India's Modi urges 'comprehensive' climate deal

2015-10-29 14:52
Narendra Modi. (File: AFP)

Narendra Modi. (File: AFP)

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New Delhi - India's prime Minister Narendra Modi called on 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".

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 2°C over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

"We are each making enormous efforts with our modest resources to combat climate change," said the Indian premier in a wide-ranging speech to delegates from all 54 African Union nations in New Delhi.

Rich nations

"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."

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.

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

On Thursday Modi invited African nations to join an alliance of solar-rich countries that he plans to launch at the start of the Paris summit on November 30.

But New Delhi has rejected calls to curb its use of heavily polluting coal, saying developed countries were mostly to blame for climate change.

'Bright spots of hope'

The approximately 1 000-delegate summit represents the highest number of foreign dignitaries to descend on India since 1983 and is aimed at boosting India's economic ties with Africa.

New Delhi has worked hard to showcase its commitment to Africa's economic rise as it vies for a greater share of the continent's natural resources.

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

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

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

China has faced criticism for using foreign labour to build infrastructure and extracting Africa's natural resources.

Although he did not mention China by name, Modi said India wanted to help African countries develop, as he pledged $10 billion in concessional credit over the next five years.

Africa and India were "two bright spots of hope and opportunities in the global economy", he added.

Modi held 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.

On Thursday he was due to meet other African leaders including Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Modi used his speech to urge African nations to support reform of the United Nations, saying it and other global institutions "risked becoming irrelevant" if they did not adapt to a changing political and economic landscape.

India and Africa are together home to a third of the world's population, but neither India nor any African country has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

"Our global institutions reflect the circumstances of the century that we left behind, not the one we are in today... unless they adjust to the changing world, they risk becoming irrelevant."

Read more on:    narendra modi  |  africa  |  india  |  climate change

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