India: Himachal carbon credit project to be replicated in other states

Indian Express: After getting the Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project registered with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Himachal Pradesh has become the first state in India to implement the clean development mechanism (CDM) project. Under the project, world’s largest, the World Bank will buy carbon credits from the new forests being developed on degraded lands.

With the granting of approval by the UNFCCC, the state may get an additional annual revenue of Rs 8-10 crore through carbon credits.

The project, in the public sector and spread over an area of 4,004 hectares surpasses a 3,500-hectare CDM project of China, would involve direct benefit to the villagers who would raise the plantations.

R K Kapoor, the chief project director of the Rs 337-crore Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project said, “The Ministry of Rural Development has adopted this project as a model for replicating it in other parts of the country. I have been invited by the ministry to make a presentation as to how Himachal Pradesh has achieved this. A few more ministries are keen to replicate Himachal Pradesh’s initiative”.

Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, too, is ecstatic. “World Bank’s Hurber Nove Josserand, (deputy country director) who was present to sign the agreement with state government had said that the Himachal’s project was innovative and would make it first state in India to achieve what most countries have failed to do. There is a need to support the project to help state become carbon neutral,” Dhumal added.

For the records, Himachal Pradesh is aiming to become the country’s first carbon-free state and the world’s second and as a part of the endeavour, the state government has mandated all its departments to begin environment audit from this year.

Meanwhile, the broad objective of the CDM project is to sequester greenhouse gases by expanding forestry plantations on mostly degraded lands apart from creating a carbon sink. The project aims to sequester 828,016 tonnes of carbon by the year 2026. One tonne of carbon dioxide converted into biomass under new plantations is counted as one credit.

Spread over 11 watershed divisions in 177 gram panchayats across 10 districts under the watershed project, the CDM agreement with the World bank is estimated to fetch a carbon revenue of at least Rs 20 crore for the first crediting period of 20 years.

The carbon revenues have been calculated at a modest US $5 per tonne of carbon dioxide accumulated in tree biomass, above as well as under the ground.

Under this agreement, benefit accruing to the community and private landholders will be about Rs 2,500 per hectare, depending on growth of trees and other factors.

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