The state of Maharashtra has bagged the Inspiring Regional Leadership Award from Under2 Coalition for Climate Action at COP26 in Glasgow. The state has become the only Indian state to win one of the three awards by U2 in Scotland.
Aditya Thackeray, the Environment Minister of Maharashtra, while receiving the award on behalf of the state at Glasgow said, “This state wants to lead the way in India to tackle climate change. The Chief Minister is a passionate wildlife enthusiast and conservationist, and he has given us the opportunity to dream of a better future, a greener future.” The Environment Minister also mentioned about the ‘Majhi Vasundhara’ movement – which means My Planet.
Maharashtra’s efforts towards saving climate at a subnational level were recognised by the Under2 Coalition, the largest global network of states and regions committed to climate action. British Columbia (Canada) won the other two awards for Creative Climate Solutions and Quebec (Canada) for Climate Partnerships. Maharashtra (India) had sent in entries for all three categories of U2 – Inspiring Regional Leadership, Creative Climate Solutions, and Climate Partnerships.
The Environment and Climate Change Department, Government of Maharashtra has taken up a holistic initiative, Majhi Vasundhara (My Earth ), to make citizens aware of the impacts of climate change and environmental issues and encourage them to make a conscious effort towards the improvement of the environment.
This initiative will also support the state in the implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.
It is a unique integrated first-ever exercise in India by the department, focusing on all five elements of nature i.e. “Panchamahabhuta” comprises Bhumi (Earth), Jala (Water), Vayu (Air), Agni (Energy), Akash (Enhancement) to ensure sustainable development for the state.
Adoption of Clean Energy in Maharashtra
The youngest cabinet minister in the state of Maharashtra spoke about how the state government was looking at clean energy and moving away from conventional energy like thermal or coal energy at the Glasgow summit. He said, “Just recently we’ve solarised a highway and we will be generating 250 MW of energy. We have put out the tender document and we will be generating 250MW solar energy from the new highway between Mumbai and Nagpur.”
On a personal note, he added, “My name Aditya also means the sun and in India, we have been worshipping the sun god as the seed of the universe. In most of our ancient texts, the sun god holds a primary position.”
Mr Thackeray has led Maharashtra’s efforts to address climate change by notifying over 9,800 hectares of mangroves as protected areas and launching the first state-wide programme in the country on climate change mitigation and adaptation. Maharashtra’s entry had highlighted how the state government had succeeded in creating a culture of climate action in Maharashtra, which has borne expenses worth $2 billion due to climate-related disasters during the past year. The state has also joined the UN Race to Zero Initiative and joined the C40 Cities initiative to address climate change on a global level.