President Barack Obama’s upcoming trip to India is shaping up to be a “golden opportunity” to discuss cooperation between the two countries concerning climate change along with a potential deal involving green energy.
The President will meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will serve as Chief Guest at the annual Republic Day celebrations on January 26th, the first time a U.S. President has held this distinction.
Raymond Vickery, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade and Development during the Clinton administration, expressed optimism for a deal, saying there is “no doubt” that both countries “need to engage in the energy sector across the board.” Vickery is a top advisor regarding US-India relations and recently published his book “India Energy: The Struggle for Power.”
Officials within India’s Ministry of Environment have also indicated that a discussion on green energy and technology will take place, with the possibility that a climate/energy deal similar to the U.S.-China agreement could result. However, experts understand the need for a balanced agreement. Kris Gopalakrishnan, former CEO of Infosys and previous member of the United Nations Global Compact Board, describes what is needed:
“What we need is a right mix of political and strategic initiatives. India can use the opportunity to build on its alternative energy resources by entering into agreements for research and development.”
This wouldn’t be the first time the U.S. and India have inked an agreement on energy and climate technology. In November of 2014, the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) and the U.S. Export-Import Bank signed a $1billion deal for clean energy investment.
The benefits of another deal involving energy and climate technology are not lost on India, which has softened its stance on climate issues considerably in recent months under PM Modi. Additionally, bilateral ties between the U.S. and India would be strengthened, paving the way for future talks concerning trade, intelligence sharing, and maritime security. Indeed, India’s strong relationship with the U.S. and its vast economic potential mean that its sphere of influence throughout Asia could widen substantially in the coming years.
The U.S. has been a strong advocate for addressing climate change at the international level. If a deal with India can be reached- expanding their nearly $100 billion trade relationship into the field of energy and climate technology- economists put it best: the sky is the limit.
Check out our country profile of India in ASP’s Global Security Defense Index here.