Year End Review: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change

India’s leadership and commitment on environmental issues under the guidance of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has led to landmark achievements. With significant developments such as India for the first time ranking among the top ten countries in the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) goes further to prove that all efforts and activities being currently undertaken by the country under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF<CC) are setting a tone of vast improvements.

Some of the major highlights of the Ministry in the year 2019 are outlined below:-

Environment:

· Air pollution is one of the biggest global environmental challenges of today. A time bound national level strategy for pan India implementation to tackle the increasing air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner in the form of National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) was launched on 10th January, 2019.

· Third Indo-German Environment Forum with the theme &Cleaner Air, Greener Economy:& held in New Delhi in February. The one-day event through panel discussions and parallel sessions focused on challenges, solutions and necessary framework conditions of air pollution control, waste management and circular economy as well as implementation of NDCs and SDGs based on Paris Agreement and Agenda 2030 of UN respectively.

· In a significant first, India piloted resolutions on two important global environment issues relating to Single-use Plastics and Sustainable Nitrogen management at the fourth session of United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) which was held in Nairobi from 11th to 15th March 2019.UNEA adopted both the resolutions with consensus.

· India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) Launched in March this year. India is one of the first countries in the world to develop a comprehensive Cooling Action plan which has a long term vision to address the cooling requirement across sectors and lists out actions which can help reduce the cooling demand. Cooling requirement is cross sectoral and an essential part for economic growth and is required across different sectors of the economy such as residential and commercial buildings, cold-chain, refrigeration, transport and industries.

· In order to strengthen the implementation of environmentally sound management of hazardous waste in the country, the Ministry amended the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management < Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016 vide notification G.S.R. G.S.R. XX (E), dated 01 March 2019. The amendment has been done keeping into consideration the “Ease of Doing Business” and boosting “Make in India” initiative by simplifying the procedures under the Rules, while at the same time upholding the principles of sustainable development and ensuring minimal impact on the environment.

· On World environment Day, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar launched a people’s campaign #SelfiewithSapling urging all to join and plant a sapling and post the selfie with the sapling on social media. Shri Javadekar stressed that ‘Jan Bhagidari’ is integral towards tackling the environmental issues and environment protection has to be a people’s movement.

India Hosts COP14, Will Restore 26 Million Hectares of Degraded Land by 2030

India hosted the 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) from 2-13 September 2019 at Greater Noida. During the Conference, the Prime Minister announced “India would raise its ambition of the total area that would be restored from its land degradation status, from twenty-one million hectares to twenty-six million hectares between now and 2030”.

The country has leapfrogged from Bharat Standard IV to Bharat Standard VI for vehicle emission norms and from 1st April 2020, vehicles will be BS VI compliant. There is also a strong push for use of e-vehicles by introducing multiple policy interventions and incentives.

Forest < Wildlife:

· A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in February between MoEF< Development at Ladakh.

· In a first, a four-day long Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, MoEF<CC < Diu, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha. The beaches were identified after the consultation with the States/UTs.

· Promoting the use of environmentally friendly products, the Ministry in November gave Environment Clearance to Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) to set up new 2G Ethanol plant at Panipat. It is also pertinent to highlight that it was declared that no separate environmental clearance was required to produce additional ethanol from B-heavy molasses as it does not contribute to the pollution load, giving further benefits to farmers and the sugar industry.