‘Time to say goodbye’: PM Modi goes global with campaign against single-use plastic
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asked the world to join India to end single-use plastic at a global climate change meet near the national capital Delhi. “I believe the time has come for even the world to say good-bye to single use plastic,” the prime minister said, linking single-use plastic to degradation of land that is the focus of the 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) at Greater Noida on Monday.
More than 60 countries already have introduced bans and levies to curb single-use plastic waste but there is still no clarity on the impact that the decision has had. A report by the United Nations Environment Programme says only 30 percent of these countries had reported a drastic decline in use of single-use plastic after the ban.
PM Modi cited India’s experience with Swacch Bharat campaign that expanded sanitation cover from 38 % to 99% in five years to underscore that real change would not come by introducing new frameworks but would be powered by teamwork on the ground.
The UN report estimates that one to 5 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. Five trillion is almost 10 million plastic bags per minute. If tied together, all these plastic bags could be wrapped around the world seven times every hour.
PM Modi also announced that India would raise its target for restoring degraded land from 21 million hectares to 26 million hectares by 2030. “I would like to announce that India would raise its ambition of the total area that would be restored from its land degradation status, from twenty one million hectares to twenty six million hectares between now and 2030,” PM Modi said at the 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
Stressing on India’s commitment to protect forest land, PM Modi said India had increased its forest cover by 0.8 million hectares between 2015 and 2017 alone. He said, any chopping of trees in India due to developmental projects are compensated by planting more trees.
The climate change meeting, COP 14, is critical because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its special report on climate change and land released last month, said the land surface temperature has increased by 1.53 degree C since the pre-industrial period.The report called for addressing land degradation to help mitigate climate change because of large reserves of carbon in the soil.
At the end of the deliberations, the meeting is expected to adopt a New Delhi Declaration to specify how countries will achieve their voluntary targets.