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Hillary Clinton to visit India with climate change envoy

July 15, 2009 03:06 IST

As New Delhi prepares to greet Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton speculations are rife that there will be important agreements that would be signed between India and US to take the strategic partnership forward.

Clinton has already said that she is visiting New Delhi to start a strategic dialogue which will include issues like climate change and clean energy. To put the issue of climate change on fast track, Clinton will be joined by President Barrack Obama's special envoy for climate change, Todd Stern, who is known as a man in hurry.

Stern wants Obama to use his clout to urgently sign a new international treaty to control global carbon emissions in the name of fighting global warming.

Before the global leaders meet in Copenhagen, Denmark in coming winter on December 7-18 to push the global agreement on climate change. Hillary wants to use her charm and goodwill to soften India's stand. India is steadfast in its argument that it will not accept any quantifiable cap and specific deadline over carbon emission that can hamper India's development.

India surely agrees that per capita carbon emission of Indians will not be more than per capita carbon emission of any Western countries. Stern is behind US's slightly softer change where it now agrees in principle that the America would like to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 80 percent by 2050 till, US has not agreed for any short term goals.

In 1998, US senate has by a vote of  95 to 0 in the Byrd Hagel Resolution agreed that US would not agree to any economically harmful international climate agreement that did not also include China, India and other major developing countries.

But, times have changed now. Bush administration had opposed Kyoto protocol on the climate change. During Bill Clinton's presidency Stern, acclaimed lawyer and environment expert, was senior White House negotiator at the Kyoto. Recently, he accompanied Hillary Clinton to China.

Frank Wisner, former US ambassador to India, was in New Delhi on Tuesday to bat for Indo-US ties. Wisner said, 'sensible Americans understand that we cannot untangle climate change issues unless we sit together and take steps to strike a common position to make the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December 2009 a success."  While speaking on Obama administration he said, "Obama administration is as committed to Indo-US nuclear deal as Bush administration."

In New Delhi, Wisner did some plain speaking as well. While agreeing that India's stand on climate change is understandable but he said that somehow some deal has to be reached by India and China to agree to limit the carbon emission. He also said that protectionism is the cheap and easier way out to fight back economic downturn. Mid-west America is carving for it.

Wisner rubbished the arguments of  think tanks and business circles over the Obama administration's commitment to the "strategic partnership" scripted  by president George Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He said, "Let me assure you that this Administration is as committed to the US-India nuclear deal as the previous one. Let us not wrestle with small issues on whether this Administration is pro or anti-India. Our task ahead is much larger. We need to set bigger roles for ourselves and we have to work out solutions to the pressing global and regional issues together," he declared while addressing business persons and strategic analysts at a Roundtable organized by FICCI.

While commenting on Clinton's visit, Ambassador Wisner said, "Clinton would be coming to India to make a point–that this relationship (between US and India) was of critical importance to the US. It would also lay the groundwork for President Obama's visit to this country in 2010." Wisner said during her visit to India, Clinton would focus on challenging global issues such as the stalled Doha Round, imperatives for mitigating climate change and the looming spectre of protectionism that stares nations in the face.

"We have get out of the global mess that the Doha Round is currently in. If we don't keep an eye on expanding global trade we all will be worse off than now. The current differences in negotiating positions at the trade round have to be sorted out on priority, Wisner pointed out.

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi