James Steinberg: India and the US must work together now to halt climate change

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The Independent Online

The real test of the relationship between the US and India will be how we work together on the great common challenges of our era – strengthening the global trade and investment system, addressing transnational threats like nuclear weapons proliferation, terrorism and pandemic disease, and meeting the urgent danger that is posed by climate change.

As great powers, together we have an obligation to help produce what we at least former academics call global public goods, to pursue an enlightened version of self interest that recognises that individual nations will only thrive if we all thrive, and that to build the institutions of cooperation, we need to facilitate common efforts to meet challenges. Whether at the UN, the World Trade Organisation, or the Conference of Disarmament, we have a responsibility to eschew rhetoric in favour of forward-looking, practical solutions to the great issues of our time.

We'll begin this work next week in London, where the G20 leaders will meet to discuss how to address both the near-term and systemic challenges posed by the global financial crisis, and where President Obama and Prime Minister Sing will have a chance to meet face to face to share views. It is vital that together we take steps to foster growth, enhance transparent regulation, and keep our markets open to global trade. Later this year, the world will come together in Copenhagen to consider the next steps in addressing climate change.

The United States and India are at different stages of development and India's overall share of greenhouse gas emissions is small compared to the United States and other leading emitters. I'm delighted that India's Special Envoy on Climate Change, Shyam Saran, is here in Washington this week and will be talking to you later this morning. We look forward to engaging with him on this important issue. The United States is committed to putting in place a mandatory plan to cut our own emissions.

India, too, has a responsibility to play a leadership role in helping to bring about a consensus that brings both developed and developing countries into a global framework.

This is an extract from the address by James Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State at the US State Department, at the Brookings Institute on Tuesday