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Sowing the seeds for tomorrow’s climate leaders - Carbon neutrality pledge by Indian educational institutes

14 Dec 2020

Carbon neutrality pledge by Indian educational institutes

"Sprint to Glasgow" has been launched on 12th December 2020 . But guess how many such sprints and ambition Summit the world leaders have started till now?Each has ended with no results, even opposite results. It is not just 5th Anniversary of Paris Climate Agreement. Just one day before on 11th Dec it was 23rd anniversary of fatally flawed Kyoto Protocol.I was present at both events!

To mark the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement on climate change, and in an effort to boost the global commitment to slow down global warming and arrest climate change, Climate Ambition Summit was hosted by United Nations, UK and France, in partnership with Chile and Italy. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres had positioned this virtual summit as a "sprint to Glasgow," where the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is scheduled to take place from 1–12 November 2021 as the scheduled meeting this year could not be organised due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

To commemorate the occasion, several leading universities of India also gathered in the virtual space for their own Ambitious Pledging ceremony for Carbon Neutral Educational Institutes. The event,hosted by TERRE Policy Centre, an environment-focused NGO, took place virtually on the same day. Under its Smart Campus Cloud Network, TERRE had positioned the event as 'Not-Zero Net-Zero'. It is partnered with All India Council for Higher Technical Education ( AICTE), Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) as well as Gulf Organisation for Research and Development (GORD) and Global Carbon Council ( GCC).

Climate Change has now become a war by the humanity on the Nature. Years of inaction that ignored science, have resulted in not only creating near irreversible imbalance in nature's carbon cycle but the concentration of carbon dioxide has increased by nearly 62 pc as compared to 1992 when United Nations Convention on Climate Change was first agreed to by global leaders. A number of countries including EU, Japan and China as well as large businesses like Apple, Reliance, Coca Cola, Infosys, Tata in 2020 have declared their plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 to 2075.

While today's leaders are failing the planet, tomorrow's leaders getting groomed in the universities and educational institutes are ready to take action on climate change. Universities are powerful germinating centres as the future policy makers spring up in the campuses and they alone can transform the world towards carbon-neutrality.

The pledge catalysed by TERRE revolves around the warning of the thousands of the scientists engaged in IPCC-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that in order to limit the rise in temperature of our planet to not more than 2° C above the pre-industrial times, the world's carbon emission must be net-zero by around mid 21st century.

The pledge is expected to 'unlock' the potential of youth to address the greatest challenge of our times-climate crisis. In a way it is skill-building exercise in addressing climate challenge.

Recognizing the urgent need, TERRE Policy Centre under its Smart Campus Cloud Network-SCCN-is promoting the accelerated action under the pledge to unleash the high-octane energy of youth in educational institutes. "Pledging 'Not-Zero Net-Zero' is a small step to pilot the carbon neutrality in university campuses and the odyssey from carbon-addicted economy towards 'carbon net-zero world", I said during the event.

The underlying principle of the pledge is not to necessarily make carbon emissions zero but to reduce them to the maximum extent possible and for rest of the emissions create carbon-sink/off-set, for example by planting trees and afforestation. Accelerated deployment of the new renewables and efficient technologies would transform the pledge of carbon neutral future into reality.

TERRE Policy Centre through its Smart Campus Cloud Network ( SCCN) would empower the youth through the carbon neutral campus guidelines, expert consultations, workshops, demonstration projects and by encouraging exercises in learning by doing and skilling by sharing. TERRE would also catalogue the pledges and progress on the dashboard and monitor it through app.