ST. PETERSBURG — India is committed to protecting the climate, irrespective of the Paris agreement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in St. Petersburg June 2, avoiding a direct reference to the U.S. withdrawal from the international deal in his statement.
Addressing the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said India has traditionally respected nature and desisted from exploiting it.
"Paris or no Paris, our commitment to preserving the climate is for the sake of future generations," Modi said in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement of the U.S. withdrawal from the climate change deal.
In an apparent reference to Trump's announcement, he said he made the same comment in Germany three days earlier when "nobody's comment had come."
"I said it in then, I say it now," he added.
On June 1 Trump announced the U.S. was withdrawing from the Paris climate change deal, agreed upon by more than 190 nations. He said it unfairly benefited countries like India and China.
Asked by the moderator whether India would side with the U.S. or with those countries committed to the Paris climate change deal, Modi replied, "it is not a question of which way I go. I will go with the future generations. We must leave for our future generations a climate wherein they can breathe clean air and have a healthy life," he said, emphasizing the importance of respecting those who will inherit the planet.
"India is a responsible nation with regard to climate change...We can milk the nature... Exploitation of nature is not acceptable to us," he added.
He said India had been working to protect the environment even before the Paris deal was signed in 2015.
"For the last 5000 years, even when I was not born, it has been the tradition in India to protect the environment," Modi said.
He recalled that when he was the chief minister of Gujarat, the state created a separate department for environment protection.