Photo: ISA

USA joins India-led International Solar Alliance at COP26

Country becomes the 101st member of the ISA, which was formed in 2015 

In some positive news coming out of COP26 being held at Glasgow, UK, the United States of America (USA) became the 101st country to join the India-led International Solar Alliance (ISA). 

India’s Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Shri Bhupender Yadav, welcomed the move and said it “will strengthen the ISA and propel future action on providing a clean source of energy to the world.” 

U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, said, “It has long been coming, and we are happy to join the ISA, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the lead in making. We worked out the details and this is a process we are pleased to be a part of. This will be an important contribution to more rapid deployment of solar globally. It will be particularly important for developing countries.”

The US joined the ISA six years after it was first announced in 2015 at COP21 in Paris, France. The US was expected to join the alliance a year later, in 2016, before the Trump administration threw a spanner in all climate-aligned works. The US’ announcement comes a couple of days after India and UK launched their inter-connected global grids initiative called Green Grids Initiative –One Sun One World One Grid’ (GGI-OSOWOG) at COP26. 

Ajay Mathur, director general, ISA, said, “The US’ endorsement of ISA’s framework and approach is an heartening development, especially as our 101st member nation, which is a significant milestone in itself, demonstrating that nations across the world are recognising the economic and climate mitigating value of solar, as well as this energy source’s potential as a catalyst for global energy transition.”  

The decision of the Americans to join is ostensibly linked to the US-led G7 Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative, which is being developed to counter the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Africa, South America and Asia. The B3W plans to at least partially contribute towards the mammoth $40 trillion infrastructure spending requirements in developing countries by 2035, while also providing an alternative to reported problematic and coercive lending practices being employed by China overseas.
Earlier this week, the US announced plans to start rolling out B3W projects as early as January 2022. On the surface, the marriage is a good fit with the ISA’s membership roster boasting mainly of names from Africa and Latin America. The Indian administration hopes that the US joining the group will bring credibility and big bucks to the initiative. But as recent evidence with the US’ tough road to securing Congressional approval for the $1.2 trillion domestic infrastructure bill would suggest, a $40 trillion support package infrastructure abroad is likely to meet several political hurdles. 

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