India Hits Back at Trump Over Paris Climate Deal Claims

Elephants smog
People walk inside the Ambedkar Memorial Park amidst heavy smog in Lucknow, India, on November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

India has hit back at U.S. President Donald Trump after he suggested India's decision to sign the Paris climate change agreement was financially motivated.

Trump, who withdrew the U.S. from the Paris deal last week, claimed New Delhi would receive "billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from other nations" if it signed the agreement.

However, India is investing in solar energy and is already taking steps to reduce coal output.

Trump's main criticism of the Paris climate agreement is that the U.S. was allegedly being unfairly singled out. "The bottom line is that the Paris accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States.... India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020. Think of it. India can double their coal production. We're supposed to get rid of ours," Trump said Thursday, according to CNN.

India refuted these claims. "India signed the Paris agreement not because of pressure from any country nor greed. We signed the agreement because of our commitment to protecting the environment," the country's foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, said Tuesday.

Swaraj added: "Anyone who says we have signed Paris because of the lure of money, I reject that as baseless. This is not the reality. Our signature is not out of greed or fear."

Most of India's energy comes from coal production—just under two-thirds of all energy produced comes from fossil fuels. India aims to have 40 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2030, and it has committed to generating 100 gigawatts of solar power by 2020.

Responding to Trump's comments at a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he had signed the deal because it is "our duty to protect Mother Earth."

India is the third largest emitter of global warming–causing greenhouse gasses in the world.

Modi said India would go above and beyond the Paris climate agreement.