Difficult to Escape Calamities till Climate Concerns Become Part of Culture: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said climate and calamity are linked to culture and it will be difficult to avoid calamity as long as concerns for the climate do not become a part of culture. “Climate and calamity have a direct relationship with culture and till the concerns over climate become a part of culture, it will be difficult to escape calamities,” he said.

The Prime Minister was on Wednesday presented the United Nation’s Champions of the Earth Award by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron were jointly awarded under the ‘Policy Leadership’ category for their work in championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting new areas of cooperation on environmental action.

Modi said the award is for all those unknown faces, who work in far-flung settlements, mountainous regions and tribal areas for years. In his address, he said the honour bestowed on him is a recognition of Indian tribes living in forests who respect trees more than their lives, its fishermen who capture only as much fish as they need to earn their living and farmers whose lives are intertwined with the cycle of seasons. It is also an honour for Indian women who have worshipped trees as gods, he said. “Reuse and recycle” have always been a part of their lives, the PM said.

He said from agriculture and industrial policies to building houses and construction of toilets, the need for a clean environment has been driving his government’s programmes. The country’s commitment to environment has only increased, he said, adding that this government is working to bring down “emission intensity” by 20-25 per cent in the next two years against its 2005 figure and by 30-35 per cent by 2030. “We have also pledged to get rid of single-use plastics by 2022,” he said.

Modi cited Hindu texts to refer to India’s tradition of respecting nature which, he said, has always been part of Indian society. He said his government has succeeded in changing people’s behaviour accordingly. He also said that cutting edge technology and renewable energy are the basis of his government’s “smart city” project, while “per drop more crop”, soil health card and organic farming are a priority in agriculture, he said.

Further, he said the poor are the worst victims of climate change. He said his government has been pursuing policies to further quicken the rate of economic growth to give them a life of dignity. Crores of people have come out of extreme poverty in the last few years, Modi said. He said he had spoken about “climate justice” during the Paris agreement, which was signed in 2016 with an aim to deal with climate change.

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