Washington: US President Barack Obama will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the first day of the Paris climate talks on Nov 30 to “generate momentum toward the successful outcome.”
Obama’s meetings with Indian, Chinese and French leaders were intended to “send a clear signal” that “he is going to be working with the key players to try to get this done,” White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said Tuesday.
Starting his day with a meeting with Xi, Obama will hold a bilateral meeting with Modi after a lunch hosted by French President Francois Hollande for the leaders attending the Nov 30-Dec 11 UN climate summit attended by 140 nations.
“We’ve been engaging with India throughout the year in determining how they can contribute constructively to a successful outcome in Paris,” Rhodes said.
They did so first during Obama’s trip to India in January, then most recently, in a bilateral meeting in New York at the UN General Assembly as also in the discussions they had on the margins of the recent summits that he and Modi both attended, he said.
Obama’s meeting with XI “at the beginning of this process, as the two largest emitters, sends a strong message to the world about their shared commitment to combat climate change and to achieve an ambitious agreement,” Rhodes said.
Paul Bodnar, senior director for energy and climate change at the White House National Security Council, said Obama’s meetings with Xi and Modi are not meant to make announcements but to consult on key negotiations issues.
“The purpose of these meetings is to make sure that leaders are on the same page about our objectives and strategy going into these final two weeks of negotiation, not to make announcements, per se.”
“These two countries are two of our most important partners in dealing with global climate change,” Bodnar said noting Obama has had a number of engagements with the two leaders over the course of this year.
“We’ve built an important partnership with China over the last couple of years on climate, and the President has worked closely with Prime Minister Modi, as well,” he said.
“So the purpose of these meetings is not to make announcements, but to have a chance to consult, consider the issues that will be negotiated in those two weeks, and coordinate to ensure that we reach our goal of a successful agreement,” Bodnar said.
Rhodes noted that Obama has recently “talked to all of our key European allies about Paris. He’s talked to the leaders of not just China and India, but also South Africa and others about these efforts.”
“So part of this is also what are we doing on a bilateral basis with these countries, but also how can we make sure that everybody is conveying the same sense of urgency and sending the same messages to other parties of the negotiation that now is the time to make tough decisions and get things done.”
“It’s not simply a question of the United States coming to the table, it’s a question of whether China and India and Brazil and other major emitters are a part of this framework,” he said.
Bodnar said the fact that over 170 countries have put forward targets and strategies to curb their greenhouse gas emissions post-2020 shows “unprecedented progress” that will “significantly bend down the global emissions curve.”