Prime Minister Narendra Modi gathered in Dubai for the COP28 World Climate Action Summit in the presence of several prominent world leaders, including his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe and European Union President Ursula von der Leyen. All the leaders posed for the customary 'family photograph' as the summit went underway.
Britain's King Charles III was also present at the event and posed for the family photo along with other global leaders. PM Modi also met other leaders such as UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, outgoing Netherlands PM Mark Rutte, Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon.
Other dignitaries include French President Emmanuel Macron, British PM Rishi Sunak, South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa, Egypt's Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan among 130 other leaders. US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have already announced that they will not attend the high-level climate change conference hosted by the UAE.
Their deputies, US Vice President Kamala Harris and China's First Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang, will be attending the summit in their absence.
PM Modi's tightly-packed schedule
PM Modi has a jam-packed schedule for Friday's World Climate Action Summit. He will spend at least 21 hours in Dubai and will partake in two special initiatives on climate events. PM Modi is also expected to deliver at least four speeches during the summit and hold seven bilateral meetings with other leaders. Additionally, the PM will conduct pull-aside and informal meetings with his counterparts on the sidelines of the summit.
The World Climate Action Summit is the high-level segment of the COP28 which will be attended by several prominent world leaders to discuss ways to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse emissions. PM Modi is scheduled to participate in three other high-level side events as well.
During a special press briefing by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said that the PM will deliver his address at the opening session of the World Climate Action Summit and will also attend an event related to Green Credits.
"Besides his address to the COP28, the Prime Minister will also be participating in three high-level side events, of which two are being co-hosted by India. The first high-level event, which is being co-hosted by India, and the UAE is the launch of the Green Credits Initiative," Kwatra said.
The Prime Minister will also attend a high-level event co-hosted by India and Sweden for the launch of Lead IT 2.0, a leadership group for industry transition.
Climate action must be based on justice and shared obligations: PM Modi
Ahead of a tightly-packed schedule, PM Modi expressed optimism in an exclusive interview with UAE newspaper Al-Ittihad that the COP28 will give impetus to fresh momentum into effective climate action and asserted that India and the UAE stand as partners in shaping a greener and more prosperous future.
Speaking further, PM Modi said that climate action must be based on equity, climate justice, shared obligations and shared capacities. He also emphasised on the need to ensure that the development priorities of the Global South are not compromised.
"I am happy that during the recent New Delhi G20 Summit, this aspect has been properly addressed, including through a recognition of the need to rapidly and substantially scale up investment and climate finance from billions to trillions of dollars globally from all sources,” he said.
As the summit kicked off, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said "Earth's vital signs are failing" and told leaders, “you can prevent planetary crash and burn". "Climate chaos is fanning the flames of injustice...Global heating is busting budgets, ballooning food prices, upending energy markets, and feeding a cost-of-living crisis. Climate action can flip the switch," he further said.
“The hope of the world rests on the decisions you must take,” Britain King Charles III told leaders, urging them “to meet it with ambition, imagination, and a true sense of the emergency we face.”
Many of the leaders speaking represent countries hard hit by floods, storms, drought and heat waves worsened by climate change from the burning of coal, oil and gas. Those include the islands nations of Palau and the Maldives as well as leaders of Pakistan and Libya, which have been devastated by recent floods that killed thousands.
(with inputs from agencies)