U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on India today to join the U.S. in seeking to curb global warming, saying the world’s largest democracy and its oldest democracy are best suited to lead the effort.
The top U.S. diplomat used a speech in New Delhi to appeal for an alliance to help curb climate change as he began a three-day visit to meet with Indian officials.
“Today we must recognize the science of climate change is screaming at us for action,” Kerry said. “Working together, the U.S. and India can make this leap, and it will be to our benefit and the world’s.”
The appeal came two days before President Barack Obama is to announce an initiative to combat global warming that may include using executive authority to impose limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants.
The U.S. administration has already proposed limits on greenhouse-gas emissions for new power plants. Existing plants account for about 40 percent of the annual release of carbon emissions in the U.S.
Kerry, citing a World Bank forecast, said the next generation could suffer “widespread water and food shortages, historic heat waves, prolonged droughts and more intense flooding” should warming trends continue unchecked.
“India is a prime target for all four,” he said. “The world’s largest democracy and the world’s oldest democracy must do more together.”
Kerry’s address served as the opening act for what will be two days of talks at the fourth annual U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue that will touch on matters of trade, clean energy, higher education, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Kerry, in his speech, said the election of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan could pave the way for improved relations with its historic rival, India.
“A new dynamic is beginning to emerge and it can develop further,” particularly by expanding trade ties, Kerry said.
Kerry wants to use the conference partly to discuss obstacles to increased U.S. trade with India such as intellectual property protection, restrictions on foreign direct investment and taxation problems, according to a State Department official who briefed reporters before the meeting.
U.S. trade with India already surpasses $100 billion a year, with U.S. business investments in India amounting to about $25 billion, the official said.
Senators Mark Warner of Virginia and John Cornyn of Texas urged Kerry in a recent letter to seek ways to improve trade. They said many U.S. businesses fear “arbitrary, retroactive tax charges” in India that may make them reluctant to invest there.
India’s main priorities from Kerry’s trip include security concerns such as U.S. plans for Afghanistan and Pakistan and the rise of China, according to officials at India’s Ministry of External Affairs, who asked for anonymity in keeping with government policy.
India wants a better understanding of how U.S. troops will withdraw from Afghanistan, the size of forces that will remain in the country, and how the Obama administration plans to work with the new government in Pakistan, the officials said.
While Kerry is making his first visit to India as secretary of state, his ties to India run deep, the State Department official said. Kerry, a former Massachusetts senator, led the first U.S. congressional trade delegation to India more than 20 years ago and a Senate effort to secure congressional approval of a U.S.-India nuclear pact, the official said.