President Joe Biden used this week’s climate summit to reassert America’s leadership of the world’s most important multilateral issue. He announced an emissions target for the United States (US) and climate funds for developing countries.
What the US wants to do with emerging economies could prove more decisive. Despite its unwieldy name, the India-US climate and clean energy agenda 2030 partnership, announced by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi, bears watching. The US appetite on this front is enormous, the potential for India is almost as large, but the devil’s in the details, as US climate envoy John Kerry found on his earlier visit to India.
Kerry outlined his green vision for India in early March. Given India needs $600 billion to make a complete green transition, finance is the country’s biggest challenge. But, he said, a “small consortia” of countries and “major investment houses and asset managers” are ready to help India with “some of the finance and transition.” The consortium already includes Japan, France, Denmark and Norway. The United Kingdom may sign up soon.
There is an echo of the Eisenhower administration’s Aid India group of 1958 but this time with a carbon agenda.
The initial US vision was burning bush stuff. Kerry told consortium members and Indian officials he could envisage paying for the closure of all of India’s coal-fired plants and mines. He didn’t stop there — perhaps New Delhi could be paid to drop its plans to use natural gas as a stepping stone fuel and go a deep forest green.
The catch was he wanted India to announce a net-zero target. In other words, India would commit to contributing no more global carbon emissions in three or four decades.