Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India will fulfil its responsibilities regarding climate change as he met US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of a UN summit in Paris on Monday.
Obama said India had to be able to grow and fight poverty, while Modi pledged to ensure development would be coupled with environmental protection.
Modi said protecting the planet and nature was a priority for India.
“India will fulfil expectations from it and its responsibilities...the country is working to take forward development and (protecting) environment together,” Modi said at a joint press event with Obama.
The Prime Minister also mentioned India’s ambitious target of producing 175 GW of renewable energy.
Modi’s comments came in the backdrop of India’s strong resentment to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement that India would be a “challenge” at the climate conference. Environment minister Prakash Javadekar described the comments as “unwarranted”.
Modi said India will work closely with the US on “Mission Innovation” that was launched by US President Barack Obama and his French counterpart Francois Hollande on Sunday, ahead of the Conference of Parties (CoP-21) climate summit that got underway.
“Mission Innovation” is an initiative to dramatically accelerate public and private global energy innovation to address global climate change, provide affordable clean energy to consumers, including in the developing world and create commercial opportunities in clean energy.
“India will work closely with US on Mission Innovation,” Modi said during a bilateral meeting with Obama on the sidelines of CoP-21.
“Advanced countries must leave enough room for developing countries to grow,” Modi later said at the ‘Mission Innovation’ launch. “We have to ensure in spirit of climate justice that life of few doesn’t cloud opportunities for those on initial steps of development ladder,” he added.
“Innovation must be backed by means to make it accessible to all,” Modi said.
Obama said India must curb its carbon dioxide pollution even while it works to eradicate poverty, prioritise growth and promote economic development. The US President called climate change one of the major areas for deeper cooperation between his country and India.
One of the stumbling blocks to getting an inclusive agreement to fight climate change has been the United States’ reluctance to accept that some countries should be obliged to do more than others, while nations such as India have objected to restrictions on their development.
After talks with Modi, Obama told reporters he and Modi had agreed climate change was an urgent threat and also that India also had to be able to grow.
In return, Modi said he would work “to ensure that development and environmental protection go hand in hand”.
Ahead of his talks with Obama, Modi had said that there was an urgent need to craft a comprehensive, equitable and durable agreement to limit global warming.
Earlier on Monday, Modi held bilateral meetings with French President Francois Hollande and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and a brief meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
After inaugurating the India Pavilion at the summit, PM Modi also attended a lunch hosted by Hollande for the visiting world leaders.
With inputs from agencies