Yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a deal to work together against climate change. According to the White House, the two nations agreed to “cooperate closely” to expand renewable energy, work towards better air quality in major cities, and continue to reduce Hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) in India.
India is currently the third largest emitter of carbon emissions in the world, following the U.S. and China. Unlike the climate deal that was made between China and the U.S. in November of last year, India did not agree to concrete emissions reductions. In a country where hundreds of millions of people have no electricity, such reductions are politically difficult and could be seen as a hinderance to economic growth and poverty reduction.
However, the country has taken major steps to move away from coal and oil-fueled power, and towards renewables—particularly solar. The Indian government has already committed to investing $1 billion in renewable energy, to which yesterday’s deal with the U.S. promised to add another $1 billion in clean energy financing.The Times of India reports that Modi did not feel pressured to make a deal with the U.S. similar to China’s. "India is an independent country. Pressure of any country or a person does not affect India,” he said at a press event. “Climate change is itself a pressure.”
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, India may be more adversely affected by climate change than other nations due to extreme weather events, droughts, floods and cyclones.
These announcements are part of an effort to build political will and momentum leading up to the U.N. climate conference later this year in Paris, which aims to produce an international agreement on climate change. Modi expressed his willingness to continuing working on the issue of climate change at the Paris talks.