Earlier this month, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for India to continue to be a leader in international conversations on climate change. Next week, U.S. President Obama will travel to India to meet with Indian Prime Minister Modi, where he will likely explore how the two countries might collaborate on climate change efforts in advance of the much-anticipated UN climate talks taking place in Paris at the end of the year.
This focus on India highlights the pivotal role the country will likely play leading up to the negotiations: despite the fact that India has not historically generated high per-capita carbon emissions, the country’s massive population and rapid economic growth mean the country’s development path will have environmental consequences both for India’s citizens and the rest of the world.
And as energy demands rise, India faces the singular difficulty of continuing to promote its impressive economic growth and raising its people out of poverty, while simultaneously playing a critical role in avoiding the worst effects of climate change, which—if unchecked—would put more than 60 percent of its citizens at grave risk.
The good news is that India is already taking important steps toward sustainable economic growth. India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change includes measures to increase energy efficiency and install significant solar capacity in the near-term (100 gigawatt by 2022), helping to meet its goal to double its total renewable capacity by 2017, all while reducing the country’s carbon intensity by 20-25 percent by 2020. These efforts demonstrate that India is taking the threat of climate change and the promise of renewable energy expansion seriously, which is an important step forward on the Road to Paris.
Yet there is far more to the Indian climate story than the Indian government’s efforts leading up to the international negotiations. There are more than one billion people living in India, many of whom are not waiting for international debates in order to take action on climate at a community level.
It is the energy from these types of community activism and engagement projects that we at Climate Reality look forward to seeing next month when we host the 27th Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in New Delhi (Feb. 22-24). There, we will convene scientists, decision makers, leading businesses and representatives from all sectors of Indian society to equip them to understand climate change and its solutions, communicate effectively about climate change and organize their networks towards action.
This training is part of our goal to help give community leaders all over the world the tools they need to effect change in their networks. Through these trainings, we have met inspiring activists and trained more than 7,000 Climate Reality Leaders from more than 100 countries.
Will you be the next?
To become a Climate Leader by attending the training in India, apply to attend by Jan. 30.
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Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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