Sustainability A Moral Obligation To Our Future Generations: Harsh Vardhan

Sustainability A Moral Obligation To Our Future Generations: Harsh Vardhan


On 31st August, the third Business and Climate Summit (BCS) to showcase the voice and engagement of Indian industry in the global cause of climate change was kicked off in New Delhi with Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Science & Technology, Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, declaring that the “time had come for the developed world to fulfil its moral obligation to assist the developing countries and demonstrate sincerity in tackling climate change.”

Echoing the exhortation by the Prime Minister that “sustainability was not a technical issue but a moral obligation to our future generations”, Minister Vardhan said the “developed world that has attained its current lifestyle through fossil fuel-induced industrialization needs to realize that even with the use of less natural resources, it was possible to have better living conditions.”

The Minister said, on its part, the Government of India was currently working on developing a roadmap for implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions and has constituted an Implementation Committee and six thematic sub-committees involving key ministries and departments of the government.

He said that to achieve the goals, the Government was implementing “the National Action Plan on Climate Change which encompasses eight national missions representing multi-pronged, long term and integrated strategies for achieving the key goals in the context of climate change”. He informed the gathering that the policy initiatives of the government were being supplemented by actions of the State Governments through their State Action Plan on Climate Change. The key sectors covered by the State plans include agriculture, water, habitat, forestry, health and disaster management, among others.

Mr. Vardhan said that the Government has set an “ambitious target of 175 GW of renewable power installed capacity by 2022-end, of which 58 GW has been installed so far.” The other initiatives include distribution of energy efficient appliances and provision of free cooking gas connections to women below the poverty line. “Through the missions such as AMRUT and Smart Cities Mission, the government was transforming cities to make them efficient and climate resilient”, he added.

The private sector, he said, “was an integral part of India’s action on climate change. The voluntary actions embarked upon by Indian industry include the carbon disclosure programmes whereby the private players report their carbon management strategy and Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.” He said that India was also planning to establish a voluntary carbon market with World Bank assistance with focus on uncovered areas.

“As political leaders and representatives of the people we have a major role and responsibility towards the citizens of our country and the globe and a duty to think long term. We should listen to the voice of science seriously and act accordingly to safeguard our people against the risks posed by climate change”, Mr. Vardhan emphasized.

As for global action to tackle climate change, the Minister said that in order to strengthen the pre-2020 actions and close the emissions gap, there is a need to agree on a timeline for early ratification of the second commitment period of the Kyoto protocol. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) should enveadvour to promote developed country parties in fulfilling their commitments in the pre-2020 period.

The Business & Climate Summit (BCS) is the leading annual forum for businesses, investors and policymakers on climate action. It is where business and governments will come together to agree on a roadmap for reaching net zero emissions over the next half century. It will provide the platform for business to turn commitments into real action and look at how they take advantage of a swift transition to a low carbon economy while reducing the risk of climate change.

Mr. Inia Seruiratu, High-level Climate Champion and Fijian Minister for Agriculture, Rural & Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, said that “achievement of net-zero carbon emission world require synergies and partnerships to be developed between the stakeholders. There was a need to develop innovative technologies and find solutions for sustainable development.” He added that technology and investment were needed for reducing carbon footprints in the ecological, economic and social systems.

Ms. Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC, said that “now was the great opportunity for businesses, government and all other stakeholders to achieve truly sustainable goals. To open up and capitalize on the opportunities for reduction in carbon emissions and impart the necessary momentum to climate change solutions.”

Mr. Brice Lalonde, Chair, BCS Association & former Minister of Environment of France, stated that that business can de-carbonise the economy. “Climate change is not an environment problem but an economic problem. The Summit demonstrates that business recognizes climate change as a severe issue and the collaborative platform was a reassurance of the determination of all other stakeholders”, he said. He added that for long term certainty, it was essential to have a dialogue amongst the government, policy-makers and industry leaders.

Mr. Pankaj Patel, President of FICCI, in his remarks, said that “markets will provide the signal to scale up business action on climate change. To this end, the process to initiate the architecture for a future carbon market will be crucial.” He said that business needs policy stability in order to fuel larger investments in low carbon path pathways. Any policy reversal at the domestic and international levels will jeopardize business action on Climate Change.

He said that future policy measures and economic instruments should be designed to support the ambition and goals that have been set out as a part of NDCs rather than impose a deterrent to future action on climate change by business and industry. Climate change, he added, should offer a strong business case, business opportunity and business responsibility for businesses.

Ms Naina Lal Kidwai, Delhi BCS Steering Committee; Chair, Max Financial & Past President, FICCI, said that realizing the dominant role that non-state actors will be required to play, the Paris Agreement under the UNFCCC for the first time called on all stakeholders – governments, businesses, civil society, to collectively resolve on embarking on the journey towards a strengthened global partnership that will help deliver the net zero emissions target.

She said that to deliver just in terms of basic infrastructure alone, at least US$1 trillion is required every five years, half of which needs to come from the private sector. The positive news is that businesses have already embarked on this journey. “However, a greater push will be required from governments around the world to devise climate friendly policies that provide the much needed fiscal and regulatory assistance to push sustainability to address climate risks, accelerate the flow of affordable environmentally sound technologies and finance to scale up business models centered around mitigating the effects of climate change and adapting to its adverse effects. Business and industry has been a proactive and willing partner with governments to address the challenge of climate change. However, policy certainty and market visibility would be key to enable businesses to delve deeper into climate action”, she added.


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