Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

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

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

A laborer works at the site of a rare earth metals mine at Nancheng county, Jiangxi province, China on Oct. 7, 2010. Jie Zhao / Corbis via Getty Images

By Michel Penke

More than every second person in the world now has a cellphone, and manufacturers are rolling out bigger, better, slicker models all the time. Many, however, have a bloody history.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Scientists are studying barley, the key ingredient in beer. Ridofranz / Getty Images

Researchers at UC-Riverside are investigating how barley, a key ingredient in beer, survives in such a wide variety of climates with hopes of learning what exactly makes it so resilient across climates.

Read More Show Less
Trending
Air France airplanes parked at the Charles de Gaulle/Roissy airport on March 24, 2020. SAMSON / AFP via Getty Images

France moved one step closer this weekend to banning short-haul flights in an attempt to fight the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
A woman looks at a dead gray whale on the beach in the SF Bay area on May 23, 2019; a new spate of gray whales have been turning up dead near San Francisco. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Four gray whales have washed up dead near San Francisco within nine days, and at least one cause of death has been attributed to a ship strike.

Read More Show Less
A small tourist town has borne the brunt of a cyclone which swept across the West Australian coast. ABC News (Australia) / YouTube

Tropical Cyclone Seroja slammed into the Western Australian town of Kalbarri Sunday as a Category 3 storm before grinding a more-than 600-mile path across the country's Southwest.

Read More Show Less