India helping lead the way on climate change: Sierra Club, WWF

Washington: A top US NGO on climate change and renewable energy today hailed India saying that by launching the International Solar Alliance the country is helping lead the way on global warming.

"You know clean energy is winning when the international community formally recognises that clean, renewable energy like solar is the way forward," Sierra Club Global Climate policy director John Coequy said a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was joined by French President Francois Hollande and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Paris to announce the launch of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).

The initiative was first conceived by Modi and will be headquartered in India. "India has shown twice today that it is helping lead the world forward on solar and clean energy," Coequy said. "First, it was a key partner with China and the United States in creating a major international R&D initiative committing governments to doubling public investment in innovative energy research over the next five years.

Now, it has gone even further with this commitment to lead the world on solar," Coequy said. "Moving forward in Paris, Prime Minister Modi has an incredible opportunity to demonstrate even further Indian leadership for climate action by helping secure an agreement that gets us on a path that avoids catastrophic climate disruption," said the official from Sierra Club which a few years ago had vehemently opposed the US move to provide financial guarantee for a coal power plant in India.

In another statement, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) also praised India's leadership role. "India brought the most significant and game-changing announcement of the day with plans for a new solar alliance to provide solar energy access to the poor," said WWF Global Climate and Energy Initiative leader Samantha Smith. "The collaboration, which will include nearly 100 countries and impact billions of people, is evidence that it is possible to address climate change and poverty simultaneously," she said.

Greenpeace on the other hand said India is sending mixed messages saying the country itself is highly vulnerable to climate change, and solar initiative could be a key milestone for its energy transformation. "Yet India has not given its support to the global decarbonisation goals called by the Vulnerable Countries Forum, and is planning a huge expansion of coal-fired electricity over the next 15 years," it said.

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