Supporting India’s decision to challenge WTO ruling which held the government’s power purchase agreements with solar firms as “inconsistent”, Greenpeace on Saturday said the ruling “violates” the spirit of Paris climate change agreement.
Ruling against India, the WTO recently had said India’s power purchase agreements with solar firms were ‘inconsistent’ with international norms – a matter in which the US had filed a complaint before the global trade body alleging discrimination against American firms.
Greenpeace India and Greenpeace USA have criticised the ruling and expressed support to the Indian government’s decision to go for an appeal against it. “India’s setting of Domestic Content Requirement (DCR) was based on a worthy core principle – increasing economic opportunities and creating thousands of green jobs while taking critically important steps in the global fight against climate change. It is ridiculous that the WTO does not recognise this principle and points to the danger to developing countries that such international trade regimes pose,” said Pujarini Sen, campaigner, Greenpeace India.
“The WTO ruling – and the US decision to pursue it – is a setback to India’s renewable energy ambitions. By challenging this decision, the Indian government is demonstrating commitment to India’s fledgling solar manufacturing sector, which needs initial support to enable it to compete with the price of imported products and to its own roadmap for a green economy solution to global climate change,” Sen said.
The US had dragged India to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on this issue in 2014, alleging that the clause relating to domestic content requirement (DCR) in the country’s solar power mission were discriminatory in nature and “nullified” benefits accruing to American solar power developers. The ruling was a blow to India which has announced a target of 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, of which 100 GW will be realised through the National Solar Mission.
Greenpeace also called on the US to stay true to its stated position where it “repeatedly” stressed the need for other major polluters, including India, to move away from their dependency on coal and towards a low carbon future. “Pursuing this WTO challenge could hamper India’s ambitious solar programme when it starts to do precisely that,” the NGO said.
It also termed the US position at WTO as “hypocritical” as the US implements similar domestic content requirements and subsidies to strengthen the renewable energy sector within its borders. It said most US states have Local Content Requirements (LCR) and subsidies, making India’s DCR very much in keeping with accepted industry practices.
“If President (Barack) Obama wants the US to be a global leader on climate change, he must instruct his officials to drop any opposition to clean energy initiatives in other countries, starting with India’s ambitious 100 GW solar programme,” said Kelly Mitchell, Climate Campaign Director, Greenpeace US.
India crossed 5 GW of installed solar capacity in December 2015, while placing itself to be one of the leaders in solar energy internationally and also included the formation of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) of solar rich countries by Prime Minister Modi at the Paris COP.
India also tried to meet the US halfway by proposing that they would not DCR for commercial use and buy solar panels with such requirements for its own consumption only such as railways and defence but the US was still not appeased.