Modi must be bold when he talks Paris Deal with Trump 

But PM Modi has a lot of ground to cover if he really wants India to go “above and beyond” the Paris Deal, lest the pledge becomes an empty promise

Photo by Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Dhairya Maheshwari

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a strong ground on the Paris Agreement when he meets Donald Trump later this week, despite India being labelled as the “worst polluter” by the US President, climate change experts from the Centre and academia said on Thursday.

“We are on our own, with or without the US," the Indian Institute of Science’s (IISc) Professor NH Ravindranath said on Thursday, when asked by an audience member as to what would Modi be telling Trump when the two heads of state meet for the first time.

“There is hardly any government-to-government flow of climate change aid from Washington to New Delhi. The $2-$3 billion aid that the Obama administration had promised is yet to reach India. Most of the American investments are coming from their private sector. We are not going to lose out on much funding if the US pulls out,” he said.

An adviser at the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Dr JR Bhatt, stated that India was fully prepared to take the lead in combating climate change. “The onus of tackling the challenge lies with the developed countries, but India is fully prepared for the challenge,” Bhatt said.

The remarks came at a Lok Neeti Talks event “Climate Change and Implications of Paris Agreement for India” in New Delhi, and shed a light on what India’s possible posture could be when Modi meets Trump, who has a reputation of being a “climate change denier.”

Beside Trump chastising India in a public speech as he pulled out of the Paris Deal this month, Vice-President Mike Pence also took a dig at New Delhi earlier this week. “The terrible Paris Deal would have given India and China a free pass at the cost of US economy,” Pence was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

India, on the other hand, has bore the brunt of climate change in recent years, experiencing freak weather events and longstanding droughts.

“India has the biggest stake in implementing Article 2 of the Paris Deal,” Professor Ravindranath said.

Citing a yet-to-be published study, Ravindranathan said the global mean teamperature would rise by 0.3 degree Celsius more by 2100 if US weren't part of the Paris Deal. “If the Paris Agreement is followed by all countries, the mean temperature rise by 2100 could be capped to 3.3 degree Celsius,” the scientist said.

PM Modi must make good on his word

Referring to PM Modi's statement during a bilateral visit to France earlier this month, Ravindranath noted that the vow to “go above and beyond” the Paris Deal was easier said than done.

India has a lot of ground to cover by 2018, the year when the Paris Agreement would come into effect, Ravindranath said.

“We don’t have robust mechanisms in place to report on different parameters of climate change yet. Reporting vulnerability and measuring impact of climate change at the ground level remains another big challenge,” he highlighted.

“We don't have data like that exists in Europe and the US,” he said.

Ravindranath added that India had a very few good studies on the impact of climate change on agriculture.

“Food security becomes even bigger a challenge when viewed in the context of climate change,” he said, adding that farmers should be better equipped to cope with effects of climate change.

“Schemes like MGNREGA have been extremely successful in reducing the vulnerability of rural population to climate change, but they have to be strengthened further,” Ravindranath said.

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