United States, India Forge New Climate and Energy Ties


Obama’s visit with Indian Prime Minister Modi results in clean energy agreement

Today, President Obama and Prime Minister Modi announced a wide-ranging agreement that will result in increased cooperation on climate and energy issues between the United States and India. The agreement represents another step toward international action ahead of the Paris negotiations in December.

Importantly, India doubled down on its intention to boost renewable use in electricity generation, consistent with its new goal to increase India’s solar target to 100 gigawatts by 2022. This more than quadruples the solar targets India set last fall, and will increase the country’s installed solar capacity by a factor of nearly forty. 100 gigawatts is the equivalent of about 100 average nuclear power plants, each of which can power between 750,000 and 1 million U.S. homes. The U.S. currently has an installed solar capacity of about 16 gigawatts.

Also notable are public commitments by both heads to regulate HFCs under the Montreal Protocol and to secure a global climate deal under the UNFCCC by the end of this year. The President and Prime Minister stressed the importance of working together to conclude an ambitious climate agreement in Paris in 2015. They also reaffirmed their commitment address the phase down of HFCs and agreed to cooperate on making concrete progress in the Montreal Protocol this year. In addition, leaders agreed to launching Air Quality Cooperation program, implementing EPA’s AIR Now-International Program and megacities partnerships, focused on disseminating information to help the urban dwellers to reduce their exposure to harmful levels of air pollution.

India’s actions follow recent encouraging developments on clean energy and climate change initiated by the new Modi administration.

The announcement includes strong language on the reality of human caused climate change: “The United States of America and the Republic of India recognize that global climate change is a profound threat to humanity and to the imperatives of sustainable development, growth and the eradication of poverty. “When asked if international pressure from the recent US-China climate deal was a motivation, Modi countered that the pressure of the natural world was a greater force than political pressure. Modi stated: “Climate change itself is a huge pressure. Global warming is a huge pressure.” Signaling his commitment to working towards a reaching an international agreement in Paris, Modi added“There is pressure on all countries, on all governments, and on all peoples.”

The agreement stipulates a number of key actions, including enhanced cooperation on phasing down hydrofluorocarbons, advancing clean energy research and finance, cooperation on vehicles and more.

This is the second bilateral announcement on climate for the US in recent months, following on from November’s breakthrough deal with China, sending further strong signals on the Obama Administration’s commitment to climate action at home and abroad. It also doubles down on Modi’s commitment to the issue, which itself represents a new direction for India.  A bilateral agreement on climate change was not expected for this visit, yet the developments bode well for the upcoming UN climate negotiations in Paris.

For more on India’s new direction on climate and energy policy, please click here.