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NEW DELHI: Pitching for collective efforts to deal with critical issues of climate change and pollution, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the environment is not just a global cause, but also personal as well as collective responsibility for every individual, and environment conservation is a commitment and not compulsion for India.
"Human empowerment is impossible without a better environment and the way forward is through collectiveness rather than selectiveness," said Modi in his written message to the TERI's annual World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) which was jointly inaugurated here by Guyana vice president Bharrat Jagdeo, COP28 president designate Sultan Al Jaber of UAE, and India's environment minister Bhupender Yadav.
Underlining India's efforts to deal with the global challenges through long-term roadmap for sustainable and environment friendly lifestyle, the Prime Minister said, "Our initiatives to adopt a healthier, cleaner lifestyle include upgrading infrastructure to encourage electric mobility, increased use of biofuel for transportation, leverage hydrogen as a fuel, convert waste to wealth and water treatment plants to ensure clean rivers.
"We are striving to meet an increased portion of our demand for electricity from renewable and alternative sources of energy. Through latest technology and innovation, we are devising solutions to diverse urban challenges, particularly pollution and cleanliness."
The inaugural day of the three-day Summit saw the participants make a clarion call to keep the 1.5 degree Celsius goal alive without compromising on the principles of equity and justice at forums such as the G20 and the UN climate conferences (COPs). They also emphasized on the need to provide financial support to developing countries for facing those challenges, and looked to India for taking up leadership roles in resolving various issues during its G20 presidency.
Pointing out that it is impossible for many developing countries to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) without financing, the vice president of Guyana said, "The small countries not only need climate finance, they need a reform of the global financial system to achieve sustainable development."
Underlining the criticality of balance in the discourse on sustainable development in order to find lasting solutions, he said, "We need to reduce the production of fossil fuels, we need carbon capture, utilization and storage, and we need a mass transit into renewable energy. It is the combined action on all three fronts that will deliver lasting solutions. But often the debate is between the extremes, and sometimes it clouds the search for solutions. Balance is crucial."
In his opening address, India's environment minister noted that combating climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation transcend political considerations and is a shared global challenge. “India is contributing significantly to be a part of the solution,” he said while noting how living in harmony with nature has been traditionally in Indian ethos and the same has been reflected by the mantra LiFE or 'Lifestyle for Environment' coined by Prime Minister Modi.
The COP28 president designate, Al Jaber, who received the distinguished alumni award from TERI School of Advanced Studies on the occasion, noted that the goal of keeping 1.5 degree Celsius alive is just non-negotiable. "It is also clear we cannot continue business-as-usual. We need a true, comprehensive paradigm shift in our approach to mitigation, adaptation, finance, and loss and damage,”he said.
Recognizing the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for guiding India on its path to a sustainable future, Al Jaber said, "This great country is well on its way to becoming the third largest economy in the world. And this makes it one of the largest consumers of energy.
As such, India’s sustainable development is critical, not just for India, but for the whole world."
The first day of the Summit saw different proceedings on its theme - ‘Mainstreaming Sustainable Development and Climate Resilience for Collective Action’. India's G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant also participated in one of the key sessions where he highlighted different points around Mission LiFE, climate finance, circular economy and the need to decarbonise hard to abate sectors through green hydrogen.
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