May 11, 2017

Speaking at ‘Vienna Energy Forum 2017’ in Vienna, Austria

Thank you very much ma’m, your Excellency, the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, distinguished …….., Excellencies, …… of UNIDO ………… ladies and gentlemen. It’s indeed a pleasure to be at the Vienna Energy Forum, 2017. It’s my first visit to Vienna, and I must say it’s a beautiful city, a beautiful country. And it’s very appropriate that we are meeting here today on this very important subject, in a city which believes in sustainable lifestyles.

World is changing. If one looks back, and not too far back in history, there was a time where any such engagement would have ……….. of thinking us pushing for more, a set of countries very concerned about the impact of those actions on their countries – is it going to be good for them, is it going to really work in countries which were less economically developed. And this used to be the typical pattern of all engagement internationally. I believe a lot of that changed in 2015 when over three months, September 2015, when the world came together under the aegis of the United Nations, to set up a set of Sustainable Development Goals. And soon, thereafter, in December, every part of the world, every country in the group came together on a common platform to accept certain realities and commit ourselves to work together for change.

And I think it’s a great delight that today the Vienna Energy Forum is creating a platform, is bringing together, both the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the new way of thinking about environment, about sustainability, and creating this platform where the global mindset is changing to what is possible, what needs to be done, what can be done and what we can all do together for the good of humanity as a whole. And I am delighted so many global citizens have chosen to be a part of this forum today to discuss, to deliberate the way forward, to meet these goals; both the Sustainable Development Goals and, obviously, we could not get sustainability without the global effort …. set right some of the wrongs that we had inherited.

I remember when Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, many many decades ago, talking about the importance of the sun and solar energy. At that point of time he had said I do hope world understands what a great source of energy the sun is, and I do hope they understand quickly and don’t wait for the world to run out of petrol, to run out of oil, to run out of wood before they realize that.

I am delighted that all of us are here today, in some sense, to grasp that opportunity that is available, that’s right there before our eyes to save world. This thinking of sustainability of the planet, this holistic approach is something that one of our Indian ideologues had spoken about over 50 years ago. Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay, a great thinker in the 60s had …… of integral humanism, 50 years ago espoused the theory that no human being can be satisfied, can be happy ….. look at all aspects of his well-being. Well-being is not only economical well-being, our family values and cultures also bring about happiness – recreation, leisure, good health, good education, access to common services. It’s a holistic thinking that can only bring true happiness to a human being. Large parts of the world today are talking about the Happiness Index,… he espoused 50 years ago.

And I am delighted that as we celebrate his birth anniversary this year, more and more of the world is coming together accepting this reality to redeem ourselves, to bring forth change in the minds of people, and I do hope we will leave behind a planet better than the one we inherited…. the children of tomorrow. In fact, the inter-linkages of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement are there … for all of us, I don’t think any of these SDGs can be fulfilled unless we take a comprehensive view on different aspects.  And energy access clearly, is somewhat the mother of all the SDGs. We had missed it out in the Millennium Development Goals. It was introduced as Goal No. 7 this time around. And very practically, keeping in mind ……….. not having access to energy, we have introduced the affordability aspect, we have introduced the sustainability aspect, we have introduced the reliability aspect. We made sure we are looking at modern energy and not trying to pass off something to the rest of the world, which may be rooted in the past.

In that sense, the road from Paris to today has been somewhat bumpy. We will have to sort that out. But I would like to reassure each one of you here today that India stands committed to its commitments made at Paris, irrespective of what happens in the rest of the world. For us in India, it is an article of faith, for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it is something he is deeply passionate about, something he believes in intrinsically, something which the people of India believe in. And we stand committed to each and every one of those commitments made in Paris irrespective of what happens in other parts of the world.

It’s time we decoupled economic growth and development imperatives of many countries with the ……… facing us on the environment front. In fact, I recall about 8 or 9-10 years ago, the famous book about the Inconvenient Truth had come out, ………. one of the provinces of India, had come out with his own vision of convenient action. I believe the ……….. is staring us in the face today. Every day counts, every moment matters. And I am delighted to share with you, India is making rapid strides when it comes to our own commitments, and our own targets for promoting …………. …. looking at energy conservation, looking at energy efficiency and ensuring that we have a development ….. of our energy needs going forward in a very systematic manner, so that we meet the needs of our people, give energy … citizen of the country, yet do it in a more affordable manner.

While Sustainable Development Goal plan energy access up to 2030, and I have often at many forums….. particular goal should be advanced. I think that’s …………….. 2030 is too long a period……. committed ourselves to make sure that every citizen of the country gets 24/7 power for all by 2022 when India celebrates 75 years of independence. ………………….. I committed to try and make it happen by 2019. And I can only echo what ……… said, and I think it pains each one of us in this room to see children living in the villages, living in parts of Asia, living in parts of Africa without access to electricity…. …. in our life. Can any of us in this room imagine our children ……… maybe not even connected to a mobile phone. Electricity is that one fulcrum around which ……. connectivity… world …. engagement this global world can come together and, to my mind, I would urge the United Nations to ….. atleast the Goal No. 7 to other parts of the world. And India is willing to play any role. India is willing to contribute in any way and India is willing to ……….. of fast tracking this project. And I do hope that I don’t fail in my personal mission of 2019 because I would never be able to forgive myself for that.

We have set very ambitious targets for renewable energy and for those of you who believe that renewable energy is still expensive, is still beyond the means of poorer countries, I am happy to share with you a small example of what economies of scale, what integrity of purchasing processes, what new technology can do for all of us. I took charge of this office just about 3 years ago, when India used to purchase solar power at upward of 12 cents per kilowatt hour, per unit of energy. Today, and for that matter, only day before yesterday, in the last round of bidding of solar energy, we have discovered price of 4 cents – one-third of what it was only three years ago.



Subscribe to Newsletter