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TERI’s 100-day Green Agenda for the New Government

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06 June 2024, New Delhi: The general elections results are out, and a five-year term is mandated for the government in this crucial decade which needs to see significant progress on environmental quality, climate action and sustainable development. According to Dr Vibha Dhawan, Director General, TERI, “By placing a strong emphasis on various factors of the environment, the new government can set the wheels of the Indian economy in motion towards a sustainable and resilient future”. “The government should strengthen regulations and integrate environmental considerations into various sectoral and non-sectoral policies which will also help in achieving our national and international commitments such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Net Zero by 2070 target”, she emphasized.

On the occasion of the World Environment Day 2024, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), which has been at the forefront of advocating and supporting various environmental initiatives has compiled inputs for a 100-day green agenda for the new government.

Initiate Green Budgeting: India has the process of issue-based budgeting in the child budgeting and gender budgeting in the union budget. India can introduce green budgeting in union budgeting process for integrating environmental considerations into public spending and revenue-raising measures. Inspiration can be drawn from Bihar, Puducherry, and Assam.

Include Climate Vulnerability in Devolution Formula: The 16th Finance Commission can include climate vulnerability (as part of environment criteria) in the devolution formula to states to create climate fund and provide additional resources to state governments to address climate change.

Strengthen Green Public Procurement (GPP): The General Financial Rules of the Ministry of Finance mandates that select electrical appliances procured should carry the notified threshold or higher Star Rating of Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). Since 2013, there have been no enhancements in this list of appliances. Procurement of more BEE star rated appliances along with products under the ECO Mark Scheme should be promoted through the Government e-Marketplace (GeM). A comprehensive GPP strategy at the national level will also boost the Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE). India can advocate for global indicator frameworks on SDGs to incorporate consumer-level and eco-labels related indicators.

Develop Green Strategy for Priority Sector Lending (PSL): Green and gender tagging of loans from PSL can be undertaken to strengthen green strategies. For example, PSL can include monitoring mechanisms for credits to farmers for sustainable agriculture including women beneficiaries. Further awareness activities on PSL can be strengthened.

Notify Policy on Resource Efficiency: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) of India can notify a policy for resource efficiency. Efficiency in use of material resources such as timber, plastic, steel, metals, textiles, construction materials (sand, earth, bricks, cement, etc) and their recycling, reuse needs to be promoted through mandates as well as incentives to sustain a circular economy. A draft policy has been in the making for almost five years.

Launch Green Finance Platform: The Finance Ministry, MoEFCC and State governments can work to announce a major financing platform (comprising public, private, corporate, domestic, MDBs, MFIs, philanthropies etc) for financing of adaptation and climate resilient infrastructure in states. States to incentivize communities and project proponents for measurable adaptation gains and ecosystem benefits under the green credit programme.

Set Sectoral Net Zero Targets: The government can announce sectoral targets based on low carbon transition strategy to be implemented for next 10 years by all ministries covered under Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategy (LT-LEDS). The Ministry of Coal can also draft a long-term target-based ambitious plan for coal methanation as a part of low carbon transitions. Grid scale storage, flexibility of power systems and concentrated solar thermals should be promoted. Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme can include targeted incentives and robust R&D support to drive manufacturing, job creation, and technological advancements to enhance the effectiveness of the National Programme on High Efficiency Solar PV Modules. The government can support pilot projects and then their scaling up in industry and transport sector for consumption of green hydrogen.

Finalize the New National Water Policy: The government must finalize the new National Water Policy; the last Policy was framed in 2012. Preparation of Model Bill on Water Regulatory Authority should be accelerated and be adopted by the States. Adoption of Model Amendment Bill on Inter State River Dispute is pending in Parliament since 2019, which must be addressed. Further, Atal Bhujal scheme for groundwater management should be extended to all states and UTs.

Promote Plastic Neutrality: Presently there are no standards or quantified targets on plastic neutrality. The government can develop standards, guidelines along and put in place an institutional framework along with a certifying authority on plastic neutrality.

Launch a Programme on Trees Outside Forests: A national programme for planting and promoting growth of Trees Outside Forests (ToF) can contribute to creating additional 2.5-3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent carbon sink by 2030. States and union territories should be incentivised through this programme. There is a gap in providing minimum support price to farmers for timber produce. Bridging this gap will encourage farmers to grow more trees on their farms and contribute to achieving NDC targets and the national goal of 33% area under forest/tree cover.

Integrate Pyrolysis Oil in Oil Refineries: India’s aims to achieve energy independence by 2047. Integration of pyrolysis oil into oil refineries could promote clean energy using agricultural residues as feedstock. The new government can set specific targets for the integration of pyrolysis oil into oil refineries along with promoting research and development in innovative pyrolysis technologies.

Achieve Compressed Biogas Targets: Under SATAT (Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation) scheme, the target set to produce 15 million tonnes (MMT) of compressed biogas (CBG) from 5000 plants by 2023. Only 61 out of the planned 5000 plants have been commissioned and only 0.02 MMT was sold during FY 2023-24. To promote CBG, there is a need to ensure feedstock availability, address price volatility and spread awareness to give a boost to SATAT and GOBARdhan (Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan) schemes.

Formulate Policy around Environmental Data: The representativeness of data on environment often falls short. A dedicated policy is needed to collect more granular and disaggregated data can be collected and made accessible on aspects such as water, climate, energy, agriculture, biodiversity, waste management and actions by industries.

Incentivise Biofertilizers: Current policies need to further consider alternative fertilization methods to enhance soil health and nutrient uptake. The use of biofertilizers and nano-fertilizers can be promoted to rejuvenate soils, improve organic carbon content, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Enhance Soil Remediation Initiatives: Significant gaps include the lack of quantified targets and policies for soil remediation on abandoned industrial sites. To address this, new policies must be established mandating the remediation of environmental soil and water pollution before repurposing such sites for residential or other uses.

Empower MSMEs to Participate on Carbon Markets: India’s domestic carbon market focuses on emission reductions among large companies, but MSMEs face challenges due to high upfront costs and lack of formal credit. Devise mechanisms for enabling MSMEs to sell carbon credits, developing MRV systems, allowing investments from larger companies, and incorporating scope 3 emissions.

Integrate Biogas Plants for Material Recovery in Cities: Government can establish decentralized biogas plants and material recovery facilities in integrated manner so that energy generated from biogas plant can be used for operation of material recovery facility. This will also reduce cost of operations and improving viability. The government can mandate diversion of wet and dry wastes from the landfills and maximize resource recovery.

Mainstream Climate Agenda in Cities: There are no policy or regulation mandating cities to collect GHG inventories or conduct climate risk assessments, nor are there targets, incentives, or guidelines for local government involvement in national climate action planning. A proposed solution is to launch a national mission similar to the Smart City Mission, focused on climate action and can be informed by spatial planning tools.

The above inputs have been provided by Vibha Dhawan, RR Rashmi, Syamal Kumar Sarkar, Shivangi Raj, Ishita Srivastava, Shailly Kedia, Palak Khanna, Madhuparna Maiti, Nagendra Kumar, Asuri Deepika, Jitendra Vir Sharma, Pranshu Shrivastava, Harshita Kaur, Asha Giriyan, Trinayana Kaushik, Taruna Idnani, Arvind Kapur, Aniket Tiwari, Hemakshi Malik, Sanchit Saran Agarwal, Sonal Singh, Veeranna Channashettar, Suneel Pandey, Satish Kumar Yawale, Meenu Saini, Suruchi Bhadwal, Manish Shrivastava, and Megha Chauhan.

This output is part of the Act4Earth initiative of TERI.

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