US Secretary of State John Kerry has urged India to begin to address climate change by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases even as it attempts to bring electricity to tens of millions of its citizens now living without it.
"I do understand and fully sympathise with the notion that India's paramount commitment to development and eradicating poverty is essential," Kerry said in a speech in New Delhi on Sunday. "But we have to recognise that a collective failure to meet our collective climate challenge would inhibit all countries' dreams of growth and development."
In an effort to prod the Indians to act, Kerry warned that climate change could cause India to endure excessive heat waves, prolonged droughts, intense flooding and shortages of food and water.
"The worst consequences of the climate crisis will confront people who are the least able to cope with them," he said.
Kerry has long been active on the issue of climate change. His speech was part of a broader push by the Obama administration that includes a presidential address, scheduled for today, on steps the White House plans to take domestically, including establishing limits on carbon emissions from new and existing power plants
Kerry continued his Indian visit yesterday, trying to ease New Delhi's concerns about the impending withdrawal of US troops from war-torn Afghanistan. He held talks yesterday with Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid days after the United States started a cautious bid to hold peace talks with Taliban insurgents. Kerry said that the United States was "very realistic" about the difficulties in Afghanistan and acknowledged that a final settlement "may be long in coming".
India is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gases in the world. It now ranks third in the world in production of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent heat-trapping gas, behind China and the United States.
When US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in California two weeks ago, they agreed to take steps to cut back on global production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, a component in coolants in refrigerators and air-conditioners.