India important actor in climate action: UN chief

India important actor in climate action: UN chief

UN chief Antonio Guterres. Reuters file photo

India is an important actor and "fundamental partner" in international efforts on climate action and is making a "fantastic effort" to grow its renewable energy basket, UN chief Antonio Guterres has said.

UN Secretary-General Guterres, who has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on several occasions, recalled his leadership of the International Solar Alliance and described India's gift of 193 solar panels to the world organisation as "very useful."

"There has been a huge investment in India in relation to solar power. India still has a meaningful amount of coal and we have also discussed that. And he (Modi) has a number of other initiatives of different sorts related to the Clean India (campaign) and many other aspects that will have, we believe and we hope, a strong impact from the point of view of India's progressive performance in relation to climate action," Guterres said in response to a question on India's climate action efforts.

Modi will be among the first set of speakers at the Summit in the UN General Assembly chamber along with Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, president of Marshall Islands Hilda Heine and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

"So India is a very important actor, an actor with a legacy that is very complex, because of the coal weight in the production of electricity. And so India for us is a fundamental partner in this discussion. And obviously, part of the dialogue was also related to our own efforts and the need to green the UN," Guterres said.

In response to another question, he said India is also a huge coal producer but the country is making a "fantastic effort" in relation to renewables and that also needs to be underlined."

On a question about nuclear power, Guterres said that for some countries, nuclear energy is an important tool in their efforts to become carbon neutral, and the UN has to respect that option of those countries.

"I mean, I was talking to Prime Minister Modi and one of the things he would like to do is to add more nuclear energy" to the energy scope of the country. "This is something that we respect," the UN chief said.

In a first of its kind symbolic India's effort at the UN, a 50-kilowatt 'Gandhi Solar Park' will be inaugurated by Modi during his visit for the high-level UN General Assembly session next week, a gesture that highlights India's willingness to go beyond the talk on climate change and climate action.

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