Maharashtra has bagged the Inspiring Regional Leadership Award from Under2 Coalition for Climate Action and became the only Indian state to win one of the three awards by U2 in Scotland. Aditya Thackeray, Maharashtra’s Environment Minister, received the award on behalf of the state.
Speaking in Glasgow, the minister said, “This state wants to lead the way in India to tackle climate change. The Chief Minister (Uddhav Thackeray) is a passionate wildlife enthusiast and conservationist, and he has given us the opportunity to dream of a better future, a greener future. We have started with a movement called Majhi Vasundhara, which means My Planet. We are focussing on the traditional five elements of nature.”
The minister also spoke about how the state government was looking at clean energy and moving away from conventional energy like thermal or coal energy. “Just recently we’ve solarised a highway and we will be generating 250 MW of energy. We have put out the tender document and we will be generating 250MW solar energy from the new highway between Mumbai and Nagpur.”
On a personal note, he added, “My name Aditya also means the sun and in India, we have been worshipping the sun god as the seed of the universe. In most of our ancient texts, the sun god holds a primary position.”
Maharashtra’s efforts towards saving climate at a subnational level were recognised by the Under2 Coalition, the largest global network of states and regions committed to climate action. The other two awards were won by British Columbia (Canada) for Creative Climate Solutions and Quebec (Canada) for Climate Partnerships. Maharashtra (India) had sent in entries for all three categories of U2 – Inspiring Regional Leadership, Creative Climate Solutions, and Climate Partnerships.
Speaking in Glasgow, Scotland, Maharashtra’s Minister for Environment, Tourism and Protocol, Aaditya Thackeray said, “We strongly believe that it is high time we put in collective efforts and meaningful actions to work on this global issue that sees no borders of geography, race, nationality or gender. We are truly delighted to have been recognized by the Under2 Coalition for our heartfelt ongoing contribution towards climate action.”
Mr Thackeray, the youngest Cabinet Minister in the state government, holds the Environment portfolio in one of India’s most industrially advanced states. He has led Maharashtra’s efforts to address climate change by notifying over 9,800 hectares of mangroves as protected areas and launching the first state-wide programme in the country on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Maharashtra’s entry had highlighted how the state government had succeeded in creating a culture of climate action in Maharashtra, which has borne expenses worth $2 billion due to climate-related disasters during the past year. The state has also joined the UN Race to Zero Initiative and joined the C40 Cities initiative to address climate change on a global level.