Reiterating the message of “common but differentiated responsibilities” on climate action with the slogan of “climate justice”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the UN Sustainable Development Summit that India was already on the way to implementing several of the Agenda 2030 goals adopted on Friday.
Modi called for more global emphasis and co-operation in developing renewable sources of energy through innovation, finance and technology and, in an apparent reference to the developed world, called for lifestyle changes to arrest environmental degradation and move toward “sustainable consumption”.
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In a 13-minute speech, the Prime Minister invoked Deendayal Upadhyaya in his centenary year to draw similarities between the BJP icon’s concept of “antyodaya” — serving the last man — and the 2030 goals, and peppered his speeches with several Sanskrit phrases, including “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam” (the world is one family).
The Vedic saying “earth is the mother, and we are all her children” was the inspiration behind the formulation of several national programmes towards sustainable development, Modi said.
He listed several points of convergence, such as the government’s financial inclusion scheme for poverty alleviation, under which 180 million new bank accounts had been opened; the smart cities projects; the cleanliness campaign in cities and villages; and the plan to provide clean drinking water and 24×7 electricity.
He spoke about how the “beti bachao, beti padhao” (save the daughter, educate her) campaign “has become a mantra in every house” across the country. He pointed to how his advocacy of a “blue revolution” was in line with the concerns of global warming and the existential worries of small island states.
India had decided to move forward on economic development, Modi said, by moving away from the binary of public and private sector to focus on “personal sector”, in which the emphasis was on the individual enterprises within an ecosystem of microfinances, start-ups and innovations.
But Modi’s main message was on climate change to underline that industrialising India was already acting responsibly. He projected India’s ambitious plan to produce 175 GW of electricity through renewable energy sources by 2022, the tax on coal, energy efficiency measures, improving public transportation, cleaning up cities and rivers, and the waste-to-wealth project.
“We are all at the UN here because we believe we must co-operate in all fields, whether that is the call for development or climate change. The objective of our collective efforts is common but diffenrentiated responsibilities,” he said.
The discussion on climate change, Modi said, sometimes “gave off the smell” of encroaching on priorities of the developing world, but “climate justice” was appropriate to taking the concerns of the poor in sustainable development.