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US Will Soon Realise Its Folly Of Exiting Paris Agreement, Say Indian Climate Experts

"The Paris Agreement was a collective endeavour."

02/06/2017 5:17 PM IST | Updated 02/06/2017 5:17 PM IST
Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump refers to amounts of temperature change as he announces his decision that the United States will withdraw from the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

NEW DELHI -- United States President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of a global agreement on curbing emissions to counter climate change will damage years of hard work, but won't crush the strategy, Indian climate experts said on Friday.

"It is unfortunate that the US is pulling out of the Paris Agreement," said Ajay Mathur, DG at non-profit energy think-tank The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), and former head of Bureau of Energy Efficiency in India. Mathur, a key member of the Indian delegation at COP21, added that the absence of the US leadership and its financial support in implementing the ambitious agreement would likely delay the push to reduce global emissions, but this would not destroy the long-term plan.

"We believe that the positive trends in the decline of prices of renewable energy and energy efficiency will continue to drive global action to ensure that global temperature rise remains well below 2 °C," he said.

Indian climate experts said that despite the US' premature exit, other countries will be able to pull through and stay on course.

Jacky Naegelen / Reuters
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers a speech during the launching of the International Solar Alliance on the opening day of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen

'We must acknowledge two realities," said Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, Council for Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), a New Delhi based think-tank. "The rest of the world will have to continue to act on climate change, regardless of what the United States does. The task will get tougher, of course, but it will also demonstrate that the Paris Agreement was a collective endeavour, not merely contingent on U.S. action or inaction."

"Secondly, the United States, by becoming an outlier on climate action, will also soon realise the folly of its decision--that it will lose out on investment, jobs and market opportunities in a lower carbon economy."

The US exit will not be very "dramatic", according to Indrajit Bose of the non-profit Third World Network. Even with its exit, the US will be have to be around for four more years, according to Bose, as it takes that much time for the "exit to take effect".

Amit Dave / Reuters
Workers clean photovoltaic panels inside a solar power plant in Gujarat, India, July 2, 2015. India's $100 billion push into solar energy over the next decade will be driven by foreign players as uncompetitive local manufacturers fall by the wayside, no longer protected by government restrictions on the sector. REUTERS/Amit Dave

However, the US exit might build pressure on India. "Modi and India will be stuck between a belligerent EU asking them to take more responsibility and Trump squeezing on the other side," according to senior journalist Nitin Sethi, who has followed climate change and India's environment policies for years.

In his speech announcing the US withdrawal, Trump claimed that the agreement unfairly benefits countries like India. However, India's commitments towards curbing emissions does not depend on foreign aid. India's big investment in solar energy will in fact help it become one of the top three countries producing solar power.

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