French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have said their countries will cooperate in the fight against climate change, just days after the US withdrew from the Paris climate agreement.
Mr Modi, whose country is the world’s third biggest emissions generator, said in Russia on Friday that he would continue to back the deal and Mr Macron has said the 2015 Paris agreement is irreversible despite US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw.
“The protection of the environment and the mother planet is an article of faith,” Mr Modi said at a joint news conference with Mr Macron in Paris.
The two leaders, who met for the first time, announced no contracts or new initiatives. Mr Modi arrived at the Élysée Palace shortly before lunch, greeting his French counterpart with a bear hug in front of photographers.
“We are both convinced that our countries have to do a lot for the ecological and environmental transition and the fight against global warming,” Mr Macron said, adding that France would go above and beyond its Paris agreement commitments.
He said he planned a visit to India before the year’s end for a first summit of the International Solar Alliance, an initiative launched by Delhi and Paris during the Paris climate talks.
Mr Macron said the alliance will lead to concrete measures in favour of solar energy and commit the companies of both nations.
The alliance seeks to mobilise more than a trillion dollars by 2030 and bring together well over 100 solar-rich countries to deliver solar energy to some of the planet’s poorest communities.
The two leaders said they had also discussed how to combat terrorism and that they would work on concrete initiatives before the end of the year to fight terrorism on the internet.
Ties between the two countries have grown in recent years, most notably in the defence sector, with New Delhi ordering 36 French-made Rafale fighter jets.
The pair are also in talks about nuclear power and French utility company EDF in January 2016 signed a preliminary pact to build six Areva-designed European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) at Jaitapur, on India’s western coast.
But last month, India’s cabinet approved plans to build 10 reactors of indigenous Indian design and said that India would not buy foreign reactors unless these reactors were already in operation.
Four EPRs are under construction in France, Finland and China, but all are years behind schedule and not a single EPR is in operation yet.
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