Maharashtra forms Council for Climate Change to prepare action plan

Terming it as a “climate emergency”, Maharashtra environment minister Aaditya Thackeray said the council will prepare an action plan within a month to deal with the challenges of climate crisis.
Maharashtra environment minister Aaditya Thackeray. (HT FILE)
Maharashtra environment minister Aaditya Thackeray. (HT FILE)
Published on Sep 02, 2021 02:09 AM IST
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By Swapnil Rawal, Mumbai

Maharashtra government on Wednesday announced the formation of State Council for Climate Change based on a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) about carbon impact. Terming it as a “climate emergency”, state environment minister Aaditya Thackeray said the council will prepare an action plan within a month to deal with the challenges of climate crisis.

“Climate change is impacting us. We believe this is a climate emergency. Today we presented the IPCC report before cabinet and an important decision has been made to set up a State Council for Climate Change under the chairmanship of the chief minister. The cabinet has asked us to prepare an action plan which we will present after one month,” Thackeray said after the cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

He added, “Largely, it is believed that this is the last decade for mitigation measures, but I personally think we do not have the luxury of time. We have already started acting on it through out Electric Vehicles Policy, Aarey forest and other multiple actions. In the next one month, we will have interdepartmental conferences where we will finalise the goals of our government for climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

According to a senior government official, five sectors including energy, agriculture, industries, transport, and urban development need urgent action. “Under this council, the department dealing with these sectors will hold interdepartmental conferences. Since the environment department cannot directly ask other departments to come up with mitigation measures in their proposals, this council will be that forum. It will have its separate funds,” the official said requesting anonymity.

According to the presentation, the government is expected to look at “decarbonizing the power sector”, move towards “electric, non-motorised transport system”, look at “33% mandatory green cover” for industries, “reforms” in agriculture sector, and look at “sustainable, eco-friendly buildings”, and achieve “zero waste” in urban areas.

Thackeray said all departments and public representatives will need to work together to achieve this. “If all the departments and public representatives work together we can take mitigation and adaptation measures to tackle climate change. As part of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, whenever cabinet notes are moved by any department, it will contain the development goal it aims to achieve through the decision,” he said.

Highlighting that the state witnessed some extreme weather conditions recently, the minister said that climate change is visible with reduction in the number of days of rain and winter and increase in the number of warmer days. “Climate change is impacting us all. Not just the melting of polar ice and glaciers, but we can see that days in monsoon are reducing, heavy rainfall is witnessed in a short period of time, warmer days are increasing while colder ones are reducing,” he said.

Dr Anjal Prakash, who was involved in the IPCC Report 2021, welcomed the move by the state government, but also called for a national-level movement to tackle climate change. “I welcome this step as it will create more scope and space to look at the problem and solutions. The council under the chief minister could be a bridge between departments. This is a small start to make some efforts to take climate change, but is it not all-encompassing.

“Climate change needs to have a wider national mitigation. I have always maintained that these are kneejerk, short-term solutions. We need to have a separate ministry for climate change. Because of the kind of crisis we have, this cannot be handled with a backyard ministry. Most progressive nations have a separate ministry,” said Dr Prakash, research director, Bharati Institute of Public Policy.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2021