Obama’s Climate Change Agenda Could Accelerate During Visit To India

Daniel Hazard - Author

Jan. 12 2015, Updated 1:10 p.m. ET

According to Reuters, President Barack Obama is expected to make agreements on climate change, a civil nuclear agreement, and solar power when he visits India in two weeks. Although there are key issues on tariffs and trade agreements that may not be resolved anytime soon, the Obama administration has high hopes that progress can made on several key issues.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and had some promising things to say.

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“The goal is to have very concrete and tangible things that we can show forward movement on when President Obama and Prime Minister Modi meet, including on climate change.”

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This suggests that Kerry and Modi are both optimistic in reaching a deal on issues such as a cessation of nuclear power projects and investing in new solar energy plants. The Hill reports that despite comments from Indian officials, India is aware of the implications of climate change. Indeed, Kerry himself seems quite positive that a deal will be reached.

“I know that the Prime Minister not only understands, but is committed to policies which will deal with climate change. And that’s why he has already announced ambitious plans to scale up India’s renewable power programs,” Kerry said.

India is the world’s third-largest emitter of carbon, and it could be a huge breakthrough in reducing the effects of man-made climate change if India is indeed as committed as Kerry suggests.

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No matter the results of the talks, the move is sure to draw political fire from congressional Republicans whose priorities are rolling back environmental regulations and pushing forward on the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline. While The GOP remains staunchly opposed to the idea of man-made climate change and its impact on our environment, it appears that all of the momentum is on Obamas side.

The president has made a landmark deal with China, the world’s largest polluter, in which the U.S. will commit to a 26 percent reduction in carbon emissions while China agrees to stop their emission increase by 2025. Obama has set aside federal lands in Alaska and protected them from oil exploration, and he has threatened to veto any legislation hostile towards his climate agenda. These are the moves of an emboldened president and far from the president the republicans had hoped to see following republican gains in the senate.

Questions remain as to what, if anything, the republicans can do to curtail Obama’s aggressive environmental policy other than puff their chests and rally their conservative base for the 2016 election cycle. Further, the legally binding nature of the agreement remains unclear. What actions are the world leaders willing to take should either India or China ignore these climate agreements?

Still, even if only symbolic, these deals on climate change could signal a major shift in global geopolitics regarding renewable energy and how the world powers view the coal industry as a whole.


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