US says working with India to salvage climate deal

05 Dec 2015


The United States is working with India to find a way out of an impasse created by the differing perspectives of the developed countries and the Group of 77 developing countries, which include India and China.

The US and India are working in a ''constructive way'' for a climate deal that is comfortable to both, a top American official has said, as negotiators from 195 nations race to secure a blueprint that will form the base of a complex global accord on limiting carbon emissions.

As the climate talks in Paris entered its sixth day, negotiators appeared confident of hammering out a deal before next weekend and avert a repeat of the failed 2009 Copenhagen summit.

On Friday, the US said it is working "collaboratively" with India and both nations are working in a "constructive" way to work out a deal which is comfortable for both.

US special envoy for climate change Todd Stern also described the meeting of President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Paris on the inaugural day of the conference as "striking" in which the leaders had an "extraordinarily rich" exchange.

"India and US have a very strong history of working collaboratively. That is going on right now. Most striking meeting was when President Obama met Prime Minister Modi. I was in the meeting. It was an extraordinarily rich exchange and very substantive.

He said that he had four to five meetings with Indian counterparts in the last one week and both nations are working "quite intensively in a business and constructive way".

"I understand where they are coming from and they (India) understand where we are coming from. The art that goes on here is to try to find solutions that are both effective and both sides can go home and be comfortable. We are in that process," he said.

The comments come in the backdrop of secretary of state John Kerry's remark that India is a "challenge" in the Paris talks.

India has also been targeted by the western media on its expansion plans of coal usage to meet its energy requirements.

Stern in his earlier interaction had said that the ambitious renewables programme, including scaling up solar and wind energy pledged by Prime Minister Modi is "enormously impressive" and US will work with Indian partners and provide assistance in realising their goals.

Scientists warn that the planet will become increasingly hostile to mankind as it warms, causing rise in sea levels and extreme weather patterns completely contrast to present times.

But to slow the climate change requires a rapid shift to clean energy: mainly moving away from burning coal, oil and gas for energy.

India is expected to become the world's biggest importer of coal by 2020 as it seeks to meet its energy requirements. India's national climate plan, submitted ahead of this meeting, suggests a significant role for coal going forward.

While India has been targeted for expanding its coal usage, New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment said focusing only on coal and India was an ''unnecessary distraction'' and creating ''bad blood'' at the conference.

The green body called it a ''well planned campaign''. A campaign to bring the narrative that India is going to burn the world with coal is the ''only negative counter narrative'' but it will not help, it said.

''We are disconcerted with the language being used here. Focusing on only coal and only India is an unnecessary distraction. It is creating a lot of bad blood in Paris,'' said CSE deputy director general Chandra Bhushan.

''It looks like a well-planned campaign to ensure that the issue of carbon budget where one needs to take into account the historical responsibility of nations (on emissions) and equity issue in the climate debate here is being treated as obstruction.''

Hitting out at the US and other developed nations, Bhushan said coal is being used and will continue to be used in both developed and developing nations.

''Coal is a major source of power sector in both developed and developing countries. The availability of gas in India and China is low, we have coal and we use it,'' he said.

Bhushan said coal usage in the US in 2014 was more than what it was in 1990. The US consumes more fossil fuel than ever before in history, he said.

Another green advocacy group, Greenpeace has dismissed India's portrayal as a possible ''spoiler'' at the negotiations.

It said India can play a ''heroic'' role at the Paris climate talks, adding that the country was paying a price for something it was not responsible for.

So far so little
Thursday saw the launch of the Paris Declaration on Electro-Mobility and Climate Change & Call to Action which was endorsed by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Energy Agency, as well as Tesla Motors and Michelin Nissan-Renault.

The declaration builds on commitments from companies, cities, states and associations that have undertaken decisive efforts towards sustainable transport electrification.

With energy-related carbon emissions expected to jump from one quarter of total energy-related emissions today to one-third by 2050, the parties to the Lima to Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) are underlining that significant changes can be made in transport to keep the global average temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.

Projections reveal a 50 per cent reduction of transport CO2 emissions compared to a ''transport-as-usual'' scenario can be achieved by 2050, without limiting sustainable economic growth.

Other announcements at COP21 included new efforts to stabilise emissions from the aviation industry by 2020. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), said it has received 74 action plans to advance the implementation of mitigation measures by States, which accounts for 80.6 per cent of global CO2 emissions from international flight.

US President Barack Obama announced at COP21 on Tuesday that the US will commit $30 million to climate risk insurance schemes in the Pacific, Central America and Africa. US will provide climate data, tools and services, and will incorporate climate change considerations into development assistance.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he has been encouraged by the early stages of the COP21 Paris climate summit, and urged both developed and developing nations to do more to reach global agreement to limit climate change.

Addressing a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday, Ban said: ''I was very encouraged by what I saw and I heard during the opening days of COP21,'' ''World leaders did precisely what they were meant to do: give strong impetus to the negotiations. Almost all countries have submitted climate action plans, known as INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions),'' he said.

''Major economies have made significant commitments to cut emissions. Many developed countries have made new financial commitments to help poor and vulnerable countries adapt to climate impacts. Philanthropists and entrepreneurs are making exciting new commitments and investments,'' he continued, citing the Breakthrough Energy Coalition announced by Bill Gates.

Ban, who warned some 150 world leaders on the opening day on Monday that they must move much farther and faster to limit the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius, is returning to the French capital tonight for COP21 Action Day to showcase the huge number of climate partnerships and initiatives involving cities, the private sector, and civil society.

Even the sought-after 2-degree rise will have serious consequences for food and water security, economic stability and international peace as climate change unleashes more devastating floods, disastrous droughts and violent cyclones and storms, and rising seas inundate low-lying island States and shorelines where many major cities are located.

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