As part of the first ever strategic talks between India and the United States, high-level officials discussed various issues including climate change, terrorism, nuclear technology and clean energy.
The strategic talks which concluded last week are a sign of India's growing importance as a regional as well as global super power. Signaling further that the US recognizes India's growing stature as a major strategic player, the Obama Administration expressed support for a greater role for India within the United Nations.
India's foreign minister Mr. S M Krishna and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed a number of important issues such as the Afghanistan-Pakistan situation, the Indo-US nuclear deal, national initiatives to tackle climate change and collaboration in the area of clean energy technology development and trade.
The framework for the Indo-US nuclear deal was announced in a joint statement by President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005. The deal went through several ups and downs during the course of its approval in the legislative bodies of both the countries as well as at the international organisations such as the IAEA. India is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and has been given a special exception for the use of nuclear material for peaceful purposes under this deal.
During last week's talks, the next level of negotiations were discussed. The Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, which is aimed at verifying peaceful use of nuclear material by India and controlling the supply of nuclear fuel by the Nuclear Supply Group countries, will be the next level of negotiations.
India and the US signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Security, Clean Energy, and Climate Change in November 2009. According to this MoU, both the countries agreed to cooperate on several issues like strengthening of R&D efforts for use of unconventional sources of cleaner fuels like coal bed methane and shale gas; better management of forest resources, reforestation and reducing carbon emissions resulting from deforestation and change in land use; and cooperation on adaptation measures by studying changing weather patterns.
During last week's discussions, the Indo-US Climate Dialogue was launched which would help the two countries to build consensus and remove bottlenecks in the international climate change treaty negotiations. Increased cooperation between these two countries is extremely critical for a successful outcome of the international climate change treaty discussions. Both the countries are among the top five greenhouse gas emitters but have immense potential for cooperation in the development of adaptation measures.
Both India and the United States command tremendous power in the negotiations circles with many small but crucial countries following their leads; therefore bilateral talks on bottleneck issues of the climate negotiations would support global efforts for building consensus on the treaty.
India and the US have pledged cooperation in many other areas for R & D, production and implementation of clean energy technologies. The strategic talks are believed to have strengthened the commitments made by the two countries in the MoU signed in 2009.
As part of the cooperation between the two countries, a joint research center would be established to facilitate the expansion of clean energy infrastructure. The main focus of this initiative would be on smart grids, solar energy, biofuels, improving energy efficiency and carbon capture. The cooperation may also be extended to interaction between the scientific communities of the two countries, organizing workshops for young professionals, and investing in clean energy projects through public-private partnerships.
While the US has made significant progress in developing clean technologies for power generation and manufacturing, India is still a developing country which is looking to expand infrastructure into its villages which could be a highly carbon-intensive process in the absence of clean energy technology. The United States can help India procure and, possibly, produce locally this technology which would not only reduce carbon emission output but would open up trade opportunities worth billions of dollars.
Image: Kevin Lamarque/© Reuters 2010/ PicApp
The views presented in the above article are author’s personal views and do not represent those of TERI/TERI University where the author is currently pursuing a Master’s degree.