US prez wants India on board for climate deal

  • Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 25, 2015 13:43 IST

US President Barack Obama wants the world to agree to a climate deal at Paris later this year and would like India to come on board during his visit starting from Sunday. A deal between India and United States is on track and would be part of the joint statement.

Official sources said India would agree to a commitment of generating certain amount of energy from zero emission sources — renewable and nuclear. But any agreement on a carbon emission peaking year — when the emissions will be highest — is yet to be worked out and sources said it would be on the discussion table when Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi meet in Hyderabad House on Sunday.

A government study had suggested that India’s emissions cannot peak before 2035 and the best period for the emissions to be at its maximum would be between 2045 and 2050. The study indicated that India’s per-capita carbon emissions in 2050 would be about 13 tonnes — the same as that of China in its peaking year in 2030.

However, those opposing emission peaking year for India argue that the developing countries would seek more on the lines of the Chinese commitment and the move can prove to be counter-productive as India may not get anything in return.

Carbon emissions of a country grow till the peaking year, when levels are highest, and decrease thereafter. India is currently the world’s fourth-biggest polluter with China leading the pack, followed by the US and the European Union.

India wants to grow to China’s levels before capping off its carbon emissions, not possible before 2035. New Delhi’s decision will also depend on what Washington offers on climate finance – used to compensate developing nations for cutting emissions – and other issues.

“We should be allowed to grow to China’s levels in per-capita terms for arriving at the peaking year,” Kirit Parekh, former Planning Commission member in-charge of energy, who is studying the different scenarios to calculate the peaking year recently told HT.

One scenario sets the economic growth at 4-5% and pegs the peaking year at 2050, while another assumes a GDP growth of 7-8%, saying India will reach China’s emission levels between 2035 and 2040.

The sources said there are slew of proposals on the table for the peaking year or something similar that can slow down India’s emission growth. India is expected to be world’s second biggest carbon emitter after China and US by 2030.

For Obama, a climate deal is high on the priority as listed by US Secretary for State John Kerry during his visit to India earlier this month. A US diplomat told HT the Indo-US climate deal is important for Obama, who wants to end his presidency on a high note as a global “deal maker”.

Indian officials, however, say they want Washington to increase its ambition on climate finance so that the Green Climate Fund has an annual collection of $ 100 billion or more by 2020. In 2014, the GCF has received $9.7 billion from rich nations, lesser than the commitment of $10
billion a year from 2012 onwards.

“Providing money to the developing world for meeting the challenges of climate change is key for an Indo-US climate deal. We will be championing the cause of the developing world, not just India,” an official said, adding that PM Modi will like to showcase the deal as India emerging as a leader of the developing world.

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