UN Summit, climate change, US, Howdy Modi, renewable energy
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is among the first set of speakers at the summit’s opening ceremony. Photo: Twitter/Narendra Modi

At UN, Modi to pitch India's plans to tap into renewable energy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi who reached New York on Sunday (September 22) night after addressing the ‘Howdy Modi’ event at Houston, is expected to speak on the NDA government’s ambitions on renewable energy and make a call for a coalition for disaster resilient infrastructure at UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ High-Level Climate Action Summit on Monday (September 23).

Modi, who has bilateral and multi-lateral talks scheduled for the next five days of his stay in the US, will attend the 74th session of the UN General Assembly on Friday (September 27).

The Indian prime minister is among the first set of speakers at the summit’s opening ceremony. The gesture is significant and is given only to heads of state, government or ministers who have a “positive development” to announce on climate action. Modi is the fourth speaker after Guterres, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern and president of Marshall Islands Hilda Heine. German chancellor Angela Merkel will speak after Modi.

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More than 63 countries have been invited to speak at the summit, which will witness government offering solutions to reduce emissions and build climate resilience. The countries which will not speak at the event are the US, Brazil and Japan.

“India’s approach to climate action is multifaceted because anything that we do has an impact, which is global in nature,” PTI quoted India’s permanent representative to the UN ambassador Syed Akbaruddin as saying.

Akbaruddin said Modi could articulate his ambition towards renewable energy as well as propose a coalition of nations for disaster resistant infrastructure, similar to India’s leadership of the International Solar Alliance.

“So we are not looking at one area, one segment, we are looking at certainly renewable energy because energy is a key component. Also we are an energy-thirsty country so our needs of energy are huge and renewables are increasingly going to play a key role in that. What PM Modi will perhaps articulate is his ambition for renewables in the future beyond what was promised in 2015,” Akbaruddin said.

The Paris Climate Agreement was signed in 2015 and aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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Modi has said that India has a capacity of 4GW and the country has set a target of adding 100 GW of solar power by 2022.

Guterres, in a media interaction last week had said that only those who “come with positive steps” will speak at the summit. “If you have positive things to announce, you will be given the floor (at the Climate Action Summit). That was the criteria. “Those who are ready to increase their efforts, we want them to speak. Those that do not want to increase their efforts, have nothing to announce, they can speak in other meetings,” Guterres said.

India is also expected to talk about the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, a group of about 30 plus countries that will work towards common goals of having infrastructure, which is resilient to climate and disaster. India is working with countries like the UK and small island states like Fiji and Maldives who face problems of climatic nature.

“So, (India) will bring to the table this coalition as a tangible demonstration of our willingness to work in partnerships,” Akbaruddin told PTI.

He added that India has the ability to convene people or countries that are not only geographically different but economically diverse as well. India, a member of the G-20, has many friends who are developing countries.

“So what we intend to do is to leverage that ability to work across the board and to bring to the table a group of countries who are ready to address issues of infrastructure. Whenever there is a cataclysmic climate event, infrastructure gets undermined and overwhelmed very quickly, and it becomes very difficult for developing countries or countries who do not have economic wherewithal to address these,” he said.

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The prime minister may also talk on water preservation and sustainable use of energy by the transport sector. “India is a water stress country and efforts we will do about preservation of water, how we will try and address water related issues is another major aspect,” he said.

Akbaruddin further said that transport and heavy transport are key users of energy and India will see how it can address the challenges and make them more sustainable.

“There are a whole host of issues that we will address in a holistic manner, but all will be tangible, very action-oriented and will be focused,” he said.

The Climate Action Summit will see leaders make national statements, followed by statements of coalitions and national statements again.

(With inputs from agencies)

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