United States envoy for climate change John Kerry on Thursday said he personally welcomed the “kind of activism” displayed by Indian activist Disha Ravi, who was arrested on charges of sedition for her alleged role in creating an online document intended to help amplify the farmer protest, The Indian Express reported.

“Human rights are always a critical issue to the United States,” Kerry said during his four-day visit to India. “Climate Young people have been key to pushing a lot of adults to do what adults are supposed to do... I personally welcome that kind of activism.”

He was responding to a question about the role of young climate activists and how governments can safeguard their rights or encourage them, in the context of Ravi’s case.

Kerry said that in the United States, young activists like Ravi have led the movement against the climate change crisis, which had been one of the key factors for voters during the US presidential elections. “The first time that I can remember since 1970, probably, the environment, climate crisis were voting issues,” he said. “And young people have led the charge.”

Ravi, a 22-year-old climate activist, was arrested at her home in Bengaluru on February 13. The charges against her related to an online document connected to the ongoing farmer protests, which the police claimed was evidence of a co-ordinated international conspiracy against India. The authorities said this “toolkit” – first shared online by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg – led to violence during a protest in Delhi in February.

Ravi was granted bail on February 23, after a court in Delhi observed the evidence against her “was scanty and sketchy” and that and there was not “even an iota” of proof to support the claims of sedition, incitement, or conspiracy that have been levelled against her.

On India’s net-zero carbon requirement

During his visit, Kerry also held talks with government leaders on cutting carbon emissions faster to slow global warming.

India is the world’s third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States, albeit with far lower emissions per capita than those countries. It is under pressure from the United States and Britain to commit itself to net zero emissions by 2050, in line with pledges made by several other countries.

However, Kerry said that India pledging to decarbonise its economy was not an “absolute requirement”, and that was not his message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to The Indian Express.

“Do I think it [a net-zero target] could be? Yes,” Kerry said. “Am I sitting here saying that’s what India surely has to do? No, that’s not my message in my meeting with the Prime Minister [Narendra Modi].”

He added that Modi understood the challenge of climate change, and “that’s better than a lot of nations”.

“India is getting the job done on climate, pushing the curve,” Kerry said, according to Reuters. “You [India] are indisputably a world leader already in the deployment of renewable energy.”

The US diplomat’s tour of India came ahead of a climate summit of 40 leaders on April 22 and April 23 called by President Joe Biden. On Wednesday, Kerry met Modi and discussed how the United States could help mobilise finance to reduce risks in producing alternative energy in the fight against global warming.

The special presidential envoy for climate said he spoke with Modi about bringing “concessionary finance” to the table to reduce India’s risks in dealing with first losses on the transition to clean energy. Concessionary finance typically involves loans on terms lower than market rates.