India-US launch Agenda 2030 partnership on climate and clean energy

India-US launch Agenda 2030 partnership on climate and clean energy
Leading by example. A worker from a start-up company stands next to a proprietary machine, which turns lead from scrap batteries into briquettes, at ACE Green Recycling Inc in Ghaziabad. Courtesy: Reuters

Indian PM Modi reminds the world that “India’s per capita carbon footprint is 60% lower than the global average. It is because our lifestyle is still rooted in sustainable traditional practices.”

India and the US reached an agreement to launch the India-US climate and clean energy Agenda 2030 partnership on the sidelines of the Leaders Climate Change Summit 2021 hosted by US President Joe Biden on Thursday.

The two-day summit ensured that at least 40 heads of state and government were in attendance as global leaders reassessed their prior commitments and progress. It was a day of landmark announcements and Joe Biden’s commitment to half greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 seemed to act as a source of inspiration for the fellow attendees.

For the record, according to Reuters, the US and other countries hiked their targets for slashing greenhouse gas emissions.Biden unveiled the goal to cut emissions by 50%-52% from 2005 levels. “This is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis," said Biden.

According to Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, "Sustainable lifestyles and guiding philosophy of back to basics must be an important pillar of our economic strategy for the post-COVID era.

"Friends for humanity to combat climate change concrete action is needed. We need suggestions at the high speed and a large scale and with a global scope,” he said.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson reminded the delegates that climate change if appropriately fought could result in economic growth and employment.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson reminded the delegates that climate change if appropriately fought could result in economic growth and employment.Courtesy: ANI

It’s about growth and jobs says Johnson

Supporting Biden’s goals was British prime minister Boris Johnson who labelled the new US targets as "game changing. It's vital for all of us to show that this is not all about some expensive politically correct, green act of bunny hugging," Johnson said. "This is about growth and jobs."

The voice of reason, however, was offered by Greenpeace UK’s head of climate, Kate Blagojevic, who quipped that the summit had more targets than an archery competition."Targets, on their own, won’t lead to emissions cuts," she said. "That takes real policy and money. And that’s where the whole world is still way off course."

How Washington intends to reach its climate goals will be crucial to cementing US credibility on global warming, amid international concerns that America's commitment to a clean energy economy can shift drastically from one administration to the next.

Biden's recently introduced $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan contains numerous measures that could deliver some of the emissions cuts needed this decade, including a clean energy standard to achieve net zero emissions in the power sector by 2035 and moves to electrify the vehicle fleet.

As a climate-responsible developing country, India welcomes partners to create templates of sustainable development in India. These can also help other developing countries, who need affordable access to green finance and clean technologies.
- Indian PM, Narendra Modi

This is where it is crucial for the White House to find an ally and the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi is the go-to world leader given that his commitments and actions on climate change are credible and on record.

Indian PM Narendra Modi addressing the delegates who attended the Climate Change Summit on Thursday. India is walking the talk on its clean energy commitments.
Indian PM Narendra Modi addressing the delegates who attended the Climate Change Summit on Thursday. India is walking the talk on its clean energy commitments.Courtesy: ANI

Welcoming partners for sustainable development

In his address Modi drove home the fact that, “As a climate-responsible developing country, India welcomes partners to create templates of sustainable development in India. These can also help other developing countries, who need affordable access to green finance and clean technologies.

“That is why, President Biden and I are launching the ‘India-US climate and clean energy Agenda 2030 partnership’. Together, we will help mobilise investments, demonstrate clean technologies, and enable green collaborations,” he said.

It may be recalled that Biden had sent John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate on an official visit to secure an audience with the Indian prime minister to discuss the challenges of climate change. Kerry had complimented India on its efforts on climate change and even enquired how the United States could help assist India by mobilising finance to reduce risks in producing alternative energy in the fight against global warming.

Kerry affirmed that the US would support India’s climate plans and facilitate access to green technologies and finance, while Modi acknowledged that such cooperation would result in faster deployment of clean technologies.

Kerry discussed the angle of "concessionary finance" to decrease India's risks in dealing with first losses on the transition to clean energy. Concessionary finance contains loans on terms lower than market rates. Additionally, the US is prepared to "bring more money to the table for a normal commercial investment that could quickly start producing alternative fuel,” he has said after his meeting with Modi.

US envoy for climate John Kerry with union minister Prakash Javadekar. The US is prepared to bring money to the table for a normal commercial investment that could quickly start producing alternative fuel in collaboration with India.
US envoy for climate John Kerry with union minister Prakash Javadekar. The US is prepared to bring money to the table for a normal commercial investment that could quickly start producing alternative fuel in collaboration with India.Courtesy: ANI

Strategic direction and finance mobilisation

According to an official statement, the stated goals of this partnership would primarily be to “Mobilise finance and speed clean energy deployment; demonstrate and scale innovative clean technologies needed to decarbonise sectors, including industry, transportation, power, and buildings; and build capacity to measure, manage, and adapt to the risks of climate-related impacts.

“The partnership will proceed along two main tracks: the strategic clean energy partnership and the climate action and finance mobilisation dialogue, which will build on and subsume a range of existing processes. Despite our development challenges, we have taken many bold steps on clean energy, energy efficiency, afforestation and bio-diversity. That is why we are among the few countries whose NDCs are 2-degree-Celsius compatible,” said Modi.

Biden's recently introduced $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan contains numerous measures that could deliver some of the emissions cuts needed this decade, including a clean energy standard to achieve net zero emissions in the power sector by 2035 and moves to electrify the vehicle fleet.

Nationally Defined Contributions (NDCs) are targets defined by each country to help achieve the Paris Agreement’s objective of keeping global warming to considerably below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius. India is targeting a 2030 GDP emissions intensity (i.e., volume of emissions per unit of GDP) that is 33%-35% below 2005 levels. In addition, it also seeks to have 40% of power generated from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.

Although China, the US and India are clubbed as the top three emitters of CO2 in absolute terms, the US has a higher per capita emission statistic than China and India.

Modi took time to remind the attending delegates that, “Today, as we discuss global climate action, I want to leave one thought with you. India’s per capita carbon footprint is 60% lower than the global average. It is because our lifestyle is still rooted in sustainable traditional practices,” he said, adding that a philosophy of “back to basics” must be an “important pillar of our economic strategy” in the post-COVID-19 era.

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