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India engages constructively for global action on plastic pollution

Nairobi, March 1 (IANS) India has engaged constructively with all UN member states for global action on plastic pollution. The resolution agreed at the undergoing resumed fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) respects national circumstances and capabilities and provides for immediate collective voluntary action.

Delivering the national statement on Tuesday at the opening plenary of the UNEA-5.2 in this Kenyan city, Leena Nandan, Secretary with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said India is committed to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement, based on the principles of equity, common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the light of national circumstances.

“India’s climate vision is also integrally linked to India’s vision of development aimed at poverty eradication and well-being. At COP26 (in Glasgow), as part of our commitments towards global climate action, our Prime Minister announced enhanced climate goals.”

“The goals are installation of 500 GW non-fossil energy capacity by 2030, reduction in emissions intensity of GDP by 45 per cent over 2005 levels, 50 per cent electric installed capacity coming from non-fossil sources by 2030, one billion tonnes reduction in carbon emissions till 2030 and India to become net-zero by 2070,” she said.

Further, making the planet pollution free must be the responsibility of all member states, driven nationally.

“India has been spearheading many initiatives which include the National Hydrogen Energy Mission, National Clean Air Program, restoring 26 million hectares of degraded and deforested land, development of urban forests, and conservation of species like lions and dolphins.

“At the global level, India is spearheading the Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT), One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG), International Solar Alliance (ISA) and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS).”

Sustainable development is core to India’s development strategy, Nandan stressed.

Proactive steps have been taken to mainstream the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into policies, schemes and programmes of the government. “Our sustainable development policies cover many sectors such as renewable energy, sustainable mobility, sustainable habitats and many others.”

The progress towards sustainable development goals can be accelerated through strong global partnerships in accordance with agreements under multilateral environmental conventions. “India reiterates its commitment to sustainable development, and supports global efforts in this direction.”

On plastic pollution, she said India is committed to address plastic pollution, including marine plastic pollution to reduce the adverse impact on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and human well being.

“India had piloted a resolution on addressing single-use plastic product pollution in the fourth United Nations Environment Assembly held in 2019, bringing global focus on the issue.

“Under the leadership of the Prime Minister of India resolute steps have been taken. The government has notified the Guidelines on Extended Producers Responsibility on plastic packaging. Also, the government has put in place a ban on identified single-use plastic items, which have low utility and high littering potential.”

Hosted by the UN Environment Programme, the UNEA brings together representatives of the 193 member states of the UN, businesses, civil society and other stakeholders to agree on policies to address the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.

The overall theme for UNEA-5 is “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”. This highlights the pivotal role nature plays in lives and in social, economic and environmental sustainable development.

In the run-up to the UNEA, UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen in an exclusive interview to IANS praised India’s ‘bold’ pledges and actions.

“India has also taken steps to control plastic pollution, including ban on single-use plastic and strengthening extended producer responsibility.

“India has also committed to restoring 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.”

She believes India, like every nation, must do more.

“And doing more is in the best interests of the entire nation. IEA (International Energy Agency) studies show that a transition to net-zero carbon can catalyze new industries, create millions of jobs, and drive trillions of dollars of economic value.”

To a question — Should India’s electric vehicle (EV) policy have renewable energy targets?

To which Inger responded – absolutely yes.

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