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Environment

U.S. should back words with actions if rejoins climate pact: Indian minister

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The United States should quickly back its words with actions if, as expected, it rejoins the Paris accord on combating global warming, India’s environment minister said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: India's Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar delivers his speech during a meeting at the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

President Donald Trump has questioned climate science and withdrew the United States from the 2015 accord, which it formally exited this month.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin the pact and invest $2 trillion to wean his country off planet-warming fossil fuels.

“(The) U.S. is welcome but should fulfil its responsibility,” Prakash Javadekar, minister for environment, forest and climate change, told Reuters in response to whether the Paris talks and processes would get fresh momentum with a new U.S. administration in place.

“We want all countries to join but ... they should ... not bring in new issues into the discourse. We want action to start immediately.”

Meeting the Paris Agreement’s target of capping warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius should be a top priority, Javadekar said.

India, the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases and just behind China on its consumption of coal, has yet to commit to pursuing net-zero emissions.

Struggling with some of the worst pollution on earth, India has pledged to increase the share of renewable energy to 40% of installed coal capacity by 2030, from 23.3% now.

Last month, Trump described India as “filthy”.

That prompted Biden - whose Vice President Kamala Harris is half-Indian - to tweet: “It’s not how you talk about friends — and it’s not how you solve global challenges like climate change.”

Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hit a record high this year, according to a United Nations report in September, despite the economic slowdown linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

Reporting by Neha Arora; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and John Stonestreet

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