At the COP28 climate negotiations in Dubai on Saturday, 118 countries signed a pledge to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030. Though this is a global pact, it is seen as a victory for India, which championed the idea through its G-20 presidency. 

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), tripling the world’s renewable energy capacity means raising it from around 3,400 GW today to over 11,000 GW by 2030 — about 1,000 GW a year. In 2022, IRENA says, the world added about 300 GW of renewable energy capacity. 

Welcoming the pledge, IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera noted that it “unequivocally confirms the central role renewables play in addressing climate urgency.” He described renewable energy as “the most accessible and cost-effective solution,” and said that renewables stand at the forefront of climate action. 

In earlier conversations with businessline, experts, such as Ajay Mathur, Director-General, International Solar Alliance, have noted that with India giving a push for solar cell and module manufacture and the world wanting to look for sources other than China to buy solar modules, India’s prospects of exporting modules are bright. As for wind, India has manufacturing capacity of about 15 GW, far more than the domestic demand. India already exports significant volumes of solar modules and wind turbine components. The global aim to triple renewable energy capacity therefore has potential to boost manufacturing in India. 

At the COP, India and China have refused to back the overall pledge to conflate the goal of tripling of renewable energy capacity with a promise to reduce fossil fuel use. India, which at the COP26, Glasgow, in 2021, got the words in the text changed from “phase out” to “phase down” of unabated fossil fuels, has taken a stand that just as the West burns oil and gas for its energy security, India has no option but to use coal.  

Nuclear energy 

COP28 also saw 22 countries sign a declaration to triple nuclear energy capacity. In the text, there was a hint at ‘small modular reactors’, which India is also keen on. On this, the declaration text says, “new nuclear technologies could occupy a small land footprint and can be sited where needed, partner well with renewable energy sources, and have additional flexibilities that support decarbonisation beyond the power sector, including hard-to-abate industrial sectors.” 

Those that signed the declaration are United States, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Ghana, Hungary, Japan, Republic of Korea, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, and United Kingdom. 

US climate envoy John Kerry said, “you can’t get to net-zero 2050 without some nuclear, just as you can’t get there without some use of carbon capture, utilisation and storage.” 

Global nuclear capacity now stands at 370 GW, in 31 countries.