New Delhi, Dec 28 (PTI) Placing climate change at the centre of its environmental policies, India took bold pledges in 2021 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserting at the crucial international climate summit COP 26 that it is the only country delivering in “letter and spirit” the commitments under the Paris Agreement.
India was the leader in environmental issues this year, winning attention from all corners of the globe, with pledges to become a net zero carbon emitter by 2070 and 500 gigawatts of non-fossil fuel energy capacity by 2030.
India again pointed out at the UN Climate Meeting that developed countries have not only failed in meeting the USD 100 Billion goal per year of support to developing countries since 2009, but also continue to present this ceiling as their ambition all the ways to 2025.
Modi addressed world leaders at the United Nations COP 26 in Glasgow. He listed five Indian commitments to combat climate change. Modi boldly announced that India will reach net zero emissions by 2070. It will also achieve 500 giga watts non-fossil fuel energy capacity by 2030. Modi also stated that India will meet half of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030.
India also launched ‘One Sun, One World, One Grid’ (OSOWOG) at the conference with an aim to harness solar energy wherever the sun is shining, ensuring that generated electricity flows to areas that need it most.
Towards the end of the summit, the country drew sharp criticism from several nations for allegedly watering down the global commitment to cut down use of coal in the climate pact adopted at COP26 by using the term “phase down” instead of “phase out” of coal in the Glasgow pact.
India, however, rebutted the criticism and denied that it made the amendment. It said that it had only read the text at COP26 and not authored it. India also pressed the issue of emission reduction to combat climate change at the 16th G20 Summit held in Naples, where it urged the G20 countries to bring down per capita emissions to global average by 2030 in view of the “fast-depleting available carbon space”.
Bhupender Yadav was the Union Environment Minister and led the Indian delegation to the climate summit in Glasgow. He spoke to PTI and said that India had successfully represented the developing countries and made a strong case for them.
Yadav praised the ministry’s efforts and listed them as praises. He said that it was more successful this year in curbing stubble-burning than 2020.
“Since the time I became the minister, our 14 tiger reserves have got CA|TS accreditation, 47 sites have been declared as Ramsar protected sites, 10 beaches have got Blue Flag certification… We have established a new commission for Delhi’s pollution for which we brought a new legislation, we have amended the biodiversity and wildlife laws, regional conferences under NCAP have begun in Mumbai and Guwahati. We will do it all across India.
“Process of public opinion and consultation on amending Forest Conservation Act has been completed. We have been more successful in curbing stubble burning this year compared to the previous year,” he said.
The government took many initiatives in 2015 to combat toxic air pollution in the capital and its surrounding areas.
India entered into Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue with the US under India and US Climate Clean Energy Agenda 2030. This dialogue was intended to give both countries the opportunity to renew their collaborations on climate change and to address the financing aspects.
After a bill was passed by parliament, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), was created. This bill initially included provisions for penalizing farmers for polluting soil by burning stubble. However, this provision was later removed.
To decompose stubble left over from harvest, a bio-decomposer was developed in the city and nearby states.
India also launched a campaign ‘Plastic Hackathon 2021’ to ensure that the country becomes free of single-use plastic by 2022.
The beginning of the year saw environment activists expressing disappointment with the Supreme Court’s nod to the government’s ambitious Central Vista Project saying the project is harmful for the environment and is an encroachment of public places.
Several reports also made headlines in 2021, bringing India’s pollution and climate situation under scanner.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report ‘Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis’ warned that the Indian Ocean is warming at a higher rate than other oceans and that India will witness increased heat waves, heavy rainfall and flooding, which will be the irreversible effects of climate change.
A Swiss agency prepared the World Air Quality Report. It found that 22 of 30 most polluted cities are located in India. Delhi was ranked 10th and the most polluted capital in the world.
Greenpeace India released a report that showed Delhi had seen a rise of 125% in nitrogen dioxide pollution in April. This was in comparison to the same month lastyear.
Another report stated that 39 lakh Indians were forced to flee their homes in 2020 by conflict and climate disasters. This makes India the fourth-worst-hit country in the globe.
The Centre for Science and Environment reported that Ozone is being increased in Delhi and the National Capital Region, (NCR), during all seasons.
Soon after the report was published, the government ratified the Kigali Amendment to allow India to phase down hydrofluorocarbons. PTI AG ZMN
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