Planet or Plastic: Time to Make the Right Choice
The government remains committed to raising the standard of living of the people in a sustainable and green way
June 5 is marked by the United Nations as World Environment Day, a day set aside since 1974 to promote 'worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment'. This year's theme is 'beat plastic pollution'. And India is the host country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the occasion of World Environment Day, on 5 June 2018 at the Vigyan Bhawan, declared that even as India continues to be the fastest growing economy in the world, the government remains committed to raising the standard of living of the people in a sustainable and green way. Addressing the Plenary Session, the prime minister said that the use of plastic threatens to become a menace to the society and, therefore, plastic waste management has been made a major component of the 'Swachh Bharat Mission'. FICCI, in collaboration with
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), had organized a 5-day event at Vigyan Bhawan from June 1-5.
The prime minister, in his address, also said that environmental degradation hurts the poor and vulnerable sections of the people most. In keeping with the 2030 global agenda – 'Leave No One Behind' – he reiterated the government's commitment to sustainable development. 'The choices that we make today, will define our collective future. The choices may not be easy. But through awareness, technology, and a genuine global partnership, I am sure we can make the right choices,' he said. He added that the government's stress is on 'zero defect and zero effect' manufacturing. This means manufacturing that is without defect, and which does not harm the environment.
'We are engaged in a massive push towards renewable energy generation. We have targeted generation of 175 GigaWatts of solar and wind energy by 2022. We are already the fifth largest producer of solar energy in the world. Not only this, we are also the sixth largest producer of renewable energy. We aim to provide an electricity connection to every household, which will further reduce dependence on environmentally degrading forms of fuel. We are reducing dependence on fossil fuels. We are switching sources of fuel where possible. We are transforming cities and public transportation,' the prime minister informed.
As part of the Nationally Determined Contributions, India is committed to reducing 33-35 per cent of emissions intensity of its GDP during 2005 to 2030. 'We are on track to meet the 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution. According to the UNEP Gap Report, India is also on track to meet its Copenhagen Pledge. We will reduce the emissions intensity of India's GDP by 20-25 per cent over 2005 levels by 2020,' the prime minister emphasized.
While Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, appealed to the industry and also to the users to find sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic products. The government, on its part, he said, had framed plastic management rules and initiated action to make all public buildings free of single-use plastics.
Erik Solheim, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Program, said the focus of the World Assembly on Environment was on sustainable lifestyles. India's long history of sustainable lifestyle is a lesson for the world community to emulate.
Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State for Environment, said that India's leadership on the environment front was an inspiration to the global community to dedicate itself to protecting the environment and eliminating single-use plastic. The exhibition to commemorate the World Environment Day was held from 2-5 June 2018 at Vigyan Bhawan grounds and provided a platform to the national and international level technology and equipment manufacturers to explore new business opportunities. The main aim of the exhibition was to raise awareness about the environment, efficient and effective use of technologies for environmental protection and scope for research & development for new environmental protection technologies.
At the same time, various conferences and workshops were organized on different themes over four days from 1-4 June 2018 at Vigyan Bhawan. The thematic conferences covered a wide spectrum of areas from knowledge sharing and showcasing of case studies to best practices of stakeholders from business & industry, research institutions, multilateral & bilateral organizations, media, NGOs, universities and others.
On 3 June 2018, Environment Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, flaggedoff the ENVITHON (Mini-Marathon) as part of the World Environment Day celebrations in New Delhi. The event was joined by a gathering of more than 10,000 school children from nearly 200 schools of DelhiNCR. The environment minister underlined the crucial role that school children play in any societal endeavour. He urged all the school children to become environment protectors ( paryavaran rakshaks) and help the government and society in overcoming the menace of plastic pollution. In continuation of World Environment Day celebration ENVIS RPs (TERI, CMS and TCE) organized the final EnviroQuiz competition at the Vigyan Bhawan Exhibition.
The choices that we make today, will define our collective future. The choices may not be easy. But through awareness, technology, and a genuine global partnership, I am sure we can make the right choices. Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, lighting the ceremonial lamp. Also seen are (L to R): Erik Solheim, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Program; Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State for Environment and Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change.