WITH US President Donald Trump having already decided to pull his country out of the Paris Agreement, climate change has fallen off the radar of the India-US relationship as well. The joint statement issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Trump was almost silent on climate change, unlike similar statements in recent past.
The only mention of climate change in the statement was regarding the two leaders calling for a “rational approach” that balances “environment and climate policy, global economic development and energy security needs”.
This is in sharp contrast to the two previous such statements during US President Barack Obama’s visit to India in January 2015, and the return visit by Modi to the US in June 2016. On both occasions, climate change dominated the agenda of discussions, and it was reflected in the strong partnership the two countries were forging on the issue.
Eleven of the total 59 paragraphs in the joint statement of January 25, 2015, following Obama’s visit, were dedicated to climate change and clean energy partnership between the two countries. That was in the run-up to the Paris climate change conference, slated for December that year, and both Obama and Modi were leading the efforts to finalise a global agreement on climate change at that conference.
The joint statement after Modi and Obama’s meeting in June last year in Washington had a separate section on ‘Advancing US-India Global Leadership on Climate and Clean Energy’ — seven paragraphs, out of a total of 50, were addressed only to this cause.Almost all high-level interactions between the two countries in the last two years, including the visit of then US Secretary of State John Kerry last year, had prominent focus on climate change.
Trump, however, has made a complete U-turn on the issue. Earlier this month, he decided to deliver on his campaign promise to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement. Amongst other things, he cited unfair advantages that the agreement apparently offered India as one of the reasons for pulling out. Trump had also claimed, incorrectly, that India had made its participation in Paris Agreement contingent on “billions and billions and billions” of dollars in foreign aid. India has not officially reacted to the US withdrawal.