CUTS International Washington DC Center
Monthly Brief #69, December 2023
A Green Alliance: Beyond Promises, Towards Sustainable Solutions
Climate change has dominated headlines, yet its inextricable link with biodiversity remains curiously muffled. This disconnects, despite both issues falling under the purview of most environmental ministries, underscores a dangerous silo mentality. To ensure a future worth inheriting, we must address these intertwined challenges in unison, guided by pragmatism and global equity.

The recent Conference of Parties 28 (COP28) under the UNFCCC, while a cautious step forward, laid bare the hypocrisy that riddles the climate debate. While progress on carbon dioxide removal (CDR) deserves applause, demands for an immediate fossil fuel phase-out ring hollow coming from nations like Europe are still heavily reliant on dirty energy. We must acknowledge the stark reality: for developing nations in the Global South, affordable fossil fuels fuel their burgeoning economies. Demanding a rapid shutdown without offering viable alternatives is akin to asking a child to run before walking.

Transitioning away from fossil fuels is a marathon, not a sprint. Developing nations like India cannot afford abrupt shifts. Instead, we need a multi-pronged approach. Firstly, CDR becomes a crucial weapon. With its scientific prowess, India should invest heavily in CDR research, exploring avenues like carbon conversion and bio-based ethylene production.

Secondly, relying solely on Western funding and technology is impractical. The Global South must foster indigenous climate innovation. CUTS International's 'Fund of Funds' proposal leverages diverse financing sources, creating a “Global Alliance for Leveraging Innovative Finance”.

Nuclear power, despite reservations, remains a low-carbon option. Investing in advanced nuclear technologies can address safety concerns and unlock its clean energy potential. Germany's recent decision to revive its nuclear program signifies a shift in perspectives.

COP28, while not revolutionary, nudged us towards a united front. However, we must shed hypocrisy and embrace practical solutions to make significant headway. A combined COP for climate and biodiversity, focusing on the environment, could be the answer. Logistically, it would also be more cost-effective than separate conferences.

The estimated $4-6 trillion annual climate and biodiversity finance needs a 600% increase to meet 2030 targets. Our 'Fund of Funds' proposal, drawing from public and private sources, can work in conjunction with green bonds, blended finance, carbon credits, and a financial transactions tax.

The costs of inaction escalate daily. The time for empty promises is over. Action is not optional; it is a desperate need. Let's build a Green Alliance driven by equity, innovation, and practical solutions. The future hangs in the balance, waiting for us to get it done.
Have a Happy, Productive and Exciting New Year
Pradeep S. Mehta

P.S.: Do you believe a combined COP for climate and biodiversity and the proposed "Fund of Funds" and focus on innovative financing represents a viable pathway towards a sustainable future? What additional steps can we take, individually and collectively, to accelerate progress on this critical mission?
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India May Discuss Non-Tariff Barriers In The Trade Policy Forum Meet With The U.S.
Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International, said that legacy trade frictions pose a major challenge to advancing the bilateral trade relationship. There is a need for a roadmap, which can match Indian and American trade priorities (Paywall) and resolve outstanding issues, he added. “For India, restoration of our status as a beneficiary of the U.S. GSP programme and securing good terms for Indian professional service providers should be the priorities. Since the Trade Policy Forum (TPF) will be held just weeks before WTO MC13, the two sides must also explore how they can jointly contribute towards a successful MC13 and the restoration of a well-functioning dispute settlement mechanism.

Visa, Agri, GSP Likely To Figure In India-U.S. Trade Policy Forum Meet In January
The upcoming meeting of the India-U.S. Trade Policy Forum (TPF) in January will address issues regarding visas and promoting agricultural trade. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai will meet with Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal to discuss ways to increase trade and investments between the two countries. The meeting will also focus on the resumption of benefits under the American Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) and the proposed social security totalisation agreement.
Looking At High-Quality Agreement:  Philip Green On India-Australia Comprehensive Trade Deal
Australia is looking at achieving a "high-quality" Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with India to ensure that it genuinely works towards broadening economic partnership, Australian High Commissioner Philip Green said on December 13, 2023. Both sides are holding negotiations for an ambitious CECA that would build upon the existing Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA).

India, UK To Hold Next Round Of Talks For Free Trade Agreement In January
India and the UK officials in January 2024, will hold the next round of talks for the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to resolve remaining issues, the Commerce Ministry said on December 18, 2023. The 13th round of negotiations for the proposed pact was held between September 18 and December 15. The UK and India will continue to negotiate towards a comprehensive and ambitious Free Trade Agreement.


India And U.S. Deepen Strategic Ties In Defense, Space, And Clean Energy
The defense, space, and clean energy cooperation between India and the U.S. is a significant factor in promoting peace, prosperity, and security. In the evolving landscape of international relations, the partnership between India and the U.S. has taken centre stage as two of the world's largest democracies join forces to address global challenges. With a shared commitment to democracy, freedom, and economic growth, India and the U.S. have steadily strengthened their ties across various sectors. In recent years, a significant focus has been on enhancing collaboration in defense, space exploration, and clean energy.

U.S. And India Collaborate On Task Force For Energy Storage Technologies
The U.S.-India Energy Storage Task Force (ESTF), a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Energy and India's Ministry of Power aimed at advancing energy storage technologies in both countries, has officially started its operations. The task force will mark its commencement with a virtual launch, during which memberships will be publicly introduced. The concept of the ESTF was initially proposed during the October 2022 ministry-level meeting of the U.S.-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership (SCEP), which brought together Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.
India's Energy Needs To Double By End Of The Decade
India, the world's third-largest energy consumer, will see its energy needs doubling by the end of this decade as it witnesses an unprecedented explosion of economic growth, the nation's richest man Mukesh Ambani said on December 02, 2023. Speaking at the convocation of Pandit Deendayal Energy University (PDEU), Ambani, who heads the nation's most valuable company Reliance Industries Ltd, said the Indian economy will become a US$40 trillion economy by 2047 from the current US$3.5 trillion.

COP28: Why India Stayed Away From Green Energy Pledge On Coal Issue
In a voluntary initiative at the UN climate meeting in Dubai, summit President Sultan Al Jaber launched a series of pledges aimed at hastening the green energy transition and significantly reducing global emissions. Chief among them was the Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge which seeks to triple global renewable energy capacity and double the rate of energy efficiency by 2030.

India-U.S. Partnership Launched To Boost Electric Bus Deployment
On the sidelines of the UN climate summit (COP28), India and the U.S. on December 09, 2023, jointly launched a partnership for the deployment of electric buses through Payment Security Mechanisms (PSM) that aims to unlock up to US$10 billion in non-recourse lending to e-bus manufacturers in India to deploy 38,000 buses. Under the collaboration to establish a PSM, India would contribute US$240 million whereas US$150 million would come from the U.S. government and their partners.


Africa-India Cooperation Sets Benchmark For Partnership
The African Union (AU) was included as a full member of the G20 at the New Delhi Summit in September 2023. Calling Africa “India’s top priority,” Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, said, “When we use the term ‘Global South,’ it is not just a diplomatic term. In our shared history, we have together opposed colonialism and apartheid. The next triennial India-Africa Forum Summit is planned for 2024. In January 2023, 47 African countries attended the Voice of the Global South Summit. India-Africa trade has grown 18 percent annually since 2003, reaching US$103 billion in 2023. This makes India Africa’s third largest trading partner after the European Union (EU) and China.

We Have Deepened Our Partnership With India Through Quad: U.S. Secretary Of State Blinken
The U.S. has deepened its partnership with India in 2023 and elevated cooperation with it through the QUAD along with Japan and Australia, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said. Blinken's remarks came at his end-of-year press availability at the State Department in Washington on December 20, 2023. Japan, India, Australia, and the U.S. had in 2017 given shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the QUAD or the Quadrilateral coalition to counter China's aggressive behaviour in the resource-rich Indo-Pacific region.

India, U.S. To Team Up For Pacific Islands
India and the U.S. are mulling over plans to team up and deliver development projects in the strategically vital Pacific Islands. This comes as the islands attract increased attention from China given their location along key maritime trade routes and suitability for military power projection. These 14 island nations include the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Nauru.

"India, U.S. Handling Khalistani Terrorist Issue With Maturity, Tact"
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi made his first public remarks on an Indian national allegedly conspiring to murder Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a key U.S. diplomat has said that India and the U.S. have dealt with the issue with maturity & tact and that the relationship between the two countries has reached a new echelon. Atul Keshap, who is the President of the U.S.-India Business Council, said 2023 has been an "amazing year" for ties between the two countries, and that issues come up with the U.S. closest allies around the world.

U.S. Has Made Great Progress In Further Bolstering Its Defence Relationship With India
The U.S. has made great progress in bolstering its defence relationship with India and the Pentagon is looking forward to making further progress in military-to-military ties in 2024. "In terms of the relationship between the U.S. and India, you know, with obvious focus on the Department of Defence, I think it has been a very good year. I think we have made great progress in terms of further bolstering our relationship and cooperation," Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder told reporters at a news conference.

Russia And India Closer To Joint Military Equipment Production
Russia and India have made tangible progress in talks on plans to jointly produce military equipment, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on December 27, 2023, after talks with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in Moscow. Speaking at a news conference, he said such cooperation was strategic and in both countries' interests and would help ensure security on the Eurasian continent.

Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited Achieves Milestone With The Delivery Of 250th Ah-64 Apache Fuselage, To Be Used By U.S. And Indian Armies
Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited (TBAL) has marked a significant achievement by delivering the 250th fuselage for the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter from its cutting-edge facility in Hyderabad. The delivered fuselages, as reported by Deccan Chronicle, cater to global customers, including the U.S. Army and the Indian Army, with six recently ordered by the latter.

India Postpones Quad Summit Meeting Scheduled In Jan 2024
India has postponed the summit meeting of QUAD countries, which includes India, Australia, the U.S. and Japan, scheduled in January 2024, as the dates “do not work” for certain QUAD partners. U.S. President Joe Biden, who was earlier expected to attend the Republic Day celebrations as the chief guest when he visited India for the QUAD Summit, is now unlikely to be present.


Advancements In India-U.S. Technological Collaboration
The visit of Jonathan Finer, Principal Deputy National Security Adviser (NSA) of the U.S. to New Delhi unveils a crucial chapter in the evolving solidarity between India and the U.S. This diplomatic engagement follows the footsteps of U.S. NSA Jake Sullivan’s visit to India in June 2023 and the reciprocal visit of India’s NSA Ajit Doval to the U.S. in January 2023. Central to this interaction was the comprehensive mid-term review of the India-U.S. Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET), a joint endeavour launched by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden in May 2022.

Decoding The “Innovation Handshake”: U.S.-India Entrepreneurship Partnership
The Innovation Handshake, developed under the U.S.-India Commercial Dialogue, aims to elevate and connect the two countries' dynamic startup ecosystems, address regulatory hurdles to cooperation, and promote innovation and job growth, particularly in emerging technologies. In the U.S.-India Joint Statement issued during Prime Minister Modi's historic state visit to the U.S. in June and later in September during President Biden's visit to India for the G20 Summit, the two leaders applauded and welcomed efforts to build an ambitious agenda under this platform.

Modelled On U.S. B-2 Spirit, India Joins Elite Group Of Nations With Indigenous, Hi-Speed, Flying-Wing UAV
The Ministry of Defense announced that its Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted the flight trial of the AFWT Demonstrator, a locally developed high-speed flying wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle from the Aeronautical Test Range at Chitradurga in Karnataka in southern India. “The successful flying demonstration of this autonomous stealth UAV is a testimony to the maturity in the technology readiness levels in the country. With this flight in the tailless configuration, India has joined the elite club of countries to have mastered the controls for the flying wing technology”.

India, Taiwan, And The U.S. Unite To Strengthen Cybersecurity Against China Threat
With China looming ever larger as a potent cyber threat, American, Indian and Taiwanese cyber security officials have met to find ways of deepening their operational expertise and sharing best practices on cybersecurity issues. The meeting took place on December 11, and December 12 during a joint workshop convened under the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF). This was the first in-person GCTF programme held in India. Co-hosting the event were the U.S. Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti, Taiwan’s Representative to India, Baushuan Ger, India’s former National Cyber Security Coordinator, Lieutenant General Rajesh Pant, and the Indian government-sponsored think tank, United Service Institution of India (USI).

India, U.S. And South Korea To Launch Technology Dialogue In Early 2024
India, South Korea and the U.S. will start an informal trilateral technology dialogue in the first quarter of 2024 in response to China's rapid progress in critical technologies within the Indo-Pacific region. The decision was taken at the inaugural U.S.-South Korea Next Generation Critical & Emerging Technologies Dialogue held in Seoul on December 08, 2023.

U.S.-India Collaboration In AI Holds Key To Global Leadership, Says USISPF Chairman John Chambers
John Chambers, chairman of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), on December 22 expressed unwavering optimism about the transformative potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the year 2024. In an exclusive interview with CNBC-TV18's Parikshit Luthra, John Chambers believes that AI will be the most groundbreaking technology in history, akin to the combined impact of the internet and cloud computing.

India And U.S. Conduct A Comprehensive Review Of iCET To Pave The Way For Enhanced Collaboration
In a significant stride towards bolstering technological cooperation, Jonathan Finer, the Principal Deputy National Security Adviser of the U.S. held consultations with Vikram Misri, Deputy National Security Adviser (Strategic Affairs) conducted the first comprehensive mid-term review of the India-U.S. Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET), launched by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and U.S.  President Joe Biden in May 2022.

Indian Envoy To The U.S. Discusses Technology Partnership With IBM CEO
Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Taranjit Singh Sandhu discussed the India-U.S. technology partnership during his meeting with International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) CEO Arvind Krishna on December 14, 2023. During the meeting at India House, they also discussed new and emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Quantum.


India and U.S. Agree To Strengthen Cooperation In Pharma, Semiconductors, Critical Minerals
India and the U.S. have agreed to strengthen cooperation in sectors like pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, critical minerals and emerging technologies, an official statement said on December 01, 2023. The two countries also discussed collaborative opportunities in green and clean technologies; and strengthening partnerships in critical technologies, the commerce ministry said.

India's Medical Devices Soar With Tech Innovation
A wave of innovation is propelling the nation into a new era of healthcare. Backed by a thriving economy and a relentless focus on innovation, India has positioned itself as a global player in the medical devices industry. The sector's focus on research and development has given birth to a plethora of advanced medical devices and diagnostic tools, revolutionising healthcare services and positioning India as a global hub for cutting-edge technology. At the heart of this transformative journey is the infusion of new-generation technology into medical devices.

Challenges In The GCC Pharma And Medical Devices Sector
Over the next decade, medicines expenditure in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is expected to double to US$26 billion, fuelled by increased demand due to an ageing population, urbanisation, and the prevalence of chronic diseases, as well by improved coverage, infrastructure and diagnostics, and availability of new products. Medication spending per person in the GCC is now approaching US$300 a year — similar to some European countries, such as Denmark and Estonia.

Budget 2024: The Pharma Sector May See Higher Allocations As Govt Aims To Make India An Innovation Hub
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is expected to announce more measures in the Union Budget 2024-25 to strengthen the research and development activities in the pharmaceutical sector. In her previous budget speech on February 1, 2023, Sitharaman emphasised the significant contribution of India's pharmaceutical sector and research and development activities. To further strengthen research and development, the minister introduced a new program that aims to promote research and innovation in pharmaceuticals through the establishment of centres of excellence.

Cell And Gene Therapy Will Be The Top Industry Trend For Pharma In 2024
Healthcare industry professionals scored Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) as the industry trend to have the greatest impact on the pharmaceutical industry in 2024, in a recent survey launched by GlobalData, a data and analytics company. The survey data presented in “The State of the Biopharmaceutical Industry 2024” report reveals that N=21 (18 percent) of industry professionals were convinced that CGT will dominate as the most important trend in pharma next year. This was followed by personalised/precision medicine (N=18 respondents; 16 percent).

Indian Pharma To Further Strengthen Its Commitment To Quality, Patient Safety, And Regulatory Compliance
Indian Pharma is now working to further strengthen its commitment to quality, patient safety, and regulatory compliance that foster trust in ensuring the delivery of safe and effective pharmaceutical products. The outcome of the recent Pharmexcil Bangalore Chapter congregation to deliberate on the Capacity Building Programme focusing on quality compliance, patient safety and industry practices provided a perspective about the expectations of state and central drugs control departments. Also, the industry experts highlighted practices in the area of QMS (Quality Management Systems), risk assessment and skill development apart from highlighting the need for reliable expedient suppliers.

Artificial Intelligence In Medical Imaging Revolutionising Diagnostics
Medical imaging has revolutionised diagnostics with Artificial Intelligence (AI) providing unprecedented accuracy for fast detection and personalised patient care. The year 2023 for India's medtech industry characterised by resilience and innovation, provided a push toward enhancing healthcare accessibility and quality amid global health challenges. According to Chandra Ganjoo, Group Chief Executive Officer, Trivitron Healthcare, integration of AI in medical imaging emerged as a standout development, revolutionising diagnostics by providing healthcare professionals with unprecedented precision for early disease detection.


Bridging The Gaps: The Genesis And Future Of Indian Military Theatre Commands
In August 2023, the Indian Parliament passed a landmark bill advocating the establishment of theatre commands for the Indian Armed Forces, leaping forward after a long journey of contested discussions. Various Indian defence experts assert that the theaterisation of the armed forces is a critical step towards strengthening its defence structure. While the bill’s passage signifies a crucial initial step, India will be covering a considerable distance soon to fully operationalise theaterisation. This will help us to strengthen our defence architecture.

India Hosts Two 2+2 Ministerial Dialogues
In November 2023, New Delhi hosted 2+2 Ministerial Dialogues with two of its comprehensive strategic partners who are also members of the Quad. India’s External Affairs Minister and Defence Minister met with their counterparts from the U.S. on November 09-10 and Australia on November 20. This was the fifth 2+2 dialogue with the Americans and the second 2+2 dialogue with the Australians. This edition of CUTS Occasional News Wrap (ONW) reflects the key discussions, insights, and outcomes that emerged during these two ministerial dialogues through the compilation of articles/news covered in print and electronic media.

India-U.S. Relationship In 2023: Three Steps Forward, One Step Back
India-U.S. relationship in 2023 in many senses was a historic one: a year when a futuristic-looking initiative was launched, U.S. President Joe Biden hosted Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi for a rare State Visit and then travelled to New Delhi to personally ensure the mega success of a crucial G20 Summit under India's Presidency. However, the year ended on a sombre note with the Biden administration filing a chargesheet in a New York court naming an Indian official in a plot to kill a U.S. national and a separatist Sikh leader on American soil.

Indo-French Partnership Gets Republic Day Boost ()
The strategic partnership between France and India is multifaceted, but so are the relations India shares with major countries. What sets the Indo-French relationship apart is that it is a partnership devoid of any contention and one characterised by irreversible excellence. French President Emmanuel Macron will be the guest of honour at the Republic Day celebrations (Paywall) on January 26, 2024.

India-U.S. Relationship Has Moved In A Positive Direction, Says USISPF Chief
The relationship between India and the U.S. has moved in a positive direction ranging from trade to defence and the two nations have shown a sense of deep understating of each other's differences, the head of a top India-centric business and strategic group has said. Mukesh Aghi, CEO of the U.S.-India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) said that there is more alignment between the two countries when it is looked at from the geopolitical QUAD perspective.