Students in India to take carbon-neutrality pledge to commemorate Paris Agreement

On the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on Dec 12, students from leading Indian educational institutes will take a pledge to go carbon neutral at a virtual event

Dec 09, 2020

On the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on Dec 12, students from leading Indian educational institutes will take a pledge to go carbon neutral at a virtual event.  

The pledge ‘Not-Zero Net-Zero’ is to express the resolve to address the warning of the thousands of scientists, who were engaged in the IPCC-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The event will be organized by TERRE Policy Centre in Pune, which is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization dedicated to sustainable solutions to developmental imperatives.

The virtual event will coincide with 2020 Climate Ambition Summit, co-hosted by the United Nations, the United Kingdom and France in partnership with Chile and Italy. At the virtual event, world leaders from government, business, and civil society will convene online. Their task: Make ambitious new commitments to achieving the Paris Agreement on climate change.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has 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 November 1–12, 2021. This year’s meeting could not take place due to COVID-19.

“Pledging ‘Not-Zero Net-Zero’ on 12th December is a small step to pilot carbon neutrality in university campuses and the odyssey from carbon-addicted economy towards ‘carbon net-zero world,” said Rajendra Shende, Chairman TERRE Policy Centre and former Director UNEP.

The pledge is expected to ‘unlock’ the potential of youth to address the greatest challenge of our times - climate crisis, he said. “In a way, it is a skill-building exercise in addressing the climate challenge.”

The educational institutes who will be part of this ‘ambitious pledging ceremony for carbon-neutral educational institutes’ are the All India Council for Higher Technical Education ( AICTE), Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), India, Gulf Organization for Research and Development (GORD) and Global Carbon Council (GCC). 

Shende said that climate change has now become a war by humanity against nature.

“Years of inaction which was ignored 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 percent as compared to 1992 when the United Nations Convention on Climate Change was first agreed by the world leaders. 

“While today’s leaders are failing the planet, tomorrow’s leaders that are getting groomed in the universities and educational institutes are ready not to fail in taking action on climate change.

“The youth are bubbling with ideas for a change and ready to come forward to follow Mahatma Gandhi’s advice, ‘Be the change that you want to see.’ Universities are powerful germinating centres. Tomorrow's policymakers spring up on the campuses. They can transform the world towards carbon-neutrality,” Shende added.

Recognizing the urgent need, TERRE Policy Centre under its Smart Campus Cloud Network (SCCN) is catalyzing the accelerated action under the pledge to unleash the high-octane energy of youth in educational institutes. SCCN facilitates colleges and universities to mainstream the future policy-makers and policy-implementers in implementing the SDGs by promoting sharing of the information on transformative actions undertaken by students and faculties in the campus.
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 the rest of the emissions created 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 has been trying to 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, he said. The institute also plans to catalog the pledges, and oversee the progress made on the dashboard and monitor it through an app. 

After the virtual event, it would be open for other education institutes to sign online.     

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