After signing and subsequently ratifiying the Paris agreement, 2015 for green developmental agenda post 2020 and also thinking to ratify Doha amendments to Kyoto Protocol 2005, India has shown considerable commitment towards streamlining its future development through a green prism and pursuing a green growth, hence time is pretty ripe for India to develop a carbon-free city to make it as a model city for mobilising similar commitments from other towns. And pursuance of such a green policy can be more effectively implemented under the head of smart cities mission of the Central Govt. Let us understand what a carbon free city is and what it takes to develop the same in the Indian scenario-
What is a carbon-free city?
A carbon-free or a zero carbon city is a city with no carbon footprint. This means that entirely derives its energy needs from renewable. Almost all activities of humans involves emission of carbon through burning of fossil fuels, whether be it electricity generation through coal based power plants, diesel powered transport system or LPG as cooking fuel. Thus for procuring a carbon free city we need to decarbonise electricity, get in place a zero-emission transport system and increase importance of renewable energy in cooking and daily human use. Such zero-carbon cities apart from being a model for development produces a net-positive effect on the environment and can also produce reverting the harmful effects that climate change has brought in in the last century.
Do we have any carbon free cities on our planet?
Two places on the globe are prototyped to become first carbon free cities of the world viz. Masdar City of United Aram Emirates and Dongtan of China. Moreover Malacca of Malaysia also has a slated ambition og becoming South-East Asia’s first carbon free city. These cities have pusued optimal resource utilisation and became living examples of sustainable development. The city of Masdar in Abu Dhabi majorly focussed on procuring its energy demands form solar and wind energy planned to house around 50,000 people. It pursues its environmental ambition under Fosters + Partner programme to create this 6 million square metre project based on the prinicples of modern alternative technologies which are environmentally sustainable. A large photo-voltaic power plant supports the energy demands of the city.
Dongtan is present in the east of Chongming, China uses 10 principles of eco-cities which is supposed to house around 80,000 people till 2020. Shanghai Industrial Investment Corporation (SIIC) prepared a plan of Dongtan’s tryst with carbon free development. Such green development would also benefit the adjoining climate sensitive wetland area at the mouth of Yangtze river north of Shanghai. This city is slated as a model developmental unit for Asia and India in particular.
Carbon-free city : Indian scenario
As far back in 2012, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam in his book India-2020 and its vision, made a strong case for creation of model cities which are carbon free and prioritizes renewables over fossilised power generation units. Moreover Ajay Maken, former Urban Development Minister made proposals that slated to make Pune as India’s first zero carbon city till 2040. In addition to that, former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Prem Kumar Dhumal presented a vision plan for developing Himanchal Pradesh as India’s first carbon free state by 2020, this plan was presented in 12th Delhi sustainable development summit. In addition to all of this, last year Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the august city of Masdar on his visit to UAE, which renewed the Indian ambition on developing such a city in our country.
Such competetive spirit amongst states and municipal units to turn green is set to usher in an era of green development thus benefiting the environment of our planet. With India being one of the most vulnerable areas in the world to possible get hit due to adversarial climate change due to its diverse landforms, dependence on river and monsoon systems for its agricultural needs and moreover with a 1/3rd poor population which is set to get more adversaly affected by such climate change scenario, it makes a strong case for India to start building upon its green growth. State Govt. Needs to be provided with necessary expert guidance, a spirit of competition amongst themselves through central incentives both in cash and kind, the Govt. Of the day can create of conducive environment for such policy to fruition. Moreover international co-operation is of utmost importance for such development and since recently build proximity with UAE and its crown prince’s visit to New Delhi as the republic day chief guest, capitalization of UAE’s expertise in such development is a positive move. Finally, capital investment by private industry in renewable technology and infrastructure is of great importance as we have seen in case of Dongtan (China). Hence with such concerted focus to build upon such conducive environment for green development clubbing it with the smart cities mission and AMRUT programme of the Govt. Could capitalise upon to build a strong, sustainable and green network of cities which could make India a model global capital for green growth and sustainable development.