India-US Role in Climate Change – UPSC GS3

Challenges in global climate politics:
  • Rising demand for climate actions from the developed nations: under the Paris Climate Agreement; with the new US administration looking for a revival of its partnership under the agreement.
    • The US intends to spend more than $2 trillion on energy and infrastructure to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and aims to have zero-emission power generation by 2035.
    • The European Union and the US have promised to bring border tariffs triggering climate-related disputes.
  • More political rhetoric and less accountability: Recent announcements by China (2060), the EU (2050) and Japan (2050) for net-zero emissions are rhetorical, but places a moral burden on India.
Measures taken by India:
  • Providing access to electricity and clean cooking energy, massive reductions in costs of LED light bulbs.
  • India is the first country in the world with a cooling action plan.
  • India aims to have 30% electric vehicle sales by 2030.
  • At the height of the pandemic, it sanctioned 12,000 MW of renewables capacity (15,000 MW since January).
Cooperation with the US is desired for the following reasons:
  • Creating a climate legacy: A convergence of interest between US and India will push others into action;
    • Putting China on the spot: asking it to give details about its road to 2060 or funding of thermal power assets in the Belt and Road Initiative countries.
    • Ratifying Kigali Amendment: to the Montreal Protocol, injecting new energy into the global phase-down of highly potent hydrofluorocarbons.
  • Bridging the supply-demand gap of clean-capital tech: and lower risk perceptions, promote state-level investment relationships, which could democratize and decentralize low-carbon pathways.
    • While India’s demand stands at $30 billion, renewable investment is only $10-11 billion annually.
  • Leveraging R&D priorities: While the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020 has an explicit focus on low-carbon technologies, the US wants to invest $300 billion on climate-related R&D.
    • A Global Green Hydrogen Alliance: by India and the US would bring global attention towards a breakthrough technology.
    • Designing collaborative research programmes to develop a road map to net-zero emissions through carbon removal.
  • Collaborating on rising climate risks: through multilateralism centred around chronic risks like cyclones, forest fires causing havoc in both the nations.
    • Deeper collaboration through Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, financing older infrastructure and designing new climate risk insurance schemes.
Conclusion: India’s diplomatic outreach needs deft alliance-building, starting with a climate handshake between the US and India.
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