Modi, Xi vouch for Paris climate pact, Trump slams it

Donald Trump justifies US exit from Paris Agreement; PM Modi says climate change cannot be fought in silos

Modi, Xi, others reaffirm adherence to Paris Agreement at G20 side event, but outgoing American President says 2016 treaty was designed to kill US economy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Credit: Twitter (@BJP4India)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday highlighted India’s adherence to the Paris Climate Agreement at a G20 event, even as the outgoing American President Donald Trump used the same forum to continue his tirade against the 2016 accord alleging that it was “designed to kill” the economy of the United States.

“Climate change must be fought, not in silos, but in an integrated, comprehensive and holistic way,” Modi said, even as Trump defended his June 2017 decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement – a decision, which his successor Joe Biden already pledged to reverse.

China’s President Xi Jinping too stressed on the need “to follow the guidance of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and push for the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement”.

“I am glad to share that India is not only meeting our Paris Agreement targets, but also exceeding them,” the Prime Minister said. “We aim to restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030; and, we are encouraging a circular economy”.

He said that India’s next-generation infrastructure like metro networks and water-ways would also contribute to a cleaner environment. “We will meet our goal of 175 GW of renewable energy well before the target of 2022. Now, we are taking a big step ahead by seeking to achieve 450 GW by 2030”.

Though Trump has not yet conceded defeat to Biden in the US presidential elections, the G20 virtual summit chaired by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was perhaps the last multilateral conclave that he could participate before the January 20, 2021 change of guard in the White House.

Modi, Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and several other world leaders participated in the virtual meeting on “Safeguarding the Planet” that held on the side-line of the summit on Sunday.

The 45th American President has since long been blaming that the 2016 deal has gone in favour of developing nations like India and China, but put the US in a disadvantageous position.

“I refuse to surrender millions of American jobs and sent trillions of American dollars to the world's worst polluters and environmental offenders – and that's what would have happened (had the US not withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord,” Trump said at the G20 side event on Sunday, albeit without directly referring to India or China.

Though the Trump Administration initiated the process of withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord in June 2017, it came to its end on November 4 this year – just a day after the voting for the US presidential elections ended setting the stage for the imminent change of regime in the White House.

The Paris Agreement set a long-term goal to limit rise in global average temperature below two degree centigrade above the levels that existed before industrial revolution. The agreement required each country to determine, plan and regularly report on the contribution that it would undertake to mitigate global warming, albeit without forcing a country to set a specific target for lowering emission by a specific date.

India set a target to reach 175 GW of installed capacity in renewable power by 2022 as well as to achieve a 40% level of reliance on non-fossil fuel power by 2030.

Trump said during the pre-election debate with Biden on October 22 that the air in India, Russia and China were “filthy”. He apparently made the remark to reiterate his allegation that developing nations like India and China contributed more than the US and other developed countries to global worming and climate change – an allegation dismissed by New Delhi and Beijing in the past as unscientific and politically motivated.

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