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India will be the largest market in the world in this century: Al Gore

The Economic Times:  February 27, 2015

New Delhi: Climate change crusader and former US vice-president Al Gore does not think differences between Democrats and Republicans in his home country will cloud prospects of a strong climate deal that is expected to be inked in Paris later this year. In an interview to TOI, the academy award winning star of the documentary , 'The Inconvenient Truth', spoke on a range of issues. They included the global response to India's clean energy market and the benefits of Deep Space Climate Observatory , which emerged from an idea proposed by him in 1998. Excerpts:

Q. Will differences between Democrats and Republicans over climate change issues cast its shadow over the prospect of a strong climate deal?

No. It will not. The concerns are certainly understandable because the extreme partisan division in my country have interfered with the development of some policies. Climate is, however, an exception. Because the Supreme Court has issued a ruling that a previously passed law known as the Clean Air Act actually applies to the reduction of green house gases.

The issue before the court was whether or not the phrase harmful air pollutants applies to global warming pollution and the Supreme Court issued an opinion stating that the law does apply. Now the significance of this is that President Obama has the existing authority without any subsequent action by the Congress to mandate the reduction of pollution which causes global warming.

Now, the second basis for the concern you described has to do with the Senate's constitutional role in approving treaties. But the Paris agreement is being designed in a way that it does not fit that description and it does not require Senate approval.

Q. Only nine months are left to Paris, but many differences exist between developed and developing countries over extent of INDC, mitigation versus adaptation issues or ex-ante review.Do you think the negotiations in run-up to Paris would end those differences?

Yes, I think a deal is virtually certain. And, one reason for my confidence is that this new process designed for the Paris negotiations allows significant flexibility depending upon national circumstances.

The old rigid differentiation between the developed and developing countries no longer applies the way it once did.

The agreement between the US and China is just the latest evidence of this fact.

Q. What do you mean by those great many changes that may drive the world to have an equi table climate deal in Paris without affecting their economies?

The stunning developments and improvements to renewable energy technology and the sharp reduction in the cost of electricity from solar and wind and realization of the enormous opportunity available in enhanced energy efficiency have changed the de bate in a fairly dramatic way.

I believe that this is a new chapter in the same story the world had witnessed with the telecom communication where mobile phones have almost replaced the old landline technologies.

Distributed energy resources mainly by rooftop solar along with solar fields and wind mills are now not only competitive with the electricity made from the burning of coal but actually is cheaper in many regions and even as the cost of coal goes up, the cost of solar and wind continues to go down year after year after year.

Q. India wants to move on the renewable energy path. But, costs and technology drawbacks are big issues.Do you think it would make good business sense for investors to invest in India?

I think the size and attractiveness of the renewable energy market and energy efficiency market in India is looming as one of biggest business opportunities in the entire history of the world. Everyone knows that India's growth rate will soon be faster than China's. India will be the largest market in the world in this century . So, the kind of rush that you saw the business around the world were trying to get into China in the last decade, you are going to see that for India.

Q. Will the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) help the scientific community solve some climatic mystery? What can the world achieve from this ambitious launch?

Yes. The satellite placed in deep space will orbit the sun in tandem with the earth. It will always stay in between the earth and the sun and from that vantage point, the instruments on this satellite will be able to give us for the very first time an accurate energy budget for the entire earth and the entire planetary system. Secondly , we will able to get for the first time an accurate assessment of vegetative cover on the earth.

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