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2021: Year of India’s Commitment to Net Zero Carbon Emissions

A highlight of 2021 was Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address at the COP26 in Glasgow, United Kingdom, on India's vision on non-fossil energy

Sustainability and Climate

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has listed its milestones of the year 2021. In a press release, the ministry shared the progress made in the areas under sustainable development goals (SDGs) 12, 13, 15 mapped majorly to the ministry.

SDG 12: Responsible Production and Consumption

On 12 August 2021, the ministry notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, prohibiting identified single-use plastic items, which have low-utility and high-littering potential, by 2022. As per the notification, the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of 12 identified single-use plastic items, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commodities shall be prohibited with effect from 1 July 2022. The thickness of plastic carry bags has been increased from 50 microns to 75 microns with effect from 30 September 2021, and to 120 microns with effect from 31 December 2022.

The ministry launched the Green Good Deed of the Week campaign. An outreach programme for promoting sustainable lifestyle and consumption, the campaign, through state nodal agencies and eco-clubs, promoted sustainable lifestyle like cleanliness or plantation drives and awareness on single-use plastics, among others. In another campaign, the Iconic Week of the ministry, from 4-10 October 2021, the ministry worked on lake/wetland conservation, curbing of use of single-use plastics, wildlife conservation, forest conservation and coastal conservation.

To streamline the procedure for early grant of environmental clearances, the ministry simplified its PARIVESH portal, reducing the tie period to 70 working days. The single-window integrated environmental management system, Pro-Active and Responsive facilitation by Interactive, Virtuous and Environmental Single Window Hub (PARIVESH) processes applications for environmental, forest and coastal regulatory zone clearances.

SDG 13: Climate Action

The 26th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP-26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), took place in Glasgow, United Kingdom, from 31 October-12 November 2021, for the green net zero programmes. In the National Statement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi committed that India, by 2030, will have a non-fossil energy capacity of 500 GW, meet 50 per cent of its energy requirements with renewable energy, reduce its total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes, and reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 45 per cent over 2005 levels. By 2070, India will achieve the target of net-zero emissions, he said.

On World Ozone Day (16 September 2021), the action points for implementation of the recommendations for Space Cooling in Buildings was finalised and launched and widely disseminated. On 27 September 2021, the government ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down hydrofluorocarbons after approval by the Union Cabinet. As per the amendment, to the Montreal Protocol, India will complete its phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons in four steps from 2032 onwards with a cumulative reduction of 85% of production and consumption of HFCs by 2047. In line with the Cabinet decision, National Strategy in consultation with all the stakeholders will be developed by 2023. Funding for preparing the strategy has been secured from the Multilateral Fund.

India launched a dedicated web portal for wetlands on Gandhi Jayanti, 2 October 2021. The portal, indianwetlands.in is publicly available information and knowledge platform to facilitate knowledge sharing, information dissemination, host capacity building material, and provide a single-point access data repository. In the same month, India also organised a two-day workshop with Central Asian Flyway (CAF) Range countries on the conservation of migratory birds along with the CAF. The Guidelines for Sustainable Ecotourism in Forest and Wildlife Areas-2021 was also released. These guidelines emphasise the participation of the local community in ecotourism activities.

In October 2021, the ministry revised the guidelines of Nagar Van Yojana to develop 400 Nagar Vans and 200 Nagar Vatikas to a better environment, biodiversity and ecological benefits to urban and peri-urban areas. The scheme will be funded from the National Fund under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) with Rs.895 crore from 2020-21 to 2024-25.

SDG 14 (Life Below Water) and SDG 15 (Life on Land)

Blue Economy is one of the thrust areas of the government for sustainable development of coastal resources. Conservation and protection of coastal and marine resources, pollution abatement measures, management of the coastal and marine ecosystem, livelihood enhancement with the security of the coastal community, capacity building and comprehension of SDGs come under this. Ten beaches in seven states and one union territory have been developed at par with international standards and have been conferred with prestigious Blue Flag certification for its environmentally sound management and ecologically sustainable infrastructures with adequate safety measures. The move has resulted in better waste management, maintaining bathing water quality, self-sustaining solar energy-based infrastructure, containing marine littering, enhancing local level livelihood options and increased tourist-based economy.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified the draft Regulations on the Extended Producer Responsibility for plastic packaging under Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, on 6 October 2021 for public consultation. India committed to achieving land degradation neutrality and restoration of 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, which includes 21 million hectares of Bonn Challenge and an additional commitment of 5 million hectares as a voluntary commitment. India presently holds the Presidency of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Conference of the Parties for two years till April 2022. Prime Minister Narendra Modi graced the High-level Dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought of United Nations General Assembly, held on 14 June 2021, highlighting the initiatives taken by India on combating land degradation.

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