- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The U.S. and India said Tuesday they will move to complete a global climate change agreement by the end of this year, well aware that Donald Trump has vowed to pull the U.S. out of President Obama’s legacy-building pact if he’s elected in November.

During an Oval Office meeting, Mr. Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated their commitment to the international climate change agreement reached in Paris last year that has a goal of reducing carbon emissions in 175 nations.

Mr. Modi said India, whose participation was considered critical to a successful climate accord, would ratify the Paris climate agreement this year, helping to push the pact over the threshold for implementation.

The move gives momentum to the pact ahead of the U.S. presidential election. Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has promised to “cancel” the agreement if he is elected. Hillary Clinton, who’s virtually certain to be the Democratic nominee, supports the agreement.

The climate agreement will go into effect 30 days after 55 nations, representing 55 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, ratify it. China is the world’s top producer of greenhouse gases; the U.S. and India rank second and third.

Mr. Modi, who will address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, said through a translator that he wants “to achieve our dream of climate justice” with “my friend Obama.”

The agreement’s language would make it difficult for the U.S. to back out of the deal after it goes into effect, although Mr. Trump wants to roll back many of the administration’s environmental regulations that the White House says will enable the U.S. to meet the pollution reduction goals of the pact. Mr. Obama has pledged to cut U.S. carbon emissions 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

To date, more than 35 nations have said they intend to ratify the agreement.

“I think we are better positioned than we ever have been to reach the goal of 55 percent of emissions and 55 countries by the end of this year, and I think this statement should provide significant additional momentum toward this global push,” said Brian Deese, the White House climate adviser.

The agreement is governed by United Nations rules; it’s not considered a treaty under traditional U.S. standards. Mr. Obama can commit the U.S. to the goals without congressional approval, while Mr. Modi needs his Cabinet to sanction the deal.

The Obama administration also announced a deal Tuesday for Westinghouse to build six nuclear-powered commercial reactors in India, a project to be financed by the U.S. Export-Import Bank. The administration said the nuclear deal culminates a decade of negotiations between the two countries, including a major civilian nuclear accord negotiated under President George W. Bush in 2005.

“Once completed, the project would be among the largest of its kind, fulfilling the promise of the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement and demonstrating a shared commitment to meet India’s growing energy needs while reducing reliance on fossil fuels,” the White House said.

Contracts for the project are to be completed by June 2017. Westinghouse CEO Danny Roderick told Reuters last month that India’s efforts to develop a $220 million insurance program to cover supplier liability for nuclear plants would pave the way for the agreement.

With Delhi looming ever larger in U.S. security calculations as China continues its rise, Mr. Obama and Mr. Modi also announced that the U.S. will recognize India as a “major defense partner,” a status that will result in sharing military technology with other allies.

“A key priority for both of us is how to promote economic prosperity and opportunity, and poverty alleviation for our people,” Mr. Obama said as their meeting started. “We continue to discuss a wide range of areas where we can cooperate more effectively in order to promote jobs, promote investment, promote trade, and promote greater opportunities for our people, particularly young people, in both of our countries.”

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