State environment minister Aaditya Thackeray made the announcement on Twitter on Friday.(HT FILE)
State environment minister Aaditya Thackeray made the announcement on Twitter on Friday.(HT FILE)

Mumbai joins C40 cities to fight climate change

The leaders of these cities use a science-based approach and there is an exchange of best practices to take effective action for keeping the global average temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius and reducing emissions by 2030 as per the Paris Agreement
UPDATED ON DEC 05, 2020 12:33 AM IST

Mumbai has become the sixth Indian city to be chosen as a member of the C40 cities – a global network of cities committed to tackling climate change.

State environment minister Aaditya Thackeray made the announcement on Twitter on Friday.

“Happy to inform all the climate change action believers that I have received a confirmation mail on a unanimous vote to accept Mumbai as a C40 member city. We had applied to be a part of this group as we believe that our cities can lead the climate change initiative,” read his tweet.

Later he spoke to HT about the development and said, “Mumbai as a city is committed towards climate change mitigation and adaptation action. We’ll propose other cities such as Pune, Nashik, Nagpur, and Thane too, which have the potential to be member cities.”

C40 connects 97 of the world’s largest and most influential cities. C40 membership encourages cities to develop and implement a climate action plan compatible with the Paris Agreement goal. The leaders of these cities use a science-based approach and there is an exchange of best practices to take effective action for keeping the global average temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius and reducing emissions by 2030 as per the Paris Agreement.

Apart from Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, Jaipur and Kolkata are also in the C40 member cities’ list from India.

According to state government officials, Maharashtra drafted a state climate change action policy in 2017 with detailed plans to address climate change impacts and the sea-level rise for coastal areas that is regularly upgraded.

As per the action plan’s climate vulnerability index, Mumbai, Nandurbar, Dhule and Buldhana from Maharashtra were identified as the most vulnerable districts to climate threat. These cities face a likely risk of a 22%-32% rise in extreme weather events by 2030. For the coastal cities in Maharashtra, the plan identifies a rise in annual mean temperatures ranging from 1.19 degrees Celsius to 1.33 degrees Celsius by the next decade and up to 15 degrees Celsius increase in heat index (measure of rising temperatures incorporating humidity). The sea-level rise is projected to be 24-66cm along Maharashtra’s coastline by 2030.

According to an independent analysis report by McKinsey & Company Inc, almost three million people living within a kilometre of Mumbai’s coastline are under threat from coastal flooding, storm surges and sea-level rise.

Environment groups campaigning against climate change said Mumbai’s inclusion as C40 city had happened at a time when the world is entering the post-Covid-19 pandemic phase.

“This will provide an opportunity to consciously think of future developments in Mumbai, keeping climate change in mind. In the post Covid-19 era, Mumbai needs to focus on green recovery and push for reforms to help fight climate change,” said Bhagwan Kesbhat, founder and chief executive officer, Mumbai-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) Waatavaran. Kesbhat added that the initial steps should be to strengthen cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, focus on mass transit transport systems, provide protection to open and green spaces and encourage all new constructions to be green and low-energy consumption.

Meanwhile, C40 measures the level of participation of its member cities annually. Its 2019 annual report recognised Delhi NCT, Dubai and Dhaka as the most active cities in the South and West Asia region.

State climate action policy: Measures for coastal zones

The state’s climate change action policy detailed plans to address climate change impacts and sea-level rise for coastal areas. Some of the key points of the plan include:

•No new constructions across low lying areas along the coast (especially for Mumbai). Wherever permission has to be given for residential complex, climate resilient construction should be done on elevated zones, keeping in mind the distance from the high-tide line and probable tide water ingress

•Natural ecosystem protection measures: Mangroves, wetlands, salt pans, natural forests to be protected as per existing environmental laws and ensuring natural beach restoration measures are in place to avoid erosion

•Revise existing development plans for cities by including climate change policy and avoiding future construction along low-lying zones close to the coast through sustainable development

•No permissions for polluting ‘red category’ industries in low-lying areas and ensuring water quality along the coast is in check

•Ensuring proper height and structural stability for linear infrastructure projects, especially coastal bridges, to withstand extreme rainfall and floods

•Developing anti-sea erosion bunds along the coast wherever natural solutions are not available to avoid natural erosion

•Effective implementation of coastal regulation zone (CRZ) norms for all projects. Reclamation of CRZ-1 (first 500m of land from high tide line and not till the hazard line, includes mangroves and 50m buffer zone) areas banned completely

• Considering and developing alternate livelihood schemes and skill development for coastal communities moving away from fishing to other activities such as horticulture, farming etc.

All departments of the Maharashtra government to prepare their own climate change policy using examples from the state’s action plan and implement the same district and region-wise.

(Source: Maharashtra environment department)

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