Coming together for climate
"Time for talks is over, the world needs to act", said Prime Minister Narendra Modi at UN Climate summit. And keeping true to his word, India looks towards furthering its endeavours in the domain of solar energy production, also given that 80 nations are already in collaboration to promote this shift in the manner of energy consumption. Urging world leaders to expedite policies to conserve the environment is a much-needed and much-delayed orientation of politics altogether. After having established numerous achievements at the cost of the environment and in that manner, superiority among competing nations, the protection and conservation of the physical environment has assumed a gargantuan significance because it has finally dawned that nature and the environment are the very locus of life—whether in a developed nation or in a developing one—and that in order to ensure any kind of qualitative sustainability in the long run, being in harmony with nature is the pre-requisite condition for it. The idea of climate resilient infrastructure had to be a necessary innovation in the times of rapidly degrading environment because reckless urbanisation and belligerent development in the chase for economic progress had caused the environment to suffer the onslaught of gross human negligence. It was not until the very air we breathe turned toxic that we realised that climate—local, regional, and as a whole—need special attention and concerted effort for not just further progress in balance with the natural surrounding and structures but also to make liveable the present times from which there is little escape.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's very first address in New York was at the Climate Action Summit on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). An element of drama that may be interpreted as a matter of significance was the unscheduled visit of US President Donald Trump as a surprise guest in the audience for 10 minutes. The US President lending an ear to the Indian Prime Minister's climate address and applauding his speech brings in picture the dramatic walk-out of the USA from the Paris Agreement. As the world leaders gathered to "discuss a leap in collective national ambition", Narendra Modi extended the proposal of a combined, collaborative effort made by nations to not only address the climate urgency but to also incorporate efforts to enable a change in the mindset and bring in a behavioural change conducive in mitigating the impacts of an erratic climate. Invoked the teachings of Gandhi's simple ways of life, Prime Minister Modi told the gathering at the UN Headquarters in New York, that "What we need is a global people's movement to bring about behavioural change. The respect for nature, the judicious use of resources, reducing our needs and living within our means have all been important aspects of both our traditions and present day efforts... We believe that an ounce of practice is worth more than a ton of preaching." Emphasising that "need" and not "greed" should be the guiding principles in the efforts to overcome the serious challenge of climate change, it was necessary to bring to highlight on the international platform that India has been championing solar energy production and has brought in its fold 80 nations that are already working with India to promote it. Saying that "We believe that an ounce of practice is worth more than a ton of preaching", coming together and acting on a war footing to manage the alarming environmental situation demands the attitude to identify with the common interest of a stable and healthy environment.
It is exemplary the way India has been working on a number of campaigns to contain climate change. Institutionalising the provision of clean cooking gas connections to 150 million families, 'Jal Jeevan' mission for water resource development, water conservation, and rainwater harvesting, call for a mass movement to shun the use of single-use plastic are just some of the efforts in this direction. India has set an example at the world stage in laying out and pursuing a road map to tackle key the key issue of climate change. This includes the Prime Minister's vow to upgrade India's non-fossil fuel target to 450 GW by 2022. Certainly, renewable energy is key to slowing down the heating of the earth and this is a sector that requires both specific education on the domestic side and political clout to bring matters to a result externally. A practical approach to the climate issue is the need of the hour. Reiterating India's commitment to the creation of 175 GW renewable energy capacity by 2022 under the Paris Climate Agreement, India's comprehensive approach covers education, values, and everything from lifestyle to developmental philosophy, ultimately making room for the necessary behavioural change. India intends to spend approximately $50 billion in the next few years on the Jal Jeevan Mission to conserve water, harvest rainwater and develop water resources and is planning to considerably increase the proportion of the biofuel blend in petrol and diesel, making the transport sector green through the use of electrical vehicles. It is commendable how India is surging ahead and setting example of how dedicated it is to curb and mitigate the effects of climate change but on a closer look, the implementation of these very right programmes will validate the efforts India is truly making.