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

  • IASbaba
  • December 30, 2021
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Year End Review: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change 

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-III: Climate Change

A. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

  • The UN General Assembly in its 70th Session considered and adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and associated 169 targets for the next 15 years. The 17 SDGs came into force with effect from 1st January, 2016. 
  • Though not legally binding, the SDGs have become de facto international obligations and have potential to reorient domestic spending priorities of the countries during the decade ending 2030. 
  • The SDG 13, 15 and 12 have been mapped majorly to Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. 

Significant strides have been made in achieving 

  • SDG 13 (Urgent action to protect against Climate Change and its impact) – 24% reduction in emission intensity of GDP against 2005 levels has been achieved in 2016 itself. India has emphasized that Climate Finance from developed countries as promised in the Paris agreement is integral to achieve this goal. 
  • Country’s pledge on land degradation neutrality and intense afforestation are helping the country move towards SDG 15(Sustainable use of terrestrial Ecosystems and prevention of Biodiversity Loss). 
  • The commitment of the country in implementing the Extended Producer responsibility in plastics and ratification of Basel Convention to monitor hazardous substances is a remarkable step in moving towards SDG12 for ensuring sustainable production and consumption patterns.
  • The 2030 Agenda also underscored that quality, reliable and disaggregated data will be needed for measurement of progress and to ensure that “No One is Left Behind”. 
  • MoEF&CC is strengthening its data systems for realistic monitoring of progress on the sustainable development goals.

B. Climate Change

  • Took part in the 26th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP-26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in Glasgow, United Kingdom for green net zero program 
    • India’s non-fossil energy capacity to reach 500 GW by 2030
    • India will meet 50 per cent of its energy requirements with renewable energy by 2030.
    • India will reduce its total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now to 2030.
    • India will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 45 per cent by 2030, over 2005 levels.
    • By 2070, India will achieve the target of net zero emissions.
  • The transfer of climate finance and low-cost climate technologies have become more important for implementation of climate actions by the developing countries. The ambitions on climate finance by developed countries cannot remain the same as they were at the time of Paris Agreement in 2015 and the Indian Delegation mentioned through multilateral negotiations with major countries for adoption of greener norms in the global scenario.
  • The Glasgow Climate Conference adopted decisions, which inter-alia, include adoption of an overarching decision titled “Glasgow Climate Pact” that stresses the urgency of enhancing ambition and action in relation to mitigation, adaptation and finance in this critical decade to address the gaps in the implementation of the goals of the Paris Agreement. 
    • Noted that the goal of developed country Parties to mobilize jointly USD 100 billion per year by 2020 has not yet been met. 
    • The COP 26 outcome also include completion of work related to rules, procedures, and guidelines for the implementation of the Paris Agreement including that for cooperative approaches, mechanisms and non-market approaches referred to in Article 6, enhanced transparency framework, and common timeframes for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and it was discussed with Ministers and Representatives from United Kingdom, Scotland, South Korea, Australia, BASIC countries, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, France, Canada, Brazil, USA, UAE, Germany, Norway, Singapore, Jamaica, Sweden, and Japan. 
    • Meetings were held with the Ministers of Like Minded Developing Countries and also with representatives from United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, and Green Climate Fund.

C. PARIVESH

  • In pursuant to the spirit of ‘Digital India’ and capturing the essence of Minimum Government and Maximum Governance, a Single-Window Integrated Environmental Management System named PARIVESH (Pro-Active and Responsive facilitation by Interactive, Virtuous and Environmental Single Window Hub) has been developed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for complete online, expeditious and transparent system for environment, forest, wildlife and CRZ clearances in the country. 
  • The facility is operational for processing of applications for Environmental Clearances (ECs), Forest Clearances (FCs), Coastal Regulatory Zone Clearances (CRZ). 

D. Nagar Van Yojana

  • Aim: Developing 400 Nagar Vans and 200 Nagar Vatikas with the objective to significantly enhance the tree outside forests and green cover in cities leading to better environment, enhancement of biodiversity and ecological benefits to the urban and peri-urban areas apart from improving quality of life of city dwellers. 
  • School Nursery Yojana: To associate students in the process of raising plantations as part of their learning and by providing an environment for the students to understand and appreciate the significance of plants in maintaining and sustaining the natural ecosystem. 

E. Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA)

  • The “National Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority” (National Authority) came into existence in place of the Ad-hoc CAMPA; the day the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act, 2016 and CAF Rules, 2018 came into force. 
  • The National Authority manages and utilises the “National Compensatory Afforestation Fund” (National Fund), which has been created under the public account of India. 
  • The other fund at the State/UT level is known as “State Compensatory Afforestation Fund” under the public accounts of respective States/UTs. 
  • CAF collected against approvals under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 is distributed in the ratio of 90:10 between the concerned State Fund and National Fund and are made available to the National Authority and respective State Authorities through budgetary process. 

F. Wildlife

  • The project Dolphin and the project lion have been initiated and the associated environmental impact of this are also strengthen at the major sanctuary and forest areas for cleaner Environmental Protection of endangered species.
  • The Protected Area coverage in the country has been steadily increasing. The coverage of Protected Areas which was 4.90% of country’s geographical area in 2014 has now increased to 5.03%. This includes an increase in Protected Areas in the country from 740 with area of 1,61,081.62 sq.kms. in 2014 to present 981 with an area of 1,71,921 sq.kms.
  • Population of several species like Tiger, Asiatic Lion, Greater one Horned Rhinoceros, Asian elephants, etc. increased. Wildlife health is being addressed to aggressively monitor zoonotic diseases.
  • India has taken a leadership role in conservation of migratory birds along the Central Asian Flyway 
  • The Ministry has released ‘Guidelines for sustainable ecotourism in forest and wildlife areas-2021 in October 2021. These guidelines emphasise on participation of local community in ecotourism activities.

G. Biodiversity Conservation

  • India enacted the Biological Diversity (BD) Act in 2002, and notified the Rules in 2004, through an extensive consultative process initiated in 1994. India was one of the first few countries to have enacted such a comprehensive legislation on biodiversity.
  • The Act is implemented through a three-tier institutional mechanism, at national, state and local levels: The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) at the national level set up by the Government of India, State Biodiversity Boards set up by the State Governments at the State level, and Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) constituted by the elected bodies at the local level.
  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will hold its second part of the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) in Kunming, China in 2022 in which delegates will come together to adopt a “Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework”. The vision for proposed framework is that “By 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people. 2021 is viewed as a decisive year on biodiversity action. India joined High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People which calls for protecting at least 30 percent of world’s land and ocean by 2030 where India has already reported about 27% of area as conserved under Aichi Target 11 to CBD.
  • The Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 is being introduced to simplify, streamline and reduce compliance burden in order to encourage conducive environment for collaborative research and investments, simplify patent application process, widen the scope of levying access and benefit sharing with local communities and for further conservation of biological resources, without compromising the objectives of United Nation Convention on Biological Diversity and its Nagoya Protocol and also national interests.’
  • National Biodiversity Authority: National Biodiversity Authority, a statutory body of the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change established to implement the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 has ensured that 28 State Biodiversity Boards, 8 Union Territory Biodiversity Councils and 2,76,156 Biodiversity Management Committees have been constituted in all local bodies to implement the provisions of the Act. 
    • The BD Act envisages its implementation through consultation with local communities living in forest and rural areas. 
    • India is a leading country in issuing Internationally Recognized Certificate of Compliance (IRCC) which recognizes stakeholders for legally accessing biological resources. 
    • 22 Biodiversity Heritage Sites have been notified by 12 State Governments and 159 plants and 175 animals have been notified as threatened species in 18 states and 2 Union Territories.
    • Seventeen institutions of national importance have been recognized as national Repositories for preserving voucher specimens of biodiversity

H. Wetland

  • The number of Ramsar sites (Wetlands of International Importance) in India have increased to 47 covering an area of 10,90,230 hectares which include 21 new sites designated during 2019-2021. 
  • India has the largest number of Ramsar sites in South Asia.  
  • Health cards prepared for 500 wetlands under the four pronged approach for conservation of wetlands.

I. Vienna Convention, Montreal Protocol to Protection of Ozone

The Ozone Cell of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is the national ozone unit for implementation of the Montreal Protocol in India and phase out of substances controlled under the Montreal Protocol.

  • After successfully phasing out chlorofluorocarbons, carbon tetrachloride, halons, methyl bromide and methyl chloroform for controlled uses, India is now phasing out hydrochlorofluorocarbons as per the accelerated phase out schedule of the Montreal Protocol
    • The Government of India ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down Hydrofluorocarbons. 
    • Hydrofluorocarbons are used in air conditioners, refrigerators, aerosols, foams and other products, which even though do not deplete the stratospheric ozone layer, they have high global warming potential ranging from 12 to 14,000. 
    • As per the Kigali Amendment, to the Montreal Protocol, India will complete its phase down of Hydrofluorocarbons in 4 steps from 2032 onwards with cumulative reduction of 85% of production and consumption of HFCs by 2047. 
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has developed and launched the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) during March 2019, to provide an integrated vision towards cooling across sectors encompassing inter alia reducing cooling demand, refrigerant transition, enhancing energy efficiency and better technology options with a 20-year time horizon. 
    • Space cooling in buildings being the most important and can significantly contribute to achieving the goals in the ICAP, has been prioritized for implementation of the recommendations given in the ICAP. 
    • Action points for implementation of the recommendations for Space Cooling in Buildings was finalized and launched on the World Ozone Day held on 16th September 2021.

Preparation of Stage-III of HPMP has been initiated, to the implemented from 2023-2030, after securing funding from the Multilateral Fund for preparation of project proposal.

J. National Clean Air Program

  • Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is implementing National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) for reducing levels of air pollution in non-attainment cities (NACs) of the country since January 2019. 
  • NCAP is implemented in targeted 132 cities.
  • A Commission on Air Quality Management in NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) has been constituted by enactment of an Act by Parliament for better coordination, research, identification and resolution of problems surrounding the air quality index and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

K. Avoiding Use of Single Use Plastics and Efficient and Effective Management of Plastic Waste.

  • To enhance the efficacy implementation of PWMR, the Ministry has notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021 which also prohibits identified single use plastic items, which have low utility and high littering potential, by 2022.
  • As per the notification, the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of 12 identified single-use plastic items including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commodities shall be prohibited with effect from the 1st of July, 2022.
  • The thickness of plastic carry bags has been increased from fifty microns to seventy-five microns with effect from 30th September, 2021, and to one hundred and twenty microns with effect from the 31st December, 2022.
  • The Ministry has organized “Awareness Campaign on Single Use Plastic – 2021”.
  • The States/UTs have been requested to constitute a Special Task Force under Chairpersonship of Chief Secretary/Administrator for elimination of single use plastics and effective implementation of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. 31 Task Forces have been formed.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified the draft Regulations on the Extended Producer Responsibility for plastic packaging under Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, as amended from time to time on 6th October 2021 for public consultation.

L. Combating the Land Degradation, Desertification and Drought:

  • India committed to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality and restoration of 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, which includes 21 million hectares of Bonn Challenge and additional commitment of 5 million hectares as voluntary commitment.
  • India presently holds the Presidency of UNCCD COP for 2 years till April 2022.
  • Prime Minister attended the High level Dialogue on desertification, land degradation and drought of United Nations General Assembly, held on 14th June 2021 highlighting the initiatives taken by India on combating Land Degradation.

M. Integrated Coastal Zone Management

  • Blue Economy is one of the thrust areas of the Government for sustainable development of coastal resources. 
  • The development is in due consideration of Conservation & protection of coastal and marine resources, Pollution abatement measures, Management of coastal and Marine ecosystem, Livelihood enhancement with security of coastal community, Capacity building and will also comprehend Sustainable development goals.
  • 10 beaches in 7 States and One Union Territory, have been developed at par with international Standards and has been conferred with prestigious Blue Flag certification for its environmentally sound management and ecological sustainable infrastructures with adequate safety measures. This has resulted in better waste management, maintaining bathing water quality, self-sustaining solar energy-based infrastructure, containing marine littering, enhancing local level livelihood options and increased tourist based economy.

News Source: PIB

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