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India hits back at Trump in war of words over climate change

Posted June 6

India has hit back at US President Donald Trump, after he accused the country of receiving "billions" of dollars in return for signing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

"First of all, there is absolutely no reality [in what Trump alleged]," India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj told reporters Monday.

"India signed the Paris agreement not because of pressure from any country nor greed. We signed the agreement because of our commitment to protecting the environment."

Trump had singled out the South Asian country during a speech last week outlining his decision to end US involvement in the landmark climate deal.

"India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries," said Trump.

Repeating his insistence that the deal is inherently unfair, Trump referenced India's continued reliance on fossil fuels.

"India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020. Think of it. India can double their coal production. We're supposed to get rid of ours."

The vast majority of India's power still comes from heavily-polluting coal power plants, just under two thirds of its total capacity, but India is aiming for a target of 40% renewable energy by 2030.

India has also made commitments to generate 100 GW of solar-based power by 2020 and is aiming to have renewable energy make up 40% of its power supply by 2030.

The country ranks as the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, behind only China and the United States.

But in per capita terms, it is just the 128th most polluting country in the world, between Anguilla and the Republic of Moldova.

Swaraj underscored her country's historical commitment to the environment, citing its deep religious affinity to the natural world.

"River worship, mountain worship, tree worship ... This is India's cultural heritage. Whether the US stays or not, India will continue to remain in the Paris agreement."

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it clear when the Paris Agreement was first broadly agreed to in 2015 that developed countries needed to shoulder more responsibility for reducing carbon emissions.

"Democratic India must grow rapidly to meet the aspiration of 1.25 billion people, 300 million of whom are without access to energy," Modi said at the time.

However, speaking at a news conference alongside French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday, Modi vowed to "continue working...above and beyond the Paris accord."

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