Global cooperation crucial in fighting climate change, warns Modi

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The world must cooperate to tackle the huge challenges of climate change, terrorism and the pandemic, warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi after India officially assumed the year-long presidency of the influential G20 group of the world’s largest economies. 

“Today, the greatest challenges we face – climate change, terrorism and pandemics – can be solved not by fighting each other, but only by acting together,” said PM Modi, in a statement issued on 1 December.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photograph: Government of India

Modi added that the theme of India’s presidency of the G20 would be ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’.

He said: “Our priorities will focus on healing our ‘One Earth’, creating harmony within our ‘One Family’ and giving hope for our ‘One Future’.

“For healing our planet, we will encourage sustainable and environment-friendly lifestyles, based on India’s tradition of trusteeship towards nature.”

Modi’s comments came after G20 members issued a declaration at a recent summit on the Indonesian island of Bali to pursue efforts to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 Celsius – including speeding up efforts to phase down the unabated use of coal, of which India is a major producer and user.

In a statement to the recent 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Egypt, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Bhupender Yadav, said India had recently published a new Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategy setting out some of the ways the country intended to achieve its commitment to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2070 and making a phased transition to cleaner fuels.

The strategy includes commitments for the “rapid expansion of green hydrogen production”, a “three-fold increase in nuclear capacity by 2032” and increased use of biofuels, especially ethanol blending in petrol, “to drive the low carbon development of the transport sector”.

“India aspires to maximise the use of electric vehicles, ethanol blending to reach 20 per cent by 2025, and a strong modal shift to public transport for passenger and freight,” said the document.

Yadav added that following calls for India to show increased ambition in its 2030 climate targets, the country has recently updated its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the voluntary commitments to cut carbon emissions made by countries. “We have embarked on far-reaching new initiatives in renewable energy, e-mobility, ethanol-blended fuels, and green hydrogen as an alternate energy source,” he told COP27.

Yadav added: “India, home to 1.3 billion people, is undertaking this arduous effort, despite the reality that our contribution to the world’s cumulative emissions so far is less than four per cent and our annual per capita emissions are about one-third of the global average.”

Personal action to protect the enviroment

Yadav told COP27 that the “heart of India’s vision for a safe planet” was the Lifestyle for Environment (Mission LiFE) campaign and initiative announced by PM Modi in October 2022. According to Modi, Mission LiFE is “envisioned as an India-led global mass movement that will nudge individual and collective action to protect and preserve the environment”.

Modi added: “Mission LiFE makes the fight against climate change democratic in which everyone can contribute according to his or her capacity.

“Mission LiFE believes that the environment can be protected by making changes in our lifestyle.

“Mission LiFE makes us all trustees of the environment. A trustee is someone who does not allow indiscriminate use of resources. A trustee works as a nurturer and not as an exploiter.”

The Indian government says Mission LiFE aims to “mobilise at least one billion Indians and other global citizens to take individual and collective action for protecting and preserving the environment in the period 2022 to 2027”.

Yadav added: “The world urgently needs a paradigm shift from mindless and destructive consumption to mindful and deliberate utilisation. We are trustees of this planet earth. We must nurture it through sustainable lifestyles that optimise resource use and minimise waste.

“As the world’s most populous democracy and a vibrant emerging economy, India seeks to lead by example, and invites the global community to be a part of Mission LiFE for individual, family and community-based actions.”

Meanwhile, COP27 will probably be remembered for its decision to set up a loss and damage fund to help meet the cost of destruction caused by climate change-induced disasters, such as floods, droughts, heatwaves, famines and storms. The move will mean nations will help pay for the damage rising global temperatures is inflicting on poor countries, a decision that has been hailed as one of the major milestones in the global response to climate change.

At the closing plenary of the conference, Yadav said it was a “historic COP”, adding that the world has waited “far too long” for the loss and damage fund agreement. He added that India welcomed “the inclusion of transition to sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption and production in our efforts to address climate change in the cover decision [agreement of COP27]”, but warned the world must not burden farmers with climate change mitigation responsibilities.

“We note that we are establishing a four-year work program on climate action in agriculture and food security,” said Yadav. “Agriculture, the mainstay of livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers, will be hard hit from climate change.

“So, we should not burden them with mitigation responsibilities. Indeed, India has kept mitigation in agriculture out of its NDCs.”

Yadva also welcomed the agreement at COP27 to establish a work program on ‘just transition’, under which a low-carbon development strategy will be implemented over a time scale that ensures food and energy security, growth and employment.

However, he warned: “For most developing countries, just transition cannot be equated with decarbonisation, but with low-carbon development.

“Developing countries need independence in their choice of energy mix, and in achieving the SDGs (UN Sustainable Development Goals),” he told COP27. “Developed countries taking the lead in climate action is therefore a very important aspect of the global just transition.”


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