Paris: In a blunt warning to rich nations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today told developed countries which powered their way to prosperity on fossil fuels that it would be "morally wrong" if they shift the burden of reducing emissions on developing countries like India.
"The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities should be the bedrock of our collective enterprise. Anything else would be morally wrong," he wrote in the Opinion section of today's 'Financial Times'. He asked the developed nations to fulfil their duty to shoulder the greater burden of the fight against climate change.
In the article in the UK's leading financial daily, timed to coincide with the launch of COP 21 conference on climate change here, Modi said, "Some say advanced countries powered their way to prosperity on fossil fuel when humanity was unaware of its impact."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi upon his arrival at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris on Sunday. Pic/PTI
"Since science has moved on and alternative energy sources are available, they argue that those just beginning their development journey bear no less responsibility than those who have reached the zenith of their progress. New awareness, however, should lead advanced countries to assume more responsibility. Just because technology exists does not mean it is affordable and accessible."
"Justice demands that, with what little carbon we can still safely burn, developing countries are allowed to grow. The lifestyles of a few must not crowd out opportunities for the many still on the first steps of the development ladder," he added.
Modi reiterated his plans to launch an alliance of 121 solar-rich nations in the tropics aimed at bringing affordable solar power to villages that are off the grid. "We expect the same from the world with respect to responding to climate change," he said.
Modi along with nearly 150 world leaders world leaders are here to attend the opening of the climate summit with a central aim of the new agreement to keep global warming below 2°C over pre-industrial temperatures.
Modi, with a reference to Mahatma Gandhi, said, "We look forward to Paris with the sense of duty that Mahatma Gandhi called us to assume: We should act as trustees' and use natural resources wisely as it is our moral responsibility to ensure that we bequeath to future generations a healthy planet. India will do its part for success in Paris."
His assertion came days after US Secretary of State John Kerry said India could be a "challenge" at upcoming climate change talks in Paris beginning November 30 as it "has been more cautious, a little more restrained in its embrace of this new paradigm".