Does Kerry's visit to India indicate a new season of bilateral cooperation?

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Does Kerry's visit to India indicate a new season of bilateral cooperation?
US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry meets with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. Kerry spoke with India's Modi about mobilizing finance for shift to clean energy.Courtesy: Reuters

US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate supports India’s climate plans by wanting to facilitate access to green technologies and finance.

Once again acknowledging that India walks the talk on climate change US President Joe Biden sent John Kerry the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate on an official trip to deliberate with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on how the United States could help assist India by mobilising finance to reduce risks in producing alternative energy in the fight against global warming.

Biden’s actions come in the wake of the fact that India, under the stewardship of Narendra Modi, has been putting in a widespread effort on clean energy sources and was on track to achieve the emission norms agreed under the 2015 Paris climate change accord. India’s progress would arouse the interest of the global community and investors who are eyeing the possibility to finance that sector in India and boost the country's economic progress.

Kerry’s visit came ahead of a meeting of leaders from 40 nations, from April 22-23, organized by Biden, that aims to galvanize efforts to commit to more ambitious climate change mitigation targets. India’s stated climate change goal is to zero out its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. India is the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Getting down to work. US presidential envoy John Kerry in deliberations with Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change.
Getting down to work. US presidential envoy John Kerry in deliberations with Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change.Courtesy: ANI

According to Reuters, Kerry said 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.

The US is prepared to bring more money to the table for a normal commercial investment that could quickly start producing alternative fuel.
- John Kerry

Kerry deliberated with Modi on the topic of "concessionary finance" to reduce India's risks in dealing with first losses on the transition to clean energy. Concessionary finance typically involves 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.” India is the world's third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States, but with far lower emissions per capita than those countries. Its energy demand is projected to grow more than that of any other country over the next two decades.

The destructive effects of climate change. Boulders block the road after a landslide at Jammu Srinagar highway at Samroli in Udhampur. The government has stated that it would meet the challenge and made this commitment public.
The destructive effects of climate change. Boulders block the road after a landslide at Jammu Srinagar highway at Samroli in Udhampur. The government has stated that it would meet the challenge and made this commitment public.Courtesy: ANI

India is eyeing a 450 gigawatt of renewable energy capacity by 2030, renewable energy capacity would reach 175 gigawatt before 2022. Meeting this challenge has been the mantra of the Modi government and it is nothing short of an endorsement to the principle of self-reliance that India has employed while fighting off the threats of the pandemic when its economy was being threatened by disruption during a nationally imposed lockdown. Under the PLI scheme in Solar PV manufacturing the government has committed to an investment of INR. 4,500 crores which falls under the umbrella of AtmaNirbhar Bharat 3.0.

The government’s focus on renewable energy is one such example of inventive thinking by the authorities as they focus on renewable, low carbon, carbon recycle techniques and breakthrough in renewable energy and energy storage and utilization. To provide a shot in the arm towards making renewables an enticing investment playground the government has even introduced reforms in a bid to attract FDI.

While the international community has been searching for a climate change leader who can replace pronouncements with action it is evident that Narendra Modi has slipped into this role by making a statement of intent on India’s commitments.

India Global Business has deliberated on the issues of climate change and renewable energy in a series of articles in the past. The renewables energy cake is big enough for all stakeholders to get a healthy slice of. The macroeconomic fundamentals have been stabilised to ensure policy stability and the introduction of fiscal measures incentives has improved India’s position in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business rankings and the WEF's Global Competitiveness Index. It currently ranks third in the EY Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index.

India walks the talk on renewable energy. E-autos and E-rickshaws distributed to 65 beneficiaries by the Directorate of Environment and Climate Change at Kangla, in Imphal.
India walks the talk on renewable energy. E-autos and E-rickshaws distributed to 65 beneficiaries by the Directorate of Environment and Climate Change at Kangla, in Imphal.Courtesy: ANI

There are added benefits that the authorities have thrown in like much needed tax benefits, construction of manufacturing plants for solar cells, lithium storage batteries, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, fresh attention on the grids to produce a smooth and amplified integration of renewables and the fact that the Indian market boasts of a diverse eco-system that facilitates appealing locations for schemes ensuring that investors will be looking at a low-risk perception when eyeing a post-Covid world which will be geared up for the use of alternative energy.

While the international community has been searching for a climate change leader who can replace pronouncements with action it is evident that Narendra Modi has slipped into this role by making a statement of intent on India’s commitments. The 2030 targets adopted by the global community are nothing if not ambitious and G7 economies will be held responsible for their inability to restrict oil and gas companies. India’s collaborations with other countries on climate change and renewable energy are by now well documented – the US, UK and France are the notable cases in point. In the midst of these challenges Modi issued the clarion call on climate change, during the G-20 virtual summit hosted by Saudi Arabia.

In a discussion headlined as 'Safeguarding the Planet: The Circular Carbon Economy Approach', Modi stated “Inspired by our traditional ethos of living in harmony with the environment, and the commitment of my government, India has adopted low-carbon and climate-resilient development practices while propagating an integrated, comprehensive and holistic approach.”

John Kerry picked the right address when he decided to pay the Indian prime minister a visit. The past may have been a series of lessons learned for the global community, but the future is brimming with unlimited possibilities. If it is India, then it is possible.

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