Against the backdrop of the U.N. climate change negotiations in Warsaw, the United States Ambassador to India, Nancy Powell, says the U.S. was helping developing countries address climate change by amplifying the impact of public funds by leveraging private investment
Climate change caused by humans is real and it is happening now. Only a high degree of international cooperation can adequately address this global problem. The recently released report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reconfirmed the basic facts: Greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide emitted from burning fossil fuels like coal and oil, as well as other gases emitted as a result of human activity, such as methane, black carbon (a major component of soot), and hydroflourocarbons, or “HFCs,” are responsible for an unprecedented rate of warming of the planet. This warming is already causing severe disruptions and harm to communities. Left unabated, climate change will cause increased droughts, rising seas, and a host of other problems.
Collaboration with India
India is the United States’ biggest partner in the developing world on cooperative ventures to address climate change. The U.S. and India are collaborating on a wide range of climate change issues. For example, our National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences are working together to enhance capacity for monsoon prediction on a monthly basis for different States in India. This programme delivers quantifiable improvements in forecasting extreme events, therefore improving India’s resilience to extreme and variable events wrought by climate change, such as flood and drought years, and active and dry spells of monsoons. We are also working jointly to protect India’s forests, which store carbon dioxide while providing great value to local populations and ecosystems.
Beyond the critically important goal of improving our understanding of how the climate works, and putting in place preparedness systems to minimise harm, the United States and India are drawing on the creativity and forward thinking of our best scientists, engineers and policymakers to reduce carbon pollution while building a low-carbon future that promotes economic growth. In the United States we have already greatly reduced our emissions from transportation, and, as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, we will reduce carbon pollution from power plants and further reduce energy waste in appliances and buildings. India is also taking important steps such as ambitious measures to improve energy efficiency and expand renewable energy, including one of the world’s largest national targets for solar power.
There is no doubt that the transition away from fossil fuels and other greenhouse gases requires upfront investment and hard work. The United States is committed to this effort domestically and to partnering with countries with more urgent development needs make this transition.
The United States together with other developed countries has met and exceeded a pledge to provide $30 billion in financing from 2010 to 2012 for developing countries both to reduce greenhouse gases and to adapt to climate changes. The U.S. government alone provided $7.4 billion during this period, including almost $1 billion that benefits India.
In many cases, the United States amplifies the impact of public funds by leveraging a significant amount of private investment, an approach that is already creating new economic opportunities. We see this as the surest way to scale up funds to the levels needed for another commitment we made in 2009, to work with other countries to mobilise $100 billion annually by 2020, from both public and private sources, to help developing countries address climate change.
Private investment in India has leveraged the impact of our public funds and yielded significant results. Using our national development finance institution and export credit agency, we have channelled hundreds of millions of dollars to strengthen India’s ability to build technical capacity, reduce financial risk, and lower the cost of capital for low-carbon investments. These funds unlocked more than $700 million in additional private capital that would not have otherwise been invested in India, over and above the nearly $1 billion we have already.
U.S.-Indian joint initiatives promote clean energy development, a sector in which countries around the world are making strides on economic growth, poverty alleviation, and climate change simultaneously. In 2009, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Obama created the Partnership to Advance Clean Energy to improve energy access and promote low-carbon growth through a focus on clean and renewable energy projects. One initiative under this programme — the $125 million Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center — is helping develop cutting-edge technologies in solar energy, energy efficiency in buildings, and new biofuels, enriching the technology base of both countries.
The cooperation between the U.S and India on climate change is strong, but it could be improved further. The United States is committed to working with India to make our work together a model for the global cooperation we so desperately need.