A new high-level coalition for clean energy was announced on Tuesday by India and the UK at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, involving major governments, international organisations, legislators, business leaders, researchers, and citizen groups.
It includes a group of governments called the Green Grids Initiative — One Sun One World One Grid.
The group was announced at COP26 by summit host Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
In the presence of other heads of government, including US President Joe Biden, the two Prime Ministers presented a One Sun Declaration, endorsed by more than 80 countries, setting out the group’s aims.
A Ministerial Steering Group will lead a process to accelerate the construction of large solar power stations and wind farms in the best locations, linked together by continental-scale grids crossing national borders.
The Steering Group includes France, India, the UK, and the US, and will also have representatives from Africa, the Gulf, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.
Germany attended the first meeting as an observer while post-election negotiations on a new government continue, as did Australia.
In a simultaneous online event convened by an international network of legislators called the Climate Parliament, members of a broader Green Grids Initiative partnership were introduced.
Working alongside the governments are members of parliament and Congress, renewable energy companies, university researchers and international development agencies.
Speakers in the Climate Parliament event also included two leaders of the international youth climate strike, Alexandria Villasenor of the US and Ayisha Siddiqa from Pakistan.
Among the business leaders were Anand Mahindra, Chairman of one of India’s largest industrial groups, the Mahindra Group, and Paddy Padmanathan, CEO of ACWA Power, which holds the record for the world’s cheapest solar power.
The online event was opened by African superstar Angelique Kidjo of Lion King fame, followed by William Ury, author of world bestseller on negotiation “Getting to Yes”.
Research support for the Green Grids Initiative is being provided by the Climate Compatible Growth consortium of universities, which includes Cambridge, Imperial College, Oxford, and the University College London.
Green Grids Initiative Working Groups made up of national and international agencies have already been established for Africa and for the Asia-Pacific region. Their membership includes most major multilateral development banks such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Asian Development Bank, and the World Bank.
The Green Climate Fund, established to channel part of the $100 billion a year pledged by rich countries in the climate negotiations, is leading a Finance Working Group.
The Africa Working Group is co-convened by the AfDB and the African Union, and the Asia-Pacific group is coordinated by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
The International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Agency are actively involved, as are the ASEAN Energy Centre in Southeast Asia and the SAARC Energy Centre in South Asia.
“One Sun One World One Grid” is a favourite phrase of Modi.
In their One Sun Declaration, the national leaders say, “all the energy humanity uses in a year is equal to the energy that reaches the earth from the sun in a single hour. The sun never sets — every hour, half the planet is bathed in sunshine. By trading energy from sun, wind, and water across borders, we can deliver more than enough clean energy to meet the needs of everyone on earth”.
In addition to large-scale solar and wind power connected through international grids, the One Sun Declaration highlights the need for investment in solar mini-grids for remote villages, smart charging for electric vehicles to help balance green grids, and new financial instruments to attract low-cost capital into clean energy.
Mahindra, whose company is a major car manufacturer and solar developer, said: “Nothing could be more urgent than to accelerate the shift to clean energy and electric transport around the world. Companies like ours need to partner with legislators, governments, and international organisations to step up the pace. We will be an active participant in the Green Grids Initiative.”
Former British environment minister Barry Gardiner, whose long-standing personal friendship with Prime Minister Modi played an important role in convening the initiative, said: “In an interconnected world it makes no sense that governments continue to fixate on energy independence. A global green grid will make it possible for power generated anywhere to be utilised everywhere.
“It is cooperation on a global scale to utilise the renewable resources of water, wind, and sun and to trade each country’s surplus to where it is required. This is an international political vision equal to the climate challenge we face.”