaccines. This results in a situation where Europe is about 60% vaccinated and Africa not even 6%.

The COVID-19 situation provides a fitting blueprint of how priorities of global powers are likely to get moulded to suit immediate economic interests at times of crises.

“If you look at the climate, it is the exact same trend. Rich countries, instead of reducing their emissions, which have been going up, and meeting their fair share of climate actions, have the audacity to tell the world to take up more climate action, and announce net-zero. The US continues to be one of the top users of coal, it is also heavily into the fracking and natural gas business. The UK, while trying to be a climate champion, continues to support off-shore drilling,” says Singh.

Unfair pressure to announce net-zero

Net-zero pledges are significant, there is little doubt about that. The problem lies in the pressure tactics being employed by many developed countries. This stands particularly true for India, which is currently under pressure to announce a mid-century net-zero ambition at the upcoming COP, says Vaibhav Chaturvedi, an economist engaged with low-carbon pathways at the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

“For a country like India, choosing a year for net-zero is no simple task. A series of deep analyses is a prerequisite to better understand what this would actually entail for the country. Then all stakeholders and relevant ministries in the country collectively can consider these analyses to see what is workable,” he says.

According to Rahul Tongia, a senior fellow at Centre for Social and Economic Progress (CSEP), there are three prominent worrying aspects of net-zero targets. “First, are these really zero, or ‘net’ through futuristic or unfair offsets or, even worse, accounting tricks?” the summary of his new working paper asks. The paper further adds that offsets are unfair when they are based on an ‘all carbon is equal’ theoretical plank even though abating carbon isn’t equal in cost. ‘Economic efficiency’ is skewed to favour high-emitters, who benefit from offsets out of low-emitters (poorer countries) with early-in-the-trajectory abatement.

Second, the paper says, even if one does reach zero, what is the shape of the trajectory to get there? Most countries are conspicuously quiet on the details. The shape would determine the cumulative emissions over time, which is what really matters.

“Third, are all countries expected to reach the target at roughly the same time? Not only is this unfair to low-emitters [who are invariably poorer, developing countries], coming to zero by 2050 would still mean many high-emitters would emit well more than their ‘fair share’ of emissions through most apportionments of a global carbon budget,” the paper says.

However, beyond science or logic, it is the political and economic fine print that will dictate which way the cookie crumbles.

“Ultimately, the developed world sets the agenda for COPs. They will not let go of the net-zero track,” Chaturvedi says. To calm the unrest among developing parties they might just agree to some discussion on climate finance, or make another symbolic promise like the last $100 billion which they never met, he adds. “And this causes the trust deficit among developing countries.”

Incidentally, days after these comments, during his speech at the UN General Assembly, US President Biden announced that the US would be doubling its climate finance pledge of $5.7 billion to $11.4 billion per year by 2024 and “make the US a leader in international climate finance”. Earlier, the EU too, had made a similar announcement as developed nations scramble to cobble together an annual $100 billion pipeline to present at the COP.

Even if history does not repeat, it surely does rhyme. Chaturvedi warns of this COP meeting the same fate as the COP15 that took place in Copenhagen in 2009, which gained infamy as the biggest disappointment among all the sessions of UN climate negotiations. The global situation is very similar to how it was in 2009, he says. The COP followed a global recession and US-China relations at the time were tense.

Climate finance promises that were never met

Climate finance is a major stumbling block for COP26.

Developed economies had committed to mobilising $100 billion annually by 2020 as a step towards their legal obligations under the UNFCCC. To prove that they were doing enough to meet the goal, developed nations commissioned the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to prepare progress reports analysing capital flows towards climate-related activities and funds.

Developing countries, which bear the greatest impact from climate change, received $79.6 billion in 2019, as per the latest OECD report released mid-September 2021. This is more than $20 billion below what wealthy nations promised to give every year, starting from 2020. The report also showed that the finance flows stagnated even before the global pandemic. Interestingly, rampant inflation in the US dollar also means that $100 billion at 2010 prices would be equal to around $126 billion today. This effectively gives developed nations a 25% discount on their commitments due to the falling purchasing power of the dollar.

Developing countries have had several issues with the reality of climate finance that the OECD reports portray. Their argument is that in the absence of a standard definition of climate finance, these reports largely overstate the actual money that has come in; basically accusing the developed world of playing accounting tricks. The actual amount of climate finance could be much smaller, a number of national and international assessments like the one prepared by Oxfam, an international think-tank, shows.

By COP26, developed countries need to break down how they will meet and build upon their overdue commitment to jointly mobilise the $100 billion a year. Addressing the climate finance gap is vital to COP26’s success and to restoring trust with developing nations, experts at World Resource Institute, a global think-tank, wrote recently.

“Indeed, the $100 billion annually is only a fraction of what vulnerable countries really need to decarbonise and build resilience to climate impacts, so it should be seen as a floor for climate finance. Developed countries should commit to deliver a minimum of $500 billion total over the 2020-2024 period, and should establish a more ambitious target to be agreed prior to 2025, to support developing countries,” they say. 

This sentiment was echoed in a report on the $100 billion target published by the UN late last year. “The $100 billion target needs to be seen as a floor and not as a ceiling. 2021 will, thus, be a critical year–to sustain trust between developed and developing countries, maintain momentum in the run-up to COP26, and to forge a new consensus about the necessary climate action and ambition to achieve global carbon neutrality by mid-Century,” the report states.

New beginnings or more of the same old 

“President Biden’s new climate finance pledge is a welcome and important step toward the US doing its share to meet the $100 billion commitment. If the US delivers on this pledge it will become the largest climate finance contributor of any single country, although many other countries will still be contributing more relative to the size of their economies,” Joe Thwaites, an expert on climate finance associated with WRI told CarbonCopy.

The new US climate aid commitment at $11.4 billion by 2024, however, is still far behind compared to the $24.5 billion that the European Union spent on climate aid in 2019. The pledge certainly pales compared to the ‘fair share’ amount of about $43 billion that the US should contribute each year, considering it is the world’s largest economy and more responsible than any other nation for the historical emissions driving climate change. 

Over the past decade, the US has been a laggard when it comes to climate finance. Former president Barack Obama pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, the UN’s flagship climate finance initiative, but delivered just $1 billion before leaving office.

His successor Donald Trump completely abandoned that pledge and in 2017-18, the US delivered less climate finance than France, Germany, Japan or the UK despite having an economy larger than all of them combined.

The commitment shows that Biden understands the importance of increased US climate finance for unlocking ambitious climate action, Thwaites says.

“Delivering the $100 billion is also a matter of trust, and trust matters in international climate politics,” Alok Sharma, UK’s COP26 president-designate wrote in July 2021, emphasising the requirement of a big push on climate finance by the developed world ahead of the all-important meet at Glasgow this year.

Not going anywhere yet: The IMD has forecast that the monsoon, in the midst of an active September, will be delayed in its retreat from the subcontinent and may stretch into October | Photo: Skymet Weather

IMD predicts delay in monsoon withdrawal as India records 27% excess rain in September

The monsoon season refuses to end in India. Its withdrawal, which usually begins by September 17, is expected to be delayed, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD). The IMD said rainfall in September is already 27% more than average for this month. The season recovered significantly this month after recording a 9% deficit in August, which has now narrowed down to 3%. While such delays aren’t unusual–it began withdrawing on October 9 last year–the erratic nature of the season in the past few years has been linked to climate change.

The IMD predicted heavy rainfall in the state of Odisha from September 26 onwards, and has issued a yellow alert for 12 of its districts. This year’s monsoon season is set to become the second-wettest ever in Delhi. The region recorded its highest rainfall for September in 77 years. Kolkata, meanwhile, recorded the highest September rainfall in the past 13 years.

Climate crisis likely to displace 216 million people by 2050: World Bank 

A new World Bank report estimated the climate crisis is likely to force 216 million people to migrate within their countries in six major regions of the world by 2050. The study predicted these hotspots are likely to emerge by 2030 and intensify in the two decades thereafter. Immediate action to cut down on emissions and conquer the challenge of green development, however, could reduce the scale of climate migration by as much as 80%, the Groundswell report stated.

This is the second Groundswell report released by the World Bank on the climate migration crisis. The previous one, released in 2018, included projections and analysis for Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. The updated report includes three more regions–East Asia and the Pacific, North Africa, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia–and provides a global perspective on the potential scale of internal climate migration. The report does not include high-income regions such as Europe and North America.  

Global warming likely to force North Atlantic jet streams northwards, triggering extreme weather by 2060s

The North Atlantic jet streams are likely to change course northwards if global warming is left unabated, according to scientists. The study, published in the journal PNAS, stated this could drastically impact weather on both sides of the Atlantic, lead to droughts and floods, and push the weather to extremes by the 2060s. 

The researchers dug boreholes to collect ice samples from 50 sites across the Greenland ice sheet. These samples helped them reconstruct and retrace the windiness of the North Atlantic as far back as the eighth century. They found that during the 1374 famine in the Liberian peninsula, the jet streams were far north. They also linked changes in the jet stream with the British Isles and Ireland famines in 1728 and 1740. According to the scientists, continued warming is likely to once again change the course of the jet streams.

Planting trees unlikely to improve forest cover, benefit locals financially: Study 

A new study added to the growing criticism of the practice of afforestation as a method to increase forest cover. The study concluded that planting of trees on a large scale does not increase forest cover or benefit the livelihoods of locals. The study by researchers from Florida State University, University of Chicago, and the Centre for Ecology Development and Research, Dehradun focused on large-scale plantations in the Kangra area of Himachal Pradesh that began in 1965. 

It used satellite imagery to observe forest canopy cover and forest composition. In plantation areas classified as having more than 40% tree canopy density, the study found no increase after establishment of new plantations. In fact, the study found, this density did not improve even after the new plantations matured, say 20 years later. After conducting household surveys in the area, the study found the tree planting provided no financial benefits to locals largely because of the nature of species that were planted. 

Scientists report “larger than usual” ozone layer

The hole in the ozone layer this year is larger than Antarctica, according to scientists working with Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, which is in-charge of monitoring the hole. They said the 2021 gap is among the 25% largest on record since 1979. Last year’s ozone hole was also similarly large, peaking at a size that was three times the size of the continental US. The hole usually peaks between September and October.     

Power move: China's pulling the plug on financing overseas coal plants will be welcome news to the UN's Secy. General's passionate attempts to wean countries off of fossil fuels | Photo: Japan Times

China commits to stop building coal projects abroad

Chinese president Xi Jinping announced his country will not build any new coal-fired power projects abroad. Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Jinping also committed to supporting other poorer countries in developing green and low-carbon energy. How the country plans to do this remains unclear. The announcement, however, is significant because China is currently funding coal projects in countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). While the BRI has funded many projects related to coal and transport in various countries, it has significantly not funded any projects in the first half of 2021.  

EU-US commit to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030; seven other countries join pledge

Seven countries joined the US and EU to commit to cutting their methane emissions by 30% by 2030. The countries are joining the pledge made by the EU and US this past week to slash these emissions coming from farming, abandoned coal mines, and oil and gas operations. While methane’s presence in the atmosphere is short-lived (around nine years), it impacts warming 84 times more than CO2 over a two-decade period. The countries to join the EU and US include UK, Indonesia, Italy, Argentina, Mexico, Ghana and Iraq. According to the White House, these countries make up one-fifth of global methane emissions.  

Developed nations must maintain transparency on climate finance, tech transfer: India’s environment minister 

In a closed-door meeting convened by the UN, India’s environment minister Bhupendra Yadav urged developed countries to maintain transparency on the issue of climate finance and technology transfer. The informal meeting on the 1.5°C climate goal also included UN secretary general Antonio Guterres and UK prime minister Boris Johnson. 

Yadav cited the recent IPCC report as well as the UN Synthesis report, both of which highlighted how developed nations have emitted more than their estimated allowances and should therefore lead the action on mitigation and providing financial assistance to their developing counterparts. Yadav urged richer nations to fulfil their promise of providing $100 billion per year in climate finance that was made in 2009 and transfer green technologies to poorer nations at a low cost, according to a statement by the environment ministry.  

US, EU up their contributions to $100 billion a year climate finance pledge

In a boost to the unfulfilled $100 billion pledge made by G7 countries in 2009, US president Joe Biden announced this week the US will contribute more than $11 billion in climate aid annually by 2024 to developing countries vulnerable to climate change. This is double the $5.7 billion the US had previously committed to under the Obama administration. Biden, however, did not specify how he would convince the US Congress to increase the aid amount. The EU also committed an additional $5 billion by 2027 in climate aid for vulnerable countries.

While these amounts will definitely get the G7 countries closer to fulfilling their $100 billion climate finance pledge, they will still fall short. Prior to the EU’s and Biden’s announcement, the promise was falling short by $20 billion. Progress has been slow on this front, with OECD figures showing only a 2% increase in climate finance from 2018 to 2019. In 2019, rich countries mobilised $79.6 billion, but much of it was in the form of loans, and not grants, the OECD found. 

Kerry urges India to upgrade its climate ambitions

While on a short visit to India this month, US climate envoy John Kerry urged the Union government to consider announcing a 450 GW by 2030 renewable energy target as part of the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) at the COP26 this year. Kerry reasoned that could potentially put India’s NDC on track to limit warming to 1.5°C. 

The two countries also launched the Climate Action and Finance Mobilisation Dialogue (CAFMD), which aims to attract investment and technology in clean energy projects.  

Stricter standards: With an eye on the health impacts of air pollution, the WHO has released revised guidelines for air quality norms that are substantially tighter than previous norms | Photo: EU Copernicus Service

WHO releases revised air quality standards pushing countries to tighten norms

The World Health Organisation (WHO) released revised and more stringent global Air Quality guidelines. In the first update since 2005, the limits have been reduced to less than half for six  key pollutants compared to 2005 for the governments to set their own standards. The WHO said the guidelines provide clear proof of the damage air pollution caused to health, at even lower concentrations than previously understood. 

The annual PM2.5 levels have been halved to 5 ug/m3 from 10 ug/m3 (2005), while daily mean has been set at 15 ug/m3 from 25 ug/m3 (2005). Annual PM 10 limit is now 45 ug/m3 compared to 50 ug/m3 (2005). Annual O3 limit has been slashed to 10 from 40 ug/m3. The annual NO2 limit has been reduced to 10 compared to 40 of 2005, and daily limit has been set at 25. While the daily SO2 limit has been doubled from 20 of 2005 to 40 now. CO has been set at 4 mg/m3.

Officials meet minister to discuss stubble burning and air pollution ahead of winter

Ahead of winter pollution season representatives of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Delhi met on Thursday to discuss the preparedness to tackle farm fires, one of the major contributors to winter pollution in the region.

Environment minister Bhupender Yadav said between July and September, the ministry issued six advisories and over 40 directions related to air pollution prevention via the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region (NCR) and adjoining areas on all emission sources—industries, construction, and demolition activities, etc–and how to control them.

He said to prevent stubble burning farmers are using a bio enzyme developed by Indian Agricultural Research Institute, which helps decompose stubble in around 30 to 35 days. Farmers want direct subsidies on a per quintal basis so that they can manage the stubble themselves and not burn it. 

Air and water pollution violations rise over three times in 2020

According to government data, crimes under The Air and The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act increased 286% in a year (2020 compared to 2019). The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reported that a total of 589 cases were registered under these two acts in 2020 compared to 160 cases in 2019. 

Violations under the air and water pollution act rose over 840% in 2019 compared to 2018. But they accounted for less than 1% of the total environment offences in 2019 and 2020. Only eight of the 36 states and Union territories recorded cases for violating air and water pollution laws in 2020. These were: Assam, Haryana, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. In 2020, nearly 90% crimes were registered in Uttar Pradesh. 

‘Air-shed’ impact: 64% of Delhi’s PM2.5 pollution is from neighbouring states, says study

Only 36% of winter air pollution in Delhi is from local sources, while 64% of PM2.5 descends into Delhi from neighbouring states, according to a source-apportionment study jointly conducted by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI). It highlighted the need for an ‘air-shed’ approach to tackling air pollution in the region. 

The highest PM2.5 emissions were from vehicles at 30%, biomass burning contributed 23% of PM2.5, industries added another 20% and dust and construction accounted for 16% of Delhi pollution. Delhi also contributed 40% to Noida’s air pollution. The study stated that during summer, Delhi’s own emissions account for 26% of its PM2.5 concentrations. 

Rooftop rebound: India’s residential rooftop solar could be attaining critical mass as installations jumped 517% this quarter compared to last year | Photo: Bloomberg NEF

2021 to be the second-largest year for India’s rooftop solar after 2018?

A spike in residential rooftop solar installations increased the overall rooftop solar capacity by 53%. It was recorded to be 521 MW in the April-June 2021 quarter compared to 341 MW installed in the January-March period. Mercom reported that it was the highest capacity addition in a quarter, despite the COVID-19 second wave, as the Gujarat lockdowns were more targeted. On a year-on-year basis, installations were up 517% compared to the 85 MW installed in the same quarter last year. 

In April-June, Gujarat accounted for the highest installation at 55%, followed by Maharashtra and Haryana. By June, India’s rooftop capacity jumped to 210% at 862MW compared to 2020. Installations have already surpassed the total rooftop solar capacity installed in all of 2020 (719 MW), Mercom reported. Average rooftop system costs increased 3% to Rs39 per million/MW compared to Rs38 million/MW in the first quarter of 2021. According to the report, even with rising costs, solar remains cheaper than non-renewable retail power tariffs.

DISCOMs get solar companies to reduce tariffs

Tariffs of manufacturing linked solar projects have been reduced to ₹2.54 (~$0.034)/kWh from ₹2.92 (~$0.04)/k after DISCOMs refused to buy power at the rate discovered during auction. Solar Electricity Corporation of India (SECI) managed to secure reduced tariffs from successful bidders Adani and Azure. SECI will sign the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with the companies once the Power Sale Agreements (PSAs) are signed with the DISCOMs. 

Meanwhile, SECI is set to sign PSAs for 3GW of solar projects. It has already signed a PSA with Grid Corporation of Odisha (GRIDCO) for 500 MW, has finalised a PSA with the Chhattisgarh DISCOM for 300 MW, and the Tamil Nadu DISCOM is likely to buy 1 GW from SECI. SECI is also in discussions to sell the remaining 1,200 MW. The PSAs will be signed with Tamil Nadu DISCOM TANGEDCO at ₹2.61 (~$0.035)/kWh, which includes a trading margin of ₹0.07 (~$0.0009)/kWh.

17 firms including Reliance, Tata, Adani eye Rs 4.500 cr subsidy for solar manufacturing

Adani, Reliance, Tata are among the 19 firms eyeing the Centre’s 4,500 cr production linked incentive to set up solar manufacturing units in India. The target under the scheme is to add 10,000 MW manufacturing capacity of integrated solar PV modules entailing direct investment of Rs 17,200 crore. According to the agencies RIL, Adani Group, First Solar, Shirdi Sai and Jindal Poly have applied for manufacturing polysilicon (stage-I), wafer (stage-II) and cells and modules (stage-III & IV). L&T, Coal India Ltd (CIL), ReNew and Cubic have bid for Stage II, III and IV. Acme, Avaada, Megha Engineering, Vikram Solar, Tata, Waree, Premier, Emmvee and Jupiter have plans for stage III and IV (cell, modules).

The PLI will be disbursed for 5 years post commissioning of solar PV manufacturing plants, on sales of high efficiency solar PV modules. The PLI money will increase with increased module efficiency and increased local value addition.

Gujarat govt sued over cancelled solar subsidy, moves high court

A Gujarat businessman sued the state government over its decision to withdraw solar subsidy policy for Development of Small Scale Distributed Solar Project, 2019. The Gujarat high court issued notice to the authorities after Mahisagar district businessman Ramanlal Patel moved court saying he invested in land, equipment and services to establish the solar project because of the subsidy policy. His unit was classified as a micro enterprise. But the government withdrew the policy for the MSMEs, which he said was illegal.

India: Anti-dumping duty likely on Chinese flat-rolled aluminium used in solar installations

India’s Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) recommended an anti-dumping duty on Chinese flat-rolled aluminium used in solar module mounting structures to compensate for the injury caused due to dumping in the Indian market. The investigation was conducted for the period from April 01, 2019 to March 31, 2020. The petitioner, Hindalco, moved the plea for investigation. Hindalco’s production share is approximately 71% of the total Indian production. Out of the total production of aluminum products in China, about 16% (or close to 2 million MT) is meant for exports, including India.

UK to release £265m in subsidies for renewable energy developers

In its “biggest-ever” renewable support scheme, the UK government set aside a £265 million subsidy for renewable energy developers. The Guardian reported that offshore wind developers will get contracts worth up to £200 million a year, and onshore wind and solar farms will get their first subsidies in more than five years. Tidal projects will get a subsidy worth £55 million of which £24 million will be earmarked for floating offshore wind farms. Onshore solar and wind projects will get £10 million.

Emissions-free crime busting: Ford's electric police car will see the standard Mach-E get an upgraded battery for longer range and may enter service by as soon as 2025 | Photo: Topgear

India: Ola scooters sell 4 units/sec to set record, to be built only by women

India’s Ola Electric — a subsidiary of ride hailing service Ola — posted an automotive record when it sold four electric scooters per second over two days and racked up Rs. 1,100 crores in sales. The scooters are offered in two variants: the S1, which gets 121 km to the charge at a top speed of 90kmph, and the S1 Pro, which is rated for 181 km at a top speed of 115kmph. Both versions are expected to cost 40% less in total cost of ownership and the S1 starts retailing at Rs. 99,999 (~USD 1,350), including FAME-II subsidies. 

Additionally, the scooters will be built entirely by a 10,000-strong workforce of women — which is a milestone in Indian automotive history — and Ola expects to supply 15% of the world’s electric scooters by next year. The launch also comes at a time when India has announced that it will offer $35billion in incentives to automakers to boost the production of EVs in the country. Not many details are available at this point but the automakers may have to invest $34million from their end over five years to qualify for the incentives. 

Ford to consider developing all-electric police cars  

Automotive giant Ford is reportedly considering developing an all-electric police car that would be based on its new and very popular Mach-E model. The car would have all-wheel drive and may get a larger-than-standard battery pack to boost its driving range. A prototype has already been sent to the UK and one will be sent to the Michigan State Police in 2022. If adopted, the all-electric cars will be the next step to Ford’s lineup of the hybrid Fusion vehicles that have been in use as squad vehicles since 2017. 

Interestingly, Michigan may also trial the US’s first road-based inductive charging for EVs. The technology would enable the vehicles to recharge wirelessly by simply driving over a modified stretch of road, and broad testing for the project could happen in the next two years. 

England to become first country to have EV chargers in every new home and office 

The Uk government will introduce legislation later this year to make England the first country to have EV chargers built into every new home and office block. The step is designed to boost the confidence amongst vehicle buyers to switch to EVs and is part of the government’s plan to ban the sale of any new ICE vehicle by 2030. The chargers themselves will be “smart chargers” that will automatically charge the vehicles during off-peak hours and each new office block will have one charger for every five parking spots. 

Due to capsize? The rapidly declining global coal pipeline was dealt another blow with China’s decision to stop funding for offshore coal projects | Photo: Open Sea

44 countries have no plans for new coal plants, China to stop overseas coal funding

A new report found that 76% of the world’s planned coal capacity since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015 has been scrapped, and that 44 countries now have no plans to add new coal power plants. The report is compiled by E3G, Ember and Global Energy Monitor and also finds that of the countries that do plan on adding new capacity, 50% only plan to add one new plant, and that major south-Asian economies pulling out of coal would shrink its pipeline by 90%. 

Incidentally, China announced that it would stop funding all overseas coal plants. This could permanently shrink the global coal plant capacity and take out more than $50billion in financing as Chinese banks — along with banks from Japan and South Korea — have been the primary financiers of coal capacity in South Asian countries like Vietnam, Laos and Indonesia. 

Shell offloads all oil and gas assets in Permian Basin — to ConocoPhillips

Oil and gas giant Shell will sell off all of its oil and gas assets in the Permian Basin as it aims to pacify shareholders and “do the right thing” by starting to move away from oil and gas. However, the $9.5billion worth of assets, spread across 91,000 hectares, will be bought by another big driller, ConocoPhillips, and the sale would essentially do nothing to stop the exploitation of the resources. The move comes amidst growing calls for She’ll to reduce its absolute emissions and soon after it was handed a harsh ruling by a Dutch court to the same effect. 

Five fossil fuels companies sue governments for £13bn over disruption of profits 

Five fossil fuel companies are suing governments in the EU for a total of £13bn over their decisions to ban activities like offshore oil and gas drilling and asking for environmental assessment plans before approving new projects. The lawsuits are filed in corporate courts that are built into the contracts under the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process — and the Energy Charter Treaty — that allows for companies to sue governments over potential losses and disruptions to their profit margins. However, these corporate courts bizarrely work outside the countries’ regular judiciaries and thus contradict any climate action proposed and adopted by the governments, even when done democratically and legally. 

The list of companies includes Ascent Resources, which is suing the Slovenian government for £85.5m over demanding an environmental assessment plan for its fracking project, and Rockhopper, which is suing the Italian government for £235m for banning offshore oil and gas drilling. 

Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance to launch at COP26

The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance is expected to officially launch at the COP26, where it will attempt to convince nations to a legally binding commitment to stop extracting any more oil and gas. The alliance is led by Denmark and Costa Rica, both of which have pledged to stop oil and gas exploration — Costa Rica has never extracted crude oil — and climate action is the primary driver behind their attempt to gain more signees. The Alliance comes about around the time of the new IEA report that has warned that the world could not afford any new oil and gas exploration if it was to reach net zero emissions by 2050.