UN's Antonio Guterres 'encouraged' by India's climate change progress

India's new LiFE programme aims to create ecosystem that will reinforce environmentally friendly behaviour

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres scattering rose petals at the Statue of Unity in Kevadia, Gujarat state. AFP
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Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, jointly launched India’s ambitious mission to fight climate change with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the second-day of his visit to the country.

Mr Guterres, 73, who is on a three-day India visit on Thursday jointly launched Mission LiFE — Lifestyle for Environment, India’s ambitious global plan of action aimed at saving the planet from the disastrous consequences of climate change.

Mission LiFE is designed to encourage individual behaviour such as switching off vehicle engines at traffic lights, turning off taps when not in use and switching to longer-lasting alternatives to single-use plastic bags.

The government estimates those actions, if taken on a national scale, could significantly limit emissions, water use and waste.

LiFE was introduced by Mr Modi during Cop26 in Glasgow last November.

The two leaders launched the mission at the Statue of Unity — world’s tallest statue depicting freedom fighter Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Kevadia in western Gujarat.

“I am immensely encouraged by the commitments that India has made to pursue environmentally sound policies,” Mr Guterres said.

The launch comes ahead of the UN climate meeting, Cop27, in Egypt next month.

Children greet Narendra Modi and Antonio Guterres at an event at the Statue of Unity in Kevadia in Gujarat state. AFP

Mr Guterres had arrived in Mumbai late on Tuesday on a commercial flight for a three-day visit to the country, his first since he commenced his second term in office in January.

He had addressed a gathering at city’s premier engineering college Indian Institute of Technology where he said that India has an opportunity to lead by a model of “resilience and an advocate for sustainable development and climate justice”.

He also spoke about the need for pluralism in the country where communal divide is on the rise.

“India can gain authority and credibility only from a strong commitment to inclusivity and human rights at home,” Mr Guterres said.

“India has a responsibility to shape global human rights, and act and promote the rights of all individuals including members of minority communities."

Updated: October 20, 2022, 3:12 PM