India is committed to protecting climate, irrespective the Paris Climate Accord, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing the St Petersburg International Economic Forum today, even as he avoided any direct reference to the US withdrawing from the international deal.
Speaking at the SPIEF in St Petersburg in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Modi said it is in India's ethos to respect nature and desist from overexploiting it.
''Paris or no Paris, our commitment to preserving the climate is for the sake of future generations,'' Modi said while responding to a question about US President Donald Trump announcing withdrawal of the USA from the Climate Change deal.
He said he had made it clear in Germany three days back when ''nobody's comment had come''.
Timing may thwart US President Donald Trump's move to quit Paris climate pact. ''I said it in then, I say it now,'' he added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, said there was still time to reach an agreement on the landmark 2015 Paris climate change deal despite Donald Trump saying the US would quit the pact.
''Don't worry, be happy,'' Putin told the economic forum in St Petersburg.
Putin also said that he wouldn't judge Trump's decision to pull the US out of the Paris climate accord, but he said America would have had a better bargaining position to change the accord if the country had stayed in the deal. He said that the best course of action is to create circumstances where world leaders can work together to redefine the accord, and that the world needs to take the Paris agreement as a starting point and work from there.
Trump earlier in the day said the US was withdrawing from the Paris climate change deal, agreed 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 US or others on the Paris climate change deal, Modi replied, ''it is not a question of which way I go. I will go with the future generations.''
He underlined, ''we must leave for our future generations a climate wherein they can breathe clean air and have a healthy life.''
Earlier, addressing the event, the prime minister said, ''India is a responsible nation with regard to climate change...We can milk the nature... Exploitation of nature is not acceptable to us,'' he said.
He said India had been working to protect the environment even before the Paris deal reached in 2015.
''For the last 5,000 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 before 2014, the state had created a separate department for environment protection.