“A decade ago, reaching international consensus on an ambitious climate accord would have been deemed impossible,” said U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma in Hyderabad. “But in Paris last December, the global community, thanks in part to Indian leadership, did exactly that.196 countries came together to reach a historic agreement that seeks to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees centigrade from pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees.
In April, leaders from around the world, including India’s Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, gathered in New York for the signing ceremony.
“Despite the progress we have made,” Ambassador Verma cautioned, “there is still much more to be done.”
“Written by hundreds of scientists from every corner of the world, the most recent Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change unequivocally states that human influence on the climate system is real and recent emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in the history of humankind. According to NASA, 2015 was the hottest year on record. In fact, of the hottest years on record, 15 out of 17 have occurred since 2000.”
The good news, Ambassador Verma noted, is that “Prime Minister Modi and President Obama clearly recognize the grave threat posed by climate change, and the importance of our two countries working together to combat it,” and “President Obama recognizes the U.S. role in creating this problem and our responsibility to take action.
This includes supporting India’s Paris commitment to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by approximately 33 percent; reducing deforestation and repopulating forests; working together to amend the Montreal Protocol to facilitate an ambitious phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons; and encouraging swift movement by the global community to bring the Paris agreement into force.
“But governments can only do so much, said Ambassador Verma, “the real champions of change are youth leaders, civil society, and entrepreneurs. People like yourselves.”