One problem in making progress on climate (besides the antediluvian policies of the Bush Administration) has been the refusal of major developing nations such as China and India to agree to emissions caps and reductions. Often, they appear to have rejected any responsibility for doing anything at all. (They have a point: the developed nations created this problem, and should solve it. But if present trends continue, India’s emissions will increase sevenfold by 2031: you just can’t get a handle on climate change without the developing countries.)
That’s why yesterday’s announcement, in the Indian state of Gujarat, of a Solar Power Policy might be very good news. I am not at all sophisticated in reading Indian state documents of this sort, but a couple of things jumped out at me:
1) Solar Power Projects will not have to pay electricity rate tax, which is sort of a backwards way of instituting some form of carbon tax. I have long suspected that while developing nations will reject emissions caps, they might be amenable to taxation-based schemes. This could be a data point in favor of this hypothesis.
2) If I’m reading the document right, the state government is instituting a 10% renewable portfolio standard (it’s in Paragraph 16). The policy lasts until 2014, although it is not clear by when the standard needs to be fulfilled. Still, this seems quite significant.
The Gujarat government says that the state gets 300 days of sunshine a year. That’s a pretty good base. Gujarat is a very major Indian state, in the western part of the country bordering Pakistan. I know it mostly because of the horrific anti-Muslim pogroms there from a few years ago, egged on and inspired by Hindu nationalist politicians. This might not indicate that much has changed in that department, especially in the wake of the Mumbai atrocities, but here is at least some indication that the government is moving ahead constructively on a critical issue.