PM avoids committing to deadlines on climate, says concrete action needed

PM Modi said India’s per capita carbon footprint was 60 per cent lower than the global average.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday avoided committing to any deadlines on emission levels or climate change goals, and said India had always been responsible in protecting the climate, was doing enough, and remained committed to sustainable development. 

Modi reiterated support for a joint US-India effort called the “India-US climate and clean energy Agenda 2030 partnership”. He said it would help mobilise investments, demonstrate clean technologies, and enable green collaborations, thus creating a corpus that would assist other developing countries in protecting the climate by adapting technology. 

This initiative was first mooted during the visit, earlier this month, of the US Special Envoy on Climate Change, John Kerry. However, neither India nor the US mentioned a sum that would be set aside for this initiative.

The PM was speaking at a virtual global climate summit called by US President Joe Biden that was addressed by more than 40 world leaders. 

“For humanity to combat climate change, concrete action is needed. We need such action at a high speed, on a large scale, and with a global scope. We, in India, are doing our part,” Modi said. “Our ambitious renewable energy target of 450 gigawatts by 2030 shows our commitment. Despite our development challenges, we have taken many bold steps on clean energy, energy efficiency, afforestation and biodiversity.”

He counted the launch of the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure as India’s contribution to protection against the effects of climate change.

Unlike Sheikh Hasina, prime minister of Bangladesh, who squarely blamed the developed world for putting the climate at risk by reckless consumption, Modi did not get into a blame game but emphasised that a sustainable lifestyle “against a guiding philosophy of back to basics must be an economic pillar of our economic strategy for the post-Covid era”.

Modi said India’s per capita carbon footprint was 60 per cent lower than the global average. This, he said, was because India’s lifestyle “is still rooted in traditional sustainable practices”. Modi said the importance of lifestyle change in climate action could not be emphasised enough. This is why India has, and will continue to welcome partners to create templates of sustainable development, he said.

“Cooperation between India and the United States particularly on financing innovation and faster deployment of green technologies would have a positive demonstration effect on other countries,” he said, quoting Vivekanand: “Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.”

Before him, in a brief address, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping emphasised on the need to observe international law while undertaking climate change.

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