Over a million and a half people throughout the central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh shattered a world record on Sunday by planting 66,750,000 tree saplings throughout 24 districts in the region. The activity comes as part of India's pledge during the Paris Climate Change Conference to raise forest cover to 235 million acres by 2030. Although CNN reported that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was originally hesitant to sign the agreement due to India's reliance on coal, he said it would be a "morally criminal act" for countries not to take action against climate change. India produces 2 million kilotons of CO2 a year, making it the 3rd largest emitter of carbon dioxide – behind the United States and China – in the world.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, took part in the planting and later expressed his delight on Twitter, where he shared a number of photos showing the hundreds of thousands that turned out.
I am overwhelmed to witness the enthusiasm of volunteers planting trees at Amarkantak.— ShivrajSingh Chouhan (@ChouhanShivraj) July 2, 2017
"Crore" is part of the Indian numbering system and used to represent a unit of 10 million.
The previous record was held by the state of Uttar Pradesh which planted 50 million trees in 24 hours last July. Uttar Pradesh is to the northwest of Madhya Pradesh and borders Nepal.
In a statement reported by India.com, Chief Minister Chouhan expressed gratitude for those who came out to help the state's accomplishment. "I am greatly indebted to all who are planting trees today. We will be contributing significantly in saving nature. By participating in a plantation, people are contributing their bit to climate change initiatives and saving the environment.” In another tweet, the CM wrote "The world talks of global warming & climate change, but Madhya Pradesh has taken a concrete step to deal with it."
In June, Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj firmly rebuked American President Donald Trump's claim that India's motivation to stay in the Paris Agreement was financially motivated. "Anyone who says we have signed Paris because of the lure of money, I reject that as baseless. This is not the reality," she said, adding, "Our commitment to the environment is 5,000 years old. We are a people who worship rivers, mountains, trees."
Digital Journal reports that India has committed $6.2 billion to their 2030 reforestation goals.