When Barack Obama heads for India next month, he’ll be carrying a heavy policy agenda — questions over the handling of nuclear material, the outsourcing of U.S. jobs and India’s status as a growing economic power, along with regional relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan. But Rajendra Pachauri, the Nobel Peace laureate who heads the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, hopes the U.S. president has time to focus on clean energy too.
Even as Pachauri and the U.N. panel evolve — and as Pachauri himself weathers pressure from some quarters to resign — he urged Obama to work on U.S.-India projects that he said would enhance global energy security.
Given India’s red-hot economic growth rate — 8 or 9 percent a year, Pachauri told reporters during a telephone briefing — he said it makes sense for the United States to work with India to head off an expected soaring demand for fossil fuels.
Over the next two decades, Pachauri said, “If we continue on a business-as-usual path, India will be importing something like 750 million tons (that’s about 5.25 million barrels) of oil a year … and possibly over 1,000 million tons of coal. So I think India has to make some very radical shifts and bring about a movement towards cleaner energy technology.”
While the two countries have launched a few initial programs in this area, Pachauri acknowledged that “nothing of great substance has been achieved so far.” Obama’s passage to India could change that, he said on the call, which was set up by the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council.