Prime Minister Narendra Modi left no doubt about the country’s position during his speech at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Friday, reiterating India’s support for the historic agreement.
“Paris or no Paris, our commitment to preserving the climate is for the sake of future generations. I would rather take the side of our future generations,” Modi said during an interactive session at the forum. He said he had made the same comment in Germany three days ago when “nobody’s comment had come”, an apparent reference to Trump’s announcement. “I said it then, I say it now,” he added.
Asked by the moderator whether India would side with the US or others on the Paris climate change deal, Modi replied, “It is not a question of which way I go. I will go with the future generations,” adding, “We must leave for our future generations a climate wherein they can breathe clean air and have a healthy life.”
Earlier, addressing the event, the prime minister said, “India is a responsible nation with regard to climate change… Exploitation of nature is not acceptable to us.”
The PM said India had been working to protect the environment for millennia. “For the last 5,000 years, even when I was not born, it has been the tradition in India to protect the environment,” Modi said during his address as guest of honour at SPIEF with Russian President and host Vladimir Putin by his side.
He recalled that when he was the chief minister of Gujarat before 2014, the state had created a separate department for environment protection.
Several ministers also supported the Paris accord.
“India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership has taken up renewable energy as an article of faith and is steadfast on its Paris commitments, irrespective of what others do,” power minister Piyush Goyal said in a statement in Delhi.
Environment minister Harsh Vardhan echoed this sentiment.
“Our government is committed, irrespective of the stand of anyone, anywhere in the world. It has been the stand of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The PM had provided leadership at the Paris summit,” he told reporters. “We are committed to ensuring that we will do our best to address the issue related to climate change and global warming.”
Trump declared on Wednesday that the US would withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate accord, saying the “draconian” deal unfairly punished America but benefited countries such as India and China.
“India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries. There are many other examples. But the bottom line is that the Paris accord is very unfair, at the highest level, to the United States,” Trump said.
The Paris agreement commits the US and other countries to keep global temperatures increases “well below”2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and “endeavour to limit” them to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
MODI GOVT PLAYED KEY ROLE
It may be recalled that the Modi government had played a significant role in the negotiations leading up to the Paris climate agreement, pitching strongly for greater financial commitment from developed nations and arguing firmly for the growth requirements of developing nations.
India firmly pitched its INDCs — Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or climate action commitments — against the backdrop of its developmental aspirations.
The INDCs submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as part of the Paris agreement clearly mentioned that its targets are framed “keeping in view its development agenda, particularly the eradication of poverty coupled with its commitment to following the low carbon path to progress and being sanguine about the unencumbered availability of clean technologies and financial resource from around the world”.
India is committed to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels and to base about 40% of its cumulative electric power installed capacity on non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030 with the help of transfer of technology and low-cost international finance including from the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
India’s INDC document also listed various other mitigatory measures it is taking by way of doing away with subsidies on fossil fuels, an increase in the coal cess to help finance clean energy projects and switching to clean coal technologies.
It also said that although coalbased power accounts for about 60.8% (167.2 gw) of India’s installed capacity and it will be necessary to ensure affordable power in the country, a number of steps are being taken to improve the efficiency of such plants and to reduce the carbon footprint.
That apart, India’s share of nonfossil fuel in total installed capacity is projected to rise from 30% in 2015 to about 40% by 2030. The renewable power target of 175 gw by 2022 will result in abatement of 326.22 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.
“We must acknowledge two realities. The rest of the world will have to continue to act on climate change, regardless of what the United States does. “The task will get tougher, of course, but it will also demonstrate that the Paris agreement was a collective endeavour, not merely contingent on US action or inaction,” Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), said on the US decision to dump the Paris treaty.
“Secondly, the US, by becoming an outlier on climate action, will also soon realise the folly of its decision — that it will lose out on investment, jobs and market opportunities in a lower carbon economy,” he said.