The pivotal UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), which will be held in Glasgow from 1-12 November 2021, where nations will submit fresh pledges to secure global net zero emissions and keep 1.5 degrees within reach, former UN Environment chief Erik Solheim hoped India would find all win-win policies at the summit that are good for economic development and creating green jobs.
In an exclusive interview, Solheim said, “We hope India finds all the win-win policies that are good for economic development and jobs while also protecting Mother Earth. An urgent shift from coal to renewables will create jobs and prosperity and protect against climate disaster. Green tourism, green agriculture and electric mobility are other examples.”
Last week the visiting Solheim participated in the launch of electric buses in Mumbai.
“The city (Mumbai) will soon transit to a future where all buses are electric and with an extensive metro system. In Andhra Pradesh they move fast into zero emission farming which produces greater yields. Telangana goes big on tree planting and urban parks. There are many great examples,” he added.
The former Norwegian diplomat, politician and environment minister played a crucial role in 2018 as the United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director in convincing India to phase out single-use plastics by 2022, a major achievement in his crusade against plastic pollution.
On his expectations from the outcome of the upcoming COP26 that is being held under the Presidency of Britain, Solheim said, “We should expect some new and more ambitious commitments from national leaders.
“But it is the political economy that is driving global climate action now, not diplomatic negotiations. The most important decisions are already made. President Xi promised to stop all Chinese coal investments overseas. Prime Minister Modi’s launched a green hydrogen mission. The European new green deal and its taxonomy which will drive business green in Europe.”
Solheim is optimistic that India can act as a catalyst for curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
Regarding the electric vehicles boom, he said “The electric mobility revolution will come extremely fast. Most major carmakers will go big into electricity. This is a great opportunity for India to get jobs and prosperity producing electric two-wheelers, three-wheelers, and four-wheelers. Companies like Mahindra, Tata, Ola and others are grasping this opportunity.”
“We must turn waste into an opportunity for jobs. Let us be a little bit innovative,” Solheim concluded.