While several local bodies across the State have launched carbon neutral campaigns to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, most are going forward without any sequestration study. According to experts, a systematic strategy is integral to achieving the Net Zero goal and the process should ideally start with an assessment of emission sources and sequestration possibilities.
Meenangadi, a grama panchayat in Wayanad, was the first local self-government (LSG) in the State to do an emission-sequestration profiling as part of efforts to become a carbon-neutral community. In connection with the project, all sources that emit GHG and all sinks that absorb GHG were scientifically mapped adhering to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2006 guidelines for each contributing sector.
At present, most local bodies are implementing assorted activities related to waste management, organic farming and expansion of green habitats as part of the campaign. “We know that to combat climate change, we must invest heavily in climate adaptation and mitigation programmes. Climate justice is also important. Our first priority is climate adaptation. When untimely rainfall, floods, heat, and drought wreak havoc, the State must be prepared to confront such issues. While tree planting undoubtedly helps to sequester carbon, it alone does not achieve the goal of net zero. As energy and transport sectors are mainly responsible for GHG emissions, the Government of India is trying to phase down the use of coal and encourage the use of green hydrogen. Moreover, just as the biennial inventory of carbon balance in India (MoEFCC), Kerala should also have a database on carbon balance.I am sure Kerala will be in a better position compared to all India figures,” C. George Thomas, chairman, Kerala State Biodiversity Board, said.
According to Department of Environment, emissions from power generation, transport, industries, agriculture (energy use), and buildings, account for 80% of the emissions from the State. Within the energy sector, transport (54%) was the highest contributor to GHG emissions, followed by the building sector (21%).
“Estimating GHG emissions and sequestration is the first step towards the net zero status. Some local bodies have prepared geographic information system (GIS) maps, but what we need is a proper road map. We need to know is if the local body is carbon-positive, carbon-negative or carbon neutral before coming up with sustainable mitigation measures,” said C. Jayakumar, patron of Thanal, an environmental organisation that carried out the research for Meenangadi project.
Mr. Jayakumar adds that carbon neutrality can be attained through a spate of activities that includes analysing the emission reduction potential of the local body and implementing low-emission development strategies.
“Periodical monitoring to check emissions and sequestration is an equally important part of the project. It helps in evaluating the progress and ensuring that the local body is moving on the right track,” he says.