It was June of 1992. The location was Rio de Janeiro. The occasion was the world conference on environment and development. A large number of people had come out on the streets. They were protesting the arrival of George Bush senior, the then president of the US. Just before coming to the conference, Bush had visited a local shopping centre, urging people to buy more so that the increased consumption could rescue his country from financial crisis. Protesters were angered by his statement that “the American lifestyle is not negotiable”.
Karno GuhathakurtaIt was a trade exhibition abuzz with the restrained chatter of busy suited executives at company stalls making contacts and finalising deals. Nothing out of place except that this trade was about renewable energy technologies, which have unconventional reasons for growth. First, these technologies are seen as the most economical and feasible source of energy for millions of people unconnected to the electricity grid and having no electricity to light their houses or cook their food. This energy poverty is disabling and needs to be eradicated.
India launched its National Solar Mission last year. The aim is ambitious – to build capacity of 22,000 mw by 2022. Clearly this is critical: if we can upscale our solar energy generation, we also build the ‘learning’ needed for the world – prices will drop, technology will grow, new answers will be found. But the question is how is this programme working?
Sorry for the long silence in the blog space. But I was fatigued and rather frustrated with the same old arguments and going-nowhere debates. So in the last few months we have been busy with new research to bring different perspectives to the old problems -- how will we share the increasingly scarce budget in an increasingly at-risk carbon constrained world.
SUNITA NARAIN, Director General of CSE and editor of Down To Earth. Environmentalist, and an early watcher of global climate politics, co-authored ‘Global Warming In An Unequal World: A Case Of Environmental Colonialism.