Q You met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several key cabinet ministers and discussed your mission to get all nations to cut their carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. How important is India’s role in this?
A. India’s role is crucial. First of all, India is a leading democracy together with the United States; a huge nation, but also known for its humanistic values, for its connection to earth and to responsibility. India can contribute very significantly because as a nation it is the third-largest emitter—we’re the second largest, China the first. So, we have a special responsibility. Between the three of us, we have over 50 per cent of the world’s emissions. So even though India’s [emissions] are smaller, by half, than ours, we all have to do this because no one nation can solve the problem. Every nation has to be part of the solution. We’re dependent on one another.
More importantly, India is a nation of innovation, entrepreneurial activity, research and development and so forth. We believe in a partnership between the United States and India to accelerate the discovery of new technologies that we will need to deal with the climate crisis, to try to bring finance and help do things that will accelerate Prime Minister Modi’s very aggressive and important commitment of 450 gigawatts of power over the next 10 years from renewables…that’s what we need to do.
Q. What was Prime Minister Modi’s response when you put forward the proposal for net zero?
A. He could not have been more enthusiastic and embracing of it. I think the prime minister has set, and knows that he has set, an important goal [for 2030] and he would like to achieve it. He is a person of action. He wants results, not rhetoric. So, we look forward to trying to fill out this partnership and make things happen. That, hopefully, could be an example to others in the world.
Q. The US has been in and out of the international climate…
A. Mostly in.
Q. Okay. We’re glad you are back in, you were out of Paris for a while. It’s good that the Biden administration has been proactive about it, but how will you convince nations that your administration is not all talk but will really act on climate change, that it will not wiggle out of its commitments?
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