Carbon neutrality should be part of the curriculum to make the youth climate-ready, starting from schools: Prakash Javadekar
All educational institutions in India should make their campuses carbon neutral by 2030 to help the country achieve the target of net-zero emissions by 2070, former environment minister Prakash Javadekar said.
Addressing the launch of "U75: Net-Zero in the University Campus", a new initiative by environment NGO Green TERRE Foundation to make educational institutions in India carbon neutral by 2030, Javadekar said the initiative will create "required environmental sensitivity amongst students whose future depends upon our fight against climate change".
More than 450 universities and colleges of the Smart Campus Cloud Network – SCCN are also part of this carbon-neutral campus movement.
Javadekar, who had earlier held the education portfolio as human resource development minister, said education institutes need to save and generate energy and water, plant more trees, convert waste into wealth and promote electrical mobility on campus.
Erik Solheim, former under-secretary general of the United Nations, praised the movement, saying that to act on global environmental challenges, "we need to make climate change a people's issue".
Solheim also advised faculty members and students to take "inspiration from the Indian traditional system of respecting nature".
Rajendra Shende, the founder of Green TERRE Foundation, emphasised that the university campus is an incubator for moulding the minds of the youth to be ready for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) mission and meeting India's net-zero target.
Modi had last year launched 'Mission LiFE', which calls for a global mass movement for inducing behavioural changes focused on "mindful and deliberate utilisation" of resources.
At COP26 in Glasgow, Modi committed India to a net-zero carbon emissions target by 2070. Net zero means achieving a balance between the greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere and those taken out.
India has also allocated Rs 35,000 crore in the Union Budget for 2023-24 for priority capital investment towards energy transition and achieving the net-zero emission goal.
Shende added that "no place is more appropriate than the university campus to groom young talents to scale up and speed up actions on SDGs (sustainable development goals) and climate neutrality".
National Board of Accreditation Chairman Prof Anil Sahasrabudhe said 75 universities should become role models for net-zero emissions for another 750 varsities and 7,500 colleges during the 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav'.
He said carbon neutrality should be part of the curriculum to make the youth climate-ready, starting from schools.
All India Council for Technical Education Chairman Prof T Sitharam supported the objective of "U75 and Smart Campus Cloud Network", saying "societal efforts like this are essential along with government initiatives".