US President Donald Trump describing the air in India and China as “filthy” has triggered mixed reactions on social media, with many amused or embarrassed by the statement.
Trump made the remarks on Thursday night as he denounced Democratic rival Joe Biden’s plans to tackle climate change during their second and final presidential debate ahead of the November 3 election.
At the debate in Nashville, Trump renewed his criticism that global action on climate change was unfair to the United States.
“Look at China, how filthy it is. Look at Russia, look at India – it’s filthy. The air is filthy,” Trump said at the debate in Nashville.
Trump charged that Biden’s climate plan was an “economic disaster” for US states such as Texas and Oklahoma which produce oil.
Biden said climate change is “an existential threat to humanity”.
“We have a moral obligation to deal with it,” he said. “We’re going to pass the point of no return within the next eight to 10 years.”
Trump ‘stating the obvious’
Reacting to Trump’s comments, Vishnu Som, a journalist working for India’s NDTV network, said the US president was “stating the obvious” and the country’s air is “sadly filthy”.
Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of The Print news website, said there was “no point in being outraged”.
“Every year about 15 of the 20 cities with the filthiest air in the world are in India. We’ve also done little to address this,” Gupta posted on Twitter.
Trump’s remarks came as air pollution levels in parts of the the Indian capital, New Delhi, soared to “severe” levels on Friday.
The city was blanketed in noxious haze as smoke from agricultural burning, vehicle fumes and industrial emissions – combined with cooler temperatures and slow-moving winds that trap pollutants over the city – turns air in the city into a toxic soup every winter.
India was also home to 21 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities, said the study released earlier this year.
Still, some on social media condemned Trump’s comments, calling it “a humiliation”.
“Wow. Wonderful. Great way to win over Indian Americans, Trump,” wrote US-based journalist, Wajahat Ali.
The planet has already warmed by approximately 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels, enough to boost the intensity of deadly heatwaves, droughts and tropical storms.
But Trump has been repeatedly accused of downplaying the threats posed by climate change.
The US president’s remarks came on the heels of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to New Delhi next week to hold talks aimed at covering bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest, according to the Indian government.
During the first presidential debate too, Trump had spoken critically of India, questioning its ta amid criticism of his handling of the pandemic.