India is a very important actor and "fundamental partner" in international efforts on climate action and is making a "fantastic effort" to grow its renewable energy basket, UN chief Antonio Guterres has said.
UN Secretary General Guterres, who has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on several occasions, recalled his leadership of the International Solar Alliance and described India's gift of 193 solar panels to the world organisation as "very useful".
"There has been a huge investment in India in relation to solar power. India still has a meaningful amount of coal and we have also discussed that. And he (PM Modi) has a number of other initiatives of different sorts related to the Clean India (campaign) and many other aspects that will have, we believe and we hope, a strong impact from the point of view of India's progressive performance in relation to climate action," Mr Guterres said in response to a question by news agency Press Trust of India on India's climate action efforts.
Mr Guterres was speaking to a small and select group of journalists at a special luncheon hosted by him ahead of the high-level Climate Action Summit that will open on September 23.
PM Modi will be among the first set of speakers at the Summit in the UN General Assembly chamber along with Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, President of Marshall Islands Hilda Heine and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"So India is a very important actor, an actor with a legacy that is very complex, because of the coal weight in the production of electricity. And so India for us is a fundamental partner in this discussion. And obviously, part of the dialogue was also related to our own efforts and the need to green the UN," he said.
Noting that he would like to see environment sustainability and climate action efforts at the UN accelerated, he said "the Indian cooperation on the solar park is very useful," he said.
In response to another question, he said India is also a big coal producer but the country is making a "fantastic effort in relation to renewables and that also needs to be underlined."
On a question about nuclear power, Mr Guterres said that for some countries, nuclear energy is an important tool in their efforts to become carbon neutral, and the UN has to respect that option of those countries.
"I mean, I was talking to Prime Minister Modi and one of the things he would like to do is to add more nuclear energy" to the energy scope of the country. "This is something that we respect," the UN chief said.
In a first of its kind, symbolic Indian effort at the UN, a 50-kilowatt 'Gandhi Solar Park' will be inaugurated by PM Modi during his visit for the high-level UN General Assembly session next week, a gesture that highlights India's willingness to go beyond the talk on climate change and climate action.
At a contribution of about one million dollars, India has gifted solar panels that have been installed on the roof of the UN Headquarters in New York, one panel each for every 193 UN Member States.
PM Modi will remotely inaugurate the Gandhi Solar Park at the UN Headquarters during a special commemorative event on September 24 to mark Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary.
The event, titled 'Leadership Matters: Relevance of Gandhi in the Contemporary World' will be attended by Mr Guterres, President of South Korea Moon Jae-in, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The solar panels are powered up to reach the max of 50 KW of generation power.
India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said energy generated in the park is equivalent to energy that would have been created through use of 30,000 kilograms of coal. It also has a carbon sequestration of 1000 seedlings which will grow into trees over 10 years.
At the event, the leaders will speak on their leadership challenges and how in the contemporary world, Mahatma Gandhi's values have inspired each of them in challenges they have faced in their political lives, when they were in office or outside office as leaders.
Mr Akbaruddin said these leaders from diverse geographies will speak on Mahatma Gandhi's leadership and relevance of Gandhian approach and values in the contemporary world.
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