Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra said there is "unity" in the Indian government for moving towards the goal of tackling climate change and he does not see any "turf war" but a clear agenda that energy and development are important.
New York: Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra said there is "unity" in the Indian government for moving towards the goal of tackling climate change and he does not see any "turf war" but a clear agenda that energy and development are important.
"This is one time when I would say the government is pulling its weight as far as this movement (of tackling climate change) is concerned," Mahindra told PTI after addressing world leaders, civil society and businesses at the high-level signing ceremony of the Paris climate change agreement at the UN.
In a singular honour, Mahindra was the sole representative from the corporate world to deliver opening remarks at the ceremony on Friday.
He joined dignitaries, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, French President François Hollande, President of the General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft and UN Messenger of Peace Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio to address world leaders from the iconic green lectern of the UN General Assembly hall on the historic occasion.
Mahindra said Power Minister Piyush Goyal and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar "theoretically should be at opposite ends of the pole" since one is tasked with rescuing the coal industry while the other is tasked with putting a tax on that resource.
He cited Goyal's call for 100 percent electric vehicles in India and said the minister is "very focused" on getting technology to produce clean coal.
"I don't see any turf wars in this administration. I see a clear agenda that energy is important, development is important. I see a lot of unity in terms of moving towards this goal of controlling climate change," he said.
He emphasised that the industry in India now has to come together and form a coalition to help the government in tackling the problem of climate change.
The industry has to "get together and almost jointly, as is happening in business coalitions around the world, we have to create an Indian coalition of business people committed to attacking climate change and support the government," he said.
"The shoe is on the other foot here in my opinion," he said.
Mahindra said the global industry has been "painted with a dark brush" particularly in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis but "it is time business move beyond" and "gets back on the pedestal by aligning itself with the interests of people everywhere."
In his address at the opening ceremony, Mahindra had said the signing of the Paris agreement provided corporations the first step towards "visibly integrating our interests with the interests of the future of the planet."
"It is a responsibility because we have contributed to the problem and it is up to us to help mitigate it. It is also an opportunity because this mitigation gives business a chance to redeem itself from the trust deficit it has been facing after the 2008 Occupy Wall Street movement," Mahindra had said.
The corporate czar had invoked the Indian mythological story of the great "manthan", saying the Goddess of wealth 'Lakshmi' and the nector of eternal life 'Amrit' had emerged after the gods and demons had jointly churned the cosmic ocean.
"Our transition to a greener way of life is also happening after much churning," he had said, adding that indisputably "positive things" are beginning to emerge like the Paris agreement.
"At a symbolic level, the churning of the ocean also represents the churning of our inner consciousness. The signing of the agreement will demonstrate that the inner consciousness of nations and corporations has been indeed stirred," he had said in his address.
With the signing of the agreement, nations began "the process by which many brave new things will emerge from the churning and the ultimate 'Amrit' or nector of eternal life will undoubtedly be a more sustainable world that the human race will finally deserve to inherit," he had said.
Mahindra recalled it was a "pleasant surprise" for him when he was requested to represent the business world and speak at the opening ceremony.
"My first reaction was my god that is quite a responsibility," he said, adding that he had grown up watching leaders speak from the podium of the UN General Assembly but had never thought he too will address from the same lectern.
He said apart from representing the global business community, he was speaking for India, which has the second largest population on the planet and "one that arguably will be the most affected" by climate change.
"There was a responsibility for me to reach out to Indians as well which is why I used the metaphor of the Indian mythology," he said.