Obama, Modi to meet on the sidelines of COP21 in Paris

Mo Bo

WASHINGTON: In an effort to forge an ambitious global climate agreement, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama are set to meet on the sidelines of the COP21 in Paris on November 30.

Announcing the meeting, US Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said: “The US “wants to send a clear signal” in meetings with China, India and France that it will be working with the “key players” for a strong international agreement on climate change. Mr Obama’s meeting with Mr Modi will be their seventh meeting since 2014. “We have been engaging with India throughout the year in determining how they can contribute constructively to a successful outcome in Paris,” Mr Rhodes said.

The two leaders have been discussing the issue in their bilateral meetings as well as in the recent summits in Malaysia where they met informally.  “Cooperation from major emitters like India and China is key to the success of the Paris Summit on climate change,” Mr Rhodes said.

“We need to have the broadest set of countries engaged in this if it’s going to be successful. That was the lesson from Copenhagen, which is that if you restrict this to a certain form, you will likely be limited to the Kyoto countries or even a small number of countries,” Mr Rhodes added.  He spoke about the US broadening the scope of countries that are participating in COP21. “And it’s not simply a question of the US coming to the table, it’s a question of whether China and India and Brazil and other major emitters are a part of this framework,” Mr Rhodes added.

India has promised to cut the intensity of its carbon emissions by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels and make its economy more energy efficient. As the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, India had initially resisted setting specific targets to cut emissions. The US has vowed to cut its emissions by 31 percent by 2030, which is considered as the most ambitious climate action plan by US till date.

India has pledged it would target 40 percent cumulative installed power capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030, adding this would require UN financial support. Climate finance is expected to be the biggest sticky issue in the summit where the developed and developing countries haven’t shown any sign of coming to an agreement.

Mr Rhodes stressed on the need for strong transparency and accountability provisions. He said this would help in determining if countries are standing by and behind their commitments going forward.

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