Climate Actions: CapaCITIES Workshop Calls for Prioritising Sectors, Leveraging Carbon Markets

Mr Kiritkumar Parmar, Hon’ble Mayor of Ahmedabad, and Mr. Praveen Chaudhary, IAS, Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), inaugurated a workshop on climate action planning and climate finance on 25 August 2023.  Thirty-five officials and representatives from different cities of Gujarat, the Gujarat Urban Development Mission and the Gujarat Urban Development Company attended the workshop, organised in Ahmedabad by ICLEI South Asia and South Pole under the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) funded CapaCITIES project.

There were sessions on net-zero climate-resilient cities, Ahmedabad’s Climate Resilient City Action Plan (CRCAP), global experiences in achieving net zero, and structuring of urban infrastructure projects, as well as interactive exercises on climate resilient city action planning and a dynamic panel discussion on carbon monetisation opportunities for financing urban infrastructure.

In his address, Mr Parmar highlighted the Prime Minister’s “Panchamrit” vision as an integral part of the nation’s fight against climate change, adding that Ahmedabad, besides being the first Indian city to have a heat action plan, is taking proactive steps to develop a Climate Resilient City Action Plan, covering sectors like water, wastewater, stormwater, solid waste and built environment, as well as energy, transport, green cover, emergency services, air quality and climate finance.  He urged the officials from other cities of Gujarat to actively engage in the climate action planning process.

In his speech, Mr Chaudhary said that climate finance was one of the key thematic areas of the Urban20 Mayoral Summit, and highlighted AMC’s new initiative, ‘Environment Improvement Charge’, which allocates funds for climate actions. Ahmedabad’s CRCAP provides guidance on utilising funds in an effective way, and on accessing private international finance.

Ms. Ridhima Sud, Senior Thematic Advisor, SDC, emphasised the need for cities to be the hub for climate action planning. Since 2016, cities have received support under the CapaCITIES project to plan, implement and access finance for achieving resilience and preparing their CRCAP, in line with the Government of India’s aim to achieve net zero by 2070. With Gujarat already an established leader in climate actions, Ahmedabad has taken forward this legacy by launching its CRCAP at the U20 Mayoral summit.

During the technical session, Ms Soumya Chaturvedula, Deputy Director, ICLEI South Asia, said that the CRCAP would help the city to prioritise climate actions and provide a logical reasoning for their selection of actions. Cities face a dilemma as there are multiple sectors like water, wastewater, transportation, energy efficiency, housing solid waste and green cover that require assistance. It’s important to prioritise sectors, as funds and technical knowhow are limited. She elaborated on the first-of-its-kind integrated climate change mitigation and adaptation planning methodology, ClimateResilientCITIES, prepared by ICLEI during CapaCITIES Phase I, which has been updated with the net zero ClimateResilientCITIES methodology during CapaCITIES Phase II.

Mr Ankit Makvana, Manager, ICLEI South Asia, spoke about the vision, adaptation goals and mitigation targets for Ahmedabad, and the methodology used to prepare the CRCAP.

Speaking about the experience of European cities in the net zero journey, Mr Hans Peter, Director, South Pole, said they were not only undertaking climate action planning but also focusing on investment plans and engaging with relevant stakeholders, including the private sector, to implement climate action plans.  He stated that 100 European cities are committed to transitioning to net zero economies by 2030.

Mr Mehul Patwari, Director, South Pole, discussed the factors that need to be considered to make projects bankable and investment ready.

The main learnings of an exercise conducted on climate resilient city action planning during the workshop were that climate action needs to be integrated into urban planning for efficient technical and financial operations; cities should be encouraged to collaborate beyond their boundaries for data collection, certification, and research; and that the capabilities of urban planning departments can  be extended beyond their current capacity for better implementation of  climate actions.

The panel discussion on Carbon Monetisation Opportunities for Financing Urban Infrastructure included an overview of voluntary carbon markets, compliance markets and funding required for infrastructure projects, and the importance of carbon monetisation for urban infrastructure.

Mr. Rohit Garg, Regional Director, Carbon Projects, South Pole, spoke on the Indian voluntary carbon market and the Government’s strategy for integrating or leveraging it to develop a robust compliance carbon market. Mr. Palash Shrivastava, CEO, IIFCL Projects Limited, analysed the funding needed for India’s infrastructure sector to reach net zero and the mainstreaming of carbon markets so that sizable amounts can be raised for infrastructure development. Mr. Jaideep Bansal, CEO, GHE Impact Ventures, explained how carbon markets can be leveraged to develop social infrastructure.

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