The globalised world has entered an era of climate change where it is facing severe challenges across all regions. In lieu to this, the Paris Climate Change Agreement was signed by 194 countries in March 2017 to deal with greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. The highest ever renewable energy production in the world was the biggest takeaway of 2016 suggesting the road ahead for the future.
In 2015, the total increase in the world’s fossil fuel consumption was 0.6% despite global coal consumption declining by 1%. The reason being, the new consumption records set for petroleum and natural gas. The net increase in fossil fuel consumption which was equivalent to 127 million metric tons of petroleum was 2.6 times the overall increase in the consumption of renewables (48 million metric tons of oil equivalents). What’s astonishing is that despite the world being aware about consequences of global warming, carbon emissions in 2015 was 765 million metric tons.
Understanding the situation, India took the initiative to form an alliance of sunshine countries and adopt measures to promote generation of solar energy. More than 120 countries joined the International Solar Alliance which is a treaty-based inter-governmental organisation head-quartered in India at the National Institute of Solar Energy in Gwalpahari, Gurugram. Previously, India had set up an ambitious target of generating 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022.
Yet, globally it has been observed that the renewable energy sector is facing severe challenges including finance and technology transfer. The controversy between India and America in the WTO was a setback for India as it wanted to source and manufacture solar energy equipments locally. While America believed, it is a loss for the solar energy companies operating in America and is a violation of the WTO agreements. However, the most controversial of them all is the ‘Sun Tax’ in Spain.
Four years ago, Spain introduced the Sun Tax becoming the only country in the world to tax the use of sun. The move was to balance the decrease in income from conventional energy systems with the increase in self-consumption of solar energy. It was said that the costs related to grid maintenance remains the same and the Government of Spain was trying to settle the debt of 26 Billion Euros built up over the years of regulating energy costs and prices.
This brought up the question that shouldn’t we be subsidising renewables instead of taxing them. The Indian Government on the other hand is promoting the use of renewable energy with schemes for rooftop solar subsidy that received sanction from Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) of INR 50 Billion for 30% capital subsidy. The Indian Government also introduced the Scheme for Enhancement of capacity from 20,000 MW to 40,000 MW for ‘Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects.’
Being global organisation working in CSR and Sustainability initiatives, Fiinovation believes that mitigating risks of climate change is not a responsibility of a single country, rather it is a collaborated effort of all the nations. Though industrialisation and unsustainable practices have been the biggest factor that has led to the rise of global temperatures, but we cannot undermine the significant contributions from the developing and underdeveloped regions. Therefore, across the world (irrespective of being developed, developing or under-developed region) renewable energy needs to be promoted and subsidised rather than being taxed. As a global citizen, we should understand, practice and promote sustainable practices for the benefit of our future generations. Inter-governmental and inter-business collaborations/partnerships to finance climate change mitigation and adaptation including promotion of renewable energy have become the need of the hour. Promotion of solar energy, especially in rural areas for lighting homes and irrigating agriculture fields will improve the standard of living of the people. The world cannot be a better place if we only look at profits or economics and not work towards building a sustainable future.
By Rahul Choudhury
Media & Communications, Fiinovation
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