Obama’s visit to India and its expected implications for | Milaap

Obama’s visit to India and its expected implications for renewable energy and fight against Climate change

Narendra Modi at  Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

With less than two weeks to go and US president Obama will be gracing the republic day celebration of World’s largest democracy as its chief guest. It would be Obama’s second visit to India (the first being in 2010) and 7th official visit to India of any US president. The relationship between the two states that had gone sour in December 2013 are now back on the right track with the fruitful visit of Prime Minister Narender Modi to United states in September, 2014.  The US media has been seeing this visit as an opportunity for Obama to clinch a climate deal with India, the one similar to what it achieved in November, 2014 with China. China emits a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gases, the United States 15 percent and India about 6 percent. In its agreement with the U.S. — which though isn’t legally binding — China has pledged to halt the increase in its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The U.S. said it would aim to make its 2025 emissions between 26 and 28 percent lower than they were in 2005, faster than previous goals. This huge achievement on climate change policies has also pressurized India to own it responsibilities in fight against the climate change. India for long has been talking about considering the per capita emission as the basis of the climate change negotiations, by which measure; India is one of the least polluting countries, at about 1.2 tons per person. But the odds are very high against India for the success of any such negotiation and the success of any strategic initiative that India envisages in reaching the targets of renewable energy generation capacity. China has also pledged to increase its renewable energy capacity to 800 gigawatts by 2030 under the deal, double the amount today. India only has about 30 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity today. India, though is not expected to make the kind of commitments that china made considering that 98 perecent population of China has electricity while in India its only 70%, but a significant breakthrough is expected especially after India and US setteled their difference over the WTO trade deal through a four year peace clause.


This visit comes well before the United Nation’s climate change meeting at Lima where the countries around the world are expected to define their emission targets and other actions to fight climate change. While the Indian government has been working aggressively to arrive at and define its targets, it is expected that the figures will not be out before the June, 2015.  India has agreed to stop its opposition to phasing out of greenhouse refrigerant gases hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol during the Modi’s US visit but it is expected to have derogatory impact on the Indian refrigeration Industry at least for now. What India can expect from Obama’s visit is commitement on cooperation, mainly on renewable energy investment and technology transfer, where Modi’sgovernment has been making some major commitments under its ‘Make in India’ compaign, in lieu for the bitter pills that India will have to bite on climate deals. India cannot disown its reponsibilites to fight climagte change and future opportunities to harness renewable energy especially considering the high possibility of worse impacts of climate change on India due to its position on the world map and its huge, dense, poor and under developed population. During the Modi’s US visit an MoU was signed between the US Export-Import Bank and the Indian Renewable EnergyDevelopment Agency (IREDA) that commited $1 billion for disbursal to grid-connected projects in India. This loan will be used only for sourcing of US equipment for (mainly solar) projects in India and making it necessary for these projects to use at least 30% domestic (Indian) content. Such bilateral achievements show that it is possible to achieve a balance between the strategic initiatives and political agendas especially when Indian government's pet 'Make in India' compaign is yet to deliever the tangible results. During the visit Prime Minister Modi is expected to press President Obama to set up a global clean energy research consortium and make funds available for licences for clean energy technologies, most probably through internationalclimate finance to help developing countries achieve the technological proficieny in the field of clean energy which is one of the biggest bottlenecks for developing countries to shift to renewable energy sources from conventional energy sources.