Modi was speaking at the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos
Indian Prime Minister criticises ‘selfishness’ in global consumption patterns, as he calls on rich nations to do more to help developing countries tackle climate threat
Humans have fallen into the trap of pursuing “greed-based consumption” that is putting them “at war” with nature, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today warned.
Addressing some of the world’s richest and most powerful business figures at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos today, Modi highlighted climate change as a major existential threat to human civilisation, and warned the exploitation of natural resources could prove to be humanity’s downfall.
“Our behaviour has been deteoriating,” he told delegates. “We are only focused on our own happiness, and we have exploited nature and the planet for our own desires. We have to ask ourselves, has this been development? Or has this been our downfall?”
He urged the audience to return to a collective philosophy where consumption is based on need, pointing to the teachings of Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi, who once observed: “The Earth provides-enough to satisfy everyone’s needs but not any one’s greed.”
Modi outlined his own government’s programme to roll out 175GW of renewable energy by 2022 as part of its efforts to tackle climate change, but said rich countries needed to step up and provide more support for those developing nations that are trying to decarbonise.
“Everyone talks about reducing carbon emissions, but there are very few countries who back their words with resources to help developing countries to adopt appropriate technology,” he said. “Very few of them come forward to help.”
The remarks played into a running theme across Modi’s hour-long address, in which he warned against a growing selfishness in international politics and diplomacy.
“Many more countries and societies are becoming more and more focused on themselves,” he said. “It feels like the opposite of globalisation is happening. The negative impact of this kind of mindset and wrong priorities cannot be considered less dangerous than climate change or terrorism.”
He insisted countries will have to “set aside their differences” and work together on global challenges such as climate change and terrorism.
Modi was opening the WEF’s 2018 meeting, which will also feature a keynote speech from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later today.
Climate change and sustainable development is expected to be a major focus of talks for leaders at this week’s summit in Davos, with the official programme scheduling high level discussions on green energy, corporate responsibility, extreme weather and sustainable development.
Modi’s speech followed the release of the WEF’s latest risk report, detailing how environmental threats are the biggest risks facing the global economy, and a new report warning the world faces a ‘circularity gap’ where more than 90 per cent of resources are not re-used or recycled.