India has recently made headlines for significantly expanding solar energy production. The new solar policy included the building of record-setting solar plants (in terms of size and production) and has also established that technology for solar energy production would come from local sources. The United States is now fighting the policy despite its compliance with rhetoric in its climate policy on reducing climate change impacts.
United States trade representative, Michael Froman, claimed in February that India’s policy for requiring locally made products to support its expanding solar industry would “discriminate against U.S. exports.”
The U.S. plans to appeal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in order to impose sanctions on India and allow for U.S. firms to once again have access to Indian markets.
India has increased its solar energy infrastructure significantly after consistent shortcomings from the coal industry. However, the only aspect of its solar policy that the U.S. objects to is the requisite for half of solar technology components to come from domestic sources. Relations between both nations have already been tense recently, and they only seem to be getting worse.
India’s Union Commerce and Industry minister, Anand Sharma, stated that the U.S. is being far too overprotective of its exports. India’s solar policy largely stems from the need to move toward renewable sources of energy due to disastrous economic, environmental and social impacts of climate change. Currently, international diplomats are working toward establishing a global climate deal and the U.S. incursion of India’s solar policy shows where their priorities lie.
Although American rhetoric has swayed toward acknowledging the severity of climate change and the necessity of alleviating the issue, actions have not done so. The U.S. has consistently placed greater private and public emphasis on securing short-term economic gains rather than taking meaningful steps to stop environmental impacts of climate change.
The economic impacts of climate change are expected to be devastating if greenhouse gas emissions by the fossil fuel industry are not slowed.
India is a frequent importer, so to be able to expand its economy, it is important to create domestic manufacturing capacities. This also especially applies to solar technology as India has substantial solar energy potential which would allow for a stable solar technology manufacturing industry.
In order for India to be able to transition from heavily relying on coal—which has long exacerbated climate change—to expanding solar infrastructure, it is important that support from the international community is shown.
– Jugal Patel