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US and India agree to joint action on climate change

US and India

President Obama and Prime Minister Modi met in Washington. Credit: White House/Pete Souza

Just a week after 122 heads of state gathered in New York for the UN Climate Summit, US President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Modi added further momentum for a global climate agreement, agreeing to new joint steps to fight climate change.

The two leaders met in Washington exactly one week after the UN Climate Summit, where countries made a slew of announcements on their efforts to slow global warming, protect forests, and shield against the impacts of climate change.

Following this week’s meetings, the White House issued a joint statement detailing new commitments from India and the United States and committing the two countries to help drive a new global deal on climate change.

The statement read:

Both leaders are committed to working towards a successful outcome in Paris in 2015 of the conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, including the creation of a new global agreement on climate change.

The most concrete development was the announcement of a program to strengthen each nation’s resilience to the impacts of climate change.

The leaders also announced the U.S.-India Climate Fellowship Program, which will help build long-term infrastructure and investment in clean energy sources like wind and solar, and continued to build momentum to phase out planet-warming HFCs.

In emphasizing pro-renewable policies in their joint statement, the US and India signaled new and necessary steps towards phasing out dirty energy sources in favor of clean ones.

While these new announcements are not considered groundbreaking, they signal a renewed commitment by two of the world’s largest emitters to reduce carbon pollution and by emphasizing the importance of the Paris climate meetings, the US and India are adding to the momentum ahead of the critical UNFCCC talks in Paris next year.

But it will take stronger action by President Obama and Prime Minister Modi to match the calls from around the world to address the climate crisis.

The joint statement from the heads of the US and India is a step in the right direction, but is still a far cry from what the masses are demanding worldwide.

The hundreds of thousands of people who took part in the People’s Climate March and thousands of other related events demanded action that will hold global warming to a 2C rise over pre-industrial levels, beyond which human populations will face serious risks from climate change-related droughts, storms, and ecosystem changes.

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