Last Thursday, while pulling his country out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, US President Donald Trump had heaped venom on India. He had arraigned India of signing the pact to “get billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid”. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has issued a fitting rebuttal to the American president’s tirade. “India signed the Paris pact not because of the pressure from any country or due to the lure of money. Our signature was not because of greed. We signed it due to our commitment to protect the environment,” she said on Monday.
Trump’s charges against India were demeaning, offensive and way off the mark.
India’s per capita carbon footprint is much lower than the US, which also has a history of denying its culpability in climate change. The US’s per capita emissions at 20 tonnes are more than 10 times that of India. In his speech on Thursday, Trump had said the Paris pact left the door open for India to expand its coal-powered plants while placing several restrictions on the US. The American president had got his facts wrong. In 2016, a few months after the Paris Climate Change meet, India doubled its green cess on coal to Rs 400 per tonne. India is the only emerging economy to levy such a cess. The money will go into the Clean Energy Fund that will finance renewable energy projects in the country. In fact, on several counts, India’s Paris pact commitments are way higher than that of the US. India has pledged to increase the share of non-fossil fuel energy to 40 per cent of the country’s energy mix by 2030, which is 10 per cent higher than the US’s target. The country has demonstrated its commitment to mitigating climate change by expanding the original target of the National Solar Mission by five times. It plans to install 100 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar energy capacity by 2022.
On Monday, the external affairs minister affirmed the country’s commitments to these and other goals germane to the Paris pact. In his speech to pull out his country from the Paris pact, the American president had said he was open to the climate treaty being negotiated. That would mean a complete undermining of India’s efforts — and that of other countries — in putting Paris on track. India should oppose any such move.