New Delhi: Greenpeace India Sunday expressed disappointment over the Indo-US joint announcement on climate change, saying it did not go beyond the "rhetoric and the usual platitudes", although it noted that the agreement reached to phase out HFCs marked a big shift.
The NGO said that despite the optimism that had preceded the visit, both President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had only indicated a personal commitment to a strong deal at the crucial climate negotiations to be held in Paris later this year, but did not announce anything new or significant towards that.
"It was indeed heartening to hear Modi speak about the fact that 'climate change is a pressure' and to protect future generations it is the responsibility of leaders to act on climate change. Modi's government has a massive opportunity to make a mark on what is undoubtedly the critical issue of our times.
"What he decides on climate action is going to be a defining moment in his tenure as Prime Minister. His ambition for renewable energy must create the impetus India needs to chart a new energy pathway and demonstrate India's leadership on the global stage," said Vinuta Gopal, Climate and Energy Manager, Greenpeace India.
Greenpeace has been urging developing countries to leapfrog the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, to immediately move to environmentally-safer alternatives for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to avoid unnecessary damage to the climate.
"The announcement that US and India have reached an agreement on phase out of HFCs is certainly good news," she said, adding that "the elephant in the room is the unbridled coal expansion that India is witnessing".
Noting that Delhi's air pollution has hit historic highs this winter, she said, the fact that Obama and Modi have agreed to work on addressing the issue of air quality is a significant step forward.
India and the US today announced steps to boost cooperation in clean energy and confront climate change issues.
Speaking at a joint press conference with the US President, Modi said that the challenge posed by global warming was enough reason for countries to take action and hoped there would be a "successful" agreement in the forthcoming climate conference in Paris at the end of the year.