Lots of Energy in the US-India Partnership

Earlier today, my colleagues and I were at the 5th Annual US-India Energy Partnership Summit in Washington DC, even as President Obama and Prime Minister Modi were meeting at the Oval Office, with climate change and clean energy a key part of their agenda.

It’s heartening to see climate change and clean energy issues get as much attention from the two leaders as it received here at the Energy Partnership Summit.

At the Energy Partnership Summit, NRDC President Frances Beinecke, released a new issue brief outlining the tremendous job-creation potential of renewable energy in India as well as the financing challenges that need to be overcome in order for renewable energy to meet its full potential in India and help contribute to newly announced goals of 100 GW of renewable power. As the issue brief, titled Surging Ahead: Scaling India’s Clean Energy Market Through Jobs and Financing, notes, innovative financing vehicles such as green bonds and green banks can be part of the financing solution.

Fittingly, there were additional sessions focused on institutional investment in renewable energy and on creating smart cities, with a heavy emphasis on energy efficiency and sustainability. There is tremendous engagement here from the private, public, and civil society sectors. Many kudos must go to our partner, The Energy Resources Institute (TERI), which is co-organizing the event with Yale.

Meanwhile, not too far away, the US and India released a joint statement that moves forward on a slew of climate change and clean energy policies, including several that NRDC emphasized in a letter to President Obama. Below is an excerpt of the relevant sections with emphasis added to key sections:

President Obama and Prime Minister Modi agreed to a new and enhanced strategic partnership on energy security, clean energy, and climate change.  They agreed to strengthen and expand the highly successful U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) through a series of priority initiatives, including a new Energy Smart Cities Partnership to promote efficient urban energy infrastructure; a new program to scale-up renewable energy integration into India’s power grid; cooperation to support India’s efforts to upgrade its alternative energy institutes and to develop new innovation centers; an expansion of the Promoting Energy Access through Clean Energy (PEACE) program to unlock additional private sector investment and accelerate the deployment of cost-effective, super-efficient appliances; and the formation of a new Clean Energy Finance Forum to promote investment and trade in clean energy projects.

Both leaders are committed to working towards a successful outcome in Paris in 2015 of the conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the creation of a new global agreement on climate change.

The leaders recalled previous bilateral and multilateral statements on the phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).  They recognized the need to use the institutions and expertise of the Montreal Protocol to reduce consumption and production of HFCs, while continuing to report and account for the quantities reduced under the UNFCCC.  They pledged to urgently arrange a meeting of their bilateral task force on HFCs prior to the next meeting of the Montreal Protocol to discuss issues such as safety, cost, and commercial access to new or alternative technologies to replace HFCs.  The two sides would thereafter cooperate on next steps to tackle the challenge posed by HFCs to global warming.

They launched a new U.S.-India Partnership for Climate Resilience to advance capacity for climate adaptation planning, and a new program of work on air quality aimed at delivering benefits for climate change and human health

They also launched a new U.S.-India Climate Fellowship Program to build long-term capacity to address climate change-related issues in both countries.  The President and Prime Minister instructed their senior officials to work through the U.S.-India Energy Dialogue, U.S.-India Joint Working Group on Combating Climate Change, and other relevant fora to advance these and other initiatives.

The leaders welcomed the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Export-Import Bank and the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, which would make up to $1 billion in financing available to bolster India’s efforts to transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient energy economy, while boosting U.S. renewable energy exports to India.  The two leaders reiterated the importance of conserving India's precious biodiversity and agreed to explore opportunities for collaboration on national parks and wildlife conservation.