Time for India to shift from coal to solar power, says UK envoy on climate change

UK's special representative on climate change Sir David King has called on India to take the solar energy route to bring down carbon emissions. This, he said, can be achieved without compromising on its developmental goals as solar energy, on a massive scale, would be economical to coal-fired thermal energy.

"India has already reached a point where installation of large scale photovoltaic (PV) energy sources is on priority with coal, if you look at imported coal and as India develops its energy demands, you will either go for more import of coal or you can install PV. I am going to argue that it is in India's economic benefit to go down this route," King was quoted as saying in an interview given to Indian Science Journal (ISJ) recently.

According to a recent report jointly prepared by Bridge to India and Tata Power Solar, India has the potential to create 1,45,000 MW of capacity and 6.7 lakh jobs in solar power sector over the next 10 years.

King was in New Delhi to meet Indian officials, ahead of the Climate Summit convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York on 23 September, to build momentum for a new universal agreement on climate change. While more than 125 world leaders are expected to attend the summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping of China are skipping the day-long meeting.

Though the absence of Indian and Chinese leaders undercuts the summit, Sir King hopped, India will alternatively send a very senior functionary. India and China together account for nearly a third of total emissions in the world. While Europe and the United States have stabilised carbon footprints, it is growing in the two Asian majors.

"I very much hope that heads of states from as many countries as possible will attend. If they stays down to attend for very good reasons, and many will have good reasons, then I also hope they will send very senior members of their government to the meeting."

India holds the future global climate deal must fulfill the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) under UN convention. Sir King endorsed Indian stand and said he is 'right behind that'.

"I am simply saying you should demand more from OECD countries and we have to allow in the growing economies and in the LDCs (Least Developed Countries) full development growth, but with transfer of technology, so we get to that point of all reducing their emission in the longer run," he said.