Clinton Urges India Toward Clean Energy The Obama administration is trying to persuade India to help tackle climate change. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged development experts recently to help come up with ideas on projects that could encourage the Indians to turn to clean energy in a way that won't limit its economic growth. NPR Diplomatic Correspondent Michele Keleman reports.
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Clinton Urges India Toward Clean Energy

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Clinton Urges India Toward Clean Energy

Clinton Urges India Toward Clean Energy

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in India this morning hoping to persuade the fast developing country to agree to help mitigate climate change. It'll be a tough sell. India doesn't want to be pressured into caps on its greenhouse gas emissions, arguing that the problem was created by the U.S. and that other rich nations said that they should take the lead. Secretary Clinton says the country can learn from America's mistakes.

NPR's Michele Keleman is traveling with her.

MICHELE KELEMEN: The secretary's argument is simple. Yes, the U.S. and other rich nations made mistakes, but India can avoid them if officials and business leaders are innovative enough to leapfrog over old technology and go green.

(Soundbite of city noise)

KELEMEN: She tried to illustrate this point by visiting a green building just outside New Delhi, the headquarters of a business conglomerate, ITC. It's a building that, among other things, uses special glass to let in natural light and keep out India's oppressive heat.

Secretary HILLARY CLINTON (Department of State): The ITC Green Center may not be a regular stop on the tourist map, and no one would confuse it with the Taj Mahal, but it is a monument in its own right. It is a monument to the future. And that is the most important monument.

(Soundbite of applause)

KELEMEN: The publicity stop, however, might not make it any easier for the Obama administration's climate change envoy who's staying a bit longer here in India to try to persuade a skeptical government to join international efforts to cut carbon emissions. India's environment minister Jairam Ramesh made clear today that his country is already doing things to help mitigate climate change, but it doesn't want to be pressured.

Mr. JAIRAM RAMESH (Environment Minister, India): I'd like to make it clear and categorical. India's position is that we are simply not in a position to take on legally binding emission reduction targets.

KELEMEN: Still, Todd Stern, the U.S. climate change envoy says the U.S. and Indian positions are not as far apart as they seem. And both sides said they're committed to negotiating a fair climate deal.

Mr. TODD STERN (U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change): No one can doubt India's profound challenge with respect to eradicating poverty and developing. And no one has a right to ask that India sacrifice that imperative and that's absolutely not what we are doing. It is still true that over 80 percent of the growth in emissions as we go forward is going to come from developing nations like India and others. And so we must find a way to grow on a low carbon path.

KELEMEN: Secretary Clinton introduced Stern wherever she went, whether it was at a breakfast yesterday with some of India's wealthiest business people or at a shop in Mumbai, run by a group that helps some of India's poorest women with micro credits.

Sec. CLINTON: I want you to meet Todd Stern. He's our climate change envoy. He's working around the world to try to help people do sustainable development. And all of their products, not all of them, but many of them are, you know, natural dyes, herbal and vegetable dyes.

Unidentified Group: (Singing in foreign language)

KELEMEN: At the store, the artisan sang to her. She bought some clothes, then chatted on a computer Skype call with other members of the self-employed women's association, a group that she's followed since her early years as first lady. The more official works starts Monday when she's hoping that India will announce two sites where U.S. companies will have exclusive rights to build nuclear power plants. Deals that U.S. officials say would bring $10 billion in business for American companies.

The U.S. and India are also expected to sign a so-called end-use agreement that would pave the way for the U.S. to sell advanced weapons to India on the condition that the technology won't leak to third countries.

Michele Keleman, NPR News, New Delhi.

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