Gurgaon: US secretary of state Hillary Clinton sounded optimistic on Sunday that the US and India can bridge their differences on reducing greenhouse gases.
However, a senior Indian official repeated his government’s view that it cannot accept legally binding targets for cutting carbon emissions that cause climate change.
Speaking at an award winning “green” building outside New Delhi, Clinton told reporters she had had productive talks with Jairam Ramesh, India’s minister of state for environment and forests.
“We had a very fruitful discussion today,” Clinton told reporters. “We are not sitting down and writing the framework but we have many more areas of agreement than perhaps had been appreciated.”
On a positive note: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Jairam Ramesh, minister of state for environment and forests, at the ITC Green Centre in Gurgaon. The US wants India to agree to limit its carbon emissions ahead of the signing of a new UN climate treaty in Copenhagen. Mustafa Quaraishi / AP
“There are some specific recommendations which he has made today which are very promising,” she added. “I am very heartened by our capacity to work (together).”
Ramesh bristled at a suggestion India was unwilling to find ways to curb its carbon emissions, saying it was doing so but could not commit to mandatory targets. “It is not true that India is running away from mitigation,” Ramesh said at a joint news conference. “We are simply not in a position to take on legally binding emissions (reduction) targets.”
The US wants India to agree to limit its carbon emissions ahead of the signing of a new UN climate treaty in Copenhagen in December. There, at least 190 nations will try to set emission cuts targets to 2020.
India says rich nations are most to blame for climate change and should make deeper cuts before asking others to do so. While Clinton’s official talks on Monday will cover such issues as defence sales, non-proliferation and civil nuclear power, Clinton made climate change her first priority in the Indian capital.
The top US diplomat drove straight from the airport to the office building built ITC Ltd, which has been granted an award for energy efficiency and environmental design.
On Monday, Clinton meets Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and external affairs minister S.M. Krishna.
The US officials hope to sign a pact to ensure that the US arms technology sold to India is used only for its intended purposes.
Such a pact would allow US firms to compete for India’s plan to buy 126 multi-role fighters, which would be one of the largest arms deals in the world and could be a boon to Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. The US also hopes India will announce that it has reserved two sites for US companies to build nuclear power plants, which could be worth as much as $10 billion (Rs48,700 crore) in business for American firms.
And they want to establish a “strategic dialogue” between the two countries to be led by Clinton and Krishna, reflecting US President Barack Obama’s desire to strengthen ties with India.