India was dragged, screaming and shouting, into the 2015 Paris Climate Accord by the last US administration, led by Barak Obama. Now Obama’s successor Donald Trump has, in a show of extreme hubris and through unintelligible and strange logic, unilaterally pulled out of that deal.
While the rest of the world is scrambling to take stock of the unusual situation, Trump went ahead and heaped insults on India. Adding to his incompressible logic and relying on his source of fake information, he said that India has taken “billions and billions and billions” of dollars of aid from the US. Which timeline he was referring to was not clear. At this point, India’s external aid amounts to $300 million, and of that the US portion is $100 million.
The obtuse observation apart, US’ departure from the pact leaves India holding a candle burning at both ends.
The pact can survive without the US’s participation, but with one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases out of reach for control, and with domestic demands for more energy unending, it would be difficult for India to explain its staying within the ambit of the accord to its citizens.
China has said it will uphold the high claims of carbon footprint reduction made in the pact, but while it itself remains one of the highest emitters of greenhouse gases, this claim by China will go down with difficulty.
Trump said the deal was “draconian”, one that unfairly punished America but benefited countries like India and China.
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” Trump reportedly said. “As president, I have one obligation, and that obligation is to the American people. The Paris Accord would undermine our economy, hamstring our workers, weaken our sovereignty, impose unacceptable legal risks, and put us at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world.”
Last October, India ratified the accord, becoming the 62nd country to do so. That had completed the 55-country quota, though it had not completed the 55 percent of emitting nations’ quota. That level was at around 52 percent, and falls far short of the target with the US’ departure.
Does this leave India, too, an alley to depart if the going gets hot? The rest of the decisions could be more political than legal.
—India Legal Bureau