'We can't live like this' as pollution takes lives: Sunil Mittal

Sunil Mittal, the chairman of Bharti Airtel Ltd
The world has “completely pivoted” to the need to tackle climate change, according to Sunil Mittal, the billionaire chairman of Bharti Airtel Ltd.

Speaking at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore on Wednesday, Mittal said he would fly back to Delhi later tonight that is “covered in smog.”

“We can’t live like this,” Mittal said. “We talk about 5 million people dying of the pandemic; we don’t talk about how many people have been choked around the world.”

Mittal was responding to a poll of forum attendees that showed 68% said the shift to remote work would be the most enduring business impact of the pandemic, with 16% saying it would be the move to a greener economy. 

“Remote work is the norm at the moment,” Mittal said. “My own view is one year from now this poll would show a reduced percentage on remote work, and the green economy will get even more momentum.”

‘Common Prosperity’

“We need to start a debate about common prosperity across the globe,” he said. “You can’t have the disparities we are seeing today. The whole approach of being insular and looking after your own countries, your own communities, needs to stop.” 

“We are actually moving in a reverse direction right now, where wealthy nations are taking care of themselves. Large parts of the world are unvaccinated today. We need to turn this clock back into more cooperation, a common prosperity for the world, rather than a few select nations.” 

The New Economy Forum is being organized by Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP -- the parent company of Bloomberg News -- committed $500 million to Beyond Carbon, a campaign aimed at closing the remaining coal-fired power plants in the U.S. by 2030 and halting the development of new natural gas-fired plants. He also started a campaign to close a quarter of the world’s remaining coal plants and cancel all proposed coal plants by 2025.

Mittal also called for wealthy countries to re-engage with the rest of the world after turning inward during the pandemic.

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