Time to act on climate change, says Modi at UN meet

The time has come to act on climate change instead of talking, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the United Nations climate summit in New York on Monday.

Modi, who shared the UN Champions of the Earth Award along with French President Emmanuel Macron last year, said India is launching an initiative to help commercial infrastructure withstand natural disasters and challenges.

Along with Sweden, his country is also preparing a low-carbon pathway for industries.

Such climate action is based on a comprehensive approach that includes education, values, lifestyles, and development philosophy. India’s approach to development is marked by need, not greed, Modi said.

He called for a global campaign to forge behavioural change.

The International Solar Alliance India launched with France in 2015 on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris was a success, Modi said, adding that a solar panel would be fixed on the roof of the UN headquarters building on Tuesday at an event to mark the 150 birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Modi ended his speech by pledging to increase renewable energy capacity by 2022.

US President Donald Trump, who made a brief appearance at the summit along with Vice President Mike Pence, warmly applauded Modi’s speech and left.

Earlier, opening the summit, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told world leaders to do more to tackle climate change.

Any temperature rise above 1.5 degrees could cause irreversible damage to the Earth’s ecosystems. Ignoring this, many countries are still using fossil fuel. This may make temperature rise above 3 degrees by the end of the century, the UN chief said.

The climate emergency is a race nations are losing, but it is a race they can win, Guterres said.

If people do not change their ways of life, they will destroy life itself, he said.

Pope Francis, in a video message to the summit participants, said although the situation is not good for the planet, the window of opportunity is still open.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the international community must listen to scientists and youth around the world.

Germany has 1% of the world’s population and 2% of the world’s emissions, Merkel said.

She pledged to phase out coal by 2028 and make the country carbon neutral by 2050.

Berlin will invest $1.5 billion in the green climate fund, she added.

French President Emmanuel Macron invited his counterparts from Chile, Colombia and Bolivia to a meeting on protecting the world’s rain forests.

Macron welcomed Russia’s move to ratify the 2015 Paris agreement.

Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg from Sweden said when the world is facing mass extinction, some leaders are still talking about economic growth.

Thunberg, who inspired the student-led Fridays for Future movement, told world leaders that if they choose to fail youth, they will never forgive them.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged developed countries to be role models to others in reducing emissions.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said leaders have a responsibility to build the best possible world for posterity.

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir pledged carbon neutrality by 2040.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison did not attend the summit as the Amazon rainforest keeps burning and the government Down Under sticks to its pro-coal agenda.