US, India to counter climate change

NEW DELHI: India and the United States can jointly devise a breakthrough plan for fighting climate change that will generate massive new investments and millions of jobs, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Sunday.

She also assured India that while the US wants it to do more to fight climate change, Washington will never impose conditions that would limit India’s economic growth.

Clinton, who arrived in India late Friday, said devising a comprehensive and strategic approach for achieving a clean energy future is an important topic of her three-day trip.

“I am very confident the United States and India can devise a plan that will dramatically change the way we produce, consume and conserve energy and in the process spark an explosion of new investment and millions of jobs,” she said, without elaborating.

Clinton was speaking to reporters after visiting the ITC hotel chain’s Green Building outside New Delhi. The non-commercial building is designed to tap maximum natural light with windows that keep out heat, reducing the need for air conditioners. Climate change is one of the most contentious issues between India and the US because of the Obama administration’s push for New Delhi to accept limits on carbon emissions as part of an international climate change agreement.

To emphasise the importance of the matter, Clinton travelled with the special US envoy for climate change, Todd Stern.

The US-India disagreement is part of a broader conflict between the world’s major industrial polluters and developing countries who say they are being made to pay for the rich countries’ past extravagances that triggered global warming.

Both sides agreed earlier this month that global average temperatures shouldn’t rise over 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), but failed to make any major breakthrough on firm commitments to reduce carbon emissions. Countries such as China and India - the next generation of big polluters - want the industrial countries to pledge to reduce their carbon emissions by 40 per cent over the next decade before they promise any reductions of their own.

Given the entrenched positions, the two sides are unlikely to craft a new climate change treaty by December, when nations from around the world are to gather in Copenhagen, Denmark, to negotiate a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. Clinton said she understands and agrees with concerns of countries like India.

“No one wants to stop or undermine the economic growth that is necessary to lift millions out of poverty,” she said, adding that the US “will not do anything that would limit India’s economic progress.”