President Obama and Prime Minister Singh Reaffirm Global Commitment to Fight Climate Change

On the same day that the IPCC released a report projecting longer monsoons and other climate impacts in India, the U.S. and India made strides together in our battle against climate change. Prior to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the White House, NRDC President Frances Beinecke highlighted the historic opportunity presented by the Prime Minister’s visit. President Obama and PM Singh seized the opportunity when they announced a joint working group on climate change.

Chief among the outcomes of the summit, especially in the short term, is progress on globally phasing-down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – powerful heat-trapping gasses – as part of the U.S.-India Climate Change Working Group discussions.  Together, India and the United States can move forward on reaching a global approach to phase-down these super greenhouse gases, building on progress made during the G20 meeting earlier this summer.  Looking ahead, the Obama-Singh agreement on HFCs opens the door for leaders from all countries to get serious about phasing-down HFCs and discuss the details of an amendment, including the technically-feasible and economically viable alternatives, at the Montreal Protocol meeting toward the end of this month.    

In the longer term, the countries will also focus on developing action-oriented collaboration, as well as an ambitious climate change agreement for the post-2020 period. President Obama and Prime Minister Singh also endorsed the launch of an initiative, Promoting Energy Access through Clean Energy (PEACE), demonstrating a focus on renewable energy development and furthering the successful bilateral platform.  This new initiative enhances the productive US-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) launched in 2009. We are eager learn more about PEACE as the program develops, given the power of clean energy markets to replace traditional fossil fuels and fight climate change.

Assessments of PM Singh’s visit have been largely positive, highlighting the joint working group and commitment to phase-down HFCs. President Obama and Prime Minister Singh believe that the two countries should look to each other as close partners to face our global challenges. With the progress made during the recent U.S.-India meeting, the two leaders reinvigorated an already successful relationship between the world’s two largest democracies, promising climate change leadership that will benefit the world.

Co-Authored by Lauren Sanchez, NRDC-Yale FES Fellow