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PM Modi to unveil green meet today, updating climate plan in focus

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Friday inaugurate the National Conference of Environment Ministers to be held in Gujarat, where among the major issues to be discussed will be to update state action plans on climate change, officials familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Most of the state action plans, formulated in 2009, are being updated by state governments at present. These updated state-level action plans will be implemented until 2030 to ensure that country’s nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement are achieved.

“Existing state-level climate action plans are being implemented but they are also being revised to bring them in line with India’s NDCs,” said a senior environment ministry official, requesting anonymity. “Already a 24% reduction has been achieved in India’s emissions intensity of GDP in 2016. We also have over 40% installed electricity capacity from non-fossil sources. We have achieved it nine years ahead of goal under the Paris Agreement.”

“Now the work of state governments will be updated further,” the official said.

After inaugurating the conference to be held at Ekta Nagar in Gujarat’s Narmada district via video-conferencing, the Prime Minister is expected to brief environment ministers of states about India’s updated climate goals.

India’s National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC), which was launched in 2008, provides the overarching policy framework for climate change mitigation and adaptation through its national missions — National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture, National Water Mission, National Mission for Green India (forestry), National Solar Mission, National Mission for Sustainable Habitat, National Mission for Sustaining Himalayan Ecosystem, National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change and National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency. These missions are anchored in different ministries within the government and are meant to help India achieve its NDCs.

State governments were also asked to develop their action plans for climate change in sync with the national action plan. A total of 33 state action plans have been made operational since 2009 and climate change cells were set up.

“All these SAPCCs are now being revised to align with the latest scientific insights, as well as with India’s NDCs under the Paris Agreement. The revised SAPCC is a policy document of the state to reflect the strategies and policies with focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation in key sectors in the states and Union territories,” stated the meeting agenda for Friday’s conference.

The SAPCC is expected to be based on scientific research and reports on the vulnerability of key ecosystems, and projected impacts of climate change, it added. “States/UTs are incorporating several mitigation and adaptation measures, such as use of efficient and cleaner technologies, renewable energy, e-mobility, waste management, climate resilient infrastructure, afforestation, sustainable urbanisation, and water conservation in their SAPCC documents.”

“SAPCCs will play an important role in mainstreaming climate concerns in the broader development process and help in achievement of India’s NDCs under the Paris Agreement,” it stated.

In 2019, the Union environment ministry released a common framework for state action plans to be drafted and owned by state/UT governments as a robust and ready-to-implement policy document.

These SAPCCs may list prioritised adaptation and mitigation measures with requisite implementation strategy, including financing roadmap, the framework had underlined.

“They should envisage inclusive, sustainable and climate resilient low carbon development pathways and take into account the latest scientific assessments and projections on climate change for the state,” the environment ministry has said in the framework. “States/UTs may consult ministry of earth sciences Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune for downscaled data on medium and long-term impacts of climate change in their region, climate models and high-resolution downscaled projections, while assessing the vulnerability and preparing sectoral adaptation plans.”

The state-level action plans will have to be implemented from existing budget and resources of each state government along with funds available under various national schemes and programmes, the framework suggests.

Indian states use SAPCCs to identify their diverse adaptation priorities and funding needs, said Ulka Kelkar, director, climate program, World Resources Institute (WRI) India.

“Himalayan states have the looming threat of glacier melt while coastal states have to defend against sea level rise. SAPCCs can be used to empower line departments to coordinate their climate actions and allocate finances from the state budget to climate proof development programmes,” said Kelkar. “Going forward, states can also contribute to achieving India’s NDC targets through diverse actions. For example, while cement is the largest contributor of industrial process emissions in India on average, in Gujarat and Maharashtra, the chemicals and fertiliser industry has higher emissions. In Bihar, waste sector emissions come mainly from rural domestic waste water while in Tamil Nadu they arise more from industrial waste water. So, different states can take appropriate actions to help the country achieve its climate goals.”

India formally updated its NDCs under Paris Agreement on August 26. The updated NDC has two broad quantifiable goals — to reduce emissions intensity of its GDP by 45% by 2030, from 2005 level, and to achieve about 50% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.

The second quantifiable goal will be implemented with the help of transfer of technology and low-cost international finance including from Green Climate Fund (GCF). In other words, it is partially conditional to delivery of climate finance, senior environment ministry officials said.

The NDC states that this update will help achieve a long-term goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2070.

India last submitted its NDC to UNFCCC in 2015. It comprised eight targets for 2021-2030 — including reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% by 2030 from the 2005 level; achieving about 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030 with the help of transfer of technology and low-cost international finance; and creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030. Other targets pertained to sustainable lifestyles, climate adaptation, and climate friendly growth.

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