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India not responsible for climate change, but concerned over planet's health: PM

30 November 2015

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said climate change was a major global challenge, but it was not something India was responsible for. India, he said, is facing the consequences - from depletion of glaciers and coastlines to the risk to farmlands and farmers.

Addressing a gathering at the opening of the India pavilion at the United Nations climate summit in Paris, he said, ''We stand here in solidarity with Paris and France and in admiration for their resolve and courage.

''The entire world, 196 nations, have come together to shape the future of this world and the health of our planet. This summit is of great significance to India's future, too.

''This pavilion (Indian pavilion) is a window to our heritage and our progress; our traditions and our technology; our aspirations and our achievements.''.

The prime minister said India's new economic momentum is a subject of international attention and a source of global opportunity.

''Our progress will not just change the lives of one-sixth of humanity. It will also mean a more successful and prosperous world. Equally, the choices the world makes here will have an impact on our development.

''Climate change is a major global challenge… it is not of our making. It is the result of global warming that came from the prosperity and progress of an industrial age powered by fossil fuel.

''But, we in India face its consequences today. We see it in the risks of our farmers, the changes in weather patterns, and the intensity of natural disasters.

We are concerned about the rising oceans that will threaten our 7,500 km of coastline and over 1,300 islands. We worry about the retreat of glaciers that feed our rivers and nurture our civilisation.

That is why the outcome in Paris so important.

That is why we are here, he said.

Outlining India's efforts, he said, India wants to make conventional energy like coal cleaner. But there are also plans to convert "40 per cent of our installed capacity to non-fossil fuels," he said.

India feels that developed countries must bear a bigger burden than developing countries to control climate change, since they have contributed largely to pollution over the last 200 years. Modi called for "climate Justice" and "common but differentiated responsibilities."

The PM also shook hands and talked with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif for a few minutes, as the 21st session of the Conference of Parties or COP21, started.

Later in the day, PM Modi and French President Francois Hollande will launch an international alliance of over 100 solar-rich countries in the tropics, aimed at bringing clean and affordable solar energy. PM Modi will also meet US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the meet.

Nearly 150 heads of state began an 11-day whirlwind day of talks in the French capital today, aimed at ending a two-decade bickering and forge an elusive agreement to stave off calamitous global warming by limiting emissions of greenhouse gases.

Nineteen governments, including the US, China and India, will join a "Mission Innovation" initiative that commits governments to doubling public investment in basic energy research over the next five years.

183 nations have submitted national action plans, but they are not enough to achieve a goal of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 Degrees Fahrenheit). Two degrees Celsius is the threshold at which scientists say the worst impacts of global warming will be inevitable.

28 of the world's wealthiest investors like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg of the US, Jack Ma of China and India's Mukesh Ambani will announce the breakthrough energy coalition that will pool money to bring affordable clean energy to billions of people.

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