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India, US hold joint panel meet on climate issues

Times of India, Delhi, 31st July 2014


Nearly ten months after setting up a joint working group on combating climate change, India and the US on Wednesday held its first meeting where both countries agreed to closely coordinate on many issues including the contentious matter of phasing out climate damaging refrigerant hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). New Delhi, however, stuck to its stand of handling the refrigerant issue under the multilateral UN convention which safeguards the interest of developing countries. It merely discussed the "scientific and technical aspects" of the issue so that both countries may prepare a common strategy without diluting India's stand. During the meeting, both countries agreed to cooperate in the areas of clean energy, smart grid and energy efficiency, development of technology and sharing of information on best practices on adaptation measures specifically for extreme weather events.


The working group discussion was preceded by a meeting of environment minister Prakash Javadekar and US special envoy on climate change Todd Stern. Javadekar underlined the importance of quickly capitalizing the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and using the money to purchase Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) of climate friendly technologies. He emphasized that these technologies should, thereafter, be provided to developing countries free of cost. A pitch for similar funding of technologies to replace HFCs from developing countries was made by Indian representatives during the working group meeting. The US group, on its part, agreed to discuss these issues and work together to find out "technologically viable and economically feasible" alternatives.


The joint working group was one of the outcomes of the summit meeting of US President Barack Obama and then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Washington in September last year when both countries agreed to work on post-2020 strategy to deal with climate change. Both countries had then agreed to discuss "using the expertise and the institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the consumption and production of HFCs, based on economically viable and technically feasible alternatives" without deviating the issue of refrigerant gas from the scope of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol. The working group on Wednesday discussed both scientific and technical aspects of the issue to prepare a common strategy. Representatives from both sides agreed to continue to include HFCs within the scope of the UN convention for "accounting and reporting of emission".