As Deadly Floods Hit India, Kerry Calls on New Delhi to Address Climate Change

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Anindito Mukherjee / REUTERS

A boy sits on a ladder next to his flooded house with the rising water level of river Yamuna after heavy monsoon rains in New Delhi June 19, 2013.

It was a fitting time to talk about the weather. With some 700 dead in the massive floods that have hit the northeastern state of Uttarakhand, new torrents of rain and landslides put rescue efforts on hold on Monday. At least 10,000 people are reported to still be stranded in some of the worst monsoon flooding in years in the region, an unfolding disaster that provided a dramatic backdrop for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry‘s two-day visit to India this week in which he called on the nation to be a more active partner in helping the U.S. battling climate change.

After expressing his condolences to the flood victims, Kerry said in a speech in New Delhi on Sunday night that the U.S. had donated $150,000 to the flood relief effort — “not the highest sum in the world,” he admitted, but “a beginning.” He went on to warn India not to dismiss the deadly intensity of the floods as a one-off tragedy. “Perhaps Mother Nature in her own way is telling us to heed some warnings,” Kerry said before a packed auditorium. “Today the science of climate change is screaming at us for action.”

(PHOTOS: Rains spark floods, landslides in northern India.)

How to handle global climate change mitigation has been a sore point between the nations in the past. India, one of the fastest-growing greenhouse emitters, has argued for years that developing economies should not be held to the same standards of reducing emissions as developed countries, and that the imperative to develop and reduce poverty should trump India’s committing to emissions targets. India’s emissions per capita is a fraction of that of the U.S. India and other nations have backed down from refusing all targets, they have continued to emphasize that the global strategy for addressing climate change be based on equitable growth. “I fully sympathize with the notion that India’s paramount commitment to development and eradicating poverty is essential,” Kerry said. “But we have to recognize that a collective failure to meet our collective climate challenge would inhibit all countries’ dreams of growth and development.”

This is not Kerry’s first rodeo in India. In 2008, Kerry worked the Senate to get support for then President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s nuclear deal, which opened India’s civil nuclear facilities up to IAEA inspections and, in turn, paved the way for greater civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries. The agreement came at a time when tighter U.S.-India ties made a lot of sense to both parties in the shadow of China’s ascension on the world stage. In 2009, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began the India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue, an important if slightly wonky recognition of the common interests the two countries share. During his visit, Kerry continued these talks with the Prime Minister and with India’s current Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid.

Ahead of the visit, observers in both countries expressed concerns that the bilateral relationship has grown stagnant or hung up on disagreements over trade issues. In an article published by India Ink on Monday, Khurshid wrote that the same friction that has arisen between India and the U.S. over the climate change issue — that the same rules do not necessarily apply to countries at such different stages of economic development — applies to other areas too, alluding, perhaps, to tensions over an Indian court ruling allowing India’s pharmaceutical industry to make a generic copy of a drug patented abroad. He writes:

The challenge before us is to reconcile competing self-interests and combine them into enlightened mutual interest…We both have constraints of democracy, which are exacerbated by the different levels of development and corresponding demands of our respective economies, societies and people. For instance, India at the moment is relatively low on carbon emissions. But those will increase as we address the developmental needs of our people, unless adequately provided to adapt to low-emission technology that is obviously costly. Developing countries like India expect that the United States and other developed countries will agree to binding targets to cut emissions, having had the advantage of several centuries of development. This competing logic applies to many sectors. The solutions lie in our mutual convergence at a middle ground.

Kerry, at least when it comes to climate change, indicated that the two nations may not have the luxury of time to find that middle ground. While he said that the U.S. respects India’s prioritization of reducing poverty, he also did not give India much of a break, pointing out that the number of Indians without electricity is roughly equal to the population of the United States. Aggressively combating climate change and reducing energy poverty, he said, are interconnected. And as one of the most vulnerable countries to changing weather patterns, as the disaster in Uttarakhand has put on stark display, Kerry warned that India has a lot to lose for not taking swift action. “The worst consequences of the climate crisis,” he said, “will confront people who are the least able to be able to cope with them.”

44 comments
luisbaram
luisbaram

@Bentler India is the last country on Earth that will be able to reduce its emissions. FIRST it will need to reduce its population.

santhoshrca
santhoshrca

@TIME Kerry "addresses India"? And how many Indians bothered to listen to this clown ?

dealnsteal
dealnsteal

@TIME Yes. and the same applies with the Oklahoma and Katrina hurricanes. The US isn't exactly immune so can't lecture to other countries

airdog64
airdog64

@TIME future proof could be exodus somewhere between a witch being burned and shadow boxing a tax collector. SUN TZU payback.

ConnieVanWyk
ConnieVanWyk

@TIME Instead of addressing climate change ppl should rather turn to the Living God 4 these are the Signs of the Times He spoke of in LUKE21

ConnieVanWyk
ConnieVanWyk

@TIME Instead of addressing climate changes people should turn to the Living God for these are Signs of the Times as He spoke of in Luke!

vice15
vice15

@TIME Kerry could have been a lil more thoughtful & announced some relief aid in addition to calling for addressing climate change

initink
initink

@TIME @TIME Kerry should call on New Delhi to feed it's citizens first. Only then they can be saved from floods. @TIMEWorld

BringItOnLoser9
BringItOnLoser9

@TIME @TIMEWorld Kerry needs to talk about climate change in US. Or wait, one party thinks its a myth. Damn there goes the plan!!!

__EatTheRich__
__EatTheRich__

@TIME @TIMEWorld I guess we shouldn't do anything about it here in the states. The corporations certainly have your best interests in mind..

SenJaffer
SenJaffer

@TIME is Kerry going to call Canada as he has done India to address climate change

MikeKelter
MikeKelter

I'm having a little difficulty believing that so-called Global Warming (which theoretically distributes less than 0.6 watts per square meter over the surface of the planet) is a more important foreign policy issue that Iranian nuclear weapons in the neighborhood that can distribute 1 megaton warheads (with a theoretical yield of 4.1 quadrillion watts exploding in the confines of major Indian cities).

These guys in this Administration don't have their heads screwed on really well, do they?

13411Fahad
13411Fahad

@FShirin most to deny the Pakistani population electricity, which of course means less CO2 in the atmosphere.

13411Fahad
13411Fahad

@FShirin India? not Pakistan, I'm surprised Zardari/N Sharif r nt marketing themselves as environmentalists. They have done more than most

rich10e
rich10e

Yeah stop believing! “@TIME: John Kerry addresses India after floods: 'Today the science of climate change is screaming at us for action'

NYC_Infidel
NYC_Infidel

@TIME because India never had bad floods before industrialization

akbarallyismail
akbarallyismail

this is pure double standard. They went for war in Iraq, Libya so that they control their oil, now they care about Climate Change and particularly an emerging industrializes country like India. Now they want to Stop Iran, Pakistan, India pipeline deal.  humm nice move Kerry but we are not fool.

1 If you want change for India, First change your capitalism System who is control by Capitalist Elite, this will avoid you recession

2 Stop attacking countries and control their oil by supporting dictators or pro western puppets.



JackWolf
JackWolf

I think it takes gall to ask them to limit greenhouse gases when the US emissions account for about 25% of total global emissions to date.

ddcannady
ddcannady

Wherever there are dead bodies to stand upon to spew their propaganda and further their agenda, Democrats will be there.

IdonwannaTellya
IdonwannaTellya

Apparently, John Kerry doesn't realize that India has had flooding before Al Gore invented "climate change"...

n3angus
n3angus

Lets talk  about the seriousness of the Administration's Green Policies , If the Obama Administration is so GREEN then why are they allowing this Pesticide to be used like this killing off the BEES ? Without Bees plants die and carbon sequester with it , so wheres the out cry over this use of Pesticide by the USDA , EPA ???  For crying out loud the USDA approves this Pesticide !!!!!

More than 150 Bee Colonies Wiped Out in Oregon From Pesticides

Read more: http://naturalsociety.com/150-bee-colonies-wiped-out-oregon-pesticides/#ixzz2X8yU4bfF

DavidNutzuki
DavidNutzuki


After 28 years of science ONLY agreeing it COULD be a crisis and NEVER saying it *WILL be a crisis there comes a time when we ultimately must judge for ourselves if this CO2 death threat for billions of helpless children is real or not as 28 more years of “maybe” a crisis is unsustainable.
Scientists have children so why don’t they end this debate and agree on giving a real warning of a real crisis?
*Science has agreed climate change is real and is happening and could (nothing more) be a real crisis as not one single IPCC warning says it WILL be a crisis and not one IPCC warning is not swimming in “maybes”.
And get up to date:
*Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by politicians.
*Canada killed Y2Kyoto with a freely elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (a comet hit).
*Julian Assange is of course a climate change denier.
*Obama had not mentioned the crisis in two State of the Unions addresses.

MichaelFRivero
MichaelFRivero

Ten years ago the global warming 'Carbonazis' were screaming that snow was a thing of the past due to human-caused global warming. We have had several record-setting winters in a row including this last one. And when that much snow falls in winter, then melts in spring, you get FLOODING! At the very most generous, we can say that the so-called climate scientists funded by Al Gore and his cohorts to 'prove' global warming were flat-out wrong in their prognostications. At the very least generous, we can say that the so-called climate scientists were funded by Al Gore and his cohorts to 'prove' global warming!

Bentler
Bentler

@luisbaram innumerable reasons why changing isn't possible. As a dad, I'll push for momentum and argue for what's doable.

MbasuCNN
MbasuCNN

I agree but here is the lede: "It was a fitting time to talk about the weather"@sauravj Doesn't seem to be great timing. @TIMEWorld

JackWolf
JackWolf

@ddcannady As a republican in good standing, that comment is rude, unhelpful, and dismissive of a vast body of science.

JackWolf
JackWolf

@IdonwannaTellya It was referring to the heat shedding of CME energy in the thermosphere, whereas we are live in the troposphere.  Here, CO2 retains the heat from long wave radiation emitted from earth.

Warning to the denialists - it's getting hot in here, and as a group, you are looking increasing foolish..

JackWolf
JackWolf

@n3angus The administration doesn't have green policies regardless of what they say.  After all, why should we believe them now especially with non-green initiatives like fracking and ethanol. 

ddcannady
ddcannady

I am not dismissing any science, I am making an observation of the behavior of Democrat politicians. I am not a Republican and my opinion of them is nearly as low. Our political system has been overrun by con-artists and spineless unprincipled panderers. They miss being outright criminals only through their own legislative

IdonwannaTellya
IdonwannaTellya

@JoeWatchesTV  @MichaelFRivero

I have a better idea there Joe. How about referring to a reputable site such as NASA instead of dummies.com? You should learn a little about atmospheric CO2 and what it does instead of regurgitating ignorant scientific tripe like so many other climate nutjobs... Try this on for size Einstein... http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2012/22mar_saber/ 

Here's a quote - “Carbon dioxide and nitric oxide are natural thermostats,” explains James Russell of Hampton University, SABER’s principal investigator.  “When the upper atmosphere (or ‘thermosphere’) heats up, these molecules try as hard as they can to shed that heat back into space.” 

If you had a clue, you'd realize higher CO2 levels would actually shed MORE of the sun's energy back into space, therefore cooling our planet. But that would require logic and actual scientific research... something you're not going to find at dummies.com...