It’s a common refrain from the naysayers: the United States shouldn’t act on climate unless China and India go first. But China and India are taking big steps to limit carbon pollution, often in partnership with the United States.
Today, the White House announced a series of joint initiatives between the United States and India to advance clean energy in the world’s second-most populous country.
- A $20 million initiative to attract private-sector investment to bring clean energy to as many as 1 million Indian homes by 2020.
- A $40 million program that will draw private sector funding for small-scale renewable energy projects.
- $30 million for research into smart grids and grid storage.
- In September, the United States and India will launch a program focused on off-grid solar energy.
- The two countries will establish a clean-energy hub to spur renewable-energy investment in India.
- The United States and India will work to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase out hydrofluorocarbons — highly potent greenhouse gasses used in air conditioners and refrigerators.
India aims to install 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, including 100 GW or solar power — roughly four times America’s current solar generating capacity. But the road ahead remains a bumpy one.
India is acutely vulnerable to climate change. It sits in the crosshairs for rising seas, punishing storms and severe heat. Unlike many Western countries, it lacks the resources needed to withstand weather extremes.
At the same time, India is working to end widespread poverty, which could mean burning more fossil fuels. Roughly a quarter of Indians lack access to electricity. While India has aims to generate 40 percent of its power from renewables by 203o, it also plans to triple coal production over the same period to meet demand for electricity.
On climate change, Modi has argued for differentiated responsibility. The average Indian is responsible for one-tenth as much carbon pollution as the average American. Modi believes those nations that have contributed the most to global warming must do more to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
With today’s announcement, the United States and India are working together to advance a common goal. Following his meeting with Obama this morning, Modi said he would work toward ratifying the Paris Agreement by the end of the year.
Jeremy Deaton writes for Nexus Media, a syndicated newswire covering climate, energy, policy, art and culture. You can follow him @deaton_jeremy.