New Delhi: Energy, city mobility and transformation of the agriculture sector are the three major areas the Indian government needs to focus on to tackle climate change, according to Erik Solheim, executive director of UN Environment.
Solheim noted that India’s approach at the international climate change negotiations had undergone a major change.
“I think there is a sea change. Ten years back India was so defensive in negotiations. Now India is taking much more front seat role … much more positive looking," he added.
On whether India was doing enough to tackle climate change, he said no one was doing enough.“I think I need to list two or three main issues. Energy is number one … to really spur the solar and wind revolution. Secondly traffic … India need to do a lot more. Moving into electric mobility but it must be based on domestic industry. (Then it is) transformation of agriculture," he added.
Solheim also appreciated the attention that the issue of air pollution has gained in India in past couple of years.
“China and India are both countries with ambitious visions on environment. Yes, in recent years, China has moved quickly on air pollution, and I see India moving in that direction as well. Two years ago, no one thought air pollution was a big problem in India, now that’s changing, and rapidly," he explained.
Solheim signed a letter of intent with the Indian government on Monday on the country’s hosting of the World Environment Day on 5 June this year. The theme this year is ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’.
“Plastic pollution was main topic we discussed and how India will take the global lead in that. That is going to be a big part in the June 5 celebrations. PM Modi will be involved and I will be here. We also discussed about the International Solar Alliance ... Pollution was also a topic we discussed. Rivers were also discussed. We discussed agricultural waste as a key pollutant and how that can be turned into a resource," he said.
On queries about the high use of coal by India, Solheim said he sees a rapid shift from coal to green energy.
“Although no one expects India to be without coal in two years time, but what we want to see are new investments going into renewable," he added.