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PIB Summaries 21 May 2024

  1. Green Credit Programme


Context:

The Centre has approved 12 greening projects under the Green Credit Program (GCP) and estimates of 24 plans submitted by different state forest departments are under consideration.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Green Credit Programme
  2. Green Credit Rules, 2023: Overview
  3. Compensatory Afforestation: Overview

Green Credit Programme:

  • The Green Credit Programme introduces a system of incentives, known as “Green Credits,” for activities that have a positive impact on the environment.
  • It complements the domestic Carbon Market in India, expanding beyond CO2 emission reductions to incentivize a wider range of sustainable actions.
Objectives:
  • The Green Credit System aims to meet various environmental obligations, encouraging companies, individuals, and local bodies to undertake sustainable initiatives.
  • Unlike the carbon market’s focus on CO2 emissions, the Green Credit Programme promotes broader environmental goals.
Tradable Credits:
  • Green credits earned through sustainable activities will be tradable, allowing participants to sell them on a proposed domestic market platform.
  • This creates a market-based approach to incentivize and reward environmentally beneficial actions.
Program Administrator:
  • The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) will serve as the administrator of the Green Credit Programme.
  • ICFRE will develop guidelines, processes, and procedures for the implementation of the programme, ensuring its effectiveness and integrity.

Green Credit Activities:

The programme promotes a range of activities that contribute to environmental sustainability, including:

  • Increasing Green Cover: Promoting tree plantation and related activities to enhance the green cover across the country.
  • Water Conservation: Encouraging water conservation, water harvesting, and efficient water use, including the treatment and reuse of wastewater.
  • Regenerative Agriculture: Promoting natural and regenerative agricultural practices and land restoration to improve productivity, soil health, and the nutritional value of food produced.
  • Waste Management: Supporting sustainable waste management practices, including collection, segregation, and treatment.
  • Air Pollution Reduction: Encouraging measures to reduce air pollution and other pollution abatement activities.
  • Mangrove Conservation: Promoting the conservation and restoration of mangroves, important ecosystems for coastal areas.
  • Ecomark Label: Encouraging manufacturers to obtain the “Ecomark” label for their goods and services, signifying their environmental sustainability.
  • Sustainable Infrastructure: Encouraging the construction of buildings and infrastructure using sustainable technologies and materials.
  • Setting Thresholds and Benchmarks: The Green Credit Programme will establish thresholds and benchmarks for each specific Green Credit activity, ensuring clear standards and targets for participants to achieve.

Green Credit Rules, 2023: Overview

Notification and Legal Basis

  • Introduced on 12th October 2023 under the Environment Protection Act of 1986.

Objective

  • Establish a mechanism promoting voluntary environmental actions leading to the issuance of green credits.
  • Initial focus on voluntary tree plantation on degraded land, waste land, watershed areas, etc., managed by Forest departments.
Implementation of the Green Credit Program (GCP)

Afforestation Financing

  • Registered and approved entities can finance afforestation projects in designated degraded forest and wasteland areas.
  • Afforestation activities will be executed by State Forest departments.

Green Credit Valuation

  • Two years post-planting, each tree undergoes evaluation by the International Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE).
  • Each planted tree can potentially earn one ‘green credit’.

Utilization of Green Credits

  • Companies that have converted forest land for non-forest uses and removed numerous trees can use green credits to fulfill obligations under India’s compensatory afforestation laws.

Available Land for Green Credit Projects

  • 10 States have identified approximately 3,853 hectares of degraded forest land for individuals, groups, and public/private sector units to earn and potentially trade green credits.
    • Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh (MP) together represent about 40% of the available forest land.

Compensatory Afforestation: Overview

Definition

  • Compensatory afforestation mandates industries or institutions, permitted to clear forest land for non-forestry purposes,
    • Provide equivalent non-forest land to forest authorities, and
    • Fund afforestation on the provided land.
  • Land must ideally be near the cleared forest tracts.
  • If unavailable, twice the amount of ‘degraded’ forest land can be used for afforestation.

Additional Compensation

  • Companies must compensate for the lost forest ecosystem’s value, known as the ‘net present value’, due to land diversion.
Issues with Compensatory Afforestation and the Green Credit Program (GCP)

Challenges

  • Obtaining contiguous non-forest land for compensatory afforestation, particularly in States like Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh with historical land diversions for mining.
  • The Compensatory Afforestation Fund, funded by environmental compensation from companies, has substantial unspent funds due to land availability issues.

Green Credit Challenges

  • Assigning a monetary value to green credits is problematic.
  • Linking green credits to compensatory afforestation activities is complex.

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