WASHINGTON (TIP): EcoSikh has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to commit to reducing carbon emissions and to work towards a meaningful agreement at the UN Climate Summit in Paris this week on behalf of India and the Indian people. Leaders from around the world have convened in Paris this week to begin negotiating a landmark climate agreement that may alter the course of climate dialogue for the future.

Suneet Tuli of EcoSikh with the World Bank president along with faith representatives in Washington, DC
Suneet Tuli of EcoSikh with the World Bank president along with faith representatives in Washington, DC

The aim of the United Nation’s 21st Conference of Parties, also known as COP21, will be to commit the nations to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, which is one step in fighting the adverse effects of climate change. The meeting is expected to be one of the largest held for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), with 40,000 delegates attending the negotiations.

EcoSikhDr. Rajwant Singh, President of the Washington based EcoSikh, said, “India stands to be affected severely from the effects of climate change in the coming decades. Many important parts of the country are vulnerable. India’s policy to increase coal plants and production of coal based energy is devastating to the overall goal of controlling carbon emissions. India’s poor are some of the hardest hit by climate change, and will continue to be if India does not take a grander stand in the UN negotiations. While PM Modi makes the argument that historically, India has not been the largest emitters of carbon and therefore should be able to prioritize development over environmental conservation, India still has the duty to its citizens to provide them with a safe, clean and healthy environment to live in.”

Singh added, “We appreciate PM Modi’s drive to increase alternate sources of energy for the country and focusing on technology transfers, research and development, and investment in India’s alternative energy sector with the overall goal of emissions reductions. But, this will only come with the commitment of Prime Minister Modi and his cabinet. Climate change is a moral issue and India should stand on the right side of history.”

Amar Singh Sawhney, a member of EcoSikh’s Board of Directors and CEO of Boston based Ocular Therapeutix, Inc, said, “There is a cost to using fossil fuel based energy that goes beyond global warming and its catastrophic climate change implications. The additional costs come in the form of health disasters from particulate and other gaseous emissions that are affecting the Indian populace. Already, asthma, lung cancer, and other diseases are growing in incidence dramatically in India as a direct result of air pollution.”

He added, “While understandably, India may not be able to eliminate coal and oil from its energy mix, a firm commitment to technological improvements to decrease the pollution impact of these energy sources must be undertaken. Solar energy, which has begun to gain traction in India, must be supported to increase if it is to be viable in the long term.”

Suneet Singh Tuli, a member of the EcoSikh Board of Directors and CEO of the Datawind, said, “One does not have to look too far to see farmers in Punjab suffering from a lack of groundwater, or India’s south devastated by intense storms and strong typhoons. India is at risk, and it is time for Prime Minister Modi, and India’s energy minister Piyush Goyal to take seriously the impending damage climate change will cause for India’s 1.2 billion people, and make sure economic development is not their only agenda. For, what will they develop if there is no land left?”

EcoSikh has been invited by French President Francois Hollande and by the White House this year on consultations on Climate Change issues for faith perspectives. EcoSikh also took part in UN and the World Bank sponsored conference in Bristol and Paris on climate change and poverty issues leading to the UN Paris summit.

India often finds itself in the same boat as another large greenhouse gas emitter: China. Both countries have a gone through and are currently undergoing rapid development, economic opening, and possess the top two most populous nations in the world. The difference comes with how China has led in the UN agreements. China has pledged $3.1 billion to help developing countries par down their carbon emissions, has promised an emissions peak around 2030 and committed to having 20% of their energy from non-fossil fuels sources. India, on the other hand, has made some commitments in comparison; one of which is to reduce emissions intensity by 30 to 35 percent by the year 2030. Still, India will require US$2.5 trillion to meet their goals and introduce alternative energy sources to the country.