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Consensus on ‘fair’ climate change pact
USA to collaborate in environment planning and regulation
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 19
Ahead of the Copenhagen conference later this year, India and the US today agreed upon the need for a "fair" agreement on climate change and discussed ways of collaborating in the fields of environmental planning, regulation, management and forestry.

On her two-day visit to the capital today, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton drove straight from the airport to ITC Green, an energy-efficient building in Gurgaon, to make a case that India could grow without hurting the environment. Slated to discuss defence sales, civil nuclear issues and NPT with India tomorrow, Hillary made climate change her top priority.

Following an hour-long meeting with union environment minister Jairam Ramesh later, she said the US would not do anything to limit India's economic growth and was aware of the concerns of the developing countries that needed to eradicate poverty. She, however, said poverty eradication was possible with sustainable development.

Asked if a framework was possible with India agreeing to reduce its emissions, Hillary said a lot of discussion was needed towards that front, and India had recommended three ways for the two countries to go forward.

“We respect the insight India brings to the table about the challenges facing this planet and agree that it is hard to talk climate change without talking population,” the top US official said, after India clarified that it was in no position to accept legally binding emission reduction targets though it was aware of its global responsibility and would never allow per capita emission to go above that of the developed countries.

Ramesh reiterated India’s stand on the issue as “consistent and credible”, adding that there was no case for the pressure that India, which had among the lowest emission per capita, faces to actually reduce emission.

“We are fine with an agreement that takes note of doing something quickly on this front and also of the need for developing countries to achieve economic growth targets. We will have bilateral and multilateral discussions on this issue so as to reach a meaningful agreement at Copenhagen,” the minister said.

India today listed three areas of cooperation with the US in the area of climate change - research through an Indo-US Foundation for Climate Change; collaboration in environment planning, regulation and management, and building institutional capacity for continuing research on the subject.

Hillary, on her part, termed the discussions as “helpful” and said amplification of partnerships and development of approaches to clean energy future with India was an important topic of her visit (the matter would figure tomorrow in her meeting with foreign affairs minister S.M. Krishna).

Although eager for a successful outcome at Copenhagen, she remained guarded and was, at no point, unmindful of the constraints of the developing world. “But climate change won’t stop even if we, in the developed world, stopped emissions today. So the developing world must work for low-carbon development,” said Hillary, asking India to take the lead and assuring it of the fairness of the global framework on climate change.

“It would be one that does not sacrifice the interests of any developing country and one we can mention to our children and tell them that when crisis was upon us, we took action and took it together,” Hillary said, hopeful of an Indo-US plan to dramatically change the way energy is produced and consumed.

Earlier, Hillary was received at the airport by India’s Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar and Gayatri Kumar, joint secretary in charge of the Americas in the external affairs ministry.

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Hillary: Terror syndicates in Pak matter of concern
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 19
The US is keeping a close watch on Pakistan and expects the perpetrators of the horrific 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai to meet their day of reckoning, the visiting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today said in the capital.

On the eve of her meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and external affairs minister SM Krishna, the top US official admitted that terror syndicates comprising the Al-Qaida, Taliban and other agencies in Pakistan were a matter of deep concern to India and the US. “We hope Pakistan would make progress against these syndicates,” Hillary said, adding that there is no way for any country to give safe haven to terrorists expect at its own risk.

In Gurgaon today to tour the energy-efficient ITC Green building, one of the 11 buildings in India to get platinum certification from Leeds in the US, Hillary talked tough with Pakistan and said the US expected every country to stand against the scourge of terroris“Networking of terrorists across the world - as seen in Jakarta recently - is a threat to all peace-loving people, particularly to the democracies like India, US and Indonesia, where people live independent lives. Fight against terror is everyone’s responsibility,” said the US secretary of state.

When asked if she was satisfied with Pakistan’s actions on bringing to justice the 26/11 attackers of Mumbai, Hillary said, “We are not always satisfied with the responses we get but that does not mean we stop trying.”

The top American official also said the US had seen an evolving commitment by Pakistan government and people who now recognised that terrorism within the country was a threat to that country as well.

“Over the past six months, we see a commitment to fight terrorism permeating the Pakistan government. That is what we expect as well,” said the US foreign minister, adding that she had been sending direct messages to Pakistan and its people of how terrorism was a threat to them as well.

Hillary also took the occasion to reiterate the US commitment to end terror, recalling 9/11.

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On Gurgaon visit, she remembers her family
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 19
The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was floored by the Indian hospitality at ITC, Green - a cent per cent energy-saving building in Gurgaon - which her daughter Chelsea and husband Bill Clinton had earlier visited in 2007.

Walking past its environmentally friendly corridors, the US dignitary was thrilled to spot pictures of her family, a joy she later shared with the elite gathering comprising US special envoy on climate change Todd Stern, US ambassador-designate, India, Tim Roemer, and hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, who is part of Hillary’s delegation visiting India.

So excited was the US foreign minister about the merits of the building (it has carpets made of low volatile organic chemicals; CFLs for illumination; flowers that use minimum water to stay fresh, and canvas for a stage backdrop) that she started her formal address today by referring to the fact that the building depended on no electricity for lighting.

“There is no light here except that of the cameras. Features of this building demonstrate low carbon but efficient approach to development,” said Hillary, who found her match in India’s environment minister Jairam Ramesh, the man who made India’s stand on climate change agreement amply clear and reminded the developed world of India’s commitment to regenerate forests through a three billion dollar programme.

“We have 15 million acre of our land under forests. That is roughly the size of Texas. You need to reward us for that,” Ramesh said, taking on the New York Times, which, in its editorial today, insinuated that India was running away from its responsibility on climate change.

We have never reneged on any global commitment and we are not running away from our responsibility of mitigating emissions, the minister said to the visiting US journalists, in an attempt to set India’s record straight.

As for Hillary, she did her bit in urging India to move towards energy efficiency, saying India’s own emissions would rise by 50 per cent by 2030. “But China remains, by far, the highest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world,” said the US official, when she was reminding the developing world of its role in reducing emission burden.

But India was smart enough to put the record straight, saying its per capita emission would never cross that of the developed world. Perhaps that is what made Hillary side with the concerns of the developing world on climate change. The best she could say to India today was, “We know India for the wonderful monuments like the Taj, but this ITC Green building is a monument to the future. It demonstrates the importance of US-India partnership in climate change. We hope to see more such buildings in the future.”

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