The pledge was made during a speech with new French President Emmanuel Macron regarding the Paris Agreement on climate change, which India ratified last year. Modi’s declaration comes shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement.
Climate change is expected to cause a series of health problems in India. “Extremes of temperatures can kill”, according to a 2009 paper. The paper also predicts increased deaths from diarrhoea, vector borne diseases and flooding, all linked directly to global warming.
The Paris Agreement was created in 2015, as a global initiative to address the issue of climate change. 195 nations have adopted the agreement, and 147 have ratified it. Modi has referred to the agreement as “part of the world’s shared heritage”
Of the many goals it aims to achieve, one of the most prominent is the financial assistance to developing nations to also combat the effects of climate change. The U.S. announcement of withdrawal may limit the capacity of poorer nations to curb their greenhouse emissions.
The US was set to be donating $100 billion USD per year by 2020 to developing nations. Its withdrawal could prove particularly costly to India, which was slated to receive financial support as part of the agreement. Now a number of renewable energy projects could see funding cut.
Though originally seen as reluctant to join the Paris Agreement, India eventually joined one month after the U.S. and China. This reluctance in recent months has changed to a commitment to the agreement – though the conditions at the time of signing depended largely on financial assistance from more developed nations.
Some argue that despite the drop in donations, India may benefit from the withdrawal. The Hindustan Times claim that India’s growing renewable energy sector may benefit from US withdrawal from the agreement. With US federal policies regarding green energy now thrown into uncertainty, India’s green sector becomes a more appealing investment opportunity.
India has a number of optimistic plans to curb the country’s carbon footprint. A recent commitment to only sell electric cars in the country by 2030 caught the attention of Tesla founder Elon Musk. Musk himself recently resigned from Trump’s council as a protest to the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Indian electric car manufacturer Anand Mahindra, tweeted Musk, inviting him to join the Indian market.
Curbing carbon emissions would also be of great benefit to public health. One million Indians die every year because of the country’s poor air quality, according to a Greenpeace report published last year. Poor air quality in India’s cities are believed to have severe ramifications for the health of children, both in the short and long term – the latter increasing the risk of a noncommunicable disease epidemic in future years.
Though the outcome for India of the US withdrawal is yet to be seen, the government has been quick to assure other global leaders that India’s commitment to the deal has not faltered. Union Environment Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said “Our commitment for climate change and other issues is irrespective of whether somebody is supporting us or not…There should not be any doubt for our commitment for climate change,”