Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar shared his state's policy initiatives and sustainable development efforts, including climate resilient agriculture and water conservation, aimed at contributing to the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C at a climate change roundtable hosted by the UN Secretary-General.
Kumar was the only leader from India to participate in the virtual high-level Roundtable on Climate Ambition, hosted by UN chief Antonio Guterres, on the sidelines of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly on Thursday.
He said Bihar, which has two per cent of the world's population, is an important stakeholder in fulfilling the international commitment mentioned in the 2016 Paris Agreement.
“Considering the impacts of climate change in Bihar, in the form of erratic pattern of rainfall, extreme heat, falling groundwater level, drought and flash floods, we have developed our growth strategy around water conservation and greening initiatives under the ‘Jal Jeevan Hariyaali Abhiyaan’,” Kumar said in his video address. He stressed that it is his government's “firm belief” that any form of life is possible only when there is water and green cover.
“Our policy initiatives, including climate resilient agriculture, conservation of surface and ground water, solar energy, clean fuel and biodiversity conservation is leading our growth approach to sustainable development,” Kumar said. He highlighted that Bihar's approach to afforestation is community-driven to ensure green cover outside natural forest as well.
“Despite having one of the highest population density in the world, we are promoting food forestry to ensure food security along with enhanced green cover. We have allocated additional USD 3.5 billion from the state budget for this cause. Work is being executed in mission mode,” he said. “This would significantly contribute to the global efforts to achieve the 1.5 degrees Celsius target,” he said.
Kumar said Bihar looks forward to support from the international community to design and achieve a carbon neutral future. Citing Mahatma Gandhi, who had said that the Earth has enough to satisfy everyone's need, but not everyone's greed, Kumar stressed that the “global community should remember this while formulating any development strategy.”
Kumar was speaking in the segment titled ‘Aligning Nationally Determined Contributions, long-term low emission development strategies, COVID-19 recovery packages and business plans with the 1.5C and carbon neutrality by 2050 goals.’ Speaking at the event, Guterres called for every government, business, civil and international organisation in the world to develop a transition plan to net-zero emissions, and boost ambition in finance and adoption as an equal priority to cutting emissions, and the only way to reach the 1.5C temperature goal.
“All actors - governments, cities and companies, NGOs and international organisations need to have their own transition plans to net-zero before 2050,” said the Secretary-General. To harness the growing momentum, the Roundtable also included the announcement of a virtual Climate Ambition Summit on the 5th Anniversary of the Paris Agreement on December 12.
“The fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on December 12 , 2020, which will gather leaders from governments, business and civil society, will be an important moment to continue raising climate ambition. I look forward to working closely on this event with the leaders of Chile, the United Kingdom, France and others to deliver increased ambition,” the Secretary-General said.
The Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Climate Finance Mark Carney said of the private finance: "It's not just moving, it's moving fast”. “The private financial sector is moving. We are at a tipping point. It is not just momentum. The decisiveness of your climate policies and the NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions), and the decisiveness of the action you take over the course of next year will allow the private sector to amplify and pull forward that adjustment in a virtuous cycle. That can help us achieve our goals.”
Carney also said there were calls from every major bank, the world’s largest insurers, biggest pension funds and top asset managers for the disclosure of climate-related financial information. He said this support is truly global, stemming from almost 60 countries and with a market cap of almost USD 13 trillion and financial institutions responsible for assets of 150 trillion pounds.