I recently had the pleasure to speak at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which had gathered a group of individuals from across the private and public sector to discuss cooperative efforts between the United States and India on climate change and clean energy. The lively discussion highlighted how wide-ranging the U.S.-India partnership has become.
The list of our joint undertakings is impressive. Many of these worthy efforts don't make headlines in either the United States or India, but they demonstrate how the strategic partnership can bring concrete benefits for Americans, Indians, and the world.
- The U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy, known as PACE, will improve energy access and promote low-carbon growth through the research and deployment of clean energy technologies. As we embark on this collaboration between our public and private sectors, the United States will host a smart grid study tour this month, and a reverse solar trade mission in June. Our bilateral cooperation will support the work of the Indian Planning Commission, currently developing India's 12th five-year plan to focus on low-carbon, high growth.
- A Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center that will mobilize up to $100 million in public and private sector funds will buttress the PACE initiative; the Department of Energy just committed $25 million towards this center. This new energy research initiative marks the most comprehensive joint energy undertaking we have done with any country, ever. We have opened the call for proposals, and we will soon be supporting the best new ideas in clean energy innovation.
- Recognizing the essential role our private sectors will play in the deployment of clean energy, the United States pledged to spur private sector investment in clean energy infrastructure in India through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Export-Import Bank. We aim to work with the Government of India to foster investment in India's solar sector.
- India, led by Minister Jairam Ramesh, played an important and constructive role at last year's climate negotiations in Cancun, helping bridge differences on some very difficult and important issues. Cancun produced pledges by countries to reduce emissions, launched the new Green Climate fund, and created new mechanisms to help promote deployment of clean technologies, reduce deforestation, and to help countries adapt to a changing climate. Without the Indians' participation, Cancun likely would not have been this successful.
- The United States looks forward to working with India to focus the negotiations this year on implementing the Cancun agreements, demonstrating that the international community is taking immediate action to meet the threat of climate change.
- India is also a key partner in the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), an effort launched last year by Energy Secretary Chu that coordinates action by 24 of the world's major economies to accelerate the global transition to clean energy. India participates in six of the 11 CEM initiatives, including efforts to improve the efficiency of appliances, buildings and industry, as well as to explore the benefits of smart grid technologies. Last month, India announced that it would serve as host of the fourth CEM meeting in early 2013.
As the relationship between our two countries grows, we welcome input and participation by NGOs and the private sector, especially at the local or state level.
NRDC itself has done a lot of great work in India. NRDC has partnered with Indian groups to share its energy efficiency expertise on buildings and appliances, a particularly important endeavor when buildings account for more than 30 percent of India's electricity use, and the amount of new building space is expected to quadruple by 2030. NRDC has also recognized the dire impact that climate change has on health, and has started to work with an Indian health organization to develop a preparedness plan in a major Indian city to prevent heat-related deaths and illnesses. As the Indian government enhances its environmental governance by establishing a National Green Tribunal, NRDC has assisted by sharing best practices on compliance and engaging with civil society groups.
We sometimes use the phrase "whole-of-government" to describe many agencies working together on a particular issue. In the case of climate change, we require a "whole-of-world" approach, and we welcome India's active and critical participation, and that of our NGO and business partners.
You can read Assistant Secretary Blake's remarks from his speech on "The Current State of U.S.-India Cooperation and Prospects"here.