Set up dedicated green body on lines of GST council: States

With experts demanding a separate body to deal with issues linked climate change for long, states have proposed setting up a dedicated ‘environmental council’ like GST council to implement India’s climate action at all levels.

Although the Centre has an apex committee, comprising members from 13 key ministries, to coordinate actions for achieving India’s climate goal under the Paris Agreement, the idea to have a separate council came up during the World Sustainable Development Summit where state representatives, including ministers, proposed having such an independent body for more focused action.

They pointed out that the implementation aspects of climate action, be it mitigation, adaptation and resilience, often falls on the state governments and therefore there should be a dedicated body composed of representatives from the Centre and all the states/Union Territories.

“On the lines of the GST Council, if we have the environment and forest ministers of all states along with the Union minister of environment in a council, I think that is where we can set targets and policies at the national level and implement at the state level,” said Aaditya Thackeray, environment minister of Maharashtra. Participating in a ‘ministerial session on sub-national leadership for inclusive green growth’ at WSDS, organised by The Energy and Resources Institute, Thackeray suggested putting out an annual environment report. “We can think of an ‘ease of living’ report that lists out environmental steps and targets, and what can be done in terms of climate action such as mitigation, adaptation and resilience,” he said.

At the session, moderated by TERI director general, Vibha Dhawan, the ministers highlighted the need for newer measures and yardsticks to assess and tackle climate change related impacts. Emphasising the crucial role of sub-national governance to tackle climate change, James K Sangma, environment and forest minister of Meghalaya, said, “The need of the hour is to have a concerted effort where all the states come together, put aside their differences and work collectively. ”

Pointing out that Meghalaya along with Arunachal form the biggest carbon sinks crucial for India to honour the commitments made under the Paris Agreement, Sangma also put forth the need for the north-eastern region to be a unique green laboratory. “Meghalaya aspires to be a leader to create a green bloc coalition to find solutions to fast depleting natural assets,” he said.

Echoing Thackeray’s suggestion, Palanivel Thiagarajan, finance minister of Tamil Nadu, said, “While policies are framed at the national level, bulk of the work is to be done at these levels. ”

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