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43 cities from Maharashtra join ‘Race to Zero’

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Mumbai/New Delhi, Sep 24: Furthering its efforts of progressive climate action, Maharashtra has announced that 43 of its cities and urban clusters would join the global ‘Race to Zero’ campaign, its Minister for Environment and Climate Aaditya Thackeray announced.

“Joining the ‘Race to Zero’ campaign is our contribution to the global fight against climate change. We cannot keep emitting carbon. We don’t have the luxury of time. Maharashtra will set an example of how subnational governments can act on climate change despite being a massively industrialised state,” Thackeray said as he made the announcement at the ‘India’s Road to COP26’ event, part of The Hub Live at ‘Climate Week NYC 2021’ as part of the Global Citizen Live Campaign on Thursday at New York.

All these 43 cities are already part of the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), a Central government scheme. By joining the ‘Race to Zero,’ these cities will seek to prevent future climate threats, create jobs, and unlock equitable, sustainable growth.

“These cities must publicly acknowledge and recognise the global climate emergency, keeping climate resilience in line with urban decision making, pledging to reach net zero in the 2040s or sooner. They will also be identifying priority actions over the next decade,” a release said here.

With a population of 112 million, Maharashtra is India’s second most populated and second most industrialised state. In 2020, 45.23 per cent of the state’s population was in urban areas, compared to 28.22 per cent in 1960. With the announcement, the state aims to reduce its rapidly increasing carbon footprint, a majority of which comes from its urban centres, the release said.

Of these, six cities — Mumbai, Nashik, Aurangabad, Kalyan-Dombivali, Pune, and Nagpur — had already joined the campaign earlier this year. Maharashtra’s Department of Environment will be undertaking a greenhouse gas emission inventory exercise for all the cities and clusters, which account for a floating population of 50 million in the state.

“Within 12 months of joining, the cities will have to explain what actions will be taken toward achieving both interim and longer-term pledges and commit to report publicly both progress against interim and long-term targets, as well as the actions being taken, at least annually,” the release said.

Global Citizen’s co-Founder & Chief Policy, Impact and Government Affairs Officer, Michael Sheldrick, said, “We know that halting climate change will take immediate action from everyone. That means state and regional governments have a leading role to play in halving global emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050. Global Citizen congratulates the State of Maharashtra and its 43 cities that are announcing their participation in the ‘Race to Zero’ as part of Global Citizen Live.”

India Executive Director at the Climate Group, Divya Sharma, said at the event: “Far more needs to be done, and that too fast, in light of the starkest warning on climate change. Businesses, investors, governments and people will have to come together to check global temperature rise, keep it within 1.5 degrees, and move to a low carbon economy.”

Research Director and Adjunct Associate Professor, Bharti Institute of Public Policy, Indian School of Business and lead author of the Cities chapter in working group 2 of IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report, Dr Anjal Prakash, said: “Maharashtra is an urbanising economy and emissions from the cities has been much higher as compared to other parts of India; so if the state is signing up its urban clusters for the Race to Zero campaign, it’s a welcome move and others must follow too.

“One of the major impacts of climate change is on businesses because of extreme and freak weather events that disrupt economic activities. This is also important because the cost of inaction for the states is also very high, and Maharashtra has witnessed this in 2021 itself,” he said.

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6.1 magnitude quake strikes Japan’s Tokyo, no tsunami warning

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Tokyo, Oct 8: An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 on the Richter Scale on late Thursday struck Japan’s Tokyo region, but no tsunami warning has been issued, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

The temblor occurred at around 10.41 p.m. local time, with its epicenter at a latitude of 35.6 degrees north and a longitude of 140.1 degrees east, and at a depth of 80 km.

The quake logged 5 plus in some parts of Tokyo Prefecture and Saitama Prefecture on the Japanese seismic intensity scale which peaks at 7.

According to utility officials, as of around 11.00 p.m. local time, the earthquake had triggered a blackout affecting around 250 households in Tokyo.

Some train services including subways operated by Tokyo Metro Co and shinkansen bullet trains had been suspended following the earthquake, railway companies said.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters late on Thursday he had ordered officials to help quake victims and prevent further damage.

A task force to assess and monitor the earthquake’s impact has been set up at the prime minister’s office.

According to prefectural government officials, no abnormalities have been detected at Japan Atomic Power Co’s Tokai No 2 nuclear power plant in Ibaraki Prefecture near Tokyo.

There were no reports of damage at Narita airport in Chiba, east of Tokyo after the strong quake.

Runways at Tokyo’s Haneda airport were temporarily closed for inspections, but later reopened as no damage was reported.

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NGT can take suo moto cognisance of environmental issues, rules SC

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New Delhi, Oct 7: The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has power to take suo motu cognisance – on the basis of letters, representations, and media reports — and can initiate proceedings on its own on issues pertaining to the environment.

A bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy, and C.T. Ravikumar delivered the judgment on a batch of petitions which raised the issue whether the NGT has suo motu jurisdiction.

Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh had argued that the NGT has been conferred powers to pass orders for the restitution of environment, hence it can exercise suo motu powers. However, a battery of senior advocates opposed his arguments, stating that only constitutional courts can exercise suo motu powers and a statutory tribunal like the NGT has to act within the confines of its parent law.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre, held that the NGT does not have the power to take cognisance of a matter on its own. But she also contended that the tribunal’s powers cannot be bound by procedural constraints.

“This is a peculiar tribunal dealing with environmental matters. Often, environment ends up being nobody’s baby,” she said.

The bench had queried her that if the tribunal were to receive an information in connection with environment, will it not be duty bound to initiate process? The ASG responded that once a letter or communication is received by the tribunal, it is within its power to take cognisance of it.

On September 8, the bench had reserved verdict on the issue. Senior advocate Anand Grover, amicus curiae in the case, had opined that the NGT cannot exercise suo motu powers on the basis of letters, representations, or media reports.

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NGT has powers to take suo moto cognisance on environmental issues: SC

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New Delhi, Oct 7. The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has power to take suo motu cognisance – on the basis of letters, representations, and media reports — and can initiate proceedings on its own on issues pertaining to the environment.

A bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy, and C.T. Ravikumar delivered the judgment on a batch of petitions which raised the issue whether the NGT has suo motu jurisdiction.

Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh had argued that the NGT has been conferred powers to pass orders for the restitution of environment, hence it can exercise suo motu powers. However, a battery of senior advocates opposed his arguments, stating that only constitutional courts can exercise suo motu powers and a statutory tribunal like the NGT has to act within the confines of its parent law.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre, held that the NGT does not have the power to take cognisance of a matter on its own. But she also contended that the tribunal’s powers cannot be bound by procedural constraints.

“This is a peculiar tribunal dealing with environmental matters. Often, environment ends up being nobody’s baby,” she said.

The bench had queried her that if the tribunal were to receive an information in connection with environment, will it not be duty bound to initiate process? The ASG responded that once a letter or communication is received by the tribunal, it is within its power to take cognisance of it.

On September 8, the bench had reserved verdict on the issue. Senior advocate Arvind Grover, amicus curiae in the case, had opined that the NGT cannot exercise suo motu powers on the basis of letters, representations, or media reports.

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