South and Central Asia

  • Joint Statement of the C5+1 on the International Conference “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity. Challenges and Opportunities”
    by Office of the Spokesperson on July 16, 2021 at 4:02 pm

    Office of the Spokesperson The text of the following statement was adopted by the Governments of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the Republic of Uzbekistan, and the United States of America, on the occasion of the International Conference, “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity. Challenges and Opportunities,” held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan July 15-16, 2021.   Begin Text: Delegations of the C5+1 – the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the Republic of Uzbekistan, and the United States of America – participated in the July 15-16, 2021 International Conference on “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity. Challenges and Opportunities” in Tashkent. The C5+1 countries affirm their commitment to enhancing engagement through our regional diplomatic platform and seeking opportunities to strengthen connectivity between the Central and South Asian regions via trade, transport, and energy links. The C5+1 recognizes that increased connectivity supports its shared goal of a prosperous and secure Central Asia. Visionary ideas for Central Asia’s economic growth and closer ties to the economies of South Asia also reinforce the C5+1’s commitment to strengthening the region’s security and stability, including through Afghan peace negotiations. The C5+1 endeavors to build upon the collaborative progress it has made on connectivity, including to: Modernize infrastructure and transit potential in Central Asia, including through the implementation of investment projects; Promote increased regional cooperation in support of transboundary business-to-business connections and people-to-people exchanges; Improve energy sector connectivity and performance, including to expand and effectively integrate renewables; Meet and strengthen goals on climate adaptation, air quality, and water cooperation and protect those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change; Uphold human rights and freedoms, further strengthen the rule of law and good governance, based on universal human values and the historical, cultural, civilizational, and spiritual identity of the people of South and Central Asia, restore cultural and humanitarian ties, and promote the inclusion of all people, across all efforts, to support the region’s sustainable economic development; Ease trade, transport, and communication between South and Central Asia, including through Afghanistan; Create stable and prosperous conditions favorable to the Afghan peace process, including reaffirming to all parties: the urgency of substantive negotiations on a political settlement; that the only path to a just and durable peace is through a negotiated political settlement that results in an inclusive political system and respects the fundamental rights of all Afghans; that there is no support for the imposition by force of a new government in Afghanistan; and that terrorists and third party forces must never be allowed to use Afghan territory to threaten or attack the C5+1 countries or any other country; Advance cooperation with Afghanistan across security, energy, economic, trade, cultural, and other lines of effort; and, Cooperate to address challenges and threats to regional security, prosperity, and stability.

  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi
    by Office of the Spokesperson on July 9, 2021 at 3:22 pm

    Office of the Spokesperson The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price: Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and underscored the shared desire for a stable and sustainable bilateral relationship.  The Secretary and the Foreign Minister  discussed the importance of continued U.S.-Pakistan cooperation on the Afghanistan peace process following the visit to the United States by Afghan President Ghani and Chairman Abdullah.  The Secretary and Foreign Minister also highlighted joint efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, including the United States’ recent donation of 2.5 million Moderna vaccines.

  • Fifth Anniversary of the Terrorist Attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh
    by Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State on July 1, 2021 at 4:27 pm

    Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State The United States stands with the people of Bangladesh on the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka, resulting in the deaths of 20 people, including one U.S. citizen.  We extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones of the victims. The United States and Bangladesh are united in our condemnation of terrorism and determination to prevent future attacks.  We commend Bangladesh’s efforts to bring those responsible to justice and recommit to our strong counterterrorism partnership to prevent future attacks.

  • U.S. Engagement with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)
    by Office of the Spokesperson on June 7, 2021 at 10:55 pm

    Office of the Spokesperson Since the January 28, 2021 Presidential Memorandum on Protecting Women’s Health at Home and Abroad, the United States has been re-engaging with UNFPA in support of its essential work to address preventable maternal deaths and the unmet need for family planning, and prevent and respond to gender-based violence and harmful practices around the world.  Our re-engagement directly benefits communities around the globe, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Some of the efforts that have taken place or are currently underway include: Revitalizing High-Level Engagement: On June 7, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield met with UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem.  This meeting represents the top-level U.S. government commitment to rebuilding U.S. support for UNFPA, implementing the directive of the January 28 Presidential Memorandum to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights. Restoring Core Funding: The U.S. Department of State is taking the necessary steps to provide $30.8 million to UNFPA in Fiscal Year 2021. Responding to the Rohingya Refugee Crisis: Some $2.6 million of the nearly $155 million in U.S. humanitarian assistance announced on May 18, 2021 will support UNFPA operations in responding to this crisis. Responding to the Tigray Humanitarian Crisis: Nearly $1.2 million in U.S. humanitarian assistance for UNFPA will increase support for crisis-affected women who have fled the violence and instability in Ethiopia’s Tigray region to seek safe haven in Sudan. Responding to Humanitarian Needs in Afghanistan: Nearly $1.5 million of the more than $266 million in U.S. humanitarian assistance announced on June 4, 2021 will support UNFPA operations as part of our commitment to international protection in Afghanistan, particularly for Afghan returnees and internally displaced persons. Responding to Humanitarian Needs in Sudan: Some $1.3 million in humanitarian assistance in Sudan for a strengthened and coordinated multi-sectoral response to gender-based violence to support internally displaced persons and vulnerable populations. For further information, please contact [email protected]  

  • Joint Statement of the U.S.-India Counternarcotics Working Group
    by Office of the Spokesperson on June 3, 2021 at 10:01 pm

    Office of the Spokesperson The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of India.  Begin Text: On June 2, the United States of America and India virtually convened the second meeting of the Counternarcotics Working Group (CNWG).  Director General Rakesh Asthana, Narcotics Control Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, led the Indian delegation.  White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Assistant Director Kemp Chester, Department of State Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Jorgan Andrews, and Department of Justice Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Hodge jointly led the U.S. delegation.  The delegations engaged in wide-ranging conversations focused on increasing collaboration on counternarcotics regulation and law enforcement.  The two sides identified areas for joint actions and resolved to continue their close cooperation on this important issue. Both sides exchanged views on the broad array of narcotics-related challenges facing the United States and India.  They committed to a bilateral framework of policy engagements and expanded cooperation to help reduce the threat of illicit drugs in both countries.  Both sides committed to the sharing of data, best practices, and lessons learned, including details regarding public health approaches to address substance use disorder and other consequences of drug use within our countries.  Participants highlighted their commitment to strengthening cooperation in curtailing the illegal production, manufacturing, trafficking, and distribution of pharmaceutical and illicit drugs, as well as the precursor chemicals used to manufacture them.  Participants highlighted respective efforts in combating drug trafficking in accordance with the rules and regulations of their respective countries and proposed to share best practices for countering synthetic opioids and precursor chemicals.  The two sides also discussed initiatives in support of India’s regional leadership role in building capacity for counternarcotics initiatives in South Asia; countering regional cross-border drug trafficking and crime through enhanced sharing of operational intelligence; and expanding law enforcement cooperation on counternarcotics issues.  Both sides also agreed to the sharing of expertise on dark-net, crypto-currency and postal/courier interdiction mechanism.  In addition, both sides committed to use of a sub-working group to establish a framework for bilateral cooperation to address the drug threat within our countries.  They committed to continuing these discussions at the next CNWG meeting next year. End text.

  • Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister Jaishankar
    by Office of the Spokesperson on May 28, 2021 at 10:44 pm

    Office of the Spokesperson The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price: Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken welcomed Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar to the Department of State, where he reaffirmed the Administration’s commitment to deepening the U.S.-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership. Secretary Blinken and Minister Jaishankar discussed a broad range of issues, including COVID-19 relief, efforts to strengthen Indo-Pacific cooperation through the Quad, and a shared commitment to combating the climate crisis and enhancing multilateral cooperation, including at the UN Security Council. Secretary Blinken and Minister Jaishankar also discussed regional developments, the coup in Burma, and continuing support for Afghanistan.  Secretary Blinken and Minister Jaishankar pledged to continue their cooperation on shared economic and regional security priorities.

  • Attack on Civilians in Afghanistan
    by Ned Price, Department Spokesperson on May 8, 2021 at 7:44 pm

    Ned Price, Department Spokesperson The United States condemns the barbarous attack near a girls’ school in Kabul, Afghanistan. We offer our condolences to the victims, many of whom were children, and their families. We call for an immediate end to violence and the senseless targeting of innocent civilians. We will continue to support and partner with the people of Afghanistan, who are determined to see to it that the gains of the past two decades aren’t erased.

  • U.S.-India Joint Statement on Launching the “U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership”
    by Office of the Spokesperson on April 22, 2021 at 11:18 pm

    Office of the Spokesperson At the Leaders Summit on Climate, the United States and India launched a new high-level partnership, the “U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership,” which envisages bilateral cooperation on strong actions in the current decade to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The Partnership will proceed along two main tracks: the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership, co-chaired by Secretary of Energy Granholm, and the Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue, co-chaired by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. The announcement follows the visit by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry to India, where he and Prime Minister Modi affirmed that the United States and India would collaborate on a 2030 agenda for clean technologies and climate action. Alongside the launch of the Partnership, the text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of India: Begin Text: The United States and India are launching the “U.S.-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership.” Led by President Biden and Prime Minister Modi, the Partnership will represent one of the core venues for U.S.-India collaboration and focus on driving urgent progress in this critical decade for climate action. Both the United States and India have set ambitious 2030 targets for climate action and clean energy. In its new nationally determined contribution, the United States has set an economy-wide target of reducing its net greenhouse gas emissions by 50–52 percent below 2005 levels in 2030. As part of its climate mitigation efforts, India has set a target of installing 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030. Through the Partnership, the United States and India are firmly committed to working together in achieving their ambitious climate and clean energy targets and to strengthening bilateral collaboration across climate and clean energy. The Partnership will aim to mobilize finance and speed clean energy deployment; demonstrate and scale innovative clean technologies needed to decarbonize sectors including industry, transportation, power, and buildings; and build capacity to measure, manage, and adapt to the risks of climate-related impacts. The Partnership will proceed along two main tracks: the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership and the Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue, which will build on and subsume a range of existing processes. Through this collaboration, the United States and India aim to demonstrate how the world can align swift climate action with inclusive and resilient economic development, taking into account national circumstances and sustainable development priorities. End text.

  • Briefing with Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry
    by John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate on April 8, 2021 at 8:23 pm

    John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate New Delhi, India Mr. Kerry:  I’ll begin by saying I’ve had a terrific visit.  Really productive.  And I look forward to having a chance to have a dialogue with you and take your questions, et cetera. Could you hear me before? What I said was, I think I’ve had a really very constructive visit to India and enjoyed meeting with key ministers – the Minister of Environment, Minister of Energy, Minister of Power, Minister of Finance, Minister of Foreign Affairs, External Affairs.  I also met with Amitabh Kant and Niti , so we had a very good discussion in the context of the broader challenges facing all of us and what the latest thinking is about climate and where we’re headed. The bottom line to this visit is that President Biden is committed to moving forward aggressively to deal with the climate crisis.  He’s made it one of the top priorities of the administration.  One of four top priorities – COVID-19; the economy; healing the divisions, racial divisions in America; and climate.  And climate is integrally related to our economic recovery.  For all of us it’s a huge economic opportunity for jobs, for new technology, for transition, to a new economy, a new energy economy, and we’re very excited about that. India is a key partner.  It’s not only the largest democracy in the world, but it is by values a country that hugely cares about the relationship of all of us to the planet, to the environment, the surroundings around us, and I think the Prime Minister is hugely seized by a sense of responsibility which we feel provides the capacity for a very important partnership.  We have, both of us, innovative, entrepreneurial populations that are always trying to push the limits of discovery.  Research and development, the creation of new products, new solutions, and I think that having a partnership really links a country that has enormous development challenges with a country that is developed but still has major transitional infrastructure and other types of challenges, so there’s a lot in common and we very much look forward to working with our friends here. So on that note — Journalist:  Good afternoon.  My name is Indrani Bagchi from The Times of India. You were quoted in your remarks at the CERA Week essentially where you were talking with Ernest Moniz.  You spoke about putting together a consortium for financing renewable energy projects in India.  Where is this consortium coming from?  Which countries might be willing to invest? Mr. Kerry:  Thank you.  I think there are lots of countries that would be willing to invest, obviously with the right investment conditions.  But in the immediate effort to accelerate the deployment of 450 gigawatts of power which Prime Minister Modi has set out as his goal, we think that’s a terrific goal.  We think that’s a powerful goal.  We want to make sure that we’re facilitating the ability to reach that goal.  That’s part of the partnership that we reached, the discussion that we agreed upon in our discussion yesterday where we intend to work very closely together, focusing on the deployment of N450 on technology and on the finance components of that. I came here from the UAE where we had the first-ever Middle East Dialogue on climate alone with our country and the countries of the region.  Many other countries, a lot of countries in the region.  We had Sudan, Morocco, Egypt, Iraq and Kuwait and Bahrain, UAE, et cetera, all coming together to talk about the urgency of doing something serious at Glasgow and the urgency of reducing emissions and moving forward in new technology.  I can tell you with certainty the UAE is already doing a couple of things with India and they’re very interested in partnering with us in a partnership.  I’ve also talked to other countries – I’m not going to name them because it’s up to them to decide to do that, but I can tell you there are some in Europe, there are some in our continent, who are prepared to try to be helpful. The bottom line is that we need to do some working through the details with the Modi government, which has already started, actually, but we will continue to try to grow this out very, very quickly over the course of the next weeks. The reason is that the clock is ticking.  The clock is ticking on Glasgow, the clock is ticking on 2030. We look at 2020-2030 as the critical, decisive decade.  That’s the period during which we have to do everything in our power to make sure we’re trying to keep the 1.5 degree Celsius limitation, to keep it alive and that’s the period during which we will do the setting of the road map that takes us to net zero by 2050.  But much more interesting than net zero 2050 is the notion that 2020-2030 is the operative ,  because if you don’t do enough then, the others are impossible.  We don’t have the ability to hold 1.5 and we don’t have the ability to meet .  So this is the time.  There’s no delay.  It’s urgent.  Prime Minister Modi understands that.  He’s committed to moving and so are we, so is President Biden. Journalist:  Gaurav Saini, Press Trust of India.  Do you agree with India’s Energy Minister’s suggestion that instead of talking about  net zero emissions, we should be talking about net negative emissions? . Mr. Kerry:  The goal that people are talking about for 2050 is net zero in that period of time.  But I happen to believe at some point we’re going to get to zero, and at some point once we have the ability to, we need to be net negative.  Yes.  Absolutely correct.  Even if we got to 2050 net zero, we will still have the mission ahead of us of sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, because there’s enough of it up there that even after getting to 2050 net zero, you still have damage being done and that is being added to now by methane.  Methane is leaking at a rate that is very dangerous because methane is anywhere from 20-100 times, I hear various numbers, but the baseline I’ve ever heard is 20 times more damaging than CO2.  It doesn’t last as long, but it’s much more damaging.  So that’s happening now because permafrost is melting in Alaska.  The tundra is melting in Siberia.  You run around the world and we see increasing threats because of methane alone and other greenhouse gases. So the focus is not just on CO2.  The focus is on all greenhouse gases of which methane is perhaps the most destructive. Journalist:  Jayashree Nandi, Hindustan Times.  I have a couple of questions that are related.  One, did you have any discussions regarding carbon markets or carbon trading with the Indian officials?  And did you have any discussions regarding net zero emissions target – first the 2030 targets and then leading up to net zero emissions later? Mr. Kerry:  Any discussions about what? Journalist:  With the Indian officials, with your Indian counterparts. Mr. Kerry:  About? Journalist:  About carbon trading and carbon markets. Mr. Kerry:  Okay.  That’s the main question. Yes, not in-depth, not a huge one, but we both agree carbon markets exist and need to exist.  We need them to be stronger.  President Biden believes that at some point in time we need to find out a way to have a price on carbon that’s effective.  He hasn’t decided or made an announcement about it, but we all know that one of the most effective ways to reduce emissions is putting a price on carbon.  You’re paying a price here now.  You have a price on gas, you have a price on coal, and it has some effect but no one has yet put the reality price on anything.  The fact is, prices are low enough that it’s just not having the kind of broad effect that we need to have on a global basis.  It’s a subject that needs to be discussed.  I think going into the next months there will be a lot more talk about whatever tools are available to us and certainly a carbon market is an important tool. Journalist:  Suhasini Haidar, The Hindu.  Thank you.  Mr. Kerry, you were here  in August 2016 and you had  discussions with the Indian government of a very similar nature.  At that time you were talking before the Paris Accord.  In fact, India joined the Paris Accord  on the basis of certain assurances also that they had received  from the U.S. when it came to climate financing, when it came to climate justice. Subsequently Mr. Trump was elected in the U.S. and we saw the U.S. government actually rescind many of those commitments, particularly to rejoin the climate accord. But also comments that were made about India being one of the world’s biggest polluters and not deserving some of the assurances that had been made. So my question really is how much damage, when you say that time is of the essence, how much damage did the last four years really do to the U.S.’ quest for leadership, for driving the climate change initiative?  And how do you propose to make up for it?  I know the Finance Minister said in her conversation with you, in tweets we read,  that America should get back to that commitment –if it’s $100 billion from developed countries for developing countries.  How quickly do you think you can make up for the kind of damage you’ve seen over the last four years? Mr. Kerry:  You and people around the world are going to have to decide how quickly it happens.  We can’t decide it. What we can do is act in good faith and we can restore America’s credibility by doing the things we said we’d do. Now we made the announcement, President Obama and Vice President Biden made the announcement that the United States was going to put $3 billion into the climate fund.  We quickly managed to expedite $1 billion of that during the budget cycle but we didn’t have control over subsequent cycles and this fellow named Trump came in and the rest is history.  He shot America’s credibility in the head and turned his back on science and became the only leader of a nation, let alone one of the biggest nations, but the only leader of any nation who decided to withdraw from the agreement.  Without science, without any rational — other than telling something to the American people that wasn’t true, which is that Paris put too big a burden on the United States.  Well guess what?  Paris didn’t place any burden on the United States.  Every country wrote its own plan in Paris.  Every country decided itself what it would do. And we worked very closely with all of the environment community, the faith-based community, but also with big businesses and others to determine what would work, how could we do this? So when we left Paris I remember saying to the delegates in the session right after we celebrated the passage of the agreement that we weren’t leaving Paris pretending that we had held the earth’s temperature to two degrees centigrade, let alone 1.5.  We were leaving Paris having 196 countries all together sending the same message to the world.  We’re going to deal with climate and here’s what we’re going to do. Now it didn’t happen.  And sadly, even if every nation did what Paris, what they said they would do in Paris, we would still see the earth’s temperature rising by 3.7 degrees centigrade.  And we’re not doing everything we said we’d do in Paris. So in effect we’re heading now towards four degrees, or 4.5.  I don’t know exactly.  Nobody can tell you with precision.  But they can tell you it’s absolutely heading in that direction with this monumental level of damage. So that’s the urgency.  That’s why when we go to Glasgow we can’t just do something light.  We have to come up with things that now will make a difference.  That’s why 2050 net zero is not enough.  You can’t go there and say we’re going to do what we’re going to do in 30 years, because if you don’t do what we need to do between now and 2030 you can’t do what needs to be done to reach 1.5, or to hold to 1.5 and to reach net zero.  You just can’t do it scientifically.  So unless there’s a miracle discovery that does in fact take all the carbon dioxide out and provides you with  storage or creates an entire new generation of a fuel – which might happen.  But you can’t take the planet and bet it on the potential of something, some sort of a miracle or something.  You can’t do that.  And that’s what we would be doing otherwise unless we come together and raise our ambition. So the United States comes back to the table understanding this obligation.  Understanding what we need to do.  We come back with humility.  We come back knowing the last four years were a disappointment to people.  But we also come back knowing that governors and mayors and citizens throughout America worked hard to stay in the Paris Agreement.  And that’s very important for you to please register in this.  We have 37 states which have renewable portfolio laws and 37 governors – Republican and Democrat alike – lived by those laws.  So we continued to reduce somewhat.  We also had over a thousand mayors come together.  The mayor of every major city in America came together and said we’re not getting out, we’re still in Paris. So Donald Trump pulled out, but the vast majority of the American people stayed in the Paris agreement. So yeah, we get hurt by him getting out but the truth is the American people continued to fight.  And people need to know that because that will help us restore our credibility. In addition, right now President Biden has kept his promise.  He said he’d rejoin Paris and he rejoined within hours of being President.  He immediately issued executive orders that undid the bad things Donald Trump did; that put in place our Climate Action Plan; that put in place the restraints on automobile standards and other things.  And he is committed to replenishing the money that we promised five years ago. So he is planning to put into the budget the $2 billion that was owed but also he’s going to make his own payment, the Biden administration payment, that he will put in additional money for these forward years, and I think that is called living up to your obligations and keeping faith with your promises.  And I hope people in India and elsewhere in the world will recognize that Donald Trump is Donald Trump.  He’s over here.  He lost the race.  President Biden was part of the Obama administration that helped make Paris happen and now we’re going to try to help – I mean help, because every country is the key to this to make Glasgow a success. It’s a long answer for you, but it’s really important for people to understand what took place. Journalist:  Anubhuti Vishnoi, The Economic Times.  Mr. Kerry, there is renewed expectation for India to announce its net zero target.  Now is this a realistic or practical expectation given India is still a growing economy?  We are years away from hitting peak target.  Do you think it is something that can be practically expected of India? Mr. Kerry:  Do I think it could be?  Yes.  Am I sitting here saying that’s what India absolutely has to do?  No.  That wasn’t my message in my meetings with the Prime Minister.  He understands the challenge.  India understands the challenge.  It would be great if India wanted to say that, but I don’t think it’s an absolute requirement in the sense that India is doing all the things that it needs to do to get us there, then that’s better than a lot of nations.  And India right now has this plan for 450 gigawatts.  If 450 gigawatts of renewable power were able to be put in place and operative, India would be one of the few nations helping to keep 1.5 degrees alive. Now, I also emphasized earlier what’s more important than making the pledge – and we welcome the pledge.  We love to have so many make the pledge.  It’s helpful to get everybody doing it.  But what’s more important is real actions now — from 2020 to 2030 — because as I said, if you’re not one of the nations taking real actions right now, you’re not making 2050 mean anything.  That’s our challenge in the  course of the next months — is to get more people engaged in 2020 to 2030.  That’s what President Biden is trying to do with the Summit that he’s hosting where he’s asking nations to up their ambition and Paris contemplated, that is part of Paris, that we would revisit, that we would evaluate where we are, and that we would have subsequent meetings in order to raise ambition.  So this Summit is going to have the major economies of the world come together, virtually, and every head of state will have an opportunity to say what their plans are going forward.  And whether they’re raising the ambition or not.  And we think it’s critical to do so. Journalist:  Avishek Dastidar, The Indian Express.  Mr. Kerry, I want to ask something that is related obviously.  While we are having this conversation on climate,  how, globally, how important do you think is the role played by young climate activists?  And how important is it for governments to make sure that their human rights, wherever they are, human rights are safeguarded?  What I want to ask is do governments play a role in encouraging these young climate activists?  Because the context in India is that a young climate activist named Disha Ravi was recently arrested because she shared her online toolkit about some protest and she was in conversation with Greta Thunberg.  So, as a leading personality on this issue, how important do you think is the role played by government in encouraging — protecting the human rights of young climate activists? Mr. Kerry:  Human rights are always a critical issue to the United States and it’s something that we pride ourselves in trying to live up to.  We obviously have had our own internal challenges in the last few years and historically, but young people — you asked how important are young people — young people have been the key to pushing a lot of adults in the world to do what adults are supposed to do, which is get the job done.  Behave like adults.  Listen to the evidence.  Respond to the science.  Do things.  And I have great admiration for the activists who — Fridays for Future or the various movements,, you can name these groups.  The Sunrise Movement, different young people around the world have been trying to claim their future.  And I personally welcome that kind of activism.  I think it’s critical that it translates into votes where people are allowed to vote.  And in America  in the last election it did translate into votes.  For the first time that I can remember since 1970 probably, the environment, climate crisis was a voting issue.  Something that motivated people to come out and organize and vote for it.  And young people led that charge.  All around the world.  Because they know what’s happening to their world and their future if we don’t respond properly. So historically, I think when you look at the history in a lot of democracies, and even where there isn’t democracy, and you look at young people in Eastern Europe and places, who pushed back against the Soviet Union, and adult leaders too who stood up.  There is this spirit in the souls of human beings that demands freedom.  And respect.  And dignity. So this movement that we’re all involved in to deal with the climate crisis is in the end about people’s ability to be able to eat food, and live where they live, and not have to be moved because it’s too hot to live.  Or you don’t have food anymore, there’s no water.  Or climate refugees who are compelled to find a home because their home isn’t livable anymore.  That’s what’s happening. We already have climate refugees on this planet.  So I think young people more than anybody else have said, hey wait a minute, you guys are screwing this up.  You’re stealing our future.  You’ve got to stop.  And I think President Biden has heard that call.  He made this one of the key issues of his campaign.  And he has followed through by creating a special position to help organize and go out and get this done. So I think that’s where the – this is all wrapped up in that. The folks who live in a lot of countries in the world are putting less than 0.7 percent into the atmosphere, but they are often the people paying the highest price for what twenty-plus countries have done – 20 nations are 81 percent of all the emissions.  And so yes, is there a big responsibility on those people to try to step up?  You better believe it.  Yes, there is.  That’s a principle that we have carried through our negotiations since the first negotiation in Rio. But no one can use that as an excuse not to do things that they need to do.  China is the biggest emitter, we’re the second biggest emitter, India is the third biggest emitter, Russia, Indonesia, a bunch of countries follow.  And we need to therefore, all of us, join together.  Even if one of those countries went to zero tomorrow, zero emissions, if it’s just them it’s not going to make the difference that we need.  We need everybody to be heading towards zero. And it’s doable.  It’s a very exciting transformation.  That’s my message to all of you, that the economic transformation we’re looking at is gigantic.  It’s full of jobs.  Jobs for construction of the grid, jobs for new transmission, jobs to build a new solar plant, jobs to manage these things, jobs to build the solar panels, jobs to have electric vehicles.  Run the list.  Jobs to construct new buildings that are made with better materials, that are more energy efficient, that don’t demand enormous power, and so forth.  That’s the future.  And all the young people are out there pushing for that future, will have an opportunity to help define it in many different ways. I think it’s a great opportunity. I don’t doubt that we will get to a zero carbon economy.  What I’m not sure of yet, because of the lack of willpower, is whether we will get there fast enough.  That’s the challenge.  This is not some doomsday thing where we’re sitting here powerless – it’s not.  We have capacity to be able to make decisions that will resolve this crisis, and we’ve just got to behave like the adults we are, allegedly, and get it done. Thank you very much.  Thanks for coming out.  I appreciate it.

  • Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry with Raj Chengappa of India Today
    by John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate on April 8, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate New Delhi, India India Today:  Hello, I’m Raj Chengappa and we are delighted that Mr. John Kerry, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate,  is speaking exclusively to India Today on his mission to India, a very important mission, Mr. Kerry. Mr. Kerry:  Thank you. India Today:  You have met Prime Minister Modi and several key cabinet ministers and discussed your mission, which essentially is to get all nations to cut their carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.  How important is India’s role in this?  And what is the response of Prime Minister Modi to your proposals? Mr. Kerry:  Thank you, Raj.  It’s great to be with you. India’s role is crucial.  First of all, India is a leading democracy together with the United States; a huge nation, but it’s also a nation known for its humanistic values, for its connection to earth and to responsibility.  India can contribute very significantly because it is as a nation the third largest emitter – we’re the second largest, China’s the first.  So we have a special responsibility.  Between the three of us we have over 50 percent of the world’s emissions.  So even though India’s are smaller, by half, than ours, we all have to do this because no one nation can solve the problem.  Every nation has to be part of the solution.  We’re dependent on each other. More importantly, India is a great nation of innovation and entrepreneurial activity and research and development and so forth.  We believe that a partnership between the United States and India in an effort to try to accelerate the discovery of the new technologies that we need to deal with climate crisis, an effort to try to bring finance and help to do things that will accelerate Prime Minister Modi’s very aggressive and important commitment of 450 gigawatts of power over the next ten years from renewables, that’s what we need to do. India Today:  And what was Prime Minister Modi’s response when you put forward the proposal for the net zero? Mr. Kerry:  He could not have been more enthusiastic and embracing of it.  I think the Prime Minister has set, knows he has set an important goal  and the Prime Minister would like to achieve that goal.  He’s a person of action.  He wants not rhetoric but results.  So we look forward to trying to fill out this partnership and make things happen and that hopefully could be an example to others in the world. India Today:  The U.S. has been in and out of international climate — Mr. Kerry:  Mostly in. India Today:  Okay.  We’re glad you are back in.  You were out of Paris for a while. What are you all doing to rebuild the confidence?  It’s good that the Biden administration that you represent has been proactive about it, but what do you need to do to rebuild the confidence of nations that this administration is not all talk and will wiggle out of its commitments, but would really act on climate change? Mr. Kerry:  Well we need to do exactly what President Biden is doing.  The President rejoined Paris within hours of being sworn in.  The President issued executive orders requiring every aspect of his government to factor in climate in all the decisions that we make.  The President has put a very aggressive, significant piece of legislation allocating $2 trillion to building out America’s infrastructure, our energy grid, to transforming vehicles to electric vehicles, building out 500,000 charging stations in our country.  Many, many different things the President is determined to do because it creates jobs but it also has the impact of improving health, reducing pollution, and addressing the climate crisis. So the United States under President Biden’s leadership is very clear that we need to not talk about it, we need to do.  We need to act. He will announce our reduction targets at the Summit on April 22nd and we will be very aggressive in our efforts.  And I would simply emphasize to you, President Trump pulled out of the agreement but most of the governors in America stayed in it.  Most of the mayors in America stayed in it.  So even though President Trump without any science, without any real rationale decided to get out of it, the vast majority of Americans stayed in.  So we’ve been doing pretty well.  Not as good as we could have.  And we certainly sent a terrible message in these last four years.  President Biden is determined to have America step up again the way it did with the Obama-Biden administration.  Now it’s the Biden-Harris administration.  And we’re going to make up for these last four years. India Today:  Several Indian environmental agencies have said that it would be difficult for India to meet its 2050 target unless major technological changes happen in key industries, particularly in steel and cement.  Now these technologies are very expensive.  What will the U.S. do to give us the kind of green technology or the finance that will enable us to move in that direction? Mr. Kerry:  Well, what you said is true.  We can’t meet our full goals with the current level of technology and we know that and we have to be honest about that.  But we also can chase those new technologies with far more intensity than we are.  We don’t have enough money going to that challenge of these new technologies.  We’re going to try to change that.  We don’t have enough joint effort, countries working together.  That’s why I’m here, because President Biden wants India and the United States to work together to do the research and hopefully break through on some of these technologies. We’re all in this together.  I think we need an attitude of cooperation, bringing more people to the table. The UAE is interested in working with us in this endeavor to try to accelerate the possibilities of hydrogen, for instance, as fuel.  The possibilities of storage for battery power and so forth. I’m convinced we’ll get there at some point.  The challenge for us is will we get there in time?  Will we push the curve? India Today:  That’s a good point because China, for instance, says it will not meet its targets by 2050, it wants 2060.  You have somewhat of a confrontational relationship with China at the moment, America does, and so does India.  How confident are you of getting China on board on this? Mr. Kerry:  I’m hopeful.  Not confident at this point.  I’m hopeful.  Because China is a very important player in this.  China has a very big economy, the second largest in the world.  An enormous nation, powerful nation.  And we hope that China will come to the table and lead.  President Xi has talked about leadership, about China’s role in this.  We want to work with China in doing this.  What President Biden has said is, we will have our differences on some issues.  We clearly do.  So does India.  But that doesn’t mean we should ignore the crisis before all of us which requires all of us to respond and that’s the climate crisis. So we have to set aside these other things.  We can’t be the prisoners of all of these differences.  We must cooperate on climate.  I think it’s possible. China and the United States cooperated in 2013, 2014, and we were able to announce our joint efforts.  I think that helped significantly to produce Paris.  Now — India Today:  I want to come to Paris — Mr. Kerry:  — we need to work to produce Glasgow. India Today:  I want to come to Paris because there there were a lot of commitments, particularly funding.  There was a $100 billion commitment made by developed nations 2020.  That was well short of target. What are you going to do to ensure that this funding is available?  And will you start penalizing nations who don’t put their kitty in? Mr. Kerry:  I think what we need to do is work with nations to all contribute.  President Biden is going to pay the amount that President Obama had promised, which President Trump blocked.   So we will pay our arrearage but we will also, the President will make certain that we are going forward with an additional amount.  So there will be a Biden contribution to this effort and it will be commensurate with what we should be doing with the size of our economy and our nation. I believe that we will get, I hope, to the $100 billion.  I believe we will.  We’re about 80 or somewhere now.  But more importantly, we’re not going to just do the $100 billion.  That’s not enough money.  We have to come up with trillions of dollars and the only people who can do that are the private sector.  So we’re working with the largest asset managers, Raj.  We’re working with the largest banks.  Not just large.  We’re starting with the large.  We need to get everybody involved to put money on the table for investment.  Not give away.  But investment.  There’s money to be made in the deployment of new energy and there are all kinds of things that we can do to improve people’s lives, create more jobs, have better health, have greater security, all of which will come if we move in the direction of this new energy economy and I think it’s very exciting. So the President’s Summit on April 22nd.  President Biden has a Summit.  There will be heads of state there and we will try to raise ambition.  We want the world to see what each country will be pledging to try to do things.  And why?  Because 20 countries, the 20 biggest economies, equal 81 percent of all emissions.  So we want this to happen but we also want it to be just.  We want to be thoughtful and considerate of the small nations that are victims of what others have been doing for 150 years or more and we need to now respond with huge speed to fix the mistakes that we’ve made. We recognize our responsibility.  Now does that mean that we have to do it all?  No, we can’t do it all by ourselves.  Every country still has to be part of the solution.  For instance, small countries as they build out their energy, don’t go to coal.  Go to renewables.  Go to new energy.  Get a gas relationship or there are many other ways to plug your base load, but we need cooperation. India Today:  We are running out of time and a final question, what is your big message to India and the world with regard to climate change and to save planet Earth? Mr. Kerry:  My big message is that India can play a critical role.  It is a nation with huge intellectual resource, with great spirit and spiritual resource.  If the people, the citizens of India apply themselves to this it will happen. The challenge for all of us is how fast?  We have to do this quickly.  We have to be committed.  And India is a critical partner together with the other bigger economies and bigger emitters.  We have to come together to make sure our children and grandchildren and future generations get a planet back that’s in better shape than it is today.  We really need to get to work to make that happen. India Today:  Thank you, John Kerry.  We wish you all success in your mission. Mr. Kerry:  Wish us success. India Today:  We do.  Thank you. Mr. Kerry:  It’s our mission. India Today:  Of course. Mr. Kerry:  Thank you. India Today:  Thank you very much.

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