Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday addressed the C40 Climate Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, via videoconferencing after the Union government denied him permission to travel for the event. The Centre had said it had denied permission because it was a mayor-level event.
Kejriwal tweeted after the event that Delhi was among 38 cities that had signed the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration at the summit. At the conference, Kejriwal claimed that Delhi had reduced its air pollution by 25% in the last three years through “various efforts in the field of mobility and infrastructure”.
“On a large scale, we have taken up afforestation drives within the city, which has increased the tree cover as well in the city over the last five years,” Kejriwal said. “And we also have India’s largest network of air quality monitors in the city. This was possible only due to the support of the people.”
The chief minister spoke about the odd-even method the government introduced in the city for rationing of traffic, and the restrictions imposed on diesel vehicles in Delhi. He said the government shut down all coal and coke plants in the national capital.
“In the next few months, we are going to make the transport system in Delhi completely eco-friendly,” he said. “We are going to include 1,000 electric buses in our bus fleet next year.”
Kejriwal said he was unable to be present at the summit “due to unavoidable circumstances”.
Kejriwal praised 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who had criticised world leaders at the United Nations for placing their country’s selfish interests over the climate change problem. “Thunberg has caused chaos all over the world,” Kejriwal said. “The whole world has begun to support. While many of us may oppose Thunberg’s manner, or her views, but the issue of climate change and pollution she has raised has got her worldwide support.”
“People expect concrete action from us over climate change,” Kejriwal said. “People demand it from us.”
“What I want to tell you is that we need to take people with us for any big change,” he said. “The people world over are ready for concrete steps. If we explain them to the people and take them along, people will support us.”
“Good environmental policies also make good politics,” Kejriwal said, concluding his press conference.
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