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India Pavilion at COP-22, Marrakech

The India Pavilion witnessed three side events which focused on the initiatives in Afforestration and REDD+ in India, Ecosystem and Climate Change and Sustainable Transportation.

During the first session on “Afforestration and REDD+” organized by ICFRE, ICIMOD and IUCN DG ICFRE Dr Shashi Kumar and other experts, highlighted that Forests play a crucial role in mitigating climate change, particularly in India where 25% of the area has tree cover. The Government of India has requested the forestry sector to help the country meet its goal of 2.5-3.0 billion tonnes of additional carbon sequestration per the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). This target will be met using a variety of means, including afforestation, reforestation, and agro-forestry, conducted through community participation and mechanisms like REDD+. REDD+ stands for Reducing Emissions by Deforestation and Degradation, an initiative finalized under the UN’s Paris Agreement in 2015. India has begun implementing REDD+ pilot projects, developing protocols for improving measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) and safeguard information systems (SIS). Emphasizes was also given to promote the exchange of information and present potential collaborations among South Asian countries that share Himalayan and tropical ecologies.

In the second session on Ecosystem and Climate Change discussion were held on the roles of forest in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Climate change alters existing biome types and can cause forest dieback with consequent loss of biodiversity. Various forest conservation oriented acts and policies in India are contributing to a reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, stabilization and improvement of carbon stocks in forests, and conservation of biodiversity. India’s forests serve as a major sink of CO2, offsetting around 12% of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the country. IUCN had elaborated about its initiatives in India. ICIMOD provided the information on various activities including preparation of inventory of methodolgy on climate change and river system in India. Representative of Government of Bihar provided detailed information on the initiatives on the agroforestry and strategy to meet the climate change risk.

Showcasing India’s efforts on sustainable transport solutions, the Ministry of Railways, Government of India, with its technical partner, Council on Energy, Environment and Water, hosted the third session on “Sustainable Transport Solutions” at the India Pavilion at COP22 in Marrakech, where the current climate negotiations are underway.

India has focused its low carbon initiatives on the development of Railways, Waterways, Mass Rapid Transport Systems and other forms of public transport. Initiatives such as the Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs) as highlighted by Mr Abhay Bakre, Executive Director, Ministry of Railways, and the Sagarmala projects on development of waterways highlighted by Mr Abhishek Chandra, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Shipping are aimed to increase the share and volume of freight traffic on the more energy efficient rail and water based transport modes. Aditya Ramji, Council on Energy, Environment and Water highlighted that the Indian Railways has taken a leadership role by planning to substitute its petroleum use with alternatives like bio-fuels, and consistently pursuing a policy of railway electrification through renewable sources of energy, with potential reduction of 138 MT of CO2 by 2030.”

Mr Shri Prakash, TERI, said, “Improving vehicle efficiency, reducing dependence on motorized transport and stringent emissions norms are some of the measures currently being undertaken in the road transport sector.”

Mr RR Rashmi, Special Secretary, MoEFCC, Government of India, while highlighting that India is on the road to managing its transport sector emissions in an effective manner, also said, “In addition, there have been efforts to decrease fossil-fuel dependence in the transport sector, which have been incorporated by moving towards cleaner sources of energy and increasing the share of renewables in driving mobility.”

The session also saw panellists from the SLoCAT Partnership, with Mr Cornie Huizenga highlighting the need for global transformative action and a transition to a net zero emissions system. Ms Rana Adib, from REN21, said, “Energy security is key for transport security.”

Availability of data for evidence based policy planning, has been a challenge that India has overcome to a large extent in the recent years. Mr Vivek Adhia, World Resources Institute, further added that a modal shift to rail and more efficient modes of transport, are certainly in line with the idea of sustainable lifestyles, that India has been highlighting time and again.

Mr Shomik Mehndiratta, World Bank, highlighted that in the larger developmental context of India, as we proceed on the path of socially inclusive growth, the transport sector will be a key enabler, by providing access to rural areas, access to opportunities and access to markets.

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