U.S. and India Make Rapid Progress on Clean Energy Partnership

Last week at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, NRDC drew attention to one of the positive signs that the United States remains committed to climate action: the joint U.S. and India Green Partnership to address climate change and promote clean energy.

NRDC’s report, The Greening of US-India Relations: A Review of Cooperation between the United States and India on Climate Change and Energy details the real progress made in the brief amount of time since the partnership was announced by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November 2009.

This partnership is a major breakthrough. Before 2008, collaboration between India and the United States was minimal, especially on climate change. But both President Barack Obama and Minister Manmohan Singh recognize that their nations’ spirit of ingenuity and entrepreneurship make them ideal partners in confronting one of the biggest challenges of our time. They launched the Green Partnership to realize that potential.

NRDC has tracked the partnership in the last year, and we found that not only is it promoting clean tech research and market expansion, but it is also providing a model for other nations that wish to increase bilateral cooperation on climate solutions.

So far, the partnership has achieved the following:  

  • The launch of a $100 million joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center, with funding from both governments as well as non-government sources
  • The launch of a $400 million South Asia Clean Energy Fund by the Global Environmental Facility, directed mainly at India, of which $100 million has been contributed by the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation
  • The launch of a U.S.-India Energy Cooperation Program by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency to help U.S. businesses export clean energy products and services to India in order to help expand the clean energy technology market in India
  • Progress on a large number of joint solar, wind, and second generation biofuels projects

When we released our report last week at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, our audience of government leaders and environmental activists from India, Finland, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Norway, and many other nations welcomed the news of these developments. 

The Green Partnership hasn’t always gotten the coverage it deserves, and I welcomed the change to highlight real U.S. progress, especially in light of Congress’ failure to take up climate legislation last summer.

The renowned Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the former head of the IPCC and the director of The Energy and Resources Institute, which has been a valued partner for NRDC in India, was also at the event and addressed the crowd.

He noted that climate change is the biggest threat to the future of both India and the United States. But, he added, “There is immense potential in what two countries like the United States and India can do together in tackling climate change and moving towards a clean energy future.”

Being here in Delhi—meeting with committed government officials and innovative business owners—I have felt firsthand the drive in India to create a cleaner, more sustainable future. I have felt the same thing in Silicon Valley, Midwestern factories, and even in Washington. By combining the creative force of both the United States and India, the Green Partnership will help realize that future.