State government ministers moot the idea of an Environment Council to implement climate action at all levels
New Delhi, February 18, 2022: Pointing out that the implementation aspects of climate action, be it mitigation, adaptation and resilience, often falls on the state governments, ministers taking part in the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) in New Delhi on Thursday mooted the idea of setting up a dedicated environmental council composed of representatives from the Centre and the states.
"On the lines of the GST Council, if we have the environment and forest ministers of all states alongwith the Union Minister of Environment in a council, I think that is where we can set targets and policies at the national level and implement at the state level," said Mr Aaditya Uddhav Thackeray, Minister of Environment, Government of Maharashtra at a 'Ministerial Session on Sub-national Leadership for Inclusive Green Growth' at The Energy and Resources Institute's (TERI) annual flagship event. Echoing Mr Thackeray's suggestion, Dr Palanivel Thiagarajan, Finance Minister, Tamil Nadu, said, "Lot of implementation needs happen at the local body, district and the state level. While policies are framed at the national level, bulk of the work is to be done at these levels."
Emphasising the crucial role of sub-national governance to tackle climate change as well as aid green growth, Mr James K Sangma, Minister for Forest and Environment, Government of Meghalaya, said, "The need of the hour is to have a concerted effort where all the states come together, put aside their differences and work collectively." Pointing out that Meghalaya alongwith Arunachal Pradesh form the biggest carbon sinks crucial for India to honour the commitments made at The Paris Agreement, Mr Sangma also put forth the need for the North-Eastern region to be a unique green laboratory. "Meghalaya aspires to be a leader to create a green bloc coalition to find solutions to fast depleting natural assets," he added. At the session, the ministers highlighted the need for newer measures and yardsticks to assess and tackle climate change related impacts. Mr Thackeray suggested putting out an annual environment report. "We can think of an 'Ease of Living' report that lists out environmental steps and targets, and what can be done in terms of climate action such as mitigation, adaptation and resilience," he observed.
Noting that the diversity between states is vast and so are their needs and capacities, Dr Thiagarajan observed that for India to achieve the target of net-zero by 2070, "A state like Tamil Nadu has to get there no later than 2050 for it to be a realistic outcome for rest of India as we are far ahead in terms of the average per capita income and per capita consumption, education and growth."
In the session moderated by Dr Vibha Dhawan, Director General, TERI, and Mr Ajay Shankar, Distinguished Fellow, TERI, Mr Atul Bagai, Country Director – India, United Nations Environment Programme, stressed the need for the States to take up green budgeting in a big way and to draw up district-level maps for an inclusive green economy. Mr Dipak Kumar Singh, Principal Secretary, Environment, Forest, and Climate Change Department, Government of Bihar, said strategies built should be broken down to action points that is intelligible and actionable for every level of government as well as for each and every citizen. Mr Shantanu Gotmare, Commissioner and Secretary, Government of Assam, asserted the need to formulate strategies that factor in the inclusion of green alternatives across sectors.
The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) is an independent, multi-dimensional research organization, with capabilities in policy research, technology development, and implementation. Headquartered in New Delhi, TERI has regional centres and campuses in Gurugram, Bengaluru, Guwahati, Mumbai, Panaji, and Nainital, supported by a multi-disciplinary team of scientists, sociologists, economists, engineers, administrative professional and state-of-the-art infrastructure.