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Remarks by External Affairs Minister at the ''EU High Level Event on Climate Change''

June 22, 2018

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here amidst you to talk about an issue of major significance to our times as well as the future, that we wish to bequeath to our children.

Our combined efforts at combating climate change have formed a key parameter with which successes or otherwise of multilateral cooperation have been assessed.

With this realisation and in the spirit of cooperation, international community came together and brought the United Nations Framework Convention Climate Change, its Kyoto  Protocol and Paris Agreement into existence.

Similarly, our comity agreed to some important landmark developments like the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Sendai  Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction among others.

At Davos, earlier this year, Prime Minister Modi referred to terrorism, environmental degradation and climate change as ‘issues which have the capacity not only to fracture but also to frustrate many good things which human race has achieved.’

These challenges are global in nature, and can be tackled only through global cooperation.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

India is committed to contributing effectively to the efforts at forging common and united action. We are also conscious of the expectations the world has from India and are striving to accomplish the objectives set out in major global agreements.

The schemes and projects of the government to address the development needs of our people balance the three pillars of sustainable development – economic growth, social development, and environmental preservation. Pursuing an environmentally-sustainable path of development has been, if I may say, a natural choice for us.

To reiterate Prime Minister Modi’s commitment, ‘We are not only aware of our responsibilities towards climate change; we are willing to take lead in mitigating its effects.’

We have set ourselves a target of generating 175 Giga Watts of solar and wind energy by 2022. We have undertaken Mission mode action to provide electricity to every household and cleaner sources of cooking fuel to poor women.

We have installed over three hundred million LED bulbs across India. We would have not only reduced the emission intensity of our GDP by 25 percent over 2005 levels by 2020, but are also committed to further reduce it by 33 to 35 percent over 2005 levels by 2030 as part of our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Today, India is the sixth largest producer of renewable energy, and the fifth largest producer of solar energy in the world. The International Solar Alliance, which we launched with France, has brought us a step closer to provide cheap and affordable energy to all. The inaugural Summit of International Solar Alliance that was hosted by India earlier this year has imparted the necessary momentum to the process.

I am extremely happy to note that the EU is closely working with India in our fight against Climate Change.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) which has opened its South Asia Regional Office in New Delhi had announced projects worth €1.4 billion in India. Most of these development projects are aimed at improving the lives of one people.

EIB is also working closely with the International Solar Alliance Secretariat and has committed to undertake solar projects in ISA member countries. EIB and the EU Delegation in India are also working on a paper on off-shore wind energy. I am hopeful that these initiatives will have a far-reaching impact.

Earlier this month, we also hosted the World Environment Day celebrations under the theme ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’. It generated tremendous interest and participation among the people of India from all walks of life who also committed themselves to move away from ‘single-use’ plastic.

Major businesses houses in India made environmental pledges to reduce plastic usage in various stages of their business processes. There is ongoing action to reduce, reuse, and recycle plastic.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Climate change poses significant development challenges, especially for developing countries. It can pose a threat to the food and water availability in developing countries, on their nutritional needs, livelihoods, health and well being, and energy security.

The response to these challenges must therefore be in terms of solutions that factor in developmental requirements.

Global partnerships and collective actions, with a genuine will to pursue sustainable lifestyles, remain critical for this purpose. There is no doubt that all countries are working towards fulfilling their commitments under these multilateral frameworks.

However, we must bear in mind that the capacity of developing countries to translate their political commitments into tangible initiatives and projects gets constrained by lack of predictable, sustained and adequate finances and technologies.

The scale of resources required for the ambitious and effective achievement of the Paris Agreement or the 2030 Agenda is enormous. The need for global partnerships, in this regard, is recognised in these processes and is at the core of all solutions offered therein.

If these major documents are not implemented to reflect equity and principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibility, or fall short of the targets because the developing countries did not receive the requisite support, it would be a setback to all the effort put in by countries in a spirit of togetherness.

I may add here that the schedule for phasing out of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol could be achieved as it was accompanied with a robust financial package to help developing countries make the transition to cleaner technologies.

The world needs a similar roadmap for finance and technology if we have to achieve the goals set out in the Convention and its Paris Agreement. In its absence, developing countries will face serious constraints in achieving their existing NDCs. Any expectations of them to enhance their ambitions should be matched with enhanced support.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Our commitment to combat climate change is rooted in our ethos, which considers the Earth as Mother. A majority of India’s a billion plus population is dependent on Mother Earth and its rivers, seas, land, and forests for all things required for sustenance including food, water, jobs, health, and energy.

We are also optimistic people, who believe in humanity’s ability to tide over seemingly insurmountable problems. We will continue to work with all stakeholders for our common well-being.

A few decades ago, renowned cosmologist and author, Carl Sagan, said that he was living in "an extraordinary age” of "stunning changes.” I believe that all of us continue to be in the age of extraordinary changes that not only explores newer opportunities but also finds lasting solutions for this generation and beyond.

Friends,

Before I conclude I would like to invoke a prayer from the Vedas that also finds mention at the very beginning of India’s Nationally Determined Contributions:

ॐ द्यौः शान्तिरन्तरिक्षं शान्तिः
पृथ्वी शान्तिरापः शान्तिरोषधयः शान्तिः ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Unto Heaven be Peace,
Unto the Sky and the Earth be Peace,
Peace be unto the Water,
Unto the Herbs and Trees be Peace
Om, May there be Peace

I thank you all.

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