Prime Minister Singh and President Obama announce India-US climate change working group

1 October 2013

NEW DELHI: India and the US have announced the establishment of an India-US Climate Change Working Group after a meeting between the Prime Minister of India  Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama, which took place in Washington on September 27.

The strategic goal of the joint working group will be to develop action-orientated bilateral cooperation and to boost negotiations on an ambitious climate change agreement for the post-2020 period.

A joint statement released after the summit meeting between Prime Minister Singh and President Obama stated: “The two leaders agreed to immediately convene the India-US Task Force on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to discuss, inter alia, multilateral approaches that include using the expertise and the institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the consumption and production of HFCs, based on economically viable and technically feasible alternatives”.

The two leaders also agreed upon including HFCs within the scope of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol for accounting and reporting of emissions.

Describing climate change as “a defining challenge of our time,” and recognizing the “mutual benefits to intensifying cooperation,” they also welcomed the efforts of the UN Secretary General in mobilizing political will through 2014, toward the successful adoption of a protocol, another legal instrument, or an agreed outcome with legal force under the convention which would be applicable to all parties by 2015, during COP-21 which France stands ready to host.

Both two leaders “endorsed the proposal to launch Promoting Energy Access through Clean Energy (PEACE), a PACE initiative, to rapidly deploy innovative renewable energy solutions to those who currently lack access to energy," the joint statement said.

Subaskar Sitsabeshan, Programme Analyst, The Climate Group, comments: ‘This meeting between the leaders of US and India, two of the most important countries in international climate change negotiations apart from China, reaffirms both countries’ commitment to address the threats of climate change following US Secretary General John Kerry’s visit to India earlier this year. As Damian Ryan highlighted in his blog following the release last week of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), ‘winning the argument over climate science is immaterial if it doesn’t result in changes in the real world’. In light of this, it is essential to highlight the importance of taking simple and practical steps from major carbon emitters to solve seemingly overwhelming challenges.

"The agreement on HFCs between India and US follows the historic agreement between China and US on HFCs earlier this year. Aggressive efforts by the US on HFCs--one of the four short lived pollutants in the atmosphere that account for as much as 40% of current emissions--is encouraging.

"While agreeing that the international efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuel is extremely crucial, it is important to recognize that the focus on pollutants such as HFCs, which have a short life span, will result in a much faster impact on our environment and slow the pace of climate change in the short term."

Related news:

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Rajasthan unveils largest solar plant in Asia, joins Gujarat as the states leading India’s clean energy growth

Experts discuss ways to approach off-grid clean energy electrification in rural India and beyond

By Maria Mateeva

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