India may have come around to the Paris climate agreement and the agreement on HFC reduction in 2016, but the US was hopeful of positive results the moment it saw an impending win for Narendra Modi in the 2014 general elections.
The latest batch of hacked emails related to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman John Podesta reveals that the US saw the impending ascent of Modi to the top post in India as a positive development for climate negotiations.
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The emails reveal that it was also perhaps happy about rumours of Suresh Prabhu (current Railway Minister) and Shyam Saran (then chairman of National Security Advisory Board) getting top posts in the Modi government. Both were then members of the India-US Track II Dialogue on Climate Change and Energy.
According to the revelations, published by Wikileaks, the email exchanges were between Pete Ogden, currently a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress who had served on the White House National Security Staff as director for climate change from 2012 to 2013, and John Podesta, who was then Counselor to US President Barack Obama. Podesta is also the former president and now Chair and Counselor of the Center for American Progress, a Washington DC think tank. The think tank is associated with the dialogue through its board member Carol Brown, who was co-chair of the Track-II process then.
In a March 10, 2014, email to Podesta, Ogden speaks of the possibility of Modi’s ascent to power opening doors for pitching a “tightly focused climate agenda”. He writes, “In addition to the Track II, I had an interesting trip to India two weeks ago. My sense is that their political transition will provide an opening for the White House to pitch to the new leadership (assuming it’s Modi who wins) a tightly focused climate agenda to cover the next 2-3 years. If that happens, I hope that these Track II outcomes could be helpful in your thinking through what some of those elements might be.”
He then goes on to talk about Suresh Prabhu (who has been misspelt as Kuresh Prabhu) and Shyam Saran. “(I heard rumors, for what its worth, that two Track II participants could have senior roles in a Modi government: Kuresh Prabhu on energy/climate, and Shyam Saran as NSA).”