The Prime Minister of India met Donald Trump Monday, with plenty to talk about—except for one subject. On climate change and the clean energy transition, Narendra Modi and Trump apparently had little to say to each other.
“The absence of any mention of climate change in the [leaders’] public statements spoke volumes,” said Manish Bapna of the World Resources Institute in a release. “The omission signifies discord, not apathy, on climate, and lies in stark contrast to the productive U.S.-India talks of recent years.”
At a news conference in which Trump broke with tradition (and normalcy) by banning reporters’ questions, the leaders mentioned energy only once, when Trump announced an impending agreement for the export of U.S. natural gas to India.
There was no mention of the many ways in which the world’s second-most populous nation is following a different course from its wealthiest and most powerful one—starting with differences over the Paris climate accord. Modi has staunchly defended Paris, even as Trump withdrew his country from the landmark global deal.
InsideClimate News helpfully draws out some of what went missing in the silence. Most dramatically, the report cites “India’s abrupt energy turnaround” from “planning a massive build-out of coal power to meet growing demand” to a circumstance where “experts now say India won’t need any new coal plants for a decade, and after that may be able to rely on renewable energy sources rather than coal.” Giant Coal India announced last week that it was shutting 37 money-losing coal mines. Meanwhile, “India is set to become the world’s third-largest solar market this year” as solar prices continue to fall. The shift has put the country “on track to meet its Paris pledge” of cutting its economy’s carbon intensity 30% by 2030, ICN notes.
As it turns out, thanks to resolute city and state governments and enlightened corporations, the United States may also be able to meet its Paris pledges, despite Trump’s (on this occasion) silent hostility to the accord.