Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim launched work on the city’s climate action plan involving pan-Indian experts on World Environment Day.
Bengal’s disaster management minister underlined the link between Kolkata and Sundarbans’ climate risk in the meeting.
Kolkata, June 5, 2023:
Acknowledging the heightened climate risk of the city, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation announced the launch of work on Kolkata’s climate action plan for World Environment Day, only second to Mumbai in the country. The plan is expected to push the city on a Paris Agreement-aligned emissions reduction trajectory and ensure that communities and citizens remain safe and thrive in the face of fast-changing climatic conditions.
The plan is a continued effort and a major stride by the municipal corporation from its earlier pledge taken a year back to shift away from fossil fuel as far as possible to renewable and green energy.
“We are deeply concerned about the issues like climate change and air pollution in the city. All of us have seen how the city gets affected by a series of cyclones in the last few years, and hence it is very important that we quickly prepare the Kolkata Climate Action Plan, and
start implementing those as the soonest. On World Environment Day, we have launched the work of the plan which is to be prepared in association with several experts organisations across the country; and will also involve premiere national and international climate experts”
said city Mayor Firhad Hakim at a meeting held at the Kolkata Press Club today, Mayor Hakim, also Bengal’s urban development and municipal affairs minister, further said, “With this plan, we will ensure that Kolkata develops without infringing its natural systems as far as possible; and walks on the track of a resilient urban growth by minimizing city’s greenhouse gas emission.”
Apart from Mayor, state disaster management minister Javed Ahmed Khan, KMC Mayor in Council Debashis Kumar, German Consulate General in Kolkata Manfred Auster, acting British Deputy Head of the Mission in Kolkata Yemi Odanye, Bangladesh Deputy High Commissioner Andalib Elias, UNICEF West Bengal chief Md Mohiuddin, WBPCB Chairman Kalyan Rudra, former Sheriff of Kolkata and EnGIO advisor Dulal Bose, President Press Club Kolkata Snehasis Sur, EnGIO Convenor Jayanta Basu, Sanjay Vashist from CANSA, and Shreeshan Venkatesan from Climate Trends were present in the meeting; which was also attended by nearly 100 environmentalists, academics and experts across the country.
Climate action plans are comprehensive roadmaps that outline specific activities that can be undertaken to reduce emissions and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. With this announcement Kolkata – one of India’s oldest metropolitan cities – joins the league of global
megacities that have already developed plans for emission cuts and adaptation to climate change.
Kolkata’s Climate Action Plan (KCAP) will be drafted by the Corporation in the next 6 months, with technical support from a coalition of specialized organizations and experts to be led by Environment Governed Integrated Organisation (EnGIO) and Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA). ORF. Kolkata, Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industries (BCCI), Climate Trends, and the Kolkata Press Club are part of the climate coalition set to work for the plan.
The climate action plan will focus on 15 sectors that will cover key issues ranging from urban flooding to energy. The plan will also focus on building mitigation and adaptation through sustainable development measures across key areas like waste management, biodiversity, flooding, water conservation, energy efficiency, air quality & sustainable mobility.
Experts pointed out that Kolkata is extremely vulnerable to climate change at the global benchmark. City dwellers have already begun to feel the brunt of climate impacts with rising heat waves, cyclones, and intense rainfall. Scientific predictions say that the climate risk for Kolkata will further increase in the future.
“An expert committee consisting of front-line climate experts across the country including those from premier institutions like IITs, Calcutta University, and others, will guide the plan,” said Jayanta Basu from EnGIO. “I represented the city at the Sharm El Sheikh summit and saw how the global cities were working to counter climate change; Kolkata Climate Action Plan, once ready, will be a great boost to counter the risk for the city,” said Debasish Kumar, MLA and member of city’s mayoral council.
Sundarbans’ loss and damage assessment launched
State disaster management minister Javed Ahmed Khan also launched work on loss and damage assessment in Sundarbans at the meeting. “We recently visited Sundarbans and saw the scale of climate-triggered disaster impacts in the area; which, according to experts, are only expected to rise.
In view of this, we are supporting EnGIO in its effort to launch the assessment of possible loss and damage in Sundarbans wrt climate change-triggered disasters today We have to keep in mind that unless Sundarbans can be saved; Kolkata will also be in trouble” said Khan in the meeting.
“We expect both the Kolkata and Sundarbans-related works to get finalized within a reasonable time frame and plan to help the West Bengal government and Kolkata Municipal Corporation to highlight those in the next COP 28 in Dubai” said Sanjay Vashist of CANSA.
“Kolkata faces high threats from flooding, heat risk & extreme weather, the action plan under preparation should provide a roadmap to address such climate challenges and add voices to the vulnerable population living under the threats. A focus on reducing emissions and
switching to clean energy will also contribute to the state’s and country’s net-zero goals,” said Aarti Khosla, Director, of Climate Trends. “We also would like to help the city and state in communicating its high climate risks at the global level” added Khosla.
“It’s a great initiative and we would like to provide inputs mainly on the economics part of it,” said Nilanjan Ghosh of ORF.
The event will also mark the launch of a Synopsis report from 2007 – 22 on ‘Green Durga Pujo Awards’ by EnGIO which had over 40 environmentalists from across the state as jury members every year; that has a focus on Climate Change and Sundarbans. The event will also award the winners in Climate for Youth Programme being spearheaded by UNICEF.
“The climate vulnerabilities of Sundarbans and Kolkata are linked and we strive to highlight the trend and find integrated ways to tackle them together,” added Basu.