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Solar energy not war

  If you know that a sector has arrived when it makes for trade wars between countries, then solar energy clearly has. Last year, the US imposed anti-dumping duties on Chinese imports of solar panels; now the EU has proposed the same. The Chinese have in turn threatened that they will take action against European exports of poly-silicon, the material used for manufacturing solar panels. In February this year, the US filed a case against India at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for “favouring sourcing of panels from domestic manufacturers”.

Solar energy not war

 If you know that a sector has arrived when it makes for trade wars between countries, then solar energy clearly has. Last year, the US imposed anti-dumping duties on Chinese imports of solar panels; now the EU has proposed the same. The Chinese have in turn threatened that they will take action against European exports of poly-silicon, the material used for manufacturing solar panels. In February this year, the US filed a case against India at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for “favouring sourcing of panels from domestic manufacturers”.

Clouds over solar

India’s solar power policy is now entering round two. And there is much that needs to be reviewed and reworked as the business of solar energy has seen massive turbulence in India as well as globally. In the first phase (2010 to 2013) of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) the target was to set up 1,000-2,000 MW of grid-based solar power in the country. By 2013, the country has indeed commissioned some 1,000 MW of solar power, but 700 MW of this target comes from the non-JNNSM state of Gujarat.

Rio: not plus or minus, just 20

The Rio+20 UN conference on sustainable development is over. The conference declaration, titled “The Future We Want”, is a weak and meaningless document. It aims at the lowest common denominator consensus to say it all, but to say nothing consequential about how the world will move ahead to deal with the interlinked crises of economy and ecology. Is this the future we want or the future we dread?

The inconvenient truth

Many years ago, in a desperately poor village in Rajasthan, people decided to plant trees on the land adjoining their pond so that its catchment would be protected. But this land belonged to the revenue department and people were fined for trespass. The issue hit national headlines. The stink made the local administration uncomfortable. They then came up with a brilliant game plan—they allotted the land to a group of equally poor people. In this way the poor ended up fighting the poor. The local government got away with the deliberate murder of a water body.

Equity: the next frontier in climate talks

In 1992, when the world met to discuss an agreement on climate change, equity was a simple concept: sharing the global commons—the atmosphere in this case—equally among all. It did not provoke much anxiety, for there were no real claimants. However, this does not mean the concept was readily accepted. A small group of industrialised countries had burnt fossil fuels for 100 years and built up enormous wealth. This club had to decide what to do to cut emissions, and it claimed all countries were equally responsible for the problem. In 1991, just as the climate convention was being finalised, a report, released by an influential Washington think tank, broke the news that its analysis showed India, China and other developing countries were equally responsible for greenhouse gases. Anil Agarwal and I rebutted this and brought in the issue of equitable access to the global commons. We also showed, beyond doubt, that the industrialised countries were singularly responsible for the increased greenhouse gases.

Green Climate Fund: Yes and NO

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Durban, December 7: Today, Wedsensday 7 December, 2011, the high-level segment will discuss the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Ministers will put their wise heads together and decide the fate of the GCF, which has had quite a stormy year since its inception at the Cancun CoP in 2010. Their goal is to create what is called a ‘cover decision’ that adopts the governing instrument and puts in place an interim arrangement until the GCF is finally operational.

Equity and per capita entitlement has to be the basis for fair climate deal says UK Climate minister

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Durban, December 6: Speaking at the side of a press briefing organised by UNEP, Chris Huhne, UK Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change said that equity and per capita entitlement has to be ultimately the basis for a fair climate treaty.

The Verbal Battle of Durban

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Durban, December 6: The verbal battle of Durban was fought in a plenary at the Nkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre.

It was fought on December 5, 2011, 10:00 am to 11:30 am.

Here is a no-holds barred version of the battle.

We apologise for this rather lengthy posting.

It was, after all, a verbal battle.

If you only want to know how India weighed in, rhetorical mace and all, scroll to the last bit.

Thanks for your patience. Here goes:

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