US Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said on Monday that it is necessary to confront India and China to protect the environment.
“To be serious about protecting the environment we need to take on India and China,” Haley, who has roots in India, wrote on Twitter. “They are some of the biggest polluters.”
The former South Carolina governor’s tweet on World Environment Day sparked an online backlash, with many Twitter users pointing to the United States’ significantly larger historical contribution to global pollution.
In the past, prominent US politicians have blamed India and China for global pollution. In September, India’s former president Donald Trump blamed India, China and Russia for increasing global pollution. “China is sending real dirt into the air,” he said. “Russia does, India does — they all do.”
Days later, Trump remarked in a presidential debate that India’s air was “dirty,” prompting sharp criticism from his opponent, Joe Biden. “It’s not how you talk about your friends, it’s not how you solve global challenges like climate change,” Biden, now president of the United States, said at the time.
The United States has historically been the world’s largest emitter of plant-heating gases and is estimated to have been responsible for a quarter of the world’s historical carbon dioxide emissions. While the Biden-led administration aims to decarbonize the nation’s economy by 2050, meeting its goals requires major cuts in greenhouse gas emissions over the next three decades, according to a government report.
However, India is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States and China. A multi-agency report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization said in September that India is among the countries with the highest global carbon dioxide emissions in the first five months of 2022.
Carbon emissions in India increased by 7.5% from January to May 2022 compared to the same period last year, while the United States recorded a 5.7% increase.