US, India to enter Paris climate agreement, work on nuclear power deal

US, India to enter Paris climate agreement, work on nuclear power deal
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President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a suite of new climate-related initiatives, including a deal on the Paris climate accord and a deadline for a major nuclear energy project in India. 

Brian Deese, President Obama’s top climate change advisor, said Obama and Modi are “aligned and on the same page” about the need to ratify the Paris climate deal, and that both will work toward that goal this year.

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The United States has previously announced its intention to formally enter the climate deal, which sets greenhouse gas reduction targets for countries around the world.

India’s decision to do so, as well, greatly increases the chances the deal takes effect in 2016: the deal won’t formally kick in until countries representing at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions ratify it. India is the world’s fourth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

“Both leaders feel as if the collaboration between the two leaders was an important element of actually getting Paris successfully negotiated last December,” Deese told reporters Tuesday morning. “They will both clearly endorse the importance of promoting full implementation of the Paris agreement.”

Modi is in Washington this week for meetings with Obama and congressional leaders, and to deliver a joint address to Congress on Wednesday. 

Obama and Modi have worked closely on climate matters, including the Paris deal. 

Other climate and energy issues are on their agenda, as well: the U.S. will begin “preparatory work” on delivering six nuclear reactors to India, said John Morton, the White House’s senior director for Energy and Climate Change, and the two countries will set a June 2017 deadline to finalize a nuclear energy deal. 

The U.S. and India also agreed to work on an international agreement phasing out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a refrigerant chemical. The two, along with other nations, are looking to reach a deal on HFCs this year, something Deese called “the most significant step the international community could take” on climate change issues this year. 

The two countries also agreed to tackle emissions from aircraft and to pump up to $60 million into Indian clean energy projects. India has also agreed to develop a national strategy to lower greenhouse gas emissions in the future.  

“The area of climate change and clean energy has been an area of growing and deepening cooperation between the United States and India and it’s an issue of personal significance to both the president and Prime Minister Modi,” Deese said.