India's Modi urges 'comprehensive' climate deal

Modi said no one had contributed less to global warming than India and Africa

Afp October 29, 2015
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI: India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Thursday for a "comprehensive and concrete" agreement on climate change in December, as he addressed African leaders at a major summit in New Delhi.

Modi said no one had contributed less to global warming than India and Africa, warning that "the excess of (the) few cannot become the burden of many".

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He was speaking as world leaders prepare to meet in Paris in December to try to reach an agreement on tackling climate change, with the goal of capping warming at two degrees Celsius over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

"We are each making enormous efforts with our modest resources to combat climate change," the Indian premier told delegates from all 54 African Union nations gathered in New Delhi.

"So, when the world meets in Paris in December, we look to see a comprehensive and concrete outcome that is based on the well established principles in the UN Convention on Climate Change."

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Modi also invited African nations to join an alliance of solar-rich countries that he plans to launch in Paris on November 30.

India has pledged to generate 40 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources within 15 years in an action plan submitted to the UN.

But India, which relies heavily on polluting coal, has rejected calls to curb its use, saying developed countries were mostly to blame for climate change.

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Developing countries insist rich nations should lead the way in slashing climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions, arguing they started polluting earlier, and should bear a heavier duty for fixing the problem.

But industrialised nations balk at being saddled with a higher burden of responsibility.

Delayed for nearly a year due to the Ebola crisis, the approximately 1,000-delegate summit represents the highest number of foreign dignitaries to descend on India since 1983 and is thought to be the biggest ever overseas gathering of African leaders.

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Modi will meet Thursday with leaders of countries including Angola, Ethiopia and Egypt after holding talks on Wednesday with leaders including Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, the oil-rich nation key to India's energy interests on the continent.

New Delhi has worked hard to showcase its commitment to the continent's economic rise and historic friendship with African nations -- with some thinly veiled jabs at China -- as it vies for a greater share of its natural resources.

India's economic presence in Africa is dwarfed by China, whose bilateral trade with the continent topped $200 billion last year -- more than the GDP of the 30 smallest African economies combined.

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Despite more than doubling since 2007 to $72 billion in the fiscal year 2014-15, India's two-way trade with Africa is still comparatively small.

But it is gaining ground, dominated by the energy sector and led by private entrepreneurs.

Modi said Africa and India were "two bright spots of hope and opportunities in the global economy," as he pledged $10 billion in concessional credit over the next five years to African nations.

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"India is now a major source of business investments in Africa," he said.

"Today, 34 African countries enjoy duty free access to the Indian market. African energy helps run the engine of the Indian economy; its resources are powering our industries; and, African prosperity offers growing market for Indian products."

Africa primarily exports raw materials to India, including precious metals, gemstones and oil, which are then processed into goods such as cut diamonds or refined petroleum products.

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