Donald Trump dumps Paris climate pact, attacks India; Modi vows to protect environment
Donald Trump’s supporters have cast his decision to abandon the Paris climate pact as a “refreshing” stance for the US that would save jobs and unburden industry.Updated: Jun 02, 2017, 23:54 IST
President Donald Trump on Thursday pulled the US out of the historic Paris climate accord, saying it was bad for his country and unfairly advantaged India and China, striking a strident note not entirely unexpected given his past remarks on the issue.
Trump’s decision provoked anger and condemnation from world leaders and heads of industry. It also came at an awkward moment as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to make an official visit to the US later this month.
Though Trump left the door open for renegotiating the agreement or entering a “new transaction”, neither India nor China, both major players in the signing of the Paris accord, indicated they were inclined to go back to the negotiating table. China is set to take a leadership position with the EU to press ahead with the deal.
Speaking at an economic forum in St Petersburg in Russia, Modi said India is committed to the Paris accord irrespective of the course chosen by other countries. Replying to a question, he quoted the Vedas to say harming the environment is a crime and milking nature is the right of the humans.
Modi said he was asked a similar question in Germany earlier this week, before the US decision was made public, and had replied, “Paris or no Paris, it is our conviction to protect the environment. We have no right to snatch from our future generation their right to have a clean and beautiful earth.”
New Delhi didn’t seem too concerned by Trump’s announcement, which it had expected, or about the impact of Trump’s remarks on the upcoming meeting of the two leaders in Washington later this month.
“Climate change was never going to be a topic of discussion with this administration anyway given its known views on the issue,” a source said. “We are pressing ahead with our on ambitious emissions mitigation targets, and, as is now being said, we may even surpass them.”
Making the announcement at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, Trump, who once said global warming is a hoax perpetrated by Beijing, singled out India and China as he listed the reasons for withdrawing from the climate change accord.
“India makes its participation (in the Paris accord) contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries,” Trump said in support of his contention that the agreement was unfair to the US and gave preferential treatment to other countries such as India and China.
This was a reference to India’s long-standing position on climate change, and one widely shared among developing nations, that developed nations must shoulder a larger share of the blame for global warming.
And, two, while “India can double their coal production”, the US is “supposed to get rid of ours”, Trump said about America’s self-determined mitigation goal of cutting coal-based power generation and moving to other cleaner sources of energy. He attacked China and Europe on coal use as well.
There was no response from the White House to a request for comments on if, and what, were the Trump administration’s expectations from India in the light of the president’s India-specific remarks.
Trump had earlier accused India, China and Russia of not contributing enough towards the mitigation effort, the Green Climate Fund, which was set up to help developing nations switch to cleaner technology.
India has plans to increase coal production to fuel the surging power demands of a rapidly expanding economy, but it has also committed to shifting to renewable sources, fixing a target of 40% of its total energy basket by 2030.
Climate Action Tracker, a leading body monitoring climate change pledges, recently said in a report that India and China are expected to do so much better than their respective Paris Accord targets that they might be able to offset the shortfall from Trump abandoning America’s goals.
Besides, Trump’s meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping in April went off seemingly unaffected by the president’s pre- and post-poll rhetoric against China, which he had accused of being a cheat and a currency manipulator.
The US is the second biggest carbon emitter after China, and had contributed about $3 billion to the global climate fund. In 1991, the US had withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol after agreeing to it.
Signed in 2015 after nearly three years of negotiations, the Paris accord came at a time when scientists had called for now-or-never measures to combat global warming. That year, and the year after that, turned out to be the hottest on record.
India and China were able to protect their interests by ensuring they did not have to accept any emission cuts and reduce emissions from coal-fired plants by way of differentiated responsibility for historical emitters, rich nations such as the US.
The two countries also defied pressure from rich nations to pay for climate change mitigation, funds that would go to the most vulnerable countries and for technologies that will make the environment cleaner.
But unlike Trump’s assertions, India and China also agreed to compromises. They agreed to lower emission reduction goals for rich nations and to a review of their climate mitigation targets every five years.
(With agency inputs)