NEW YORK: The Global Climate Action Summit opened in New York on an exceptionally warm Monday in New York City, with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking in almost identical language about the urgency of action to mitigate this unfolding catastrophe.
The UN top diplomat set the tone by underlining that this is not a climate talk summit, but a climate action summit. “This is not a climate talk summit. We have had enough talk. This is not a climate negotiation summit. You don’t negotiate with nature. This is a climate action summit,” Mr Guterres told the 74th session of the UN General Assembly on September 23.
This exasperation with tortuous rhetoric and endless talk in the name of climate change negotiations also came through in speeches by the first four leaders who spoke in the opening session, which included PM Modi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine.
PM Modi, who has shown vision and initiative in steering India to low-carbon growth, told the world community tersely that concrete action alone can redeem the planet from the corrosive effects of global warming. “The time for talking is over; the world needs to act now,” he said.
Outlining India’s holistic vision for addressing the burning issue of climate change, Mr Modi said: “What is needed today, is a comprehensive approach which covers everything from education to values, and from lifestyle to developmental philosophy.”
“What we need is a global people’s movement to bring about behavioral change,” he said in a concise but forceful speech that lasted barely there minutes.
The 69-year-old Indian leader, who was re-elected over 100 days ago with a stunning mandate, underscored the need for urgent action, saying: “We believe that an ounce of practice is worth more than a ton of preaching.”
Mr Modi showcased multifarious steps and initiatives taken by his government to address the issue of climate change on a war footing. These included visible progress in increasing the share of renewable energy capacity to 175 GW by 2022, with the ambitious target to achieve 450 GW of renewable energy in the not too distant future. “In India we have made plans to make our transport sector green through e mobility. India is also working to considerably increase the proportion of the biofuel blend in petrol and diesel. We have provided clean cooking gas to 150 million families,” he said.
“PM Modi unveiled India’s roadmap and practical approach to climate change,” said Mr A. Gitesh Sarma, Secretary (West) in India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
The overarching message that emanated from Mr Modi’s concise but forceful address at the global climate action conference is that India is ready to walk the extra mile and is positioning itself in a leadership role in the global fight against climate change. In this context, he referred to his pet project of the International Solar Alliance which already boasts of 80 members cutting across geographies.
Going forward, Mr Modi announced that India is readying to launch a Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure and exhorted UN Member states to join this coalition.
The world will witness another shining example of India’s enduring commitment to mitigating climate change when Mr will inaugurate solar panels on the roof of the UN building, which has been funded by India at a cost of $1 million.
(Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is in New York to report on and analyse the 74th session of the UNGA and PM Modi’s visit to the US)
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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