UNITED NATIONS: A top United Nations official has said that this year, more than ever, the international community counts on India for its contribution to multilateralism as a force for good - from COVID-19 vaccines to climate action and peacekeeping.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, addressing the inaugural session of the World Sustainable Development Summit 2021 Wednesday, hailed efforts by India to bolster its renewable energy basket and achieve its climate action goals.
"India is currently the only G20 country that will overachieve the objectives of its nationally determined contributions. So much has been done already. As India is seeking greater energy security through a revolution in solar, wind and energy storage, installing 450 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030 will bring more jobs, cleaner air and a more secure power grid," Mohammed said.
She underlined that India's efforts provide a "template and a path" for others to follow, in particular through the international cooperation that this very institute represents.
"This year, more than ever, we count on India for its contribution to multilateralism as a force for good - on COVID-19 vaccines, climate action and peacekeeping. Extreme weather and pathogens are transnational. Our solutions must be, as well," she said.
Mohammed began her address by expressing her condolences to the people and the government of India for the loss of life and damage caused by the glacier burst and flash flood in the northern state of Uttarakhand on Sunday.
"Climate change is destabilising our world, and the consequences are often terrifying. My heart goes out to Uttarakhand," she said, adding that such catastrophes remind nations of their global imperative to make peace with nature.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the World Sustainable Development Summit 2021 via video conferencing. The theme of the Summit, which is the flagship event of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), is 'Redefining our common future: Safe and secure environment for all'.
In his address, Modi said the road to fighting climate change is through climate justice. He added that India's intent is supported by concrete action and powered by spirited public efforts, India is on track to exceed its commitments and targets from Paris.
"We committed to reduce the emissions intensity of GDP by 33 to 35 per cent from 2005 levels. You would be happy to know that a drop of 24 per cent in the emission intensity has already been achieved," she said.
Modi underlined that India is ready to do whatever possible to further sustainable development. "Our human-centric approach could be a force multiplier for global good," she added. The top UN official hailed India for being an "active, influential" player on climate change from the very beginning.
She said that even before the Paris Agreement, India was acting "thoughtfully and strategically" on its energy, environment and development priorities. "You have translated this strategic thinking into policies and programmes," she said.
She applauded Prime Minister Modi for standing "resolutely" with the 2015 Paris Agreement and launching two major environmental initiatives in the time since - the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 in New York and the International Solar Alliance, launched jointly with President of France during COP21 in Paris in 2015.
"India is now poised to lead on the development of technologies that produce low-carbon steel and cement as co-leader with Sweden of the Leadership Group for Industry Transition. And I look forward to seeing the path you will chart to get to net-zero emissions and a climate-resilient economy by mid-century," she said.
Mohammed emphasised that these efforts have not just national, but regional and global impact. She expressed confidence that India can lead the way. "India can count on the full support of the United Nations. Our expertise and convening power at the global and country levels will maximise the impact of our partnership," she said.
The world is facing a 'uniquely challenging moment' due to the global pandemic and less than a decade left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, she said. Last year more than 100 nations committed to net-zero emissions by 2050, or in the case of China, before 2060.
She described this as significant momentum as more than 70 per cent of the world economy and 65 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions are now committed to net zero. "But, this is not enough. The global coalition for net-zero emissions needs to grow, to cover the entire G20 and more than 90 per cent of the emissions," she said.
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told the Summit that India is leading from the front and implementing all its climate pledges well before time. Javadekar said India has reduced emission intensity and increased forest cover under the leadership of the Prime Minister.
"Four international reports say that India, under Modi, is leading from the front and implementing all its pledges well before time. We have reduced emission intensity, increased forest cover and given a new target for the restoration of degraded land and 450-gigawatt target of renewable energy will be achieved. This is our country's ethos," he said.