Hillary Clinton’s Visit & India’s Stand on Climate Change

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Mumbai on July 17, 2009 on a five-day visit to India to strengthen strategic partnership and deepen their relationships. This is first visit of Hilary clinton to India as US’s Chief Diplomat. Earlier she had come with her husband nine years ago.

Main Agendas:

  1. Bilateral cooperation in civil nuclear field, defence and trade and investment.
  2. Terrorism emnating from pakistan
  3. Global Economic Crisis
  4. Climate Change
  5. Negotiations for setting up of two nuclear plants in India.
  6. End User Verification agreement in defence field

In this series we take last three topics one by one:

Background of India US Relationships:

  1. US has ignored India for almost 50 years and now only values the country as a trading partner of potentially huge consequence.
  2. India is on path to be among the world’s leading five economies within two decades.
  3. India is an Asian counterweight to the might of China as well as a key player in the fight against Islamist extremism
  4. US wants India to contribute to carbon-emission reductions to combat global warming.

India’s Stand on Climate Change
Mrs. Clinton has emphasized for emission reductions by India partially reflects a switch in the US policy towards climate change under President Obama.

Some Recent Trends in US Policy

American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009
The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) is an energy bill in the United States Congress that would establish a variant of a
cap-and-trade plan for greenhouse gases to address climate change.

What is Cap & Trade?
This is also called emission trading. Cap & Trade is an administrative approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants. It is sometimes called cap and trade.
In this concept Government or any other central authority sets a limit or cap on the amount of a pollutant that can be emitted.

Companies or other groups are issued emission permits and are required to hold an equivalent number of allowances (or credits) which represent the right to emit a specific amount.

The total amount of allowances and credits cannot exceed the cap, limiting total emissions to that level. Companies that need to increase their emission allowance must buy credits from those who pollute less.

The transfer of allowances is referred to as a trade.

In effect, the buyer is paying a charge for polluting, while the seller is being rewarded for having reduced emissions by more than was needed.

In this waY those who can easily reduce emissions most cheaply will do so, achieving the pollution reduction at the lowest possible cost to society.

The “cap and trade” programs have existed in Europe as a part of the Kyoto Protocol.

What is Kyoto Protocol?

It is an international Environment treaty negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) with the goal of achieving “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

What is the US Stand?

  1. The proposed US program requires the US President to impose tariffs on selected carbon-intensive goods from countries that do not introduce caps on carbon emissions.
  2. It specifically targets India and China by requiring the US Trade Representative to annually certify that these countries are adopting emission standards at least as vigorous as those prevailing in the US.
  3. According to the UNFCCC, which came into force in 1994 and is currently subscribed to by 192 countries, developed countries must periodically negotiate mitigation commitments to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference” with the climate system.
  4. The convention explicitly exempts developing countries from similar mitigation commitments.
    Consistent with this provision, the Kyoto Protocol, ratified in 2005, requires only developed countries to mitigate.
  5. US insists that China and India undertake binding mitigation commitments.
  6. The reason behind this is that these countries are among the world’s four largest emitters in absolute terms.

What is India’s Stand?

  1. India is albeit among the top four emitters in absolute terms but in per-capita terms, it ranks a low 137th.
  2. India’s 40% households live without electricity & 30 crore people living in abject poverty if today India agrees to even cap its emissions at current levels, let alone mitigate, its growth process will be paralyzed.
  3. The distant dream of bringing electricity to every household & to wipe out poverty shall be lost for ever.
  4. Rich nations are responsible for more than 70% of the emissions between 1850 and 2000. During those years India’s contribution to emissions during these same years was a merely 2%.
  5. Today Canada, US, Europe, Eurasia and Japan together account for more than 50% of the current emissions.
  6. India alone accounts for 4.4%.
  7. So what is India’s point, that the developed countries must bring their emissions down very substantially before they demand similar reductions from the poor countries.
  8. India has already announced a National Action Plan on Climate Change which incorporates its vision of sustainable development and the steps it must take to realize it.

G8+G5 Summit & Stand of Developing Countries

  1. World’s major economies (G-8 countries, plus India, China, Brazil , South Africa , Indonesia, South Korea and Mexico) met recently at a forum in L’Aquila, Italy.
  2. In this summit India said that developing countries are already doing so much on this issue, if the developed world wants more, it must now take the lead.
  3. At L’Aquila, the developed world refused to abide by earlier commitments to cut emissions by 40 per cent by 2020, at the 1990 levels, but pushed the target to 80 per cent by 2050.
  4. India wants to do something about climate change, but it also wants the developed world to achieve the ambitious targets it has set for itself
  5. Developing countries want the developed world to not only cut emissions, but also want them to commit themselves to contribute at least one per cent of their Gross Domestic Product, amounting to about $200-250 billion annually, towards a common fund.

Challenge for Obama’s Administration

The Obama administration’s challenge is to manage these disagreements toward compromise and, ultimately consensus, without finger-pointing or the old acrimony reemerging.

India’s Response

India’s environment minister Jairam Ramesh responded without ambiguity stating that emission caps would not cut ice in India. He made it clear that India will play a hard bargain contrary to media reports that suggests that in Italy, in Major Economies Forum India has changed its position on climate change.

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  • Anonymous

    Res. Sir,

    very remarkable order of explanation……..

  • Amardeep

    Very informative article..