'India being watched for its contribution to climate change'

Contrary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent observation that India was under “no pressure” for climate commitments, a US envoy said on Monday that India is being “closely watched” for its contribution to climate change.

US envoy Richard Verma said the country was being “closely watched” for its intended contribution towards the global response to climate change.

In January, at a bilateral engagement with US President Barack Obama during his state visit to India, Modi had said that India was under “no pressure” to announce a peak year for cutting its own emission like the US and China.

India is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Speaking at a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) event here Verma, however, noted that “India’s size, economic growth projections and already significant greenhouse gas emissions means there is tremendous interest around the world” on its proposed contribution to mitigating climate change.

“I don’t think it’s an understatement to say the world is watching very closely what India will do,” he said.

Ahead of the crucial climate change negotiations at Paris 2015 in December, global emitters will submit their “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs).

The INDCs will be the announcement of their commitment to adopt measures for clean energy and produce green house gas emissions.

Dismissing the perception that the world is divided in two camps “the countries with historical responsibility as early industrialisers and the ones that are now embarking on the path of development”, Verma said: “We (India and the US) are not in two camps anymore. We are in the same camp.

“We have to move forward (to address the scourge of climate change) taking into account our national circumstance.”

Impressing on Obama’s interest in being India’s “best partner”, Verma said the US would like to extend cooperation not just in the field of defence and trade but also strengthen understanding in the global response to the “toughest issue on the planet … climate change”.

“We are working closely with India to find ways to promote the transition to a low carbon, clean energy future.

“We hope our recent breakthrough understanding in the civil nuclear sector will ultimately allow us to build low-carbon base-load nuclear power plants together,” he remarked.

Drawing on the potential “countless opportunities” offered by programmes like Smart Cities, Make in India, and Swachh Bharat campaigns as well as the government’s commitment to 175 Gigawatts of clean, renewable energy by 2022, Verma urged the business community in India to lead the way on climate change.

These programmes, Verma said, would have “countless opportunities to utilize cleaner technologies that are more energy and cost efficient”, adding that “the economic benefits of action and moving to a low-carbon future are enormous”.

The US envoy to India was speaking at the launch of a global engagement initiated by the US to highlight the economic opportunities associated with climate action.

“Green - the colour of growth: The business case for climate action” kicked off in India at the CII here.

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