India reaffirms Paris climate commitments

Piyush Goyal told a UN energy forum in Vienna India would pursue clean energy “irrespective of what others do”, in a nod to the US debate

Piyush Goyal, Indian minister of power, coal, new and renewable energy and mines (Pic: World Economic Forum/Flickr)

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Uncertainty over continued US participation will not stop India from meeting its goals under the Paris climate accord, the country’s energy minister has said.

Speaking at a UN energy forum in Vienna, Piyush Goyal said: “The road from Paris to today has been somewhat bumpy. We will have to sort that out. But I’d like to reassure each one of you here today that India stands committed to its commitments made at Paris irrespective of what happens in the rest of the world.”

The comment aligns India with statements from leaders around the world in response to the threat of a US withdrawal from the Paris accord.

In a call on Tuesday, Chinese president Xi Jinping and the president-elect of France Emmanuel Macron pledged to defend the international climate process.

Former president Barack Obama also praised the agreement this week in a speech in Italy.

Goyal’s remarks were greeted by “resounding applause”, said Paula Caballero, the head of climate at the World Resources Institute.

“This is proof of India’s decisive leadership on climate change as they embrace the clean energy revolution to power their homes and create jobs. We live in a vibrant, multipolar world and that is what will enable us to deliver on the promise we made in Paris,” she said.

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A White House meeting on the future of US participation, scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed. US president Donald Trump is not now expected to decide until after a G7 summit 26-27 May whether to pull out of the pact or stay in.

An Australian lawmaker from the ruling Liberal Party, Zed Seselja, has hinted a US withdrawal could affect Canberra’s stance. “If they were to pull out obviously that would change the nature of that agreement,” he told Sky News, as reported in the Guardian.

Under the agreement struck in 2015, India pledged to reduce the amount of carbon pollution its economy creates per unit of GDP, a measure known as emissions intensity, and limit deforestation. It also committed to increase its share of clean electricity generation to 40% by 2030.

Despite a rapidly growing renewable energy sector, the Indian economy will remain underpinned by coal, Goyal told the Indian parliament in April. He said that the Paris agreement “does not in any way stop the government or any country from meeting its energy needs from whatever sources of energy one may choose”.

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