Modi Seeks to Spur Solar to Aid Climate for Nations Near Equator

  • Indian prime minister announces program at UN talks in Paris
  • Initiative aimed at drawing investment to poorest nations

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an alliance of nations to spur investment in solar energy in the countries clustered around the Equator, one of the measures backed by the United Nations at climate talks in Paris.

The program detailed at a press conference Monday with French President Francois Hollande and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would create an International Agency for Solar Technologies and Applications, which would help nations located in the tropics gain expertise and finance for solar energy.

The initiative is part of Modi’s efforts both to expand India’s own solar industry and to solidify the country’s position as a leader of the developing world. Industrial countries have pledged to boost finance for climate-related programs including renewable energy to $100 billion a year by 2020, and Modi sees solar power as a way for nations to grow their economies without relying on fossil fuels.

The measures are aimed at “helping developing nations skip the dirty part of development,” Modi said after meeting U.S. President Barack Obama at the climate talks. Modi said 300 million people in India live without power, and “we cannot forge a climate agreement that says they are permanently resigned” to not having electricity.

More than 100 countries lie between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, and each are potential members of the alliance, according to a statement released by the UN.

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