Quantcast
Business

Trade Rules Trump Climate Action: U.S. Blocks India’s Ambitious Solar Plans

India has been told that it cannot go ahead as planned with its ambitious plan for a huge expansion of its renewable energy sector, because it seeks to provide work for Indian people. The case against India was brought by the U.S.

The ruling, by the World Trade Organization, says India’s National Solar Mission—which would create local jobs, while bringing electricity to millions of people—must be changed because it includes a domestic content clause requiring part of the solar cells to be produced nationally.

Sun-tracking discs at a vast solar thermal power plant in Rajasthan, India. Photo credit: Brahma Kumaris / Flickr

What a difference two months make. On Dec. 12 last year, U.S. President Barack Obama praised the Paris agreement on tackling climate change, just hours after it was finally concluded. “We’ve shown what’s possible when the world stands as one,” he said, adding that the agreement “represents the best chance we have to save the one planet that we’ve got.”

Clear-Cut Victory

The World Trade Organization says that its dispute settlement panel “handed the U.S. a clear-cut victory ... when it found that local content requirements India imposed on private solar power producers in a massive solar project violated trade rules, although the two sides are still discussing a potential settlement to the dispute.”

One official of India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy told India Climate Dialogue that the ruling might make the country’s solar plan more expensive and would definitely hit domestic manufacturing and, consequently, the possibility of creating jobs in the sector.

The government-funded program aims to generate 100 gigawatts of solar energy annually by 2022. One gigawatt is enough, for example, to supply the needs of 750,000 typical U.S. homes.

Sam Cossar-Gilbert, economic justice and resisting neoliberalism program co-ordinator at Friends of the Earth International, said the ruling “shows how arcane trade rules can be used to undermine governments that support clean energy and local jobs. The ink is barely dry on the UN Paris agreement, but clearly trade still trumps real action on climate change."

Stumbling Blocks

“Trade agreements are often stumbling blocks for action on climate change. Current trade rules limit governments’ capacity to support local renewable energy, undermine clean technology transfer and empower fossil fuel companies to attack climate protection in secret courts. Trade policies are preventing a sustainable future, " said Cossar-Gilbert.

“In the last three months alone, Ecuador was ordered to pay $1 billion for cancelling a petrol contract under a Bilateral Investment Treaty ... Governments must be free to implement sound climate policy," he continued.

“This ruling shows the dangers posed by more wide-ranging trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Trade in Services Agreement and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which will liberalize trade in dirty fossil fuels and restrict government options even further,” concluded Cossar-Gilbert.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: Syria, Another Pipeline War

Al Gore: 3 Questions We Have to Answer About Climate Change

The Biggest Oil Leak You’ve Never Heard Of, Still Leaking After 12 Years

Climate Experts to American Geophysical Union: Reject Exxon Sponsorship

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Popular

12 Great Summertime Reads

Summer is a time for escape reading. But that designation need not be limited to fiction; books written for the general reader on topics outside one's area of expertise can also provide passage to exciting new places. This month's bookshelf includes six non-fiction titles, five novels and one collection of short stories. The last three titles are now in paperback, suitable for a vacation or some beach time. Good reading to you!

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Pexels

Cosmos Offers Clues to the Fate of Humans on Earth

By Marlene Cimons

Astrophysicist Adam Frank sees climate change through a cosmic lens. He believes our present civilization isn't the first to burn up its resources—and won't be the last. Moreover, he thinks it's possible the same burnout fate already might have befallen alien worlds. That's why he says the current conversation about climate change is all wrong. "We shouldn't be talking about saving the planet, because the Earth will go on without us," he said. "We should be talking about saving ourselves."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Chicago skyline on April 20, 2017. Chris Favero / CC BY-SA 2.0

Big Cities, Bright Lights: Ranking the Worst Light Pollution on Earth

By Dipika Kadaba

The amount of artificial lighting is steadily increasing every year around the planet. It's a cause for celebration in remote villages in Africa and the Indian sub-continent that recently gained access to electricity for the first time, but it is also harming the health and well-being of residents of megacities elsewhere that continue to get bigger and brighter every year.

Health impacts of this artificial illumination after daylight hours range from depression to cancer, including a range of sleep disorders.

Keep reading... Show less
Business
velkr0 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Texas Supreme Court Rules Cities Cannot Ban Plastic Bags

The Texas Supreme Court struck down the city of Laredo's plastic bag ban—a decision that will likely overturn similar bans in about a dozen other cities, including Austin, Fort Stockton and Port Aransas.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics
Ryan Zinke visits Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota on May 25. Sherman Hogue / U.S. Dept. of the Interior

Report: Trump Admin. Suppressing Media Access of Government Scientists

A new Trump administration protocol requires U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists to run interview requests with the Department of the Interior, its parent agency, before speaking to journalists, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The move is a departure from past media practices that allowed government scientists to quickly respond to journalists' inquiries, according to unnamed USGS employees interviewed by the Times.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Icebergs calving from an ice shelf in West Antarctica. NASA / GSFC / Jefferson Beck / CC BY-SA 2.0

Good News From Antarctica: Rising Bedrock Could Save Vulnerable Ice Sheet

After last week's disturbing news that ice melt in Antarctica has tripled in the last five years, another study published Thursday offers some surprising good news for the South Pole and its vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS).

The study, published in Science by an international research team, found that the bedrock below the WAIS is rising, a process known as "uplift," at record rates as melting ice removes weight, potentially stabilizing the ice sheet that scientists feared would be lost to climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
GMO
Soybeans with cupped leaves, a symptom of dicamba injury. University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Dicamba Damage Roars Back for Third Season in a Row

University weed scientists have reported roughly 383,000 acres of soybean injured by a weedkiller called dicamba so far in 2018, according to University of Missouri plant sciences professor, Kevin Bradley.

Dicamba destroys mostly everything in its path except the crops that are genetically engineered (GE) to resist it. The drift-prone chemical can be picked up by the wind and land on neighboring non-target fields. Plants exposed to the chemical are left wrinkled, cupped or stunted in growth.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Memphis Meats

FDA Takes First Steps to Regulating Lab-Grown Meat

By Dan Nosowitz

Lab-grown meat—also known as cultured meat or in vitro meat—has long been enticing for its potential environmental, social and economic benefits.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!