A volcano detoured Obama’s Pacific tour, but the president was still able to take some action on the climate and green energy fronts.
In India, Obama’s work on green energy was overshadowed by headlines about the country's potential seat on the United Nations Security Council, as well as discussions on counterterrorism and trade. The green energy news was buried, but it was still there.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Obama made commitments to what is being called the Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center. The White House’s website has a broad overview of the agreement, but an amazing breakdown of it is available at Natural Resources Defense Council's staff blog. That breakdown, written by Shravya Reddy, explains that the new India-U.S. agreement calls for a partnership with the private sector where the two nations contribute $25 million each and the private sector raises another $50 million. The resulting $100 million is to be used to fund a grant system aimed at promoting, “research and development on potential breakthrough technologies. In the initial phase, the center will focus on three broad areas — solar energy, advanced second generation biofuels, and energy efficiency in buildings,” according to Reddy’s report.
In Indonesia, Obama and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a comprehensive partnership that the Toronto Sun says may include, “hundreds of millions in dollars to fight climate change by protection Indonesia’s forests.” Radio Australia News also quotes a member of the Indonesian Parliament, Adi Tahir, a leading voice for those who want the two nations to address the climate issue at the G20 summit in Seoul, Korea. “Now we in Indonesia feel very much climate change,” Tahir says. “So it is important to get action from the G20 regarding the commitment for the improvement in the food industry.”
While Tahir has high hopes for the upcoming G20 summit, others have less optimistic predictions. Last year, Obama committed to raising $100 billion to help poor nations deal with climate change. Now he will be asking other countries to write checks to fulfill that commitment at the G20, while his own country has failed to commit to dealing with it. The G20 stop is just a warm-up for climate negotiations. Next on the schedule is the Cancun Climate-Change Summit scheduled for late November. Onward.