India US relationship and the Paris Agreement

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With Prime Minister Modi in the US to meet Unites States President, buzz around the India-US relations is on the cards. India and US have shared a bilateral relationship for more than two decades now with relations getting better than all time under the former President Mr. Obama’s leadership.
President Trump has his own individualistic approach towards the foreign policy and he has taken few major decisions such as the recent pull out from the paris agreement on climate change, resetting of ties with NATO and attacked the Trans-Pacific trade agreement. Sticking to his strict attitude towards Pakistan sponsored terrorism, he has addressed India as a victim of terrorism.

On 1st June 2017, President Trump while announcing his decision to pull out from the paris agreement on climate change said “India makes its participation [in the climate agreement] contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries” which has saddened the Indian Government. United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley while talking to CBS news said “We don’t need India and France and China telling us what they think we should do”.

US and China are top two contributors of the carbon dioxide emissions in the world with 14.3 percent and 29.4 percent emissions of the total respectively. India is also a significant contributor to the carbon emissions with 6 percent carbon dioxide emissions of the total. President Trump while making the announcement also said that the Paris Accord punishes US by asking to restrict its carbon emissions while allowing India and China to keep exploiting their resources.He said “India is allowed to double its coal production by 2020 under the deal. Trump also attacked neighbouring China, claiming the deal allows it to increase its carbon emissions for the next 13 years.” But the statistics explain that US carbon emissions are more than twice the entitled / allowed emissions while India and china are way behind the entitled emissions.

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Source: Scroll.in

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The paris accord is structured around bottom up voluntary pledges i.e each participating country decides its own mitigation actions and financial support. To represent US as victim of fundamentally misinterprets the agreement as the targets are completely voluntary. US can not cease to honour the agreement legally as a party can only withdraw after 3 years once it enters into force. Therefore US can not exit before November 2019.

All the comments made by the US president would have definitely added disgrace to the progressive relationship both the countries have shared for the past two decades but it has not affected any of the defence projects which have the major stake in India-US relationship. This also signifies the relationship won’t be affected much by the US decision on paris agreement as both countries have many more things to collaborate and discuss.

Prime Minister Modi when asked about the US pullout from the paris accord said “I would put it very simply. I am simply talking about the aspirations or the dreams new India has for itself.” He then explained that the vedas, “the knowledge bank of India” from about 5,000 years ago, talked about protection of the environment.“[In the vedas] it was mentioned…we have the right to milk nature, however, we do not have the right to exploit nature,” he said.

While global leaders condemned the Trump’s decision to exit the agreement, German Chancellor, French President and Italian Prime Minister jointly released a statement which reads “We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated, since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies”. India has been modest and firm that it believes conserving energy and resources for the future generations instead of being loud against the decision taken by the U.S. president.

There are issues which are important to be discussed in the upcoming meet of the two national representatives. India is likely to put across its concerns about H1B visa to the skilled workers. “I would like to assure the country that we are in touch with the members of the US Congress and the administration on this matter. When the Prime Minister travels there (later this month) this is one of the issues he is planning to raise,” Minister of external affairs Sushma Swaraj had said. Also India will focus on strengthening its defence partnership with US and technology advancement for clean energy initiatives.

With UNEP chief praising India and China leadership for their commitment to the paris accord and most of the global leaders already criticising the move India should keep their modest attitude and look forward to a long run relationship.