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Climate change: US announces new greenhouse gas commitments

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Washington: Citing talks with India, China and Brazil to reduce the use and emissions of greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the White House announced a suite of new private-sector commitments and executive actions related to climate change.

Announcing the new commitments ahead of the Nov 1-5 Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Dubai, the White House said Thursday, “President Obama believes that no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”

“His Administration is committed to taking responsible steps to ensure that we leave our children a planet that is not polluted or damaged,” it said.

The White House Thursday also recognized the robust progress that has been made against the private-sector commitments and executive actions that were announced in Sep 2014 to address HFCs.

The US has been working to negotiate an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs globally, it said.

“Our bilateral announcements with China, India, Brazil, and others recognize the need to advance progress on managing HFCs through the Montreal Protocol,” the White House said.

“With strong international action on HFCs, up to 0.5°C of warming could be avoided by the end of the century, substantially furthering our goal to limit global temperature rise,” it said.

The Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy made commitments in Sep 2014 to take actions to support a Montreal Protocol amendment to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs and also to take actions and support policies with a goal to reduce the global HFC greenhouse gas contribution by 80 percent by 2050.

In the past year, the Alliance has taken numerous actions in support of these commitments, the White House said. For example, it participated in the India-US HFC Task Force and other bilateral diplomatic efforts, including that with China.

Meanwhile, in an address at the Indiana University’s School of Global and International Studies, in Bloomington, Indiana, Secretary of State John Kerry cited the US-China announcement last November regarding their respective greenhouse gas emissions targets.

“It was a dramatic moment of transformation, where China and the United States joined together, and it took away the excuse from less-developed countries,” Kerry said.

“And the symbolic breakthrough of this coordination was bigger than many of us maybe even anticipated,” he added.

“Since then, every major economy in the world and 150 nations have come forward with their own set of targets or, in the case of India, unveiled a plan to make massive new investments in alternative energy,” Kerry said.

“In just two months, representatives from around the world will gather in Paris to approve what I hope will be by far the most ambitious agreement on global climate ever reached.” he said. “And hopefully, it will send a signal to the marketplace.”

(Arun Kumar, IANS)

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India Continues Engaging With USA Over H-1B Passport Issue

India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

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As Trump proposes changes in H1-B visa, India continues to engage with US

India is continuing to engage with the US over the H-1B visa, largely availed of by Indian IT companies, after the Trump administration proposed changes to the programme, a senior official said on Thursday.

“It is a very important topic for us and that is the reason why we have time and again at various levels, we have taken up this matter with the US side,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries by journalists here.

Kumar said that most recently, the issue was raised during the first ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Meeting held here last month that was attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to come out with its new proposal by January 2019.

India n Passport
It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages Flickr

The DHS said it was also proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation.

The move to end the rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visa holders, who have work permits.

The H-4 visas are issued by the USCIS to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the holders of H-1B visa.

The DHS said it will propose to revise the definition of speciality occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme.

It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages, the DHS said.

Donald Trump, India
President Donald Trump speaks about immigration alongside family members affected by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, June 22, 2018, in Washington, VOA

In his remarks on Thursday, Kumar said that India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

Stating that there are certain bills which have been introduced, he, however, said that “it is important to note that none of these bills have been passed so far”.

“When we have engaged with the US, we have emphasised that our partnership which we have in the digital sphere have been mutually beneficial,” the spokesperson said.

Also Read: USA And Other Countries Pledge To Eradicate Illegal Wildlife Trade

“We have highlighted the role which has been played by the highly skilled Indian professionals who have actually contributed to the growth and development of the US economy,” he stated.

“And also they have helped the US to maintain a competitive edge in the world towards innovation and science and technology.” (IANS)