New Delhi: The US and India will seek to expand cooperation in climate change and clean energy, especially in solar and wind power, during US President Barack Obama’s second visit to India and talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi this month.
The plan is to widen the ambit of a 2009 memorandum of understanding (MoU) aimed at enhancing “cooperation on energy security, energy efficiency, clean energy and climate change".
“In last few years, the agreement has allowed the two countries to share their experiences and best practices. The idea now is to broaden the horizon of that agreement. The effort is to work out new areas in climate change component of the MoU," a environment ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
“With new central government, efforts towards climate change mitigation and adaptation have received a definite push. Climate change has become important and thus last year we also got a joint India-US climate change working group… The focus thus now would be explore what they are going to do in next five years," he said.
The official explained that the two countries will cooperate in putting in place climate change adaptation measures, and join forces to tackle urban pollution, and reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, among other things.
Tackling the effects of climate change and reducing the emission of greenhouse gases is at the top of the agenda of the Modi government, which has in fact renamed the ministry of environment and forests the ministry of environment, forests and climate change. When he was Gujarat chief minister, Modi authored a book on climate change.
In November, Obama pledged deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and China said it will for the first time set a target for capping carbon emissions under an agreement between the world’s two biggest economies—a pact they said would help push other nations to negotiate a global pact this year in Paris.
Investment in clean energy and cooperation in renewable energy, especially solar power, will find a place in the Modi-Obama discussions in light of the Indian government increasing its solar power generation target to 100,000 megawatts (MW) by 2022, from 20,000MW, said Manish Bapna, managing director of the World Resources Institute (WRI), a global research organization which spans in more than 50 countries, with offices in the US, China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and more. Their work focuses on six critical issues at the intersection of environment and development-climate, energy, food, forests, water, and cities and transport.
US ambassador to India Richard Verma said on Wednesday that the two countries are looking at partnerships in clean energy and climate change infrastructure. He also said efforts are underway to help India become a low-carbon economy by cutting carbon emissions by 25% from 2005 levels by 2020.
During Modi’s US visit last year, Obama and Modi had agreed to a new and enhanced strategic partnership in energy security, clean energy, and climate change.