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November 20, 2017

Civil Nuclear Agreement, Climate Change and Obama’s India visit


Lalit Shastri

obama energyThere were determined efforts from both sides and prolonged negotiations to make the India-US civilian nuclear agreement fully operational during President Obama’s India visit but the unwavering American stand on “flagging rights”, as reported by a section of the media,, has created a temporary stalemate on this issue on the eve of the Obama visit.

The US wants permission to track nuclear material that it would be supplying to India and this condition is blocking the Indo-US Nuclear Treaty from taking off. India has made it amply clear during negotiations that the US demand impinges on the country’s freedom. Moreover the US has also been told by India that the precondition linked to the supply of nuclear material should be kept aside since India meets all International Atomic Energy Commission requirements.India is also rigid in its position that if an accident occurs the liability should rest on suppliers (of nuclear material).

In climate change negotiations, especially at the UN level, India has advocated the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility”. It is India’s strong contention that the responsibility of reducing emissions in poor countries and the financial burden linked with it should rest with the developed nations. India is also of the firm view that steps to control climate change due to increasing greenhouse-gas emission and concentrations cannot be constant but need to defined differently for different countries keeping into consideration diverse conditions. Besides, India is also firm in its approach vis-a-vis renewable energy and has a huge road-map for pushing forward the agenda to expand the use of clean energy. Clean energy is one area, where the Obama visit could help in inking a path-breaking agreement.

Speaking on the sidelines of WEF at Davos, India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the US and India might be having differences on some issues but both countries have a mature relationship and there is always room for negotiation and building consensus on priority and focused areas.

Advocates of clean energy are optimistic about India’s thrust in the direction of clean energy but at the same time voices are also being raised by environmentalists and activist groups. They are sounding the alarm and pinpointing the potential threat to environment, ecology and wildlife if the forest and wildlife acts are diluted and policies in India are framed to make inroads in what are now “no-go areas” and steps at the Government of India level are geared towards opening the flood gates for mining to meet the rising demand for coal to serve the needs of a population that is growing in geometric progression. Obviously when the use of coal for generating energy to increase production would rise the emission levels are bound to go up.

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