The Maharashtra government announced at the NYC Climate Week’s India’s Road to COP26 event, organised in partnership with the UK Government, which holds the COP26 presidency, that 43 of its AMRUT cities would join the UN backed Race to Zero Campaign. Cities joining ‘Race to Zero’ will seek to prevent future climate threats, create jobs, and unlock equitable, sustainable growth. These cities must publicly acknowledge and recognise the global climate emergency, keeping climate resilience in line with urban decision making, pledging to reach net zero in the 2040s or sooner. The Maharashtra environment department will carry out a Greenhouse Gas Emission inventory for the cities to begin with. While the state has demonstrated progressive climate action ahead of the COP26 in Glasgow, UK, we spoke to experts to find out what more or better the state and its cities could do for climate action.
At the Climate Week, UltraTech Cement also announced its commitment to Climate Group’s RE100 initiative with a target to meet 100 percent of its electricity requirement through renewable sources by 2050. Their RE100 commitment is the biggest by an India-headquartered company across all business sectors.
Dr Anjal Prakash, Research Director and Adjunct Associate Professor, Bharti Institute of Public Policy, Indian School of Business and lead author of the Cities chapter in working group 2 of IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report said: “Maharashtra is an urbanising economy and emissions from the cities has been much higher as compared to other parts of India so if the state is signing up its urban clusters for the Race to Zero campaign, it’s a welcome move and others must follow too. One of the major impacts of climate change is on businesses because extreme and freak weather events that disrupt economic activities. This is also important because the cost of inaction for the states is also very high and Maharashtra has witnessed this in 2021 itself. Climate Change is also a larger subject and hence there must be be a separate climate change ministry for the same at the central and state level. We need this ministry to coordinate with the various sectors and departments like energy, water, rural development. This will take climate action and its impact across the sectors.”
Furthering its efforts of progressive climate action, Hon’ble Cabinet Minister of Environment & Climate Change, Aaditya Thackeray, Government of Maharashtra on Thursday announced that 43 AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) cities and urban clusters from the state will join the global ‘Race to Zero’ campaign, ahead Climate Week NYC 2021 and as part of the Global Citizen Live Campaign.
Cities joining ‘Race to Zero’ will seek to prevent future climate threats, create jobs, and unlock equitable, sustainable growth. These cities must publicly acknowledge and recognise the global climate emergency, keeping climate resilience in line with urban decision making, pledging to reach net zero in the2040s or sooner. They will also be identifying priority actions over the next decade. Thackeray made the announcement at India’s Road to COP26 event, part of The Hub Live at Climate Week NYC 2021, and as part of the Global Citizen Live Campaign, a 24-hour music event on September 25 at the Gateway of India in Mumbai.
Speaking at the Climate Week NYC 2021, Thackeray said, “Joining the Race to Zero campaign is our contribution to the global fight against climate change. We cannot keep emitting carbon. We don’t have the luxury of time. Maharashtra will set an example of how subnational governments can act on climate change despite being a massively industrialised state.” Of these, five cities from western Maharashtra – Mumbai, Nashik, Aurangabad, Kalyan-Dombivali, Pune and Nagpur already joined the campaign earlier this year.
The environment department will undertake a greenhouse gas emission inventory exercise for all the cities and clusters, which account for a floating population of 50 million in the state. Within 12 months of joining, the cities will have to explain what actions will be taken toward achieving both interim and longer-term pledges and commit to report publicly both progress against interim and long-term targets, as well as the actions being taken, at least
With a population of 112 million, Maharashtra is India’s second most populated and second most industrialised state. In 2020, 45.23% of the state’s population was in urban areas,compared to 28.22% in 1960. A majority of Maharashtra’s citizens migrated to urban areas, resulting in rapid urbanisation and industrialisation. With the announcement, the state aims to reduce its rapidly increasing carbon footprint, a majority of which comes from its urban centres.
Global Citizen’s Co-Founder & Chief Policy, Impact and Government Affairs Officer, Michael Sheldrick, said, “We know that halting climate change will take immediate action from everyone. That means state and regional governments have a leading role to play in halving global emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050. Global Citizen congratulates the State of Maharashtra and its 43 cities that are announcing their participation in the Race to Zero as part of Global Citizen Live. We encourage additional cities, states, and leaders at all levels to take transformative and urgent action to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement while we still have time.”
The Hub Live brought together several critical influencers from government, corporate and wider society to examine how Indian businesses can take up the huge opportunities now available in renewables, electric vehicles and efficient, decarbonised industry. encouraging global action to defend the planet and defeat poverty. The Global Citizen Live aims to bring support of world leaders, partners, activists, artists around the world to defend the planet and defeat poverty.
Divya Sharma, India Executive Director at Climate Group, while speaking at the event said: “Far more needs to be done, and that too fast, in light of the starkest warning on climate change. Businesses, investors, governments and people will have to come togetherto check global temperature rise, keep it within 1.5 degrees, and move to a low carbon economy.
Views expressed here are those of Dr. Seema Javed, a known Environmentalist, Journalist and Communications Expert