john kerry

US envoy John Kerry

Focusing on actions taken during the 2020-2030 decade will set the road map for achieving net zero emissions by 2050, United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry said, adding that the two countries are working through the details of the partnership to roll it out in the next few weeks

New Delhi: United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry said on Thursday that India and US have agreed to work closely on the technology and finance for deployment of 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030.

Focusing on actions taken during the 2020 to 2030 decade will set the road map for achieving net zero emissions by 2050, Kerry said adding that the two countries are working through the details of the partnership to roll it out in the next few weeks.

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Kerry clarified that his message to PM Modi was not that India absolutely needs to announce a net zero emissions target by 2050. “India understands the challenge. It would be great if India wanted to say that but I don’t think it’s an absolute requirement because India is doing all the things it needs to do to get us there. That’s better than a lot of nations. India has a plan for 450 GW of renewable energy, if deployed India will be one of the key nations helping to keep the 1.5 degree C target alive. What’s more important than making a pledge, I mean we welcome the pledge, it’s helpful to get everybody doing it but what’s more important is real actions now between 2020 and 2030,” he said.

Kerry is in Delhi for meetings with various ministers including finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman; environment minister, Prakash Javadekar; Dharmendra Pradhan, minister of petroleum, natural gas and steel and others. He also called on PM Narendra Modi on Wednesday regarding increasing climate ambition ahead of President Biden’s Leaders’ Summit on Climate to be held on April 22-23.

On Thursday, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi while responding to questions on whether Kerry had nudged India to commit to a net zero target by 2050, said: “Meetings with special envoy Kerry were very productive. Both sides (PM and Kerry) discussed the global challenge of climate change in the context of several multilateral events later this year leading up to COP 26 summit in Glasgow. Kerry appreciated the PM ‘s vision specially deployment of 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030. They discussed the need for supportive climate action by all countries in line with their respective national circumstances. Given our complementary strengths PM and envoy Kerry agreed to collaborate on a 2030 agenda with focus on clean and green energy and enhancing availability of climate finance, building resilient infrastructure, energy storage and green hydrogen.”

“India has made an effort to accelerate deployment of 450 GW of renewable energy which PM Modi has set out as his goal. We think that’s a powerful goal. We want to make sure that we are facilitating the ability to reach that goal, that’s part of our partnership and agreement we reached during our discussion yesterday (with PM Modi) where we intend to work very closely together focusing on deployment of that 450 GW, technology and finance components,” Kerry said during a press briefing on Thursday.

During the briefing to select journalists, Kerry made it clear that all countries specially the big polluters should be heading towards net zero emissions by 2050 to meet the goal of keeping global warming under 1.5 degree C under the Paris Agreement. “The folks who live in a lot of countries of the world are putting less than 0.7% into the atmosphere but they are often people paying the highest price. Only 20 nations are contributing to 81% of all emissions so yes there is big responsibility on those people. That’s the principle we have carried through our negotiations since the first negotiation in Rio but no one can use that as an excuse not to do things that they need to do. China is the biggest emitter, we are the second biggest emitter, India is the third biggest emitter, Russia, Indonesia we need to all join together. Even if one of them gets to zero emissions tomorrow it’s not enough, we need everybody heading towards zero,” he said.

Kerry added that the economic transformation to net zero is full of jobs for transmission, jobs to build new solar plants, jobs to have electric vehicles, jobs to build energy efficient buildings. “That’s the future,” he said.

‘Carbon markets will be an important tool in achieving net zero emissions’

US is likely to have a policy on carbon pricing and markets soon. Kerry has discussed the issue of using carbon markets for achieving climate targets with Indian counterparts too.

“We (India and US) both agree that carbon markets need to exist, and we need them to be stronger and President Biden believes that at some point of time we need to find out a way to have a price on carbon. He hasn’t made an announcement on it yet. But we all know that one of the effective ways to reduce emissions is to put a price on carbon. It’s a subject that needs to be discussed as certainly a carbon market is an important tool,” Kerry said.

On fulfilling the commitment by developed countries of mobilizing 100 billion dollars per year by 2020 for meaningful mitigation actions in developing countries, Kerry said a lot of damage was done to US credibility during the Trump administration. “We can act in good faith and we can restore America’s credibility by doing the things we said we will do. We made the announcement during President Obama’s administration that the US is going to put 3 billion dollars in the 100-billion-dollar fund. We managed to expedite 1 billion of that during the budget cycle but did not have control over it after Trump came in. Rest is history. He shot America’s credibility in the head and turned his back on science and became only leader of any nation who decided to withdraw from Paris Agreement.” President Biden is likely to make additional payment to the fund, Kerry said.

On the youth’s right to protest

While responding to a question on Indian climate activist Disha Ravi’s arrest for allegedly helping create a protest toolkit, Kerry said “Human rights are always a critical issue to the US. We of course had our own internal challenges in the last few years. Young people have been the key to pushing a lot of adults in the world to do what adults are supposed to do… I have great admiration for activists of Fridays for Future;, Sunrise movement young people have been trying to claim their future. I personally welcome that kind of activism and I think it’s critical that it translates into votes. In the US in the last election, it did translate into votes. First government since 1970 probably the environment, climate crisis was a voting issue and young people led that charge. All round the world young people know what’s happening to their world and their future if we don’t respond properly.”