The US President’s decision to re-join the Paris Climate Accord, Indian Prime Minister Modi's ISA initiative and Prince Charles’ Terra Carta vision all have the same goal. The world’s three greatest democracies should combine forces to lead the fight against global warming and regain four lost years under Trump, writes India Inc. Founder and CEO Manoj Ladwa.
US President Joe Biden signed 17 executive orders overturning or diluting several measures initiated by his predecessor Donald Trump. The one I am most delighted with is his decision to recommit the US to the Paris Climate Accord, which Trump had walked out of in June 2017.
Not only will this step help heal the rifts Trump’s unilateralism had created with the US’s closest allies, but it will also offer us a more realistic chance of bequeathing a more habitable planet to future generations.
In his inaugural address, he said: “A cry for survival comes from the planet itself… we will engage with the world once again.”
With that one statement, he has set the stage for rolling back the distrust the rest of the world had about the Trump’s denial of climate change and his espousal of carbon emitting fuels of which the US is still one of the world’s largest producers.
In this context, I want to talk of two other initiatives that can offer a palliative for the four lost years on climate change under the former US President.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s International Solar Alliance (ISA), which has 121 members, including the UK, gives the world a realistic chance of moving away from fossil fuels and saving the world from the ill effects of rising temperatures that are threatening to raise sea levels and drown millions of square kilometres of low-lying habitations and cities and rendering hundreds of millions of people homeless – and turning them into climate refugees.
Shockingly, the US is the only major country that is not part of the 121-member multilateral body. As a nation that emits about a sixth of global greenhouse gas emissions and also as the world’s largest and most powerful economy, it is imperative that the US joins this alliance that aims to fund renewable energy projects worth $1 trillion across the globe.
I hope Modi invites and Biden accepts the invitation to become a member of the ISA when, I’m certain, they will come face to face at the G-7 meeting in the UK to which British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has invited his Indian counterpart – though I’m hoping this happens much sooner than that.
And Britain’s Prince Charles’s recently unveiled Terra Carta, which means Earth Charter in Latin, could have in it the seeds of a recovery plan for the planet, its nature and its people and complement the Paris Climate Accord and the ISA initiative.
The Prince of Wales’ Terra Carta project, which draws its name from Great Britain’s historic Magna Carta (Great Charter), which inspired a belief in the fundamental rights of people, proposes to raise £7.3 billion over the next decade to fund a more sustainable future.
“I can only encourage, in particular, those in industry and finance to provide practical leadership to this common project, as only they are able to mobilise the innovation, scale and resources that are required to transform our global economy,” he said, adding that his aim was to encourage companies to harness “irreplaceable power of nature”.
There is complete synergy between this goal, Modi’s ISA initiative and Biden’s commitment to do his bit to mitigate the effects of global warming. His Royal Highness has only a moral authority to persuade but lacks executive authority. Biden will take time to find his feet among the ruins left behind by his predecessor; and climate change is only one of several daunting challenges he will confront at President of the US. But that cannot be allowed to be an excuse for the US to dither and drift. We have lost too much time under Trump.
Here, Modi’s practical experience of leading the only major country that is on course to meeting its targets under the Paris Accord assumes importance. He can provide insights and guide the more developed countries on how to leave this planet a safer place for our future generations.
India, the US and the UK must join forces – as they are doing in several other strategic spheres – to fight the spectre of climate change. COP26 in the UK later this year will be an opportune and pivotal moment for the ‘Big Three’ (India, US, and UK) to showcase their combined strength and influence.