France and India pledge to combat climate change

Macron and Modi express disappointment with US decision to pull out of the Paris deal, vowing to fight climate change.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is greeted by French President Emmanuel Macron on the last leg of his four-nation visit at the Elusee palace in Paris, France
The US pulling out of the climate deal could unite the rest of the world [Charles Platiau/Reuters]

France and India have shown a united front to tackle climate change when French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Paris on Saturday.

Modi’s arrival in Paris comes after US President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate agreement and at a time when uncertainty in the European Union prevails following Britain’s decision to leave the 28-nation bloc.

Modi, whose country is the world’s third-biggest emissions generator, had said in Russia on Friday that he would continue to back the deal.

“The protection of the environment and the mother planet is an article of faith,” Modi said at a joint news conference in Paris.

Together with Macron, he vowed to go “above and beyond” the provisions of the Paris accord to combat climate change.

Chandra Bhushan, deputy director of the Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi, told Al Jazeera that President Trump might unintentionally have caused the world to pull together after he announced his decision to withdraw.

“What President Trump has done was to unite the world for the first time after signing the Paris agreement“, Bhushan said. 

“It was a weak deal largely because the world wanted the US to participate in it,” he said.

“Now that the US is out, I think it is a great opportunity for the remaining 194 [states] to come together and make it really strong because most of the countries are feeling the pain of climate change.”

Macron said that, although the two hours of the talks that encompassed trade, defence and the “anti-terror” fight, the pair had “mainly discussed our commitment to the climate”.

“I want to restate here France’s full commitment to the fight against climate warming,” said the president, who reacted to Trump’s announcement Thursday with a memorable call to “make the planet great again” – a play on Trump’s pledge to “make America great again” that has been shared by tens of thousands of Twitter users.

Ties between the France and India have grown in recent years most notably in the defence sector with New Delhi ordering 36 French-made Rafale fighter jets to modernise its aging warplane fleet.

The two are also in talks over nuclear power and renewable energy deals, although the Paris visit is not aimed at sealing contracts.

Macron said he planned a visit to India before year-end for a first summit of the International Solar Alliance, an initiative launched by New Delhi and Paris during the Paris climate talks.

He added the alliance will lead to concrete measures in favour of solar energy and commit the companies of both nations.

The project seeks to mobilise more than a trillion dollars by 2030 and bring together well over 100 solar-rich countries to deliver solar energy to some of the planet’s poorest.

The two leaders said they had also discussed how to “combat terrorism” and that they would work on concrete initiatives before the end of the year to fight “terrorism on the internet”.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies