Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leader of the world's third-largest greenhouse gas-emitting nation, won't join his U.S. and Chinese counterparts at a United Nations climate summit next month in New York.
Modi will skip the Sept. 23 event, according to the Economic Times, thwarting a potential meeting between the heads of states for the three largest greenhouse gas emitters — arguably the nations that will drive international negotiations next year in Paris.
Modi's absence is a bit of a blow to the summit, as India hasn't made the type of ambitious gestures that China and the U.S. have floated.
China, the world's top greenhouse gas emitter, has intimated it might make sizable commitments to curb carbon pollution — state media reported earlier this month that Beijing plans to eliminate coal use by 2020 in six major districts. The U.S. is pushing ahead with a proposal to slash power-sector emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, an effort that Obama said can secure buy-in from other nations.
Elected in May, Modi has fancied himself a climate champion, helping spur renewable energy adoption when he was chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat. But he is considered a nationalist, and his campaign centered on economic revival. Much of India's rural poor still lack access to electricity — and the country happens to have a significant amount of coal.
The Economic Times noted that Modi has a Sept. 30 meeting with Obama. The publication said that if Modi attended the climate summit, the Indian leader "would have nothing to do" during the intervening week.