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Paris Agreements ‘Trumped’

Donald Trump seems misguided, as India will have to invest heavily into renewable energy to meet its NDC targets, where it has aimed to make 40 percent of the population dependent on renewable energy by 2030.

Photo Credit : Reuters

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President Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreements, citing that India and China are the ‘world’s leading polluters’, and the agreement gives them a financial advantage over USA. He cited that India gets to double its coal production by 2020, while USA has to ‘get rid’ of its coal jobs.

However Trump seems misguided, as India will have to invest heavily into renewable energy to meet its NDC targets, where it has aimed to make 40 percent of the population dependent on renewable energy by 2030.

Although coal production is set to increase in India by 2020, what Trump needs to understand is that India has a different development trajectory compared to the US, and it still has to provide energy sources to a majority of the population which is still living in poverty.

Also, looking at cumulative emissions and emission rate, India’s contribution to global greenhouse gases emissions is just 2.5 percent with 17 percent of the world’s population, while developed countries contributed a fifth of emissions with just 5 percent of the world’s population, a sentiment echoed by Piyush Goyal, Minister of Power, coal and renewable energy.

While reaffirming India’s commitment to environmental protection, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said, “Paris or no Paris, it is our conviction that we have no right to snatch from our future generation their right to have a clean and beautiful earth."

"It is part of our thinking and for that reason we do not believe in exploitation of the nature. We people do not have the right to take more than necessary from the nature," he said.

Since his days as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi had remained committed to environmental protection, with the government in Gujarat even having a department for environment protection, the fourth government in the world to do so and Modi authoring a book on climate change, the second world leader to do so after Al Gore.

Refuting Trump’s claims, Sushma Swaraj, the External Affairs Minister said that “Our signature in the pact was not because of greed, it was not because of fear, we signed it due to our commitment to protecting the environment.”

With the whole world moving towards renewable energy, Trump’s announcement is set to be a setback for USA in the future, which will lose out on jobs and opportunities in the low carbon economy.

Criticizing Trump’s decision, Dr RK Pachauri, former Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said “The President’s ignorance of the reality in his own country is brought out by his statement "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris". He is obviously unaware that according to a recent reports Pittsburgh is currently providing 13,000 jobs to people working in the renewable energy field, far more than those working on fossil fuel based energy supply. That city is today a center of an upsurge in renewable energy developments.”

With India, China and Europe now in front seat in the battle against climate change, USA must reassess its decision, in order to not lose out.

“All in all, the Trump decision on Paris accord does not serve his intent of ‘America first’, but actually puts America last in a race that the rest of the world is now likely to speed up in contrast with the US. It is inevitable that in a few years US industry may feel left behind and will put pressure on the US Administration to rejoin the Paris accord and possibly enhance its demand for reduction of GHG emissions. At that stage, ironically, it may become apparent that Donald Trump actually helped the rest of the world in banding together and moving resolutely forward and retarding opportunities for US industry,” added Pachauri.

With one of the biggest emitters of green-house gases backing out of the Paris agreements, it is up to the rest of the world to buckle up in this fight against global warming, in order to keep temperature rise below 2C, which will have catastrophic effects if not dealt with seriously.