Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hillary Clinton on Day Three in India: Visit to ITC Green Centre

Right after landing in New Dehli from Mumbai, on Sunday July 19th, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proceeded to the ITC Green Building in Gurgoan, Haryana (which is just outside of New Dehli).

There she was greeted by Minister for Forests and Environment Jairam Ramesh. She was also accompanied by U.S. special envoy on climate change Todd Stern, U.S. ambassador-designate to India Tim Roemer and senior U.S. embassy officials. Jairam Ramesh took Clinton on a guided tour of the building, which showcases eco-friendly practices in India. And apparently the Secretary was very impressed saying, "We know that there are wonderful monuments throughout India from the India Gate to the Taj Mahal. The ITC green building may not be a regular stop on the tourist calendar but it is a monument in its own right."

She addressed a closed-door conference on climate change that was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s special envoy on climate change Shyam Saran.

Clinton also discussed climate change at a press conference with Saran. On Saturday, Clinton had these strong words on climate change:

“We, along with other developed countries, have contributed significantly to the problem that we face with climate change... We are hoping that a great country like India will not make the same mistakes.”

India contributes only 4% of the world’s emissions from burning fossil fuels, compared with 20% from the U.S. New Delhi has opposed any limits on emissions that would slow its growth. This has been the only bump in the road so far between Clinton and Ramesh.

Jairam Ramesh, said this on the issue:

"There is simply no case for the pressure that we — who have among the lowest emissions per capita — face to actually reduce emissions... And as if this pressure was not enough, we also face the threat of carbon tariffs on our exports to countries such as yours."
Clinton gave the best rebuttal she could saying that Ramesh had presented a "fair argument." But that India's case "loses force" because the fast-growing country's absolute level of carbon emissions — as opposed to the per capita amount — is "going up, and dramatically."

On the other hand, Ramesh made it very clear to the press that India is "firmly anchored to negotiations on climate change." He made clear that once India has adopted an international obligation, they have never reneged on it.

Read the Secretary's full remarks at the ITC Green Building here!

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