Bernie Sanders calls for India, US to combat climate change, not do arms deals
Senator Bernie Sanders, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, on Monday slammed the arms deal agreed between India and United States during President Donald Trump’s visit as a sop to “enrich” defence firms and said the two countries should rather work together to combat climate change.
“Instead of selling $3 billion in weapons to enrich Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed, the United States should be partnering with India to fight climate change,” the senator wrote on twitter, referring to the three big defense manufacturers. “We can work together to cut air pollution, create good renewable energy jobs, and save our planet.”
India is a signatory to the 2015 Paris Accord and has continued to work towards its self-determined mitigation targets. The United States, on the other hand, was pulled out of the accord by President Trump, who has since gone on to reverse many mitigation measures, seriously imperiling its ability to meet its self-determined targets.
Sanders, who has endorsed and adopted a progressive plan to combat climate change called the “Green Deal”, has been critical of the president’s decision to pull out of the Paris Accord and then rescind anti-climate change steps announced by the previous administration of President Barack Obama.
His criticism of the sale of $3 billion worth of military helicopters and other equipment to India was intriguing as India doesn’t need to be pushed, if that is indeed what he is suggesting, to fight climate change, which it has acknowledged as a serious challenge and has resolved to fight it. India continues to work with other signatory countries to take the accord forward, in fact, through new alliances such as the award-winning Solar Alliance with France and launched a Coalition for Disaster-Resilient Infrastructure at the UN climate action summit in 2019.
As a testimony to its efforts, the Climate Action Tracker, which monitors countries and their ability to meet their Paris Accord targets, has said India has emerged as a global leader in renewable energy, and remains on track to “overachieve” targets. The tracker rates the United States’s actions as “insufficient”, and given Trump administration’s to pull it out of the accord, “critically insufficient.”
The senator might be arguing here for the United States to work with India to combat climate change instead of selling it arms. But the two are not binary choices,
The senator in now at the top of the Democratic race for the presidential nomination, and has tightened his grip on through significant victories in nominating contests, such as in Nevada last week. Former Vice-President Joe Biden still leads in the polls though, according to the RealClearPolitics aggregate.
The senator has criticized India for the restrictions in Kashmir imposed the abrogation of Article 370 in August. “India’s action is unacceptable,” Sanders said last September. “The communications blockade must be lifted immediately and the United States government must speak out boldly in support of international humanitarian law and its support of a UN-backed peaceful resolution that respects the will of the Kashmiri people.”
Sanders has been endorsed and supported by two of the four Indian American members of the House of Representatives, Ro Khanna, who is also a co-chair of the senator’s campaign, and Pramila Jayapal, who had endorsed him in in 2016 bid for the nomination as well. The Indian American community, which mostly votes Democratic, has endorsed Biden, as part of a wider coalition with other Asian American communities.