France’s Macron takes dig at President Trump for pulling out of climate pact

12 Mar 2018


French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday took an indirect swipe at US President Donald Trump for backing out of Paris climate agreement, even as he lauded the efforts of India and other nations for making International Solar Alliance (ISA) a reality.

At the founding conference of ISA in New Delhi, Macron hailed  the 'Solar Mamas', a group of women solar engineers, and referred to the countries which decided to leave the climate agreement.

Addressing the summit in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Macron said, "Mr Prime Minister, You made a dream and we did it. It was about this International Solar Alliance. It was two years ago, it was just an idea at that time and we decided all together to act very quickly and today a big change.

"Our Solar Mamas did not wait for us. They started to act and deliver complete results. They did not wait and stop because some countries (US and others) just decided to leave the floor and leave the Paris agreement. Because they (ISA nations) decided it is good for them, their children, and grandchildren, they decided to act and keep acting".

US President Trump has decided to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, which was signed by nearly 200 countries in December 2015 in an effort to curb global greenhouse gas emission and limit global warming to within 2 degrees Celsius (See: US formally announces pull-out from Paris climate pact).

In November last year, Syria signed the deal, leaving the US as the only country in the world to not support the framework deal to combat greenhouse gas emissions.

France, the co-host for the founding conference of the the ISA, which is a treaty-based international body with 121 prospective member countries, has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars for solar projects in developing countries, Macron said as world leaders met to promote greater investment in renewable energy.

Macron, who in December warned that the global shift to a green energy future was too slow, said France would extend an extra €700 million ($861.5 million) through loans and donations by 2022 for solar projects in emerging economies.

''With PM Modi, we are committed and we have same obsession-creating momentum, inspiring people and gathering them to deliver results. But we are obsessed by concrete results, so now we are creating new momentum, we take new commitment to deliver complete results for our countries and planet,'' Macron said at the launch of the ISA.

France had already committed €300 million to the initiative when it co-founded with India a global alliance in 2015 to unlock new cash for solar projects in sunny yet poor nations.

''We need to remove all obstacles and scale up,'' Macron said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi - who has committed to reducing India's sizeable carbon footprint through a massive scale-up in renewable energy - said it was vital that nations were not priced out.

''We have to make sure that a better and cost effective solar technology is available to all,'' Modi told the gathering of investors and world leaders from about 20 mainly African nations. ''We will have to increase solar in our energy mix.''

Modi also suggested looking back to the Vedas in a bid to combat climate change.

''The Vedas consider the Sun as the soul of the world, it has been considered as a life nurturer. Today, for combating climate change, we need to look at this ancient idea to find a way,'' the PM said.

He also suggested measures to increase the consumption of solar energy.

''To promote the use of solar energy, the availability of technology and development, economic resources, reduction in prices, development of storage technology, mass manufacturing, and innovation require a complete ecosystem,'' he said.

India is the world's third-largest polluter.

As many as 60 nations have signed the agreement to join ISA, while 30 have already ratified the agreement and made it possible to make it a legal entity in December last year.

Macron said the countries at the ISA represent three-fourths of the world population. As much as 20-50 per cent of the population do not have access to power.

The heads of 23 nations and 10 ministerial representatives gathered here for alliance's first summit. The joint goal is to have 1 terawatt (TW) of solar energy by 2020 for which "we need $1,000 billion", Macron said.

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