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U.S. Leadership in Climate Change Starts with India

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks on the U.S.-India strategic partnership in New Delhi, India.

Editor’s note: In an excerpt from his book Still Ours to Lead, Bruce Jones argues that supporting clean energy growth in India offers the U.S. a starting point for addressing climate change. Read the full excerpt at Policy Options, and a summary below.

India presents a prime example for how the United States must engage with climate change and energy. As a developing and energy-poor country, Indian leaders face strong temptations to use carbon-based fuels in their search for economic growth and energy prosperity. However, India cannot avoid the effects of carbon emissions as it faces the reality of a changing climate. If the country wants to grow, reduce poverty and avoid severe climate costs at the same time, it has to engage with the West to move away from carbon-based fuels. The U.S. has a strong opportunity to support green energy growth in India, and in so doing, improve its own strategic position and the future stability of our climate.

The U.S. cannot stop there; it will also have to take the lead in creating new arrangements for energy security at the global level. There are several options on the table, suggested by leading climate scholars, and although these proposals may be based on different principles and policies, they all align on three critical points: they begin with the most important economies and work their way outward, they require diplomatic innovation and they need the leadership of the United States.

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