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Greenpeace Supports India’s decision to challenge WTO ruling on India’s Solar Mission

US complaints undermine India’s Renewable Energy plans, violate the spirit of the Paris Agreement

February 26, 2016 | Washington/New Delhi: India’s plans for meeting its ambitious renewable energy targets while boosting the national green job market have received a setback this week. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has sided with the United States and ruled against India’s allocation of domestic content requirements (DCR) for domestically produced components in renewable energy projects. Essentially, the WTO ruling declares the DCR initiative as giving Indian manufacturers an ‘unfair trade advantage’, rather than recognising it as a significant long term incentive to encourage the manufacturing of solar panels in India.

Greenpeace India and Greenpeace USA have criticised the ruling in a joint statement, and expressed support for the Indian government’s decision to appeal the ruling.

“India’s setting of the DCR was based on a worthy core principle: increasing economic opportunities and creating thousands of green jobs in India 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 international environmental organisation is simultaneously calling on the US to stay true to its own previously stated position: the US government has repeatedly stressed the need for other major polluters, including India, to move away from their dependence 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 US position at the WTO is also particularly hypocritical as the US implements similar domestic content requirements and subsidies to strengthen the renewable energy sector within its own borders.  Most US states have LCR requirements and subsidies, making India’s DCR very much in keeping with accepted industry practices.

“If President 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 100GW solar programme,” said Kelly Mitchell, Climate Campaign Director, Greenpeace US.

As part of the national climate plan announced ahead of the UNFCCC global summit held in Paris in December 2015, the Indian Government had announced a robust renewable energy target of 175 GW by 2022, of which 100 GW will be realised through the National Solar Mission.  By August 2015, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy had already laid out a year by year timeline, that formed a core part of India’s INDC submissions under UNFCCC. India crossed 5GW of installed solar capacity in December 2015, while placing itself to be one of the leaders in solar energy internationally, that’s included the formation of the International Solar Alliance 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 it’s own consumption only, such as railways and defence. Though this would only be a small percentage of the solar programme, the US was still not appeased.

“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,” concluded Sen.


Taken from Greenpeace.

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