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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Good green policies make for good politics: Arvind Kejriwal in climate summit address

Kejriwal attended two sessions via video conferencing at the C40 World Mayors Summit.

delhi Updated: Oct 12, 2019 03:17 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal participates in the C40 Cities Summit at Copenhagen, Denmark over video conference, in New Delhi on Friday.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal participates in the C40 Cities Summit at Copenhagen, Denmark over video conference, in New Delhi on Friday.(ANI Photo)
         

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal Friday addressed the climate summit in the Danish capital of Copenhagen through video conferencing with the message, “good environmental policies also make for good politics”.

Kejriwal attended two sessions via video conferencing at the C40 World Mayors Summit. While in the first session he highlighted the measures taken by his government to curb air pollution in Delhi, including the introduction of the odd-even vehicle rationing plan and shutting down thermal power plants, his speech in the second session found a mention of 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

Referring to Thunberg’s popular “How dare you?” speech at the UN climate change summit last month, Kejriwal said, “Many among us can have differences with Greta Thunberg’s ways and methods but, with time, more people across the globe are joining her in the larger fight against climate change and pollution. When it comes to pollution, we have to understand that people are not just ready, they are demanding certain changes now.”

He addressed both sessions in Hindi and said he intends to do so at all international forums hereon. “I am not against speaking English, but when it comes to representing India, I’ll speak in Hindi,” Kejriwal later said in a press statement.

In the first session, Kejriwal began his address by apologising for not being able to make it to the C40 World Mayors Summit. “I wanted to be there, but couldn’t due to unavoidable circumstances. I offer my apologies for the same,” the chief minister said from his Delhi office.

Kejriwal was to lead an eight-member delegation at the summit that started on October 9 and will continue till October 12. The chief minister was scheduled to leave on October 8 but was forced to cancel his trip after the Centre did not grant him permission to go.

The Centre on Wednesday had defended its decision, saying it was meant for “mayor-level” participants, and was not commensurate with the status of Delhi chief minister. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had dismissed the Centre’s explanation and said it was using the nomenclature at its “convenience” to “mislead people”.

Kejriwal, while stating that Delhi is now a signatory to the C40 clean air cities’ declaration, said over the last three years, his government has taken “systematic efforts” in the fields of mobility and infrastructure which has reduced Delhi’s air pollution by around 25%.

“We have implemented many interesting measures in Delhi. One of them is the odd-even road space rationing arrangement. We put a lot of restrictions on the procurement as well as the operation of diesel vehicles. We also shut down all thermal (coal-based) power plants in the city,” Kejriwal said.

The Delhi government will be rolling out the third edition of the odd-even plan from November 4-15.

He mentioned the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s plan to introduce 1,000 electric buses in the next few months and its plan to get people to opt for electric vehicles.

The chief minister also said in the coming days, the Delhi government is going to make a special task force (STF), with him as chairperson, to monitor the implementation of the C40 declaration.

Talking about industrial areas of Delhi, he said his government had initiated a subsidy scheme through which industries are being incentivised for switching to cleaner fuels.

“Earlier, Delhi used to have a lot of power outages. Over the past two years, we have ensured that the city gets an uninterrupted power supply because of which as many as 0.5 million diesel generator sets, which were used as a power backup, have become redundant,” he said.

“We also have the largest network of air quality monitoring stations in India which helps us in decision making. All these behavioural and policy changes were possible only because of the cooperation from the people of Delhi, who even allowed themselves to be subjected to harsh emergency measures to mitigate pollution,” Kejriwal said.

First Published: Oct 11, 2019 22:04 IST

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