United Nations: United States Permanent Representative at the UN Samantha Power
has struck an optimistic note about India’s participation in a climate change agreement at
the Paris summit saying that its national action plan is beyond the expectations a year ago.
Asked at a press conference Tuesday about how she saw India’s position as an “outlier” in
the climate change negotiations, Power said: “They’ve come forward with a really important
national action plan that I think few would have expected a year ago.”
During her recent trip to India, she said it was clear that “at the highest levels”
officials were aware that economic development could be endangered by climate change if the
temperatures continued to rise. “More importantly, there is a growing public interest, I
think, in the fate of discussions on the environment, on pollution, and indeed on what’s
happening in Paris,” she added.
Power also conceded India’s priority for development, a point that President Barack Obama
has come to recognise. “President Obama has stressed – as has Prime Minister Modi – the
critical importance of India being able to continue to lift its people out of poverty,” she
said. “But lifting people out of poverty is not incompatible with an ambitious climate
Power’s remarks were conciliatory toward India in contrast to Secretary of State John
Kerry’s assertion last month singling out India as a “challenge” to finding an agreement on
combating climate change at the Paris conference.
“We’ve got a lot of focus on India right now to try to bring them along,” Kerry was quoted
as saying. “It’s a challenge.”
This drew a rebuke from Environment Minister Prakash Javedekar, who called Kerry’s comments
“unwarranted and unfair”. He added: “The attitude of some of the developed countries is the
challenge for the Paris conclusion.”
India’s action plan for the summit undertakes to cut emissions intensity by 33 to 35 percent
below the 2005 levels by 2030, by when it would also increase the share of electricity
generated without fossil fuels to 40 percent from today’s 30 percent.
Answering a question if Obama was viewed with skepticism in Paris because the US Congress
and the Republican candidates for president were opposed to his climate change initiatives,
Power cited India as an example to buttress the administration’s credibility.
“I think our dialogue with India and the plan that they have produced and some of the
cooperation that we are undertaking on clean energy comes from people’s recognition that
much of what the president has set in motion here in the United States is going to be
enduring,” she said.