Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a bold pledge on Monday at the Glasgow UN Climate Summit COP26 that India will achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2070.
Addressing the world leaders at the ‘High-Level Segment for Heads of States and Government' at the UN COP26 underway at Glasgow, Prime Minister Modi asserted that India is the only country that is delivering in "letter and spirit" the commitments on tackling climate change under the Paris Agreement.
He said India is working hard in fighting climate change and it will show results.
Modi also said that India is putting climate change at centre of its policies and stressed on the need to include climate adaptation policies in school syllabus to make the next generation aware of the issues.
"Today the entire world acknowledges that India is the only big economy in the world that has delivered both ‘in letter and spirit’ on its Paris commitments. We are making all possible efforts in a resolute manner. We are working hard and we will show results,” the Prime Minister said in a much-anticipated address.
Presenting the country's national statement at the Summit, Modi listed out five commitments of India to combat climate change with a bold announcement that it will achieve the target of net zero emissions by the year 2070.
He also raised the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) of achieving 450 giga watt non-fossil energy capacity to 500 giga watt.
"India will increase its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 giga watt by 2030; India will fulfil 50 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable energy sources by 2030. Between now and 2030, India will reduce its total projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes and by 2030; India will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 45 per cent and India will achieve the target of net zero by 2070,” the prime minister said.
"These five elixirs will be an unprecedented contribution by India towards climate action," he added.
Modi also called for lifestyle changes which can go a long way in tackling climate change and urged to make 'Lifestyle for Environment' a global mission.
"Lifestyle plays a very important role in climate change. I would like to suggest a one-word movement in the context of climate which can become a key basis for one world. This word is LIFE – Lifestyle for Environment.
"It is necessary that all of us come together as a collective partnership and take 'lifestyle for environment' forward as a movement. It can become a mass movement for an environmentally conscious lifestyle. Instead of mindless and destructive consumption, we need mindful and deliberate utilisation. This movement can help us achieve goals that can bring about a revolutionary change in diverse areas like fishing, agriculture, wellness, dietary choices, packaging, tourism, clothing, water management and energy,” he said.
Prime Minister Modi reiterated that developed nations must fulfil the promised USD 1 trillion as climate finance, saying this should be tracked the same way as climate mitigation.
"India expects developed countries to make USD 1 trillion available as climate finance as soon as possible. As we track the progress of climate mitigation, we must also track climate finance. Justice would truly be served if pressure is put on those countries that have not lived up to their climate finance commitments," Modi said.
He said that India is moving forward with great deal of courage and ambition on the subject of climate and it understands the pain of other developing nations.
"India also understands and shares the pain of other developing countries and has continuously been vocal about their expectations. For many developing countries climate change is a very big crisis looming before them, one that threatens their very existence. Today to save the world we have to take big steps. It is the need of the hour,” he said.
Sharing his sentiment about the conference on climate change in Paris in 2015, Modi said that it was not India but 1.25 billion Indians who were making promises to themselves.
“When I came to Paris for the first time for a climate summit, I came as a representative of a culture which gave the message ‘Sarve Bhavantu Sukhina’ (everyone should be happy). Therefore, the event in Paris was not just a summit but a sentiment and a commitment.
"It was not India that was making promises, it was promises that 1.25 billion Indians were making to themselves and I am pleased that a developing country like India that is working on lifting millions of people out of poverty, working day and night to ensure ease of living for millions of people and the India that represents 17 per cent of the world’s population but is responsible for only five per cent of global emissions, is that country which has spared no efforts in fulfilling its duty,” Modi said, adding that India’s contribution in climate change mitigation far outstrips its role in emissions.
The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris, in December 2015.
Elaborating on India’s track record, the prime minister said that in terms of installed renewable energy capacity, India is ranked 4th in the world and in the last seven years, India has increased its non-fossil fuel energy by 25 per cent which now represents 40 per cent of its energy mix.
"More people travel on the Indian Railways every year than the entire population of the world. This huge railway system has committed to attain net-zero emission by 2030. This initiative alone will reduce carbon emissions by 60 million tonnes annually.
"LED Bulbs campaign is reducing emissions by 40 million tons annually. Today, India is working on many such initiatives with a firm will. At the same time, with a view to collaborating with the world, it has also offered international solutions and revolutionary steps to promote solar power. We launched the International Solar Alliance initiative for climate adaptation and created the coalition for disaster resilient infrastructure (CDRI), which is an important and sensitive initiative and will help save millions of lives,” he said.
India, the world's third-biggest emitter with 1.96 tons per capita carbon emission, below China and USA which account for 8.4 tonnes and 18.6 tonnes emissions respectively.
Modi’s statement at around 10 minutes was much longer than allocated to world leaders and he expressed his apology to the chair for overshooting the time limit, but highlighted that it reflected India’s firm commitment in the area.
(With PTI inputs)