India and the U.S agreed to initiate domestic processes to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change, negotiated by over 190 countries in December 2015.
Taking a further step in civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCL) and nuclear reactor builders, Westinghouse, will immediately start the engineering and site design work on six reactors to be set up in Gujarat under an early work agreement; all commercial agreements will be completed by June 2017, according to a White House official.
After a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, President Barack Obama said: “In Paris the joining of forces between India and U.S. helped forge the historical agreement to effectively deal with climate change, and we discussed how we can, as quickly as possible bring the Paris agreement into force, how we can make sure that climate financing that is necessary for India to embark on the bold vision for solar energy and clean energy that PM Modi has laid out, can be accomplished. We discussed, in addition, the progress we made around civil nuclear energy, and I indicated our support for India becoming part of the NSG, to ensure these technologies, that are critical for India’s development, are available.”
A White House spokesperson said later that India’s commitment to ratify the [climate] treaty this year itself indicated a more ambitious approach compared to its earlier timeline. Both leaders were to continue the discussion over a working lunch later, and a joint statement was expected after the conclusion of the talks.
“We are working as friends and partners in giving leadership to the world, and to protect the legacy that we both are proud of. We spoke about taking our economic relations to new heights, to improve technology cooperation, to improve financing of clean energy technologies, concerns about cyber security… We spoke about all this……We also spoke about how we can cooperate for the betterment of the whole world,” Mr. Modi said.
The Obama administration has already made a public commitment that it would seek to ratify the Paris agreement. India’s ratifying the deal — which will be a decision of the Union Cabinet — will take it closer to coming into force since ratification by 55 countries which together account for at least 55 per cent of the total global emissions, is required for the pact to become operational.
The Paris Agreement says it shall enter into force 30 days after at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have ratified it. As of May 20, 2016, there are 177 signatories to the Paris Agreement but only 17 States have also deposited their instruments of ratification, and they account for only 0.04 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions.
At 6.96 per cent of the total global emissions, India ranks fourth after China, the U.S. and the EU on the list of polluters. China has said it will ratify the deal in 2016, but Russia is dragging its feet.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday welcomed the start of preparatory work on construction of six nuclear reactors in India.
The U.S. Export-Import Bank will help India “toward a competitive financing package” for the Westinghouse-NPCL project. The two leaders also agreed on an initiative that aims to mobilise $400 million for renewable and low-carbon electricity for one million Indian homes by 2020; and a $40 million program that aims to raise up to $1 billion in investment in solar energy.
“Once completed, the project would be fulfilling the promise of the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement and demonstrating a shared commitment to meet India’s growing energy needs,” the two leaders said.
(With inputs from Reuters)