Initiative to create ‘world’s first’ transnational solar grid network formed at COP26

At the United Nations COP26 climate summit that began this week, 80 countries endorsed plans for the world’s first transnational solar power network, led by the UK and India.

The Green Grids Initiative seeks to connect 140 countries to clean, renewable energy and reduce dependence on coal. As part of the initiative, the International Solar Alliance aims to mobilize $1 trillion in financing by 2030 to assist developing countries in expanding their solar power grids.

“What we want… is to take these inventions, these breakthroughs, and get them the finance and the support they need to make sure that they are disseminated through the whole world,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

U.S. President Joe Biden expressed support for the initiative in his speech at the launch of COP26.

“We have to scale up clean technologies that are already commercially available and cost competitive like wind and solar energy,” Biden said.

International financing for clean energy and climate change resiliency will be a focus of COP26. Developed countries committed in 2009 to provide $100 billion annually in climate finance to developing countries by 2020.

report released in September by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that developed countries mobilized $79.6 billion in 2019. Research from the World Resources Institute determined that most developed countries are not contributing their fair share toward meeting the $100 billion goals.

“Three major economies — the United States, Australia, and Canada — provided less than half their share of the financial effort in 2018, based on objective indicators such as the size of their economies and their greenhouse gas emissions,” WRI authors wrote. “Other nations that provided less than half of their fair share were Greece, Iceland, New Zealand, and Portugal. In total, more than a dozen developed countries were falling short of their responsibilities.”

Biden is working to secure enhanced emissions reduction targets from world leaders at COP 26, while his signature domestic climate change agenda remains in the balance in Congress.

On Tuesday, Biden unveiled plans to target methane emissions with a rule from the Environmental Protection Agency. The president announced in September that the U.S. would join the European Union in signing the Global Methane Pledge to reduce the world’s methane emissions by 30% below 2020 levels by 2030. More than 100 countries have now joined the pledge.

“The EPA is today proposing new regulations that will significantly broaden and strengthen methane emissions reduction for new oil and gas facilities. In addition, for the first time ever, it will require that states develop plans that will reduce methane emissions from existing sources nationwide—including from an estimated 300,000 oil and gas well sites,” the White House said in a statement. “Overall, the proposed requirements would reduce emissions from covered sources, equipment, and operations by approximately 75%.”