London: The United Kingdom on Monday joined the India-led International Solar Alliance (ISA) ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s four-day visit to Britain. At an event held at the London Stock Exchange as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018 (CHOGM), Britain formally announced its membership of the alliance, which aims to raise $1 trillion of private and public finance to provide affordable and sustainable energy for all by 2030.
The UK’s partnership will involve providing expertise and advice to the alliance, but no monetary contributions. The Department for International Development (DfID) said its partnership of ISA, which it described as Modi’s flagship climate treaty, is aimed at giving over 1 billion of the world’s poorest people access to cheap, clean, and renewable energy.
“Without India’s leadership, the alliance would not have come so far and so fast. By increasing access to solar energy, millions more babies will now be delivered safely, millions of farmers will be able to grow more crops and better support their families, and millions more children can be better educated," said UK international development secretary Penny Mordaunt.
“Partnering with like-minded countries and businesses who share the UK’s commitment to delivering clean, affordable energy will help end poverty while also delivering benefits for the UK by opening up business opportunities for UK renewable energy and green finance companies," she said.
The DfID minister championed the UK’s world-leading innovation and expertise—including from the City of London, the leading global centre for green investment finance—that will enable the alliance to deliver more effective programmes and help more of the world’s vulnerable people.
DfID highlighted that ISA has already brought together over 60 countries who have pledged to increase solar power that will ensure homes remain lit, children can be educated in schools, health facilities can provide life-saving treatment, and businesses have access to vital mobile and internet services.
“The signing of this treaty is a momentous occasion for the UK and demonstrates our continued commitment to providing the very best of British expertise to the renewable energy sector. With the UK joining the International Solar Alliance, the lives of almost a billion of the world’s poorest people, across the Commonwealth and beyond, will be changed for the better," Mordaunt said.
The UK said its support for ISA will be to develop solar water pumping projects, where farmers can use cheaper solar power—rather than diesel pumps—to water their crops. UK expertise will also help increase the number of “mini grids" supplying power to remote areas that cannot be reached by the main electricity grid.
These energy sources are considered a lifeline for rural communities, helping to power business and homes, making sure the poorest people no matter where they live can access clean, reliable and affordable energy quickly to lift themselves out of poverty.
The new collaboration means ISA will be able to make solar power cheaper by helping countries join forces to procure solar energy systems.
Currently, 12 ISA countries, including Commonwealth countries Bangladesh and Malawi, want to purchase over 720,000 solar pumps through ISA. The joint purchase will see a significant reduction in solar pump costs for each of the participating countries and up to 5 million people in developing countries will benefit from this collective purchase.
The UK becomes the 62nd country to join ISA, which includes countries like France, Australia, Bangladesh, Tuvalu, Benin, UAE, Brazil, Vanuatu, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda.
Britain’s traditional financial aid programme to India ended in 2015, with the country now focussed on providing India with “world-leading expertise" and private investment to boost prosperity, create jobs and open up markets.
The new ISA partnership is part of this wider engagement with India. ISA is an inter-governmental treaty-based organisation that aims to mobilise $1 trillion in funds for future solar generation, storage and technology across the world. It was launched by Modi in 2015 and formalised at a founding conference in New Delhi last month. PTI