Although most of the Indian citizens are not taking it seriously, we haven’t yet come out of the grip of the Corona Virus. To be factually specific, as on March 18 (this year), 2,539 new cases of Corona were registered in our country including 60 cases of death in the previous 24 hours. Contrary to many other progressive countries, one common thing here is to blame the government for any kind of failure. However, our union government was/is doing the best thing to prevent the diseases caused by the dreadful Corona virus and its mutants.

Deforestation drastically affects the bio-diversity of a place. Although at different points of time, our governments had set different rules to prevent loss of bio-diversity in the country, there were several loop holes in the implementation area. Either the rules were not explained properly to the law-keepers or they failed to follow the instructions. Whatever it is… That’s a different story altogether. However, what has happened is – in the last few decades, we have blindly boosted urbanisation in our country, as its direct consequence, India has been one of the badly affected countries as far as the attack of the Corona virus is concerned.

India is ambitiously dreaming to build smart cities; however, the promoters of the smart cities have to be specifically careful, to maintain or recreate the bio-diversities of the places chosen. Formerly, in many cases, the animals or plants of a region used to bear the brunt of the action of the pathogens. However, as the rapid urbanisation is causing their extinction fast, today the human race is often becoming their target. Thus, we need to make urgent attempts to reverse the situation to the extent possible.

In this time of global temperature rise, we have to find out the means for comfort i.e., cooling, however, that should not happen at the cost of environmental deterioration or loss of bio-diversities. How to keep the carbon footprints to the minimum or zero level that is the matter of primary concern today. With this backdrop, the Union Government of India has recently declared its India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP). Let us now have a look at it.

India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP)

The India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) provides an integrated vision towards cooling across sectors encompassing, inter alia, reduction of cooling demand, refrigerant transition, enhancing energy efficiency and better technology options by 2037-38 through forging synergies with on-going programmes/ schemes of the Government. Following steps have been taken to implement the recommendation of various thematic areas of the ICAP:

  • With regard to reduction of cooling and energy demand in Space Cooling in building sector, a list of action points have been finalised after mapping of the recommendations of the India Cooling Action Plan with the ongoing government programmes/ schemes of the various Ministries.
  • Towards promoting passive cooling in buildings, Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has brought out the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) for all large commercial (non-residential) buildings and Eco-Niwas Samhita (ECBC-R) for the residential buildings.
  • Studies on promoting non-Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs) and low Global Warming Potential based technologies in Cold Chain, Building sector and Public Procurement have been undertaken and reports have been published.
  • To promote indigenous development of low global warming potential refrigerants, the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India has funded a research project to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) – Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad.
  • Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, in collaboration with Bureau of Indian Standards has undertaken a simulation study for developing safety standards for flammable refrigerants in the Refrigeration and Air-conditioning sector.
  • Up-skilling and certification of 43,450 Refrigeration and Air-conditioning (RAC) service technicians has been undertaken under the national skill qualification framework (NSQF) of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE).  In addition, 29,000 RAC service technicians are being trained as part of implementation of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) phase out Management Plans under the Montreal Protocol.

Issues relating to climate change and environmental protection are discussed in the various international environmental conventions and treaties comprising representatives from both developed and developing countries. Commitments including decisions in such conventions and treaties are arrived after extensive discussions and following a process of consensus. India has raised the issue of disproportionate usage of global carbon budget by developed countries that has led to global warming; their high levels of current emissions and their need to reach net zero much ahead of 2050.

India is a signatory to major global environmental conventions and treaties including, inter alia,  United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Convention on Biological Diversity, Paris Agreement, Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, Minamata Convention on Mercury, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Convention on the Conservation of  Migratory Species of Wild Animals, etc. India has taken ambitious targets in support of global environmental  goals as  evidenced in its Nationally Determined Contributions for combating Climate Change under the Paris Agreement, ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol for phase down of Hydrofluorocarbons, restoration of 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 under the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and conserving 30% of land and oceans by 2030. India engaged constructively with all member states in the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2) in 2022 to develop consensus on the resolution for driving global action on plastic pollution.

India has also hosted the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in 2019 and Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals in 2020.

Final words

OECD points out, “Biodiversity  underpins  current  and  future  human  health,  well-being  and  economic  prosperity. Yet it is being destroyed at an unprecedented and accelerating rate, with 25% of all plant and animal species now threatened  with  extinction. It is therefore critical that countries integrate biodiversity considerations into their COVID-19 response and economic recovery plans.”

They also state, “Protecting biodiversity is vital for avoiding  the  next  pandemic.  Close to three-quarters of emerging infectious diseases in humans come from other animals. Land-use change and wildlife exploitation increase infectious disease risk by bringing people and domestic animals in close proximity to pathogen-carrying wildlife, and by disrupting the ecological processes that keep diseases in check.

Therefore, every nation has to be careful about maintaining bio-diversity. The Russia-Ukraine war is creating an unprecedented amount of damage as far as the global ecological balance is concerned. In fact, it may finally turn out to be completely irreversible.

India has chalked out a nice cooling action plan. However, how the contents of it are implemented – that needs to be seen. Let us hope for the best.

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