On the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement, a unique initiative of Carbon Neutrality was taken by 12 Universities from across India in accordance with the theme of ‘Not Zero Net Zero’. Vice-Chancellors of these 12 leading institutions took a single-focused voluntary pledge in unison to develop the roadmap towards making their university carbon neutral.
From snow-covered Kashmir to warm undulated terrain of Kanyakumari and from Clouded Ghats along the Indian peninsula to sunny Guwahati in Northeast, from foothills of Himalaya in Sikkim to the Plains in Delhi and then to raining Chennai in the south, the diversity of the weather patterns was on display on 12th December 2020.
But on that day, the 5th Anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement, the 12 Vice-Chancellors from these very regions demonstrated a rare unity in diversity. They took a single-focused voluntary pledge in unison to develop the roadmap towards making their university carbon neutral.
They also laid their strategy to reach the destination through disciplinary behaviour, resource optimization, energy efficiency, renewable energy, tree plantation leveraging digital technology, and open access to data.
The ambitious virtual event called ‘Not Zero-Net Zero’ was organized by TERRE Policy Centre under its global network of universities and Colleges-Smart Campus Cloud Network (SCCN). The event signaled the end of the endless talk on climate change and triggered the chain of action to move forward to begin an era of decarbonization of the economy.
Nationally determined contributions pledged under the Paris Climate Agreement are grossly inadequate to meet the target of limiting the temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level. “What is needed is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to the maximum extent and then offset the rest of it by tree plantation to make it net-zero.”, delineated Dr. RajendraShende, while revealing the concept behind the ‘Not Zero Net Zero’ pledge.
Inaugurating the event Dr. Anil Sahasrabudhe, Chairman of All India Council of Higher Technical Institutes (AICTE) lauded the catalytic efforts of TERRE in getting key and strategically positioned universities and institutes for united actions. “Movement of Net Zero carbon emission will spread faster when its seeds sown in university campuses”, said Dr. Sahasrabudhe.
Saurabh Kumar, executive vice-chairman of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) fully owned Government of India’s energy service company said, ‘This event is path-breaking. To realize the dream of a carbon-neutral educational institute, EESL can deploy the practical business models quite suitable for the educational institutes. They can invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy with zero capital of their own and then pay the investors from saving they make’.
UNESCO’s Regional Director, Erik Falt through video conveyed the key message, ‘UNESCO believes that educational institutes are key to enable societies in their transition to a lower emission pathway and to maximize potential benefits’.
Vice-Chancellor (VC) of SRM University of Sikkim, Dr. Satish Kumar declared that they are already on the way to transform their university, not only carbon neutral but carbon negative. He signed the pledge and agreed to openly share their model with other universities.
Dr. Anil Kumar, Senior Director of Dr. MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) who also signed the pledge informed that a village is being transformed into Carbon Neutral community in Wayanad, in Kerala by his research institute.
Dr. Amit Bhalla vice president of ManavRachana University informed that his university is already at a higher take-off point towards carbon neutrality. Dr. Sunil Rai, VC of the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies struck a chord with all VCs when he described simple, frugal, and smart stories on how the climate challenge can be addressed effectively.
VCs of SRM Institute of Science and Technology in Tamil Nadu, Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University, Jammu and Kashmir, Noorul Islam Centre for Higher Education in Kanyakumari, Royal Global University in Assam, MIT-ADT university in urban Maharashtra, ManavRachana University in Haryana, NanasahebMahadik College of Engineering in rural Maharashtra expressed their resolve to make their universities carbon neutral.
The Waseda University of Japan in the Far East could not join the event but the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in the Far West joined to demonstrate its solidarity with this global movement. Dr. Nicole Bernex, Director of the university pledged not only for her university in Peru but also informed that she would collaborate with other universities in Latin America forget them into the network of carbon Neutrality. M.V Ashok, senior advisor of SCCN concluded the event on the note of solidarity of the Universities.
The pledge is now open for signature by the educational institute. To join, the head of the institutions can also go directly to pledge via https://sccnhub.com/not-zero-net-zero-pledge