Country after country is moving to Net Zero targets, some moving at a brisk pace than others, depending on the size of economies or how well equipped they are technologically to adapt to change. India has set itself a target to achieve Net Zero by 2070. The resolve is firm, pursuing an ambitious charter, including through the five principles or commitments, Panchamrit as outlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at COP26 in 2021.
Charity begins at home and climate change mitigation processes and actions need to be proactively undertaken across India and by states. "It is not that there are no policies or laws in India," says former Kochi Mayor Soumini Jain, back from a regional workshop (from the southern states) on Net Zero in Goa. "There are enough policies and it is enforcement that is the 'need of the hour', including firmer commitments and the will to do things."
The workshop was part of a pan-India fellowship programme of the independent think-tank School for Policy and Governance (SPG) to sensitise political and public leaders to climate change and other relevant issues with the aim of achieving Net-Zero targets. The approach needs to be at all levels, people working on public policy, on ground, and political and thought leaders.
Jain says the workshop was not only informative but also a good opportunity to discuss and engage with “colleagues and friends” on the work each is doing in their respective state. Of course, you cannot have answers to all questions, especially as each state has its own problems. Although only a start, a firm pathway has been created and a desire to do things, even be proactive, has been “ignited”. Now in Kochi, she has engaged in conversations to advance the narrative and deliberate on issues.
In Kerala, and her city Kochi, there’s so much more to be done – from a biodiversity register to a bio-waste management plan. With recurring floods, the state lacks a proper disaster management plan for a “quick-response”. “No homework has been done” to offset the damage from such calamities.
SPG's invite-only fellowship programme offers a good opportunity for the emerging leaders in India to gain a deeper understanding of the path to achieving Net Zero, and as Jain says, is a good beginning.
With a focus on climate change and Net Zero, the programme offers a comprehensive understanding of the issues and pathways towards achieving a sustainable future. Through a series of pan-India Regional Workshops, participants are being introduced to climate change issues and Net Zero, its impact, and ways to address them.
The dialogue is crucial for transitioning participants from viewing Net Zero as a trade-off with development to understanding it as an integral part of future development in India.