Until recently, India’s intransigent negotiating posture has conveyed the impression that it will not accept any carbon emissions limits without full compensation and more stringent carbon limitation from rich countries. However, our assessment of India’s proposed renewable energy standard (RES) indicates that this impression is simply wrong. India is seriously considering a goal of 15 percent renewable energy in its power mix by 2020, despite the absence of any meaningful international pressure to cut emissions, no guarantees of compensatory financing, and a continuing American failure to adopt stringent emissions limits. If India moves ahead with this plan, it will promote a massive shift of new power capacity toward renewables within a decade. We estimate the incremental cost of this change from coal-fired to renewable power to be about $50 billion—an enormous sum for a society that must still cope with widespread extreme poverty. If India moves ahead with its current plan, it should give serious pause to those who have resisted U.S. carbon regulation on the grounds on that it will confer a cost advantage on “intransigent” countries such as India.
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