Life Style for Environment and Green Credit
By Dr. Yashpal Singh
In recognition of the fact that changing individual and community behaviour can alone have a significant impact on the environmental and climate crises and the fact that circular economy can generate tremendous cost savings, the Honourable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi introduced Life Style for Environment (LiFE) at CoP 26 in Glasgow on 1st November 2021, as a mass movement for ‘mindful and deliberate utilisation’ instead of ‘mindless and destructive consumption’ to preserve and protect the environment. The campaign aims to mobilise people and communities to practice a sustainable life style in tandem with nature without harming it. Those who practice it will be called ‘Pro-planet people’ The mission LiFE seeks to make at least 80% of all villages and urban local bodies to become environment friendly by 2028.
The mission is implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India.
A comprehensive and non-exhaustive list of 75 individual LiFE actions across 7 categories viz Energy, Water, Single use plastic, Sustainable food systems, Waste reduced, Healthy Life Styles, and E waste have been identified under the mission.
The Niti Aayog estimates that against a business-as-usual scenario by 1 billion Indians in 2022-23, LiFE actions can generate significant impacts by 2027-28. As an example, the Aayog estimates that:
- Switching off the car/scooter engines at traffic lights/railway crossings can save up to 22.5 billion KWH of energy.
- Turning off running taps when not in active use can save up to 9 billion litres of water.
- Using a Cloth bag instead of a plastic bag while shopping can save up to 375 million tonnes of solid waste from entering the land fill.
- Discarding non functioning gadgets in the nearest e-recycling unit can recycle up to 0.75 million tonnes e-waste.
- Composting waste food at home can save up to 15 billion tonnes of food from going to landfills.
Recognising also that an innovative market-based mechanism is required to promote the LiFE movement the MoEF & CC proposes to launch a Green Credit program to leverage a competitive market-based approach for green credits and incentivize voluntary environmental action and has issued a draft notification on 26-06-2023 for public response.
Green credits are proposed to be made available to individuals and entities engaged in selected activities and who undertake environmental interventions. Those green credits will be made available for trading as a domestic market platform. If an activity generating green credits under the Green credit program also has climate co-benefits such as reduction or removal of carbon emissions it may also get carbon credits from the same activity under the carbon credits from the same activity under the carbon market. The Green credit program will be a domestic voluntary market mechanism.
The Green credit program implementation draft rules of 2023 state that the main objective of the program is to create a market-based mechanism for providing incentives in the form of green credits to individuals, farmer producer organisation, cooperatives, forestry enterprises, sustainable agricultural enterprises, urban and rural local bodies, private sectors, industries and organisations for environment positive actions. If would also aim at creating a mass movement around environment positive actions and realise the vision of mission LiFE.
The program is initially proposed to be implemented in a phased and iterative manner initially addressing to two to three activities from the sectors indicated in clause 2 of the draft notification, as reproduced below which will be considered for designing and piloting the program. More activities will be added in future.
(2) Sectors identified for the Programme with respective objectives are as follows:
- Tree Plantation-based Green Credit: To promote activities for increasing the green cover across the country through tree plantation and related activities.
- Water-based Green Credit: To promote water conservation, water harvesting and water use efficiency/savings, including treatment and reuse of wastewater.
- Sustainable Agriculture based Green Credit: To promote natural and regenerative agricultural practices and land restoration to improve productivity, soil health and nutritional value of food produced.
- Waste Management based Green Credit: To promote sustainable and improved practices for waste management, including collection, segregation and treatment.
- Air Pollution Reduction based Green Credit: To promote measures for reducing air pollution and other pollution abatement activities.
- Mangrove Conservation and Restoration based Green Credit: To promote measures for conservation and restoration of mangroves.
- Ecomark based Green Credit: To encourage manufacturers to obtain Ecomark label for their goods and services.
- Sustainable building and infrastructure based Green Credit: To encourage the construction of buildings and other infrastructure using sustainable technologies and materials.
Thresholds and bench marks will be developed for each green credit activity, for generating and issuance of green credits and this will involve alignment to obligations under law. The environmental outcome achievable by any green credit activity will be based on relevant parameters and will be considered while allocating green credits.
It is proposed to set up a steering committee entrusted with the responsibility of governance of the program for its effective implementation.
It is also provided that the Indian Council of Forest Research and Education shall be the green credit Programme administrator and would be responsible for the implementation of the Programme including its management, operation and monitoring. This would include preparing methodologies guidelines and procedures related to the program. The administrator may constitute technical or sectoral committees for each activity for developing methodologies, standards and procedures for registration of green credit activities and grant of green credits. The administrator or its accredited agency shall establish and maintain the registry of the program. This registry, an electronic database, will contain common data elements relevant to the issue of holding, transfer and acquisition of green credits.
A common trading platform would be established based on guideline to be issued by the Administrator with the approval of the steering committee. It shall be established by the trading service provider accredited by the Administrator in accordance with approved guidelines.
An online, knowledge and data platform is also proposed to be developed and this may collate data generated from green credit registry and other information sources.
The administrator is also proposed to be empowered to accredit the entities to act as Accredited Green Credit verifiers.
The Green credit program shall be based on voluntary participation. All entities registered for accredited compensatory afforestation under the guidelines issued by the MoEF and CC vide No. FC-11/159/2022-FC dated 24-01-2023 shall register with the Greencredit registry under the program.
The Central Government may empanel auditors for audit of the entire system.