Lieutenant Governor of California Eleni Kounalakis said the US state is keen to exchange with India “best practices” to combat air pollution and explore on what more could be done to address the issue.
Kounalakis, who was on a visit to India last week, said she held talks with government officials here in this regard.
“We talked about the issue of climate change and what more we could be able to do together to address the issue,” she told PTI.
“One thing (in the meeting) that came up is that California has been battling air pollution for many years and we are a car-centric state and we have some good advancements in practices as well as our commitment to get more zero emission vehicles on the roads. So that was an area where we might be able to collaborate more (with India),” Kounalakis said.
She said “best practices” such as improving emission standards, transitioning to zero emission vehicles and traffic mitigation can be shared between California and India to combat air pollution.
“California has quite a bit of experience driven by the fact that it has a very big problem (of pollution) in our state and we continue to have a problem with air pollution. So improving emission standards from vehicles is a big part of it,” she said.
Switching over to zero emission vehicles is also a very big part of it to the degree that there is traffic mitigation but there are technical strategies to compare the approach in California and India. We are very excited about the possibility to exchange best practices on both sides, she said.
Delhi battles hazardous levels of pollution every winter when air quality oscillates between ‘very poor’ and ‘severe plus’ categories.
Speaking on the issue of climate change, Kounalakis said California is the fifth largest economy in the world and “we are very committed to our participation in the Paris climate accord”.
“We are ready to continue investing in the technology to be able to get to our goal. We have a very important story to tell obviously at the sub-national level and we are very hopeful that the federal government see the light on the issue,” she said.
“But in the meantime, California will continue to tell our story and more importantly we are not going to stop investing in the technologies which will ultimately help us combat the problem of carbon emissions,” she added.
On India’s recent tariff hike on California almonds and some other American products, she said California is encouraging the US federal government and India to get back to the table and try to resolves one of these disagreements.
The US has rolled back export incentives from India under its GSP programme and New Delhi has imposed higher customs duties on 28 American products, including almond, pulses, walnut, chickpeas, boric acid and binders for foundry moulds.
Elaborating on the almond trade between India and California, Kounalakis said “the profile of the California almond is something that is very well known in India so we want to ensure that piece of our relationship remains robust but of course in area of IT broadly there is a great deal both sides can benefit”.
In a joint interview, Caroline Beteta, President & CEO of Visit California, stressed on the importance of building travel trade.
Visit California is a nonprofit organization created to market California as a premier travel destination and to increase the state’s share of tourism-related revenues.
“We are continuing to build the relationship with travel trade and certainly make sure that the critical air service in non stop air service the planes are full. We have been in the market now for 10 years and we are trying to pivot and help drive demand direct to the consumer and influencers,” she said.
Beteta further said that they are educating them through star platform, an internet-based training module for agents and certification programme to enhance their knowledge and experience.
She said they are also trying to build up ties between Hollywood and Bollywood and engage in dialogues and share with them tax incentives and tax credits that are available if they choose to shoot in California.
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