US to work with India, China on climate change

Washington, Dec 1 (IANS) Responding to Indian Prime Minister Narendara Modi’s “not our fault” message on climate change, the US said President Barack Obama has signalled a willingness to work with India and China for an ambitious climate change agreement.

Obama had “very constructive” meetings Monday with Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in on the sidelines on Paris Climate Summit, deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters in Paris.

“Now, today, very deliberately, President Obama wanted to send a signal with his meetings that we were going to work with China and work with India to pursue an ambitious agreement here in Paris,” he said, according to a White House transcript.

The US had helped to mobilise “a truly global effort” over the course of the last seven years with a recognition that “we needed to bring together the entire world, including major emerging economies like China and India”, Rhodes said.

“Given the fact that they are more and more the source of carbon emissions, clearly we have felt throughout the course of this administration that China and India need to be a part of the solution,” he said.

“I think you heard Prime Minister Modi reiterate with the President his commitment to pursuing an ambitious agreement,” Rhodes said, noting, “India has put forward its own targets.”

In his meeting with Modi, Obama said “that he certainly understands that whether it’s India or another developing country, there has to be a focus on making sure that countries can continue to lift people out of poverty.”

“We have a recognition, of course, that you have hundreds of millions of Indians who don’t even have access to electricity,” Rhodes said.

“At the same time, however, we can pursue an ambitious climate agreement even while India pursues an ambitious development policy,” he said. “And, in fact, we can pursue the types of solutions that can meet both climate and development challenges.”

Noting that Modi had later joined Obama at the US Mission Innovation event, Rhodes said this “demonstrates a recognition on the part of India and other countries” about making investments in basic research.

“If we are financing both from the public sector but also from the private sector renewable sources of energy, that has the ability to help us raise our ambitions in terms of reducing our emissions, but also can, frankly, be a source of development for countries like India and other countries around the world.”

“So I think, with Prime Minister Modi, there was a recognition and a commitment to pursuing an ambitious agreement here in Paris.”

In both meetings, Obama clearly “made the point that addressing the challenge of climate change and pursuing sustainable economic development that lifts people out of poverty around the world are not competitive goals.”

“In fact, they can be mutually reinforcing. And I think US leadership in working with our traditional allies but also working with China and India is going to be essential to getting a good deal here in Paris,” Rhodes said.

As Obama himself acknowledged “advanced economies have important responsibilities, that the whole world has to be a part of this,” he said. “And you can’t have a bifurcation of our commitments in these various areas that prevents consensus.”

Asked to draw a metaphor for how there’s the tie between the war on terror and climate change, Rhodes said: “They’re very different threats, but they’re both very serious. And we have to deal with both them.”

“And I think the one common thread is the fact that we need the world with us in this effort.

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