World Environment Day host India vows to lead in tackling plastic waste

Published by Laura Matjusaityte on

June 5th, 2018

India, the host of this year’s World Environment Day, has promised to take the lead and show other countries hot to beat plastic pollution and create a greener future.

India’s government is set to promote World Environment Day today through various events, including major clean-ups in public areas, forests and national reserves to generate public interest and participation.

Major clean-ups of 24 rivers and beaches are being organized as well as the introduction of plastic free policy in all national parks and reserves around the country.

Dr Harsh Vardhan, the Indian Minister of Science & Technology, said that Indian philosophy and lifestyle has always been close to nature and this is why India is committed to make Planet Earth cleaner and greener.

“The scale at which these activities are being carried out is unprecedented and we are proud to showcase our environmental leadership to the world,” he said.

Erik Solheim, Director of the UN Environment Programme, shared his hopes for India to lead the push to save the ocean and the planet, as the country has already shown an example in tackling climate change and now “will help galvanize greater action on plastic pollution”.

Single-use plastic ban

Domestic consumption of plastic is expected to reach 20 million metric tons per year by 2020 in India. By 2011, India was ranked in world’s top four emitting countries per capita, behind only China, the United States and the European Union.

In an attempt to solve increasing plastic pollution, the Maharashtra government brought in an immediate ban In January 2018 on any single-use plastic, except plastic used to pack medicine, together with a deposit refund scheme for bottles and milk bags. Maharashtra was the 18th state in India to introduce such a ban.

One of the more successful examples in India is state of Sikkim, whose government took the lead  by introducing a ban on plastic carry bags in the late 90s.

Rajendra P Gurung, the CEO of Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Sikkim, said that the government had to act immediately to tackle the excessive use of plastic bags blocking drains leading to health issues and even deaths in the state.

World’s first fully solar-powered airport

During World Environment Day, Mr Solheim is set to visit Cochin International Airport, the world’s first completely solar-powered airport.

The airport in Kerala state gets its electricity using the solar panels build on the airport’s roof and land around it.

Around 10 million people travel through the airport each year and the solar panels are calculated to last for up to 25 years and bring savings worth two decades of electricity.

Moreover, it is estimated that the solar-powered airport will save more than 300,000 tons of carbon emission over next 25 years.

The Climate Action Tracker, an independent scientific analysis measuring countries’ climate action, predicts that India may achieve its 2030 climate action targets set out by Paris Agreement earlier than expected if it fully implements its Draft Electricity Plan.

The plan gives priority to renewable energy production and calls for a rapid increase in the installation of solar arrays up to 2022.

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Laura Matjusaityte

Laura is a first-year journalism student at DIT. She has an interest in the environment, veganism and literature.