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New pathways needed to forge consensus on climate change pact in Paris: DSDS 2015

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New Delhi, February 6: On the second day of the landmark 15th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2015 (DSDS), world leaders and eminent thinkers put forth their developmental experiences and pathways to tackle the growing problem of climate change. DSDS, the flagship event of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI),opened new vistas for meeting the challenges of ‘Sustainable Development Goals and Dealing with Climate Change’, the theme this year. The DSDS 2015 assumes significance as the post-2015 development agenda is being finalized -- the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is expected to adopt the new set of goals in September 2015 and the climate negotiations (Conference of Parties – CoP21) will be held in Paris later this year.

Standing in for Mr Prakash Javadekar, Hon’ble Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Mr Susheel Kumar, IAS, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, India, said: “India wishes that the new agreement will propel the world towards a Comprehensive Climate Action, finding a fine balance between climate mitigation and climate adaptation.” However, he emphasized it must be a universal action, but not an equal action.  “This will determine the success of the Paris agreement. The Business as Usual scenario will not work; each country has to do more to tackle this global crisis. We need quick and free flow of technology, where each country is able to access technology to improve energy efficiency and curb emissions. We also need transparency in all areas, including finance, climate adaptation and technology.”

Said Ambassador Richard Verma, US Ambassador to India: “The world will benefit from a strong agreement in Paris. The solution to climate change lies in promoting clean energy policies.” He reiterated that President Barack Obama’s recent discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi would have a significant impact – renewable energy partnerships and new pathways to mitigate air pollution and clean energy initiatives are underway. “The US and India have been both facing the impacts of climate change – droughts, floods, storms and hurricanes. We need to also realize that we can create more jobs by moving towards a low carbon economy.”

Mr Sergey Donskoy, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Russian Federation, said: “Russia expects that the agreement will foster a new paradigm to overcome contemporary challenges. The new paradigm should take into account economic, ecological and social issues. We need to integrate the environment into the Green Economy. Climate change will not only bring more human and ecological damage, but economic damage too. Natural disasters will double in the next 10 years. Russia remains strong on its commitment to prioritize climate change in its state policy.”

At a session on ‘The Agreement that the World Needs at COP 21’, HE Mr Juan José Guerra Abud, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Mexico, said: “Mexico is one of the worst affected countries – the frequency of tropical storms, hurricanes and unprecedented rainfall are increasing by the day. But we are taking evasive action by reducing our carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2020. Mexico has also come up with a far-reaching energy plan, and we are opening the market for private players. We are also making a transition from fossil fuels to natural gas, as our country has abundant natural gas.”

HE Mr Lars Andreas Lunde, State Secretary (Deputy Minister) of Climate and Environment, Norway, said: “Norway believes in climate science. There is an urgent need for all nations to work together to reduce global carbon emissions. Climate change also presents a unique opportunity to achieve lasting economic growth if we move towards a low carbon economy. But there are gaps – current commitments and action needed to meet the 20C target need to be bridged. Reducing emissions and preventing forest degradation is our common responsibility. We live in exciting times, and the Paris agreement will be the most important breakthrough the world needs.”

HE Ms Lyonpo Dorji Choden, Minister of Works and Human Settlement, Royal Government of Bhutan, said: “Bhutan stands tall with its carbon neutral policy. Our development premise is Gross National Happiness, and not Gross National Product. Half the country is protected by natural parks, forests and reserves. But we have not been spared from the impacts of climate change, and we have been experiencing flash floods and landslides. Science has proved that climate change is purely human induced. The time has come to set aside our differences and secure the planet for our future generations. That’s why we need a strong agreement in COP21. Developed countries must help developing nations with financial instruments like the Green Climate Fund to help vulnerable nations overcome the challenges of climate change.”

HE Mr Abdullahi Majeed, Minister of State for Environment and Energy, Maldives, said: “Maldives is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world as we have to face the impacts of climate change – rising sea levels and lack of freshwater. The momentum of climate sensitivity should be maintained at COP21; we need mechanisms for climate mitigation and climate adaptation. But importantly, we need financial instruments like the Green Climate Fund to help developing nations overcome the crisis.”

Said Dr Mukul M Sangma, Hon’ble Chief Minister, Meghalaya, India: “We are a small state in India with a population of about three million. We too have not been insulated from the effects of climate change – drought and unprecedented rainfall. This is the right time for policy makers to come together to achieve the common climate change goals. We need a multi-prolonged approach to tackle various problems. We need to realize that a sustainable ecology will lead to sustainable livelihoods.”

Said Sir Suma Chakrabarti, President, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development: “The year 2015 is a significant – the SDG goals will be finalized and the climate negotiations (Conference of Parties-COP21) will take place in Paris – as this will set the course for future action on sustainable development and climate change.  Some key targets include, ambition and nature of the Paris agreement, mutual cooperation for climate adaptation, tracking the results (monitoring and reporting) and financing climate change initiatives. ”

The 2015 Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen Awards

Among the highlights of the day was the presentation of the 2015 Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen Awards. Professor Jacques Grinevald – an epistemologist and historian – was awarded the Georgescu-Roegen Award for Unconventional Thinking. The ‘Unconventional Thinking’ Award is presented to individuals for contribution in academics, research and literature whose work reflect unconventional thinking that Georgescu-Roegen exemplified. The special Lifetime Achievement Awards went to Professor Herman Daly, Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland. The Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded to individuals, who during their lifetime have made exceptional contributions in advancing the thinking of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen and sustainable development. Over the past 14 years, the DSDS has brought together over 36 Heads of States and Governments, ministers from 50 countries, thought leaders from across continents and captains of industry to deliberate on critical issues that will shape our common future.