Was Obama’s Trip To India Bad For The Environment?

The media, especially online outlets, have been having fun criticizing the President’s recent trip to India, citing extreme cost and a huge carbon footprint as reasons why Obama should have stayed home instead.

NDTV reported that US taxpayers would spend $200 million a day on the Mumbai visit, and the decidedly conservative Daily Caller recently ran an article claiming “Obama’s trip to India has a carbon footprint bigger than many US cities.”

The high cost and carbon footprint associated with the trip (which was official business, and not a pleasure cruise as some have insinuated) are allegedly the results of a 3,000 person Presidential entourage (including members of the press), a military escort of 40 aircraft and two marine helicopters, and the renting of the entire 570 room Taj Mahal hotel.

Transporting this many people and pieces of equipment overseas would involve a breathtaking carbon footprint. If it were true.

Activists and climate hawks already disappointed with the President’s lack of progress on many important environmental issues might feel like throwing in the towel, but it’s important to have all the facts before waving the white flag.

Says who?

Much of the coverage in the American media is being based on two reports published by the Press Trust of India (see here and here) that can’t be traced to a credible source.

Snopes reported that the only source for the mind-blowing $200 million per day expense outlay was a quote from a single anonymous Indian official who provided no explanation of how that sum was derived.

But what about all those military vehicles?

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell made a rare exception to his policy of not discussing Presidential security details to say the “notion that somehow we were deploying 10 percent of the Navy—some 34 ships and an aircraft carrier—in support of the president’s trip to Asia,” was “just comical.” “Nothing close to that is being done,” Morrell continued in the Nov. 6th press briefing.

And the Presidential entourage?

The Wall Street Journal called the details of the report “demonstrably incorrect,” especially when it came to facts about renting out the entire Taj Mahal hotel and picking up the tab for members of the press. “The press pays its own way at considerable cost to media outlets, not the US taxpayer,” wrote Jonathan Weisman on the Washington Wire.

What’s so exciting about India anyway?

One of the most important reasons for the President to visit India involved creating more jobs for Americans.

The AP reported that, “By the end of the first of his three days in India, he was promoting $10 billion in trade deals – completed in time for his visit – that the White House says will create about 54,000 jobs at home.”

And, as a fellow Care2 blogger so aptly put it, Obama visited India on his way to the G20 in Seoul, South Korea. This was an obligation because the G20 was discussing global currency policy and the U.S. needs to be in on that sort of meeting.

All international travel has a significant carbon footprint, but all Presidents (including the Republican ones) have to do it anyway. By stopping in India along the way to South Korea instead of taking an entirely separate trip to India at a later date some carbon emissions were actually saved.

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Image Credit: topnews.in


Michael Kirkby
.7 years ago

I live in Toronto, ON, Canada.They say they just finished although it still isn't open to the public yet, a homeless facility. It can only handle 43 people at a time. By the time it opens, due to all the cost overruns it will probably cost the city $100 million. We're calling it the Homeless Hilton because of its opulence and operational budget which will cost us even more. It's the legacy of the departing mayor Do Nuthin Dave who fattened his legacy and his personal piggies; saddling the taxpayers with new taxes and tarriffs to cover his and his supporting councillers their privilleged position. This is indicative of partisan politics in every North America city regardless of whether it's good for the overall health of the city and its consituents.
Our new mayor has pledged to cut the fat at city hall and I for one wish him the best. May I remind the Mayor, that there is nothing wrong with having a social conscience, or wanting to make changes that will better the lives of Toronto's inhabitants. Programs and projects must be done positively and proactively.
The sad part of this is that the representative for that Ward in which the Homeless Hilton was built was re-elected. Of course that Ward has always been a Left bastion and it is their prerogative to spend other peoples money until of course it runs out.
By building solar; waste conversion facilities we could rid emissions by 2020. By using new waste conversion technology we could reduce our landfills. Take that Kyoto.

Amber M.
Amber Beasley7 years ago

oh I don't doubt that it cost that much. it's ridiculous the amount of money people like that will spend on things that could have cost much less.

Tiffany Lambiase
Tiffany Lambiase7 years ago

really ????????????????????

Kunal A.
Past Member 7 years ago

Actually that figure was debunked by the same press that [stupidly] reported it without verifying it. It's more than likely that the rumour was propagated by a tiny anti-American outfit or perhaps even a single individual within the Indian government, simply to discredit both the American and Indian governments.

Walter G.
Walter G7 years ago

Now examine Nancy Pellosi's huge use of Air Force VIP aircraft for weekend trips home, and you'll see real environmental ignorance.

Michael Cunningham

"Invading Iraq and Afghanistan were two of the silliest ideas in quite a while if it was only to get cheap oil. "

You keep right on believing that!

Nellie K A.
Nellie K Adaba7 years ago


Michael Kirkby
.7 years ago

Invading Iraq and Afghanistan were two of the silliest ideas in quite a while if it was only to get cheap oil. The fact of the matter is rooted in Full Spectrum Dominance; meant to curtail the machinations and influence of China and Russia, and secondly, to extend Global Corporatism, by using force to aggressively open up markets and maximum profits for the Profiteers and thier ilk such as Eric Prince, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Bremmer for example. Someone made massive profits and it certainly wasn't the American people.
The war on terror was one of the most successful examples of neuro linguistic programming since Hitler's speaches. Barky's campaign was another fine example. Democrat or Republican, beggar or king, all who enter here are equal in my eyes, sayeth Death. They all serve the one master in politics and business.

Michael Cunningham

I don't have figures for every year but the available data (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ene_oil_pro-energy-oil-production&date=2001)
Shows that prior to military action in Iraq some 80% of Iraq's oil went somewhere other than the US. So if the war was to get more oil that number should change!
It did, between '06 & '07 the amount of Iraqi oil going elsewhere went to an average figure of 91% GOING SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN THE US!

That would imply that; "Invading Iraq was done for money and oil!!", is incorrect!

Michael Cunningham

"Invading Irtaq was done for money and oil!!"

Not true!