‘Time to talk is over, time to act now’: PM Modi at UN climate summit in New York
The time for talk is over, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Monday at a UN climate Action summit that was marked by growing impatience and exasperation with climate skeptics such as US President Donald Trump who was in the audience and was the unmistakable target of some speakers.
“The time for talking is over and the world needs to act now,” Modi said, and, recounting India’s aspirations and actions in this regard such as increased reliance on renewable energy, he aligned himself with the spirit of the summit called by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres to implement and advance the Paris Accord, and participants that included a mix of political and business leaders and activists.
Businessman Michael Bloomberg noted President Trump presence and thanked him for it, with the irony of it not lost on the audience, hoping he might take something back. And activist Greta Thunberg who excoriated practically every one for not doing enough in a much applauded speech.
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“We believe than an ounce of practice is worth more than a tonne of preaching,” Prime Minister Modi said and proceeded to invite member nations of the world body to a new initiative India is launching to help commercial infrastructure withstand natural disasters and challenges, called the Coalition of Disaster Resistant Infrastructure.
The prime minister also told the gathering of an initiative that India was co-leading with Sweden launch a leadership group of the Industries Transition Track to prepare a low-carbon pathway for industries in a public-private partnership.
Modi also recounted with some satisfaction progress on the International Solar Alliance India launched with France in 2015 n the sidelines of the signing of the historic Paris Accord, which had also bagged him and the French president Emmanuel Macron the top UN environment award in 2018. And, he also told them, he would be inaugurating the installation of solar panel on the roof of the UN headquarters building on Tuesday, at an event to mark the 150 anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
Modi said he believes not enough is being done to meet the challenges posed by climate change. “We need today a comprehensive approach that would include education, values, lifestyles and development philosophy,” he said, and called for a “global campaign to forge behavioral change”,
India’s approach to development is marked by “need, not greed”, the prime minister said and detailed some of the measures being undertaken to combat and mitigate the impact of global change — phasing out of single-use plastic and increased reliance on renewable and non-fossil sources of energy.
The prime minister reminded the audience India is committed to increasing to the generation of 450 gigawatts of renewal energy. According to an earlier June announcement by the renewable energy ministry, India plans to add scale up its renewable sources of energy by 2030. India would have created 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022 without taking into account large hydro and 225 GW”, Reuters had then reported citing an official.
Other speakers at the summit included Macron, New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, Germany’s Angela Merkel and business leaders such as Bloomberg, who has been an activist on environment and his impatience with climate deniers was on one full display in the opening minutes of his speech.
But the star of the summit turned out to be the young Thunberg, whose impassioned plea for urgent action received the most applause.
“This is all wrong,” she said. “I shouldn’t be standing here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to me for hope? How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”
She had begun by saying, “We will be watching you”.