A U.S.-India “Green Partnership” was established this week following the first official visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Washington DC.
The agreement, which is the first of over six to have come out of the visit, will aim to enhance collaboration between the two nations on a wide range of areas relating to energy security, climate change and food security, and according to a White House statement, marks a “new phase in the global strategic partnership between India and the United States.”
The Green Partnership outlines an encouraging number of planned collaborations. These include joint research and deployment of clean energy technologies – which include solar, smart grid, sustainable transport, agriculture, and natural gas – joint weather forecasting and supporting the creation of a national Environmental Protection Authority in India for a “more effective system of environmental governance, regulation and enforcement.”
A joint statement issued by the two leaders also highlighted agreement on the need for “scaled-up finance, technology, and capacity-building support” for developing countries, and to “encourage the mobilization of public and private resources to support a fund or funds that would invest in clean energy projects.” However, no specific numbers were put on the table.
The India-U.S. climate and energy partnership comes in the wake of concerns that progress at the upcoming climate talks in Copenhagen, due to commence in two weeks, will be stymied by the challenges of U.S. domestic politics. Indeed, at the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Singapore, Obama conceded that with a U.S. climate bill unlikely to be passed in time for the summit, it would be near impossible for the U.S. to commit to binding international targets.
Yet, there might be movement on that front as well. In a statement to the press following his meeting with Prime Minister Singh, Obama reiterated America’s resolve to take “significant national mitigation actions.”
Speaking to Worldwatch, Raman Mehta, senior policy manager for ActionAid India, described the partnership as a “milestone” that forms “part of a process in which both countries desire to have a closer long term strategic relationship.”
Mehta cautioned, however, that “there does not seem to be anything in this statement that suggests that either side has shifted its basic position regarding [the UN climate] negotiations.” He went on to explain that a strong deal at Copenhagen is still “primarily held hostage to whether or not the U.S. will take on meaningful commitments that are comparable to other rich country commitments.”
This article is part of a series on India’s climate and energy policies around the Copenhagen climate conference and supported by the Heinrich Boell Foundation, Washington D.C.