India may join US at climate meet

India may join US at climate meet


Climate change is one of the prominent agenda items for the prime minister’s talks with President Obama scheduled for Tuesday.
Former foreign secretary Shyam Saran, who is the country’s chief negotiator on climate change, is a prominent member of Singh’s official delegation on his four-day state visit to the US.

The 11-day Copenhagen conference gets under way on December 7.

Common positions
The Indian side believes that there is much that can be achieved during the summit to harmonise the positions of the two countries at the multilateral negotiations at Copenhagen.

Though India and the United States have, in the past, adopted divergent positions on climate change in multilateral negotiations, the Indian side now seems to have veered round to the view that there is much the country can gain by exploring the scope for common positions with the Obama administration.
There is also a belief that the Obama administration would value such cooperation as the US finds itself under tremendous pressure to make firm commitments at Copenhagen on emission reduction to mitigate global warming.

While most of the developed countries have come up with promises of phased emission reduction targets, the US has not been able to make one as the issue is stuck in the Senate.

It is perceived that since the Obama administration is keen to join the global efforts to reduce emission but unable to come up with concrete proposals owing partly to the fact that the matter still awaits Senate clearance, it would be more than keen to get India on its side.

Reflecting the mood in the Indian camp ahead of the Tuesday summit talks, one official said: “We have differences with the US in multilateral dialogues, but at the bilateral level we have been able to achieve convergence of views on a broad approach to the climate change issue.”

India has been involved in two parallel streams of negotiations with the US on the issue in the run up to the Copenhagen meet. Most significantly, one of the areas of convergence identified by India is the link between climate change and energy security. The Indian side emphasises that the Indo-US civil nuclear energy cooperation deal signed during the term of the previous Bush administration was based firmly on the inter-linkage between climate change and energy security.
The agreement, it is being emphasised, would help India to reduce emission levels as nuclear energy is a source of clean energy. An acceptance of this logic by the Obama administration would bring a quick spin-off benefit for India as Washington would be prodded to hasten the process of the “commercial implementation” of the civil nuclear agreement.

The convergence of views with the US could also bring other benefits to India by way of access to green technology and collaboration in such areas as energy-efficient green buildings and renewable sources of energy like solar and wind and bio mass. A number of collaborative projects have apparently been lined up as well.

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