On January 25, President Obama and Prime Minister Modi of India announced they were increasing cooperation between the United States and India on climate change and clean energy. The two countries released details of ten areas they will be collaborating on, which ranged from mobilizing private and public investment on clean energy to joint research on climate resilience. Notably, the initiatives include working to address emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent short-lived climate pollutants commonly used as refrigerants (see past EESI briefing). The bilateral pledge between two of the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gas emissions is an important milestone on the road to Paris, where it is hoped that countries will at last strike an ambitious deal on climate change.
The announcement was given in a joint press conference in New Delhi, after a meeting between the Prime Minister and the President. During his comments, Modi said, “When we think about the future generations and what kind of a world we are going to give them, then there is pressure. Global warming is a huge pressure.” This is an important shift from India’s previous stance that developed nations should be the ones to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, allowing developing nations to grow their economies without the pressure of keeping emissions down. However, as India has increased its industry and economy, it has risen to become the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. As developing nations increasingly take over as the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, they cannot be left out as the world looks for ways to reduce emissions.
Among the initiatives described in a White House Fact Sheet is the renewal of a $125 million program funded by both India and the United States, called the U.S.-India Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center (PACE-R). PACE-R will be funded for the next five years to continue its research on solar energy, building energy efficiency, and advanced biofuels, as well as to begin new research on smart grids and grid-scale electricity storage. The United States will also run its own competition, the Advanced Cooling Challenge, to spur the development of extremely efficient and climate-friendly cooling systems tailored for India’s climate.
In addition, the U.S. Agency on International Development (USAID) is going to place a “field investment officer” in India starting this summer, who will use a transactions team to facilitate more private investment into clean energy. To assist this effort, the Export-Import Bank is pursuing the provision of potentially $1 billion in financing for clean energy to the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation says it will increase its already-existing portfolio of $227 million in clean energy in India, with an eye toward support of grid-scale renewable energy and increase electricity access.
The U.S. and India are also partnering to improve the detail of climate models in the Indian sub-continent, to assess climate risks across India, and to work with local leaders to make communities more climate resilient. This effort aims to help India in preparations for the climate change already affecting the region.
“Climate change is here and happening. The bilateral pledge between President Obama and Prime Minister Modi is an acknowledgment of that, and a great step forward as we work to prevent climate change and its impacts from worsening,” said Carol Werner, Executive Director of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute.
Author: Laura Small