Indian PM Narendra Modi with French President Emmanuel Macron. Photo: Jacques Demarthon/Pool/AFP
Speaking two days after US President Donald Trump announced plans to withdraw from the deal on curbing carbon emissions, Modi said it was “part of the world's shared heritage” and that India would “continue working…above and beyond the Paris accord”.
The agreement signed by 195 countries in the French capital in 2015 “can protect future generations and give new hope,” the Indian leader said.
He avoided direct criticism of Trump's move, however.
Macron said that during two hours of the talks that encompassed trade, defence and the anti-terror fight the pair had “mainly discussed our commitment to the climate”.
“I want to restate here France's full commitment to the fight against climate warming,” said the president, who reacted to Trump's announcement on Thursday with a memorable call to “make the planet great again” — a play on Trump's pledge to “make America great again” that has been shared by tens of thousands of Twitter users.
Macron said he would visit India, the world's third-largest carbon emitter, by the end of the year for an international summit on solar power — an area on which France plans closer cooperation with the Asian power.
The Frenchman has led Europe's defence of the Paris accord in the face of Trump's climate scepticism.
As justification for his move Trump accused China and India of benefitting from the deal at the expense of the US.
Modi said protecting “mother Earth” was part of Indian culture, enshrined in the country's holy texts.
Arriving at the presidential palace the 66-year-old prime minister hugged 39-year-old Macron, in scenes contrasting with Macron's white-knuckle handshake with US President Donald Trump last week.
On Friday, the Indian government said it was committed to the Paris climate accord irrespective of the position of other nations.
“As far as the Paris accord is concerned… our government is committed irrespective of the stand of anyone, anywhere in the world,” Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan told reporters.