Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday (August 15) said efforts are on to make the Union Territory of Ladakh a carbon-neutral region.
Carbon neutrality refers to having a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing it from the atmosphere in carbon sinks. It is significant since greenhouse gases or carbon emissions adversely affect the climate.
“Just like Sikkim has made its mark as an organic state, efforts are being made to make Ladakh a carbon-neutral region,” said Modi, addressing the country from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the occasion of the 74th Independence Day.
“The Ladakh region is a natural carbon sink and making it carbon neutral pave the way for many other regions in India to embark on this carbon neutrality journey. It will be now interesting to see how this announcement is operationalised and replicated in other parts of the country. It will also be intriguing to see how large businesses will respond to this call,” the Prime Minister said.
Modi also announced that 100 cities will be considered to take up a mission to achieve clean air through various policies, participatory and technological interventions.
In 2003, Sikkim became the first state to announce adoption of organic farming, which also helped in reducing its carbon footprint. Sikkim stopped importing chemical fertilisers and since then the cultivable land there is practically organic and farmers of the state are traditional users of organic manure, an environment ministry official said.
In 2018, the northeastern state won the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)’s Future Policy Award for best policies on promoting agroecological and sustainable food systems.
A few villages in Kerala and Manipur too have already adopted the idea of carbon-neutral regions. However, Ladakh, Leh and Kargil will be the first large region to have implemented this.
In Ladakh, several wind and solar energy projects are underway. Among these is an upcoming 7,500 megawatt (MW) solar power plant which will significantly reduce the union territory’s carbon footprint and contribute towards carbon neutrality.
“Ladakh has big potential for solar energy. Within five years from now, a 7,500 MW solar power plant will be installed there which will help in reducing the carbon footprint drastically,” said Jigmet Takpa, joint secretary of the environment ministry.
Ladakh produces 0.1 per cent of India’s total carbon emissions. Another senior officer of the environment ministry said, “Making Ladakh carbon neutral is a vision of development. It aims at carrying out developmental activities in the territory along with minimising carbon emissions.
“Ladakh’s emissions are very low at 0.1 per cent of India’s emissions due to less development in the area. The government is planning to get investment for solar and wind energy and it will be announced soon,” the officer said.