US and India Can Boost Climate Resilience Together

This week, India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Obama are meeting at the White House to talk about the pressing issues that face these two countries, and the global community. This is a historic opportunity for their dialogue to touch on one global issue that hits home deeply for both these leaders -- climate change. As NRDC’s President Frances Beinecke highlighted in her blog, these leaders can “combine forces to unleash bold climate action.”

Indeed, it is imperative that we do so. Climate change and the extreme weather it fuels are already imposing huge and growing costs on both countries. For millions of people in both countries who are especially vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat, or at risk from flooding, or whose food supplies suffer during drought, climate change matters a great deal. Some of those most climate-vulnerable include older people, children, people with respiratory or heart conditions, or families living in poverty.

We are all looking for ways to understand how to improve our resilience, and learn to thrive in the face of these changing conditions. NRDC is working with partners in India and the U.S. in an ongoing international collaborative research project to better understand what particular combination of factors make the people of the city of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India especially heat-vulnerable.

NRDC was excited to work on a ground-breaking paper published this summer in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH) with an international team of scientists that includes Emory University, the India Institute of Public Health, and the Icahn School of Medicine. This ongoing project is developing ways to identify and help those most heat-vulnerable in this Indian city of 7 million-plus. In April 2013, with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation we launched India’s first heat-health early warning system.

Here in the US we, too, strategize about how to prepare for the effects of climate change, and how to limit carbon pollution at its source. September has been a landmark month in that regard:

On September 20th, the Obama Administration announced its proposed standards that will limit heat-trapping carbon pollution from new power plants for the first time in the U.S. This is a huge win for the health of our children and for building a healthier, secure future for communities everywhere.

In advance of the meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Singh, NRDC’s Beinecke wrote to the White House outlining three key areas opportunities for collaboration: energy efficiency, growing solar energy markets, and preparing our communities to sustain the impacts of climate change.

We hope that all three of these topics will inform Prime Minister Singh’s and President Obama’s conversations as we all work to create a more climate-resilient world.