Administrator Power to the U.S.-India Business Council’s (USIBC) 46th Annual General Meeting and India Ideas Summit: “From Recovery to Resurgence”

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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Administrator Power to the U.S.-India Business Council’s (USIBC) 46th Annual General Meeting and India Ideas Summit: “From Recovery to Resurgence”

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Good morning, everyone. I’d like to thank Prime Minister Modi, Ambassador Sandhu, and everyone from the public and private sectors who are working to strengthen the bond between the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest. That includes the U.S. India Businesses Council’s President, Nisha Biswal, who was previously a standout leader and public servant at USAID, the Agency I now have the privilege of running.

Since the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nisha has provided visionary strategic leadership, helping strengthen the global health response by tapping into the innovation and productivity of some of the world’s top businesses. Thanks to the efforts of Nisha and the members of the USIBC, when India faced a harrowing spike in cases with the emergence of the Delta variant last May, businesses rushed in to provide everything from oxygen concentrators to PPE to ICU beds, helping save thousands of lives in the process. But even as India marches forward on the largest COVID-19 vaccination campaign in the world, and manufactures doses for other countries so we can finally end this pandemic, the threat of another crisis looms.

Climate change is battering our planet, leading to larger wildfires, longer droughts, more devastating floods, and more furious storms on nearly every continent. And India has been hit especially hard. Heavy rain events have increased threefold since 1950, even as total rainfall has declined. As a result, at least one billion people in India face severe water scarcity for at least a month a year. Heat waves are also becoming more frequent and severe, with many of India’s major cities reporting temperatures of nearly 50 degrees Celsius—temperature swings that could lead to as many as 740,000 excess deaths each year. Climate change also serves as a brake on India’s growth as it recovers from the pandemic. If global temperatures rise by one degree, it would cost India 3 percent of its GDP.

But as one of the most innovative and vibrant economies on earth, India isn’t simply at the mercy of a changing climate; it is a critical part of the solution. That leadership was demonstrated at the Leaders’ Climate Summit in April, where President Biden and Prime Minister Modi launched the India-U.S. Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership, a key framework to help our countries meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. USAID is proud to be a key partner to India as it transitions to renewable energy and achieves its climate goals.

In the past six years, our partnership has already helped India integrate five gigawatts of renewable energy into its grid, that is enough to power over three million households—helping cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 million tons. That’s the equivalent of pulling 6 million cars off the road.

To build on these results, USAID is supporting a five-year regional program that aims to mobilize $7 billion in private clean energy investments to add another five gigawatts of renewable energy in South Asia, much of it in India.

And we’re also partnering with the Department of Energy and our National Labs to launch the South Asia Group for Energy, an effort to help partner governments like India make strategic investments in clean energy.

But our partnership doesn’t end with cutting emissions; we also are committing to partnering

with the Indian government, the private sector, and civil society to safeguard against climate impacts that are happening today. And this is where the world truly needs the private sector’s help. Of the estimated $30 billion spent on climate adaptation, only $500 million—less than two percent—came from the private sector. Given the massive need in the world, and the fact that private sector financial flows represent more than 80 percent of all investment in poor- and middle-income countries, that dynamic has to change. Here, India has given us a roadmap for partnership through the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.

The U.S. is a founding member of this India-led Coalition, and a continued supporter of its work to raise private- and public-sector financing for infrastructure that can stand up to natural disasters. As India grows, it will develop a new generation of resilient infrastructure, from modern airports to smart power grids to efficient railways and highways that will connect its many cities. To that end, we recently committed over $9 million to support the Coalition and attract more private sector financing for climate resilience and adaptation. But the Coalition doesn’t just need your money; it needs your expertise.

Both USAID and the Coalition will benefit from private sector partners who know how to build resilient infrastructure—but also from companies who know how to manage big projects effectively to boost efficiency and minimize waste. And in turn, those companies can benefit from the best practices the Coalition has developed on building resilient infrastructure.

Though the Coalition already features hundreds of companies, we invite others to join us, as we work to build climate-smart infrastructure, not just in India, but throughout the Indo-Pacific.

Together, we can help create jobs and cut emissions, we can fight inequality and create greener communities, and we can advance climate justice by helping communities in India and throughout the region to withstand climate change’s worst effects. So join us please and thank you.

Last updated: November 30, 2022

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