Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called for fighting climate change, saying that it must not be done in silos but in an integrated, comprehensive and holistic way. He also said that India was well on its way to achieving the targets under the Paris Agreement.

“I am glad to share that India is not only meeting our Paris Agreement target, but also exceeding them,” the prime minister said, while addressing the “Safeguarding the Planet” side event at the Group of 20 summit. “India has taken concrete action in many areas. We have made LED [light emitting diode] lights popular. This saves 38 million tonnes [3.8 crore tonnes] of carbon dioxide emissions per year. Smoke-free kitchens have been provided to over 80 million [8 crore] households through our Ujjwala Scheme.”

He also spoke about India’s effort to eliminate single-use plastics and pointed out that forests were expanding in the country, where the population of lions and tigers was also increasing. “We aim to restore 26 million [2.6 crore] hectares of degraded land by 2030, and, we are encouraging a circular economy,” Modi said. “India is making next-generation infrastructure such as metro networks, waterways and more.”

The prime minister said that India was contributing towards a cleaner environment by meeting the goal of 175 gigawatts of renewable energy before the target of 2022. “Now, we are taking a big step ahead by seeking to achieve 450 gigawatts by 2030,” he added. “Inspired by our traditional ethos of living in harmony with the environment, and the commitment of my government, India has adopted low-carbon and climate-resilient development practices.”

Modi also spoke about the role of the International Solar Alliance, a coalition of 121 countries initiated by India. He said that the alliance was spending billions of dollars, training people and focusing on research and development in renewable energy that will lead to reducing the carbon footprint.

He also cited the example of Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, which was working on increasing resilience of critical infrastructure. “Infra damage during natural disasters is a subject that has not got the attention it deserves,” he said. “The poorer nations are especially impacted by this. Therefore, this coalition is important.” The Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure has 18 countries as its members, of which nine are from the G20. Four international organisations have also joined the alliance, Modi said.

The prime minister also urged member countries to increase research and innovation in new and sustainable technologies. “For humanity to prosper, every single individual must prosper,” he said, concluding his address. “Rather than seeing labour as a factor of production alone, the focus must be on the human dignity of every worker. Such an approach would be the best guarantee for safeguarding our planet.”

On Saturday, Modi addressed the G20 summit, saying that the coronavirus pandemic is an important turning point in the history of humanity and the biggest challenge the world is facing since World War II.

Modi also called for a new global index for the post-pandemic world that comprises four key elements – “creation of a vast talent pool, ensuring that technology reaches all segments of the society, transparency in systems of governance, and dealing with mother Earth with a spirit of trusteeship”

Saturday was the first day of the 15th G20 summit, which is being hosted by Saudi Arabia this year, and is centered around the theme “Realizing Opportunities of 21st Century for All.” Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, ​Republic o​f Korea​,​ Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, ​​​Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union are the 20 countries that are part of the grouping.

With the coronavirus pandemic overshadowing this year’s event, the usual in-person meeting was replaced by a virtual gathering of speeches and declarations.