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Climate Change Puts Disproportionate Burden On Poor, Marginalized: Dr Harsh Vardhan, Environment Minister

“India has been ambitious in its climate change actions and expect other countries also to be ambitious based on their historical responsibility on the basis of equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities." Dr Harsh Vardhan

Addressing a gathering at the inauguration of India Pavilion at the ongoing meeting of Conference of Parties (COP-23) at Bonn in Germany on 6th November, the Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan highlighted the threat which climate change plays in society, and that the marginalized and poor sections of the planet will have a ‘disproportionate burden of climate change’ put on them.

“We have a large vulnerable population and therefore, we take the challenge seriously, especially because climate change shall put a disproportionate burden on the poor and marginalized sections of the global community”, said Dr Harsh Vardhan, adding that, “Scientific evidence clearly indicates the severity of it and the cost of delayed action. Access to clean air, water, and a livable climate are inalienable human rights. And solving this crisis is just not a question of politics, it is our moral obligation. We have only one planet and humankind must become accountable for the destruction of our collective home. Protecting our future on this planet depends on the conscious evolution of our species. Though India’s per capita emissions are only one-third of global average, and its contribution to global stock of carbon dioxide is less than 3%, it has still moved ahead with implementation of path-breaking initiatives under the dynamic leadership of the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi”

Some of the key initiatives which Dr Harsh Vardhan elaborated on in his speech were, “Achieving about 58.3 GW of Renewable Energy Capacity out of a targeted 175 GW for 2022, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana for providing free LPG connections and Ujala for embracing energy efficient LED bulbs dedicated to supporting citizens move towards sustainable lifestyle, greening of India's extensive Railway routes and Highways,  Air Quality Index launched in over 30 cities to provide real-time data of air pollution on a daily basis, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, formulated with the vision of extending the coverage of irrigation and improving water use efficiency ‘More crop per drop', Zero Effect, Zero Defect, a policy initiative to enhance energy efficiency and resources efficiency in Medium & Small Industries”. He also added, “The broad policy initiatives of the central government are supplemented by actions of the State Governments. 32 States and Union Territories have put in place the State Action Plan on Climate Change attempting to mainstream climate change concerns in their planning process. As part of our mission on strategic knowledge on climate change, we have established 8 Global Technology Watch Groups in the areas of Renewable Energy Technology, Advance Coal Technology, Enhanced Energy Efficiency, Green Forest, Sustainable Habitat, Water, Sustainable Agriculture and Manufacturing. India is one of the few countries where, despite ongoing development, forest and tree cover has increased transforming country’s forests into a net sink owing to national policies aimed at conservation and sustainable management of forests.”

Speaking about urban rejuvenation schemes and waste management, he said, “A number of schemes for transformation and rejuvenation of urban areas have been launched including Smart Cities Mission, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation. These schemes have integrated appropriate adaptation and mitigation measures for environment protection. Swachh Bharat Mission has been launched with an aim to make India clean and litter free. The government has recently revised following waste management rules to make them more effective, efficient and stringent. The government has revised six waste management rules which are more effective, efficient and stringent. These include rules for solid waste, Plastic waste, E-waste, bio-Medical and Hazardous and Construction and Demolition Waste.”

“Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana has been launched for farmers’ welfare. Another scheme has been launched to provide Soil Health Card to every farmer. Further Government of India has set up the goal is to double the income of the farmers by 2022.  Second Phase of Science Express Climate Action Special train with an aim to create awareness among various sections of the society, especially students, on the science of climate change, the observed and anticipated impacts, and different possible responses as to how climate change can be combated”, said Dr Harsh Vardhan. He further added that “Government has launched “Skill India” with the target to provide skill training in various sectors including sustainable development to about 400 million people by 2022. Another important initiative relating to rivers is the National Mission for Clean Ganga which seeks to rejuvenate the river along its length of more than 2,500 km.  Digital India has been launched to transform India into digital empowered society and knowledge economy. All these schemes contribute to mitigation and adaptation”

Dr Harsh Vardhan concluded his speech saying, “India has been ambitious in its climate change actions and expect other countries also to be ambitious based on their historical responsibility on the basis of equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities. We also believe that contribution of citizens, sustainable lifestyle and climate justice provides an alternative means to address climate change which must be rigorously pursued.”

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