02 April, New Delhi
UN green panel chief Erik Solheim has lauded India’s efforts in embarking on a path to an “inclusive green economy”, saying that moving towards a low-carbon future would serve its own interests well.
“What we can see in India is a country beginning to embark on a path to an inclusive green economy because it makes perfect political and economic sense,” Solheim told IANS in an email interaction from Arkhangelsk in Russia, where he is attending an international conference on development of the Arctic.
Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director said the country has the potential to unlock huge development and growth with a shift to renewables.
But India, he said, is facing multiple challenges.
“There is a need to lift hundreds of millions out of poverty, address long-term energy security and cut urban air pollution. It simply cannot afford to conduct business as usual, because the arguments for this shift are so compelling.”
For Solheim, innovations in expanding solar energy in places like Tamil Nadu and Kerala send a very strong message that resonates across the country.
“We’re seeing huge private sector uptake. India revolutionised the information technology sector and I see no reason why it shouldn’t do the same for renewable energy.”
Advocating renewable sources, Solheim said these “are the future” and fossil fuels are the past.
“Innovations in how we harness wind and solar power and energy storage is also accelerating and pushing down prices. These sectors have established themselves as providers of greater energy security with more jobs, better quality jobs and better paid jobs.”
He said no country or company could afford to ignore this trend.
“When it comes to embracing a low-carbon future and building a green economy, the train has already left the station. More importantly, countries like India and China are embarking on this journey not because they wish to please others, but because they are ultimately serving their own interests,” he noted.
“That means ensuring their citizens can breathe clean air. It means building resilient economies and ensuring long-term inclusive wealth,” he said.
For Solheim, who has spent a lifetime fighting for the environment, renewables are a major economic opportunity and not an obligation.
“In that respect I am convinced there is sufficient momentum and a strong incentive to stay on this path,” he added.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)