New Delhi: Addressing the US-convened Leaders’ Summit on Climate 2021 in virtual format on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for “concrete action at a high speed, on large scale, and with a global scope” to combat climate change, adding he and US President Joe Biden are launching the “India-US Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 partnership” to help “mobilise investments, demonstrate clean technologies, and enable green collaborations”.
Earlier, opening the summit, President Biden said: “The United States sets out on the road to cut greenhouse gases in half — in half by the end of this decade. That’s where we’re headed as a nation … The signs are unmistakable. The science is undeniable. But the cost of inaction keeps mounting… I see an opportunity to create millions of good-paying, middle-class, union jobs.”
Prime Minister Modi, pointing out that “we, in India, are doing our part” and that India’s per capita carbon footprint is 60 per cent lower than the global average “because our lifestyle is rooted in sustainable traditional practices”, said: “Sustainable lifestyles and a guiding philosophy of ‘back to basics’ must be an important pillar of our economic strategy for the post-Covid era.”
Thanking President Biden for “taking this initiative”, Mr Modi said that “humanity is battling a global pandemic right now and, this event is a timely reminder that the grave threat of climate change has not disappeared”. He added: “In fact, climate change is a lived reality for millions around the world. Their lives and livelihoods are already facing its adverse consequences.”
Mr Modi’s remarks were in the Leaders’ Session 1 Thursday evening on the topic “Our Collective Sprint to 2030”. The two-day summit began on Thursday with nearly 40 other world leaders participating, including Chinese President Xi Jinping.
President Xi said: “China will strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060… China has committed to move from carbon peak to carbon neutrality in a much shorter time span than what might take many developed countries, and that requires extraordinarily hard efforts from China. … China will strictly control coal-fired power generation projects.”
A separate Indo-US joint statement on the partnership to combat climate change and take strong action to meet the Paris Agreement goals said it would “proceed along two main tracks — the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership and the Climate Action and Finance Mobilisation Dialogue, which will build on and subsume a range of existing processes”. It added: “The partnership will represent one of the core venues for India-US collaboration and focus on driving urgent progress in this critical decade for climate action”.
Mr Modi said at the summit, highlighting the steps India had taken: “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. That’s why we are among the few countries whose NDCs are 2-degree-Celsius compatible. We have also encouraged global initiatives like International Solar Alliance, LeadIT and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.”
Recalling the words of Swami Vivekananda, who had called on people to “arise, awake and stop not until the goal is reached”, Mr Modi called for “making this a decade of action against climate change”.