With the two largest economies and polluters of the world USA and China agreeing on key climate targets, and German energy giant E.ON shifting away from fossil fuels to renewable power, the world is now looking to India to give a lead. The country is the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions.
The decisions it makes and the example it sets matter. India’s businesses and industries are central to this challenge. Their actions are critical not just to avert a looming climate crisis, but also to overcome the enormous challenges of poverty and malnutrition.
While for the majority of the world’s population there has never been a better time to be alive, far too many people have been left behind. Hundreds of millions continue to exist on less than $1.25 a day without access to food, shelter and healthcare. Too many people suffer from violent conflict and instability.
There are also other grave global challenges which, in threatening the future of our planet and generations to come, risk making these problems far worse. Across the world, we are exploiting finite resources at an alarming rate and causing huge damage to the environment. Above all, the impacts of climate change are reducing harvests and water supplies, increasing air pollution and competition for resources and land, and heightening tensions.
The role of governments here in India and across the world is vital in catalysing action on these challenges, but it is not their responsibility alone. It is the private sector which is the main motor of the economy and which accounts for twothirds of the use of natural resources.
By embedding sustainable development in their marketing strategies, production processes and value chains, businesses and entrepreneurs in India and around the world can accelerate the transition to a green economy. They can also drive investment in low carbon technologies and energy efficiency and press their governments to set ambitious and binding targets on carbon emissions.
As we get closer to a global climate agreement to be adopted in Paris next year, it is important to understand that it is not a choice between poverty reduction the central priority of the Millennium Development Goals and a low carbon economy.The opposite is true.
It is the poorest people in the world who will suffer most from climate change because they cannot escape its consequences as easily as the rich. It is why we at the Kofi Annan Foundation hope Indian business will take up strongly the cause of climate change and poverty reduction and show the world that these two vital objectives are not in competition.
They are, in fact, the twin pillars of sustainable development. The world is looking to India to set a lead. I hope that India responds to national and global challenges by demonstrating the ambition to move decisively away from fossil fuels and to become a powerful advocate on climate change and sustainable development. Doing good is also good for business.
The original article was published by Times India.