NEW DELHI: US President Barack Obama and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed on joint clean energy initiatives and a landmark climate change partnership during their meeting this weekend.
The world leaders agreed to team up on combating climate change by reducing air pollution in Indian cities and ramping up finance and technology for India's ambitious Rs. 6 lakh crore (US$95 million) renewable energy push.
According to a press statement issued by The White House immediately after the joint meeting, the India-US climate change partnership focused on the following initiatives: Expanding Partnership to Advance Clean Energy Research (PACE-R), Accelerating Clean Energy Finance, and Demonstrating Clean Energy and Climate Initiatives on the Ground.
The two countries concluded negotiations with a five-year Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Security, Clean Energy and Climate Change to carry the work forward, to be signed as early as possible at a mutually-agreed upon date.
In the wake of addressing the possibilities of a climate deal between India and the US, Prime Minister Modi stated: "India is a sovereign country. No pressure from any country or any person has any effect on it. But there is pressure. Pressure about what kind of earth we shall leave for our future generations. Climate change itself is a very big pressure. Global warming itself is a very big pressure. And whoever worries about the future generations has a responsibility to be conscious about climate change; adopt practices and policies which will ensure a good life and good environment for future generations.”
Shared low carbon economyDuring the first day of the meeting, both world leaders emphasized the importance of expanding renewables research, development, manufacturing and deployment to increase energy access and cut emissions. Both leaders also agreed to cooperate on solar energy research, improve energy efficiency and biofuels, and undertake joint research on smart grids and grid storage
In his press address, President Barack Obama welcomed India’s intention to increase their share of renewable energy in electricity generation consistent with its goal to increase India’s solar capacity to 100 GW by 2022.
He also supported India’s goal to enhance cooperation in clean energy and climate change. “Our two countries already have a robust program of cooperation, including the highly successful U.S. India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) umbrella program, and we will expand policy dialogues and technical work on clean energy and low greenhouse gas emissions technologies.”
Narendra Modi said both leaders agreed on the importance of renewable energy. "For President Obama and me, clean and renewable energy is a personal and national priority. We discussed our ambitious national efforts and goals to increase the use of clean and renewable energy. We also agreed to further enhance our excellent and innovative partnership in this area. I asked him to lead international efforts in making renewable energy more accessible and affordable to the world.”
The US and India climate and clean energy cooperation follows the first meeting of the reconstituted Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change which was held last week, where Modi reiterated his government's intent to focus on solar and other renewable sources of energy. The Prime Minister suggested the idea of creating a consortium of nations with the greatest solar energy potential. Additionally, the meeting also laid the groundwork for a mission mode for harnessing wind energy and aggressively moving forward on waste to energy.
By Anisha Laming for The Climate Group