President Obama and Prime Minister Singh just announced a "Green Partnership" focused on energy security, climate change, and food security. This partnership is a significant step towards deepening US-India cooperation in unleashing clean-tech innovation and fighting climate change. This announcement comes at a critical time, when the world needs leadership, cooperation, and action - especially in the lead-up to Copenhagen.
While all 10 points outlined in the US-India Green Partnership factsheet are important to building a low-carbon future and sustainable development for both countries, three points standout as breakthroughs:
- The US-India agreement to accelerate clean energy technologies is pivotal to lowering carbon emissions globally and creating green jobs in both nations. Both leaders committed to jointly develop and deploy green technologies and mobilization public-private partnerships to support investments in clean technology development and implementation. Although there isn't a dedicated monetary figure (as NRDC's President Frances Beinecke included in a set of recommendations in a letter to President Obama last week), the governmental support of such a fund builds the momentum for public-private partnerships that will drive green technology innovation. And, hopefully, as the discussions progress, President Obama and Prime Minister Singh will increase their commitment and allocate monies to the clean energy fund.
- The US-India agreement to increase cooperation on climate health adaptation sets an example for the world. The emphasis on health adaption and food security recognizes that global conversations can no longer be restricted to how to prevent climate change. Instead, discussions must include health adaptation for climate change impacts. These impacts already threaten the lives of millions across the globe. Hopefully, this agreement signals greater cooperation on health adaptation in Copenhagen and beyond.
- The US-India agreement to have the US Environmental Protection Agency work with India's Ministry of Environment and Forests to provide technical support for Indian efforts to establish a National Environmental Protection Authority are central to environmental compliance and governance. This new Indian agency could play an important role in India's efforts to regulate India's greenhouse gas emissions and in India's efforts to move towards cleaner energy, for instance setting cleaner standards for fuels and cars.
At the State Dinner, President Obama quoted India's first Prime Minister Nehru, stating:
"The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?"
Looking ahead to Copenhagen and the future as we face our climate change challenge, we ask our global leaders to ask themselves: "Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?"