Remarks Following ITC Green Building Tour and Discussion
Secretary of State
I also deem it an honor to welcome Mr. Jairam Ramesh, the honorable minister of environment and forests in the government of India. Your vision of sustainable and inclusive growth provides deep inspiration to all of us at ITC.
A very warm welcome to Special Envoy Mr. Stern and the distinguished visitors from the United States.
The ITC Green Center, one of the world's first largest green buildings to get a platinum green rating, is a manifestation ITC's larger commitment to sustainable development, a commitment that has made ITC the only company in the world to be carbon positive, water positive, and solid waste recycling positive: the three major global environmental distinctions.
ITC's business strategy to (inaudible) practices have also created livelihood opportunities for five million people in India, most of whom represent the lesser privileged in society.
Madam Secretary, your visit today gives us enormous encouragement to stay the course on a path that we have consciously chosen, a path that we believe will make the future more secure and sustainable for generations to come.
May I take this opportunity to thank all of you who made the green aspiration a reality, especially our partners, the USA and CII, India's Green Building Council? A special word of thanks to the U.S. embassy in India for their continued support. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for being with us on this special day.
May I now request Secretary Clinton and Special Envoy Stern to please come on stage?
MODERATOR: It is now my privilege to request the honorable minister to come on stage and share his views.
MR. RAMESH: Madam Secretary of State, Special Envoy Todd Stern, ladies and gentlemen, we have just heard about (inaudible) of a very fruitful and animated discussion between an Indian -- cross-section of Indian professionals in the climate change and energy efficiency area and the visiting delegation led by Madam Secretary of State.
We spoke about cooperation in the field of environmental management, planning and regulation. We spoke about cooperation in the field of energy efficiency. And we also touched upon the ongoing negotiations on climate change, where there is much in common between the U.S. and India.
Both of us are painfully aware of the global effects of climate change. Both of us want a meaningful agreement to be reached at Copenhagen in December of this year, an agreement underpinned by greater flows of national capital and technology cooperation. We have our own perspectives. Negotiations will resume on the negotiating (inaudible) in Bonn early next month. And I am sure the negotiation process will be taken forward.
But both of us reiterated our commitment to arriving at an agreement in Copenhagen that takes note of the (inaudible) of doing something quickly, but also takes note of the special concerns of countries like India, for continuing with their part of economic growth and the objective of poverty eradication.
I think this has been a good beginning. We will continue our discussions, both in multilateral forums and in bilateral forums. Both Madam Secretary of State and I have discussed the desirability of having an engagement between the United States and India, not only in the field of climate change, but in the larger area of environmental management and forestry, I might add, because India is perhaps the only country in the world today to be launching a $3 billion program for regenerating and restoring her forests.
And as I mentioned to Madam Secretary, today forest area in India is roughly the size of Texas, and we know how large Texas is. And in the next six years we will be bringing another 15 million acres of land under forests. So, for us, forestry, which is a very large, common (inaudible), and this is a view shared by Madam Secretary of State and her colleagues, as well.
So, we have made a good beginning, given a small step today. We will continue our engagement in multilateral forums, at (inaudible). But we will also have bilateral engagement. We will discuss our common concerns. And, most importantly, we will launch a number of partnerships between the U.S. and India in various fields. I have made some specific proposals to Madam Secretary of State.
I have a prepared text which my media friends can have access to after the press conference. I don't want to get into that, but all I want to say is I think both sides have agreed on the need for partnerships, concrete partnerships, project-oriented partnerships in various fields like energy efficiency, clean coal, solar energy, (inaudible), biomass, energy efficient buildings of the kind which you are seeing here today.
So, once again, I want to thank Madam Secretary of State for her invitation, for having this interaction this afternoon. And I am sure that this goes well for not only the larger relationship with India and the U.S., but also in the fields of sustainable development, environmental management, and forestry, as well. Thank you.
MR. STERN: Thank you very much. First of all, thanks to ITC and everybody who is hosting us here. It's really a magnificent building. I want to thank Dipak Haksar, of course, Minister Ramesh, everybody who participated in the conversation we just had. I entirely agree with the characterization the minister just gave. It was a very constructive, open conversation, and I think (inaudible), as well.
And I think it's also fitting, by the way, that we have government and private sector collaborating together today, because it's going to be absolutely crucial, as we go forward, to try to address this challenge.
Let me just make a few very brief points. First, we really do face both a great challenge and a great opportunity here, a challenge because the threat of climate change becomes more stark with every passing year, and scientists -- including, very notably, India's own Nobel Prize winner, Rajendra Pachauri -- increasingly warned of the risk not just of worse and worse conditions, but of even catastrophic conditions.
We also have an enormous opportunity, because of transformation to a low-carbon economy, to be a driver for 21st century growth. India, with its knowledge base and its entrepreneurial talents and elan is well positioned to be a winner. I spent a terrific afternoon yesterday in Mumbai, meeting with some Indian entrepreneurs, and I came away just extremely impressed by the dynamism, vision, and pragmatism with which they approached this issue.
The second point is that we in the United States absolutely know that we have a special responsibility, as the largest historic emitter of greenhouse gases, and we are taking strong action, in light of that responsibility.
Third, no one can doubt India's profound challenge with respect to eradicating poverty and developing, and no one has a right to ask that India sacrifice that imperative. And that's absolutely not what we are doing.
It is still true that over 80 percent of the growth in emissions as we go forward is going to come from developing nations like India and others. And so, we must find a way to grow on a low-carbon path. The truth is that the only way for development to be truly sustainable, going forward from where we are right now, is for that development to be low-carbon development. There is no other way.
So, the message -- and I think the minister articulated it very well -- is that we must work together. We in the United States are extremely interested in doing that.
One of the things that gives me the most optimism in working on this very difficult problem is the extraordinary leadership of President Obama and his administration. And nowhere is this more evident than at the Department of State, where Secretary Clinton is demonstrating her own brand of smart power all around the world, and is bringing her own singular intelligence and commitment to bear on this issue. So it gives me great pleasure, indeed, now to introduce the Secretary of State of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Todd, and thanks to all of you for making us feel so welcome, once again, here in this historic capital, and particularly in this remarkable building. As you notice, other than the lights that are up there for the television cameras, there are no lights on. And there are so many features of this building that really demonstrate the viability of the kind of low-carbon but very attractive and efficient approach to saving energy and doing it in a way that, as we heard, saves water and solid waste, and certainly lowers the carbon footprint.
I want to join in thanking the minister and all who participated in our discussion. I thought it was extremely helpful, and I am particularly grateful to the minister for his presentation and recommendation of the three specific ways that the United States and India can work together. And I told him that we will immediately be following up on that.
I want to thank Mr. Haksar from ITC, and all who are associated with ITC, and Chairman Jain of the Indian Green Building Council, along with all of you who care deeply about this issue.
I am also pleased to be accompanied by our new ambassador from the United States to India, Ambassador Tim Roemer.
The tour that we have, the information that we were given, certainly underscores the importance of the ITC commitment and the partners who work with ITC. And then, the conversation that we had with representatives of the Indian government reinforces the commitment that India is making.
We know that there are wonderful monuments throughout India, from the India gates to the Taj Mahal, and so many others. But today we are at another Indian monument. The ITC Green Center may not be a regular stop on the tourist map, and no one would confuse it with the Taj Mahal. But it is a monument in its own right. It is a monument to the future. And that is the most important monument.
SECRETARY CLINTON: This Green Center not only represents the promise of a green economy, it demonstrates the importance of partnership between India and the United States in the 21st century.
We often talk about our democracy, the oldest continuing democracy and the world's largest democracy. We want to show that democracies deliver. And that is what both the United States and India are committed to doing.
As we were taking the tour, I saw many posters that illustrated the steps that ITC is taking to do so much in reforesting, and in putting people to work in sustainable ways. And I also saw a picture of two people I know very well, my husband and my daughter, because when Bill and Chelsea were here on that memorable State visit in 2000, he witnessed the signing of the U.S.-India framework agreement on clean energy. And that agreement led the establishment of the Indian Green Building Council, which contributed to the flourishing green building movement across India. In collaboration with India, the United States government and the United States Green Building Council were instrumental in helping to bring this building to fruition. And today the Green Center is one of 11 buildings in India that has earned the elite platinum designation, the highest you can get.
SECRETARY CLINTON: How India and the United States can amplify this partnership and work together to devise a comprehensive, strategic approach to climate change and a clean energy future is an important topic of my trip. We discussed it yesterday with business leaders in Mumbai. We discussed it today with leaders from both the Indian government and Indian businesses. And it will, of course, be on my agenda for the meetings that I will have, starting tomorrow.
The times we live in demand nothing less than a total commitment. The statistics are there for everyone to see. And as both of our nations reaffirmed at the Major Economies Forum just recently held in Italy, and moderated by President Obama, we need a successful outcome in Copenhagen later this year.
Now, President Obama, Special Envoy Stern, and I are under no illusion that this will be easy, because the challenge is to create a global framework that recognizes the different needs and responsibilities of developed and developing countries alike. And I not only understand, but I agree with the concern of countries like India. The United States and other countries that have been the biggest historic emitters of greenhouse gases should shoulder the biggest burden for cleaning up the environment and reducing our carbon footprint. And certainly President Obama has put our country on the path to doing that.
And no one wants to in any way stall or undermine the economic growth that is necessary to lift millions of more people out of poverty. So, I want to make two points as clearly as I can.
First, the United States does not and will not do anything that would limit India's economic progress. We believe that economic progress in India is in everyone's interest, not just India's. To lift people out of poverty and to give every child born in India a chance to live up to his or her God-given potential is a goal that we share with you. But we also believe that there is a way to eradicate poverty and develop sustainably that will lower significantly the carbon footprint of the energy that is produced and consumed to fuel that growth.
And secondly, we in the United States, under the Obama administration, are recognizing our responsibility and taking action. So, therefore, addressing climate change and achieving economic growth, in our view, are compatible goals. And we know, as we look at the forecast of rising sea levels and changing rainfall and melting glaciers that India is a country very vulnerable to climate change. But it is also a country most likely to benefit from clean energy policies that are key to economic sustainability in the 21st century.
So, that is why I am very confident -- and even more so after the discussion we just had, led by the minister -- that the United States and India can devise a plan that will dramatically change the way we produce, consume, and conserve energy. And, in the process, start an explosion of new investments and millions of jobs. India already has the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, the knowledge base to be a big winner if we feed these opportunities of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Now, certainly the business leaders with whom I have spoken are talking about how the private sector can play a role, along with government. Just consider the potential here. If all new buildings were designed to the same standards as the ITC Green Center is, we could eventually cut global energy use and greenhouse pollution by more than 20 percent, and save money at the same time.
SECRETARY CLINTON: We need to scale up our efforts. We need to move from the smart design of individual green buildings to the smart design of whole communities to the retrofitting of buildings and communities, which will then lead to cities and countries.
While improving energy efficiency is critical, it is only half the battle. We also need to accelerate efforts to bring clean power to the people of India by expanding the use of renewable energy, particularly for rural electrification, so that hundreds of millions of men, women, and children will have real energy options.
India is already demonstrating a commitment to renewable energy in wind energy and in plans for scaling up solar manufacturing and power production and solar lantern programs to bring light to rural villages. And the economy is benefitting, as Indian solar companies such as Tata BP, Titan Energy, and others respond.
There is no question that developed countries like mine must lead on this issue. And for our part, under President Obama, we are not only acknowledging our contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, we are taking steps to reverse its ill effects. We passed a stimulus bill through our congress where we are investing now $80 billion in clean energy technology. And we have set ambitious new vehicle fuel economy standards.
At the State Department we have just established a new program that will link some of our West Coast cities with Indian and Chinese cities to help transfer clean energy technology. And we have taken up our own green diplomacy initiative, which means our embassies, the ones we build, all of those that we currently have in operation, are going to have to become greener.
And, above all, the President has committed to passing a law that has already passed through one house of our congress that will deal with significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. But it is essential for major developing countries like India to also lead. Because over 80 percent of the growth in future emissions will be from developing countries.
Now, China is, by far, the largest emitter in the world right now, and certainly the largest among developing countries. But India's own greenhouse gas pollution is projected to grow by about 50 percent between now and 2030. So, climate change would not be solved even if developed countries stopped emitting greenhouse gas emissions today, unless action is taken across the world. So we have to work together. And I was very heartened, and I agree with the minister's comment that we must achieve an agreement in Copenhagen that is equal to the task.
I will find inspiration from the ITC Green Center, this monument for the future. It uses half as much energy as conventional buildings, and energy savings means that it will pay back its additional up-front costs in only six years.
So, this building is a model of environmental stewardship and economic development, all wrapped up in one. And it is an inspiration. And it will keep us going through the long days and nights of actually hammering out an agreement, one that is fair and understanding, and doesn't sacrifice economic progress, one that we will be proud of, and one that we will then be able to tell our children in generations to come, "When the crisis was upon us, we took action, and we took it together."
Thank you all very much.
MR. KULKARNI: Madam Secretary, my question (inaudible) ask you a question.
Is the U.S. satisfied with steps taken by Pakistan in (inaudible) Mumbai attacks?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you know, I answered that question several times yesterday in Mumbai, and I will say again today that we are certainly watching and expecting that there will be justice, and that those who launched the horrific attacks in Mumbai will meet their day of reckoning.
As you know, I stayed at the Taj Hotel, and sent a message that we will not be intimidated by or in any way deterred by terrorists. And I met with a number of the employees who had been directly affected, some injured, some actually losing colleagues and family members in the attack. And I would only reiterate what I said, and that is we expect every nation to take action against terrorism. And we are watching and expecting that that will occur.
MR. LANDER: Madam Secretary, Mr. Ramesh, a question for both of you, actually.
The Indian government has made it clear that they have deep reservations about accepting mandatory caps or cuts in emissions as part of the negotiations now underway. My question is, can you envision a framework in which India could sign on to a global deal that would not include compulsory caps or cuts, and therefore would not, in the Indian argument, impede their economic growth and rising prosperity?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I certainly can. And I think we had a very fruitful discussion today. We are not sitting down and writing the framework, but we have many more areas of agreement than perhaps has been appreciated. And what we're looking for is a way to have a framework that includes everyone, and which demands certain steps. But there will be a lot of discussion about how we devise that framework.
As I said in reference to the minister's remarks at our roundtable discussion, there are some specific recommendations which he has made today that are very promising. And the broad-based discussion we had was very enlightening, at least for me. I will just give you one example.
One of the participants pointed out that it's rather odd to talk about climate change and what we must do to stop and prevent the ill effects without talking about population and family planning. That was an incredibly important point. And yet, we talk about these things in very separate and often unconnected ways.
So, I think that the insight that India brings to the table about the challenge our planet faces are extremely important, and we're going to work through a lot of the issues. Todd Stern will be having a meeting with the minister on Tuesday. They will get down into the weeds on a lot of this. But I am very heartened by our capacity to work together and come up with a framework.
MR. RAMESH: All I can say is that India already has a national action plan of climate change which was unveiled last year. And that action plan is overwhelmingly oriented towards programs and projects that will enable India to adapt to the effects of climate change. But it also has very specific and very pointed policies oriented towards mitigating emissions.
So, it is not fair to say -- as we said in the newspaper today, this morning, it is not fair to say that India is running away from the issue. India is not running away from it. India has been saying that its primary focus will be adaptation. But there are specific areas where we are already in a policy framework (inaudible) mitigation, which means actual reduction of emissions.
So, whether that will convert into legally binding emission (inaudible) is the real question. And India's position is -- I would like to make it clear that India's position is that we are simply not in a position to take on legally binding emission reduction (inaudible). Now, that does not mean that we are oblivious of our responsibilities for ensuring that (inaudible) emission of greenhouse gases that both Ambassador Stern, (inaudible), and Madam Secretary Clinton spoke about. We are fully conscious of that. Energy efficiency is a very fundamental driver of our economic strategy.
India is not (inaudible), but the enormous work it is doing on forestry. We have made specific proposals in the paper which I have been discussing with Special Envoy Todd Stern on giving credit for countries that India could actually -- in the business of expanding forest cover, and not just arresting deforestation.
So, I think I agree with Madam Secretary of State that this (inaudible) responsible, to have an international agreement that recognizes common but different shaped responsibilities, which is the language of the (inaudible) convention, and that also involves credible action by countries like India and China to mitigate greenhouse gas emission for the future. I think it is possible.
(Inaudible) between now and December in multilateral forums and in bilateral forums. This defines the (inaudible) of engagement that India's 80 percent growth and 90 percent growth is not going to create havoc, as far as global warming is concerned. We are committed to clean energy. We are committed to following a consumption factor that is sensitive to climate change (inaudible).
And I (inaudible) somewhat colorfully that I meant every word that I said, that for us GDP is not gross domestic product, but green domestic product. The days of looking at GDP as gross domestic product are over. We have to look at it as green domestic product.
MR. STERN: I just want to add -- I very much appreciate the comments the minister just made, but I just want to add a word. Caps can mean different things to different people, and I don't want to have any misunderstanding.
In the Major Economies Forum in Italy a week ago there was the -- a countries agreed to a declaration which basically lays out a framework in which developed countries would agree to actions that would result in absolute reductions of their emissions, a given baseline. And developing countries agreed to take actions that would result in a meaningful deviation of their emissions from the so-called business-as-usual. So, in other words, a reduction, a reduction of what they would otherwise do.
So, that is basically the framework in which we're operating. And I have run into confusion before with uses of the word "cap," and I don't want there to be any. The notion is for developed countries to reduce their emissions against absolute baselines, and for developing countries to reduce against a business-as-usual (inaudible).
MR. ROSEN: Thank you both. As it happens, my question was also answered in your remarks, Madam Secretary, so (inaudible) question, if you would.
You have spoken many times, both before and during this trip, about the -- about how positively impressed the Obama administration has been by the "new attitude of the Pakistani leadership" toward combating the (inaudible) al-Qaeda in their own country and along their borders. I wonder, however, with that said, how serious your concerns are about the Pakistani intelligence service's ongoing collusion with the terrorist elements inside Pakistan.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as I have said, we have seen an evolving commitment, not only by the Pakistani government, but also by the Pakistani people, and a recognition that terrorism within any country is a threat to that country.
And so, over the last six months, in the course of working with the government of Pakistan, we believe that there is a commitment to fighting terrorism that permeates the entire government. And that is what our expectation is, as well. We expect it, we talk about it at all levels of our government: military, civilian, intelligence. And I also have sent messages very directly to the Pakistani people that this is in the interest of Pakistan, the future stability and security of Pakistan.
So, we are watching it, and we obviously hope that they will make progress against what is a syndicate of terrorism. Al-Qaeda, Taliban, and many other terrorist organizations are connected in a way that is equally troubling to us, and I know to India, but it also now is troubling to Pakistan.
MR. ROSEN: But specifically on the --
SECRETARY CLINTON: I have said all I am going to say on this issue.
MR. MUKHERJEE: (Inaudible) strategic conferences with India. Again, my question goes back to the issue of (inaudible). Now (inaudible) administration (inaudible). So is the Obama administration willing to take a re-look at the (inaudible) in a proper way?
SECRETARY CLINTON: There is no country in the world that is more committed to ending the scourge of terrorism than the United States. We have suffered from the effects of 9/11. We have sent young men and women in our military to die in our struggle against the terrorists who attacked us. And we expect every country to stand against the scourge of terrorism.
This is not limited to any one country, it is an expectation that we have for every country, because we think the networking of terrorists across our globe, as we saw just recently in Jakarta, is a threat to all peace loving people, particularly in democracies like India, the United States, Indonesia, and others, who are targeted by the terrorists for the very fact that we are living free and independent lives in sovereign, stable nations.
So, our view is very broad. And we expect every country -- and we have made that very clear to every country, that the fight against terrorism is not just the United States, it's not just India, it's not just Europe. It's everyone's responsibility. So I can't be any clearer than that.
Are we always satisfied with the response we get? Of course not. But that doesn't mean we are going to say we are not going to keep trying. The threat of terrorism is one that we think about and that I work on every single day. It is one that we increasingly coordinate with our counterparts in India about, sharing information, looking for ways that we can each be more effective, both in protecting our people -- because, you know being a terrorist is very easy. Think about it. It doesn't take very much to put together an explosion. It is certainly, unfortunately, too easy to find people who are misguided enough to be willing to participate in that. It doesn't even come close to the kind of effort that it took to build a building.
And so, therefore, we have to join together. And we are working to make sure that every government sees it as we do, because we happen to believe that terrorism anywhere is a threat to all of us everywhere, and that there is no way to give safe haven to terrorists without putting yourself at risk.
So, that is our view of it, and we are going to keep working very hard. And the threat of terrorism -- and we hope that we will live long enough to see that happy day come in India and the United States. Thank you.
MR. RAMESH: (Inaudible) the New York Times. I just wanted to reiterate that we are -- India is firmly anchored (inaudible) negotiations on climate change. We are firmly anchored (inaudible) climate change. We are firmly anchored in (inaudible). Let not there be any doubt on this. India views (inaudible).
And whatever is contained, as far as commitments in the (inaudible) and the (inaudible) action plan, India is duty-bound. Once India takes on an international obligation, it (inaudible). If you look at the track record of India in the last 50, 55 years, once we have adopted an international obligation we have never reneged on an international obligation.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.