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U.S. Looks To Support Clean Infrastructure In India, Bangladesh

April 12, 2021 by Daniel Mollenkamp
John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, wears a protective mask while listening during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to sign executive actions on tackling climate change, creating jobs, and restoring scientific integrity this afternoon. (Stefani Reynolds/Pool/Abaca Press/TNS)

Last week and over the weekend, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry met with officials from the governments of India and Bangladesh to talk about strategies for improving climate resilience and adapting to climate change.

Kerry emphasized recent U.S. aid projects to the two countries, which represent U.S. attempts to solidify its presence in the region as anxiety over China’s growing influence rises.

Kerry spent most of last week in India. 

The U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation launched a $41 million loan portfolio on March 18 to fortify the capacity of India’s small and medium enterprises to invest in rooftop solar panel installation. Since it launched, they have set up $4 million for financing under the guarantee, including 50 solar-powered micro-cold chains in villages, and solar plus storage solutions to power 350 remote rural bank branches.

Another $9.2 million will go through USAID and the government of India to aid the Collation for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.

Kerry also traveled to Bangladesh to meet with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, as well as Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and members of the cabinet.

Bangladesh’s carbon emissions have almost quadrupled in the last couple of decades.

USAID will soon launch a project meant to build up the country’s clean energy infrastructure and climate resilience which the U.S. government says is “critical to curbing the country’s carbon emissions.”

The multi-year project of up to $17 million, subject to the availability of funding, is called Bangladesh Advancing Development and Growth through Energy, or BADGE. It is meant to increase access to affordable clean energy, support clean energy entrepreneurship, foster transparent and efficient energy markets, and advance innovation.

“Not only will it reduce emissions, but it will also improve living standards for the people of Bangladesh and will support continued rapid economic growth,” said a written comment from USAID.

These countries have been the recipients of large sums of Chinese financial diplomacy over the past couple of decades. India, for example, represents a strategic competitor to China in the South and Central Asia region. It was one of the biggest targets of Chinese diplomacy efforts in the region including $6.83 billion in financial diplomacy between 2000 and 2017, according to the Silk Road Diplomacy report from the AidData research lab, affiliated with William & Mary’s Global Research Institute. Bangladesh received $10.32 billion during that time.

These meetings took place in the lead-up to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, which is scheduled to take place in the first two weeks of November in Glasgow, Scotland.

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