US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry’s India visit reaffirms the changing direction in climate engagements between the two countries after Joe Biden assumed office. The urge to push countries to upscale their global warming mitigation targets has informed much of the Biden administration’s climate diplomacy. But contrary to the fears of some experts, the paradigm shift hasn’t yet translated into increasing pressure on India to add to its Paris Pact commitments. Kerry’s offer of US assistance to help India meet its renewable energy-related targets is a significant step towards defining the contours of this partnership. The Climate Action and Finance Mobilisation Dialogue (CAFMD) launched by the US Special Envoy and Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav, on Monday, will be the vehicle for this collaboration.
The Partnership to Advance Clean Energy inked by the Barack Obama Administration and the UPA government in 2009 mobilised more than Rs 18,000 crore for clean energy initiatives in India. In 2018, the two countries had launched an energy partnership that emphasised renewables and sustainable growth. But CAFMD departs from these initiatives in its link with timebound climate-related goals. The US will give financial and technological assistance to India to achieve its target of deploying 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030. The US Special Envoy has, in the past, indicated his country’s inclination to mobilise a consortium of international investors to fund India’s ambitious renewable energy transition. The outlook on such collaboration brightened a day after CAFMD’s launch with the introduction of the “Prioritising Clean Energy and Climate Cooperation With India Act of 2021” in the US Senate. The legislation seeks to bolster Indo-US clean energy partnership by institutionalising research collaborations between universities in the two countries and promoting intellectual property sharing between Indian and American entrepreneurs.
The US overtures also signal India’s growing heft in climate diplomacy. There is, of course, the realisation that global warming mitigation goals will be impossible to attain without the world’s third-largest emitter on board. But India’s climate standing has also moved steadily northwards since the Paris Pact. As a leader of the International Solar Alliance, Delhi has shown that it can punch above its weight in global climate parleys. However, the threat of being asked to assume more climate responsibility looms. India shouldn’t take on more commitments that could end up undercutting its legitimate developmental goals.
This editorial first appeared in the print edition on September 15, 2021 under the title ‘Kerry’s overture’.
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