Modi Shifts on Climate Change With India Renewables Goal – Businessweek

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India is
ready to expand its use of renewable energy as a way to reduce
greenhouse gas pollution, a signal that his government is moving
toward joining an international deal on global warming.

After a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in New
Delhi, the prime minister said that his nation along with all
others has an obligation to act on reducing the fossil-fuel
emissions blamed for damaging the climate.

The remarks represent a shift in India’s tone on global
warming. It previously emphasized the historical responsibility
of industrial nations for creating the problem, and the Indian
government has been ambiguous about whether it will adopt
domestic targets for reducing greenhouse gases. Modi’s comments
suggest he’s ready to work with Obama on a deal in Paris in
December that would for the first time require all nations, rich
and poor alike, to restrain emissions.

“When we think about the future generations and what kind
of a world we are going to give them, then there is pressure,”
Modi said in a news conference with Obama on Sunday. “Global
warming is a huge pressure.”

India is the world’s third biggest polluting nation behind
China and the U.S., making Modi’s participation in the United
Nations climate deal crucial. In November, Obama reached a
landmark agreement with President Xi Jinping designed to bring
China into a system limiting emissions.

Biggest Polluters

Previous climate accords, including the 1997 Kyoto
protocol, required cuts only from developed nations. Since then,
China surpassed the U.S. as the world’s biggest polluter, and
India’s emissions increased rapidly. Bringing those two
countries into the system that the UN envisions for Paris is
essential to reaching an agreement that will involve 190
nations.

“The president has an open line with President Xi on
climate and now also with Prime Minister Modi,” John Podesta,
an adviser to Obama, told reporters in New Delhi. “It’s very
important to elevate that to the political level so that
barriers can be opened up.”

Environmental groups led by the World Resources Institute
in Washington said Modi appeared to be moving toward a
nationwide goal on renewables, expanding its current program of
reaching 100 gigawatts of solar energy by 2022.

“This announcement builds on the recent progress on
climate made between the U.S. and China,” said Manish Bapna,
executive vice president of the World Resources Institute. “In
setting a national renewable energy target, India will boost its
economy and bring more and cleaner electricity to its people.”

Phased Out

Obama said he and Modi agreed to keep working on a phase-out of hydrofluorocarbons, a class of refrigerants that have
been discovered to be potent greenhouse-gas chemicals in the
atmosphere.

More importantly, he said the two established a channel for
them to talk about climate before the Paris summit and that the
U.S. will provide financial support for India’s solar program.

“We very much support India’s ambitious goal for solar
energy and stand ready to speed this advancement with additional
financing,” Obama said during the news conference at Hyderabad
House. “We’re also launching new joint projects to improve air
quality in Indian cities.”

Modi said he asked Obama to lead a effort to make renewable
energy more accessible and affordable worldwide.

“For President Obama and me, clean and renewable energy is
a personal and national priority,” Modi said at a press
conference in New Delhi. “We discussed our ambitious national
efforts and goals to increase the use of clean and renewable
energy.”

To contact the reporters on this story:
Reed Landberg in London at
landberg@bloomberg.net;
Natalie Obiko Pearson in New Delhi at
npearson7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at
landberg@bloomberg.net
Joe Sobczyk, Alex Nussbaum

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