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Green Credits Programme: Scheme Details



  Mar 20, 2024

Green Credits Programme: Scheme Details



The Green Credits Programme, launched by the Indian government in October 2023, aims to incentivize individuals and organizations to undertake environmental improvement projects. Here's a breakdown of the program's core aspects:

Goal:

Encourage voluntary actions that benefit the environment across various sectors.


Earning Green Credits:

Individuals and entities can participate in eligible activities to earn Green Credits. These activities include:

● Planting trees (afforestation)
● Implementing water conservation measures
● Practicing sustainable agriculture
● Managing waste effectively
● Reducing air pollution (initially focused on in later phases)

 

Current Focus:

The program is currently in its initial phase, prioritizing the first two activities:

● Water conservation
● Afforestation (planting trees on degraded lands)



Green Credits as Incentives:

Earning Green Credits can provide various benefits:

● Recognition for environmental responsibility
● Potential for Green Credits to be traded (details yet to be finalised)
● Fulfilling Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals (for businesses)
 

Administration:

● The program is overseen by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
●The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) is responsible for program implementation, management, monitoring, and operation.



Forest Land and Plantations:

The program allows private entities to undertake plantation projects on degraded lands, including:

● Open forests
● Scrublands
● Wastelands
● Catchment areas (under state jurisdiction)

State forest departments are required to identify such lands for potential involvement by private companies or investors who would fund plantation activities.



Criticisms of the Green Credits Programme

The Green Credits Programme, despite its goal of environmental improvement, has faced criticism from a group of retired bureaucrats, the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG). Their primary concerns center on potential negative impacts on India's forests.


Forest Land Diversion:

● The CCG fears the program might be misused as a tool for acquiring protected forest land for private development projects.
● They believe industries could seek permission to convert forests by simply offering Green Credits as compensation, bypassing the traditional "land for land" swap policy. This could lead to a net decrease in ecologically crucial forests.



Flawed Replacement Strategy:

● The CCG argues that even if the program targets degraded lands for plantations, financial compensation through Green Credits cannot adequately replace the value of natural ecosystems.
●  They believe prioritizing monetary compensation undermines the importance of preserving existing forests with their rich biodiversity and crucial ecological services.



Questionable Scientific Basis:

● The CCG questions the program's reliance on tree plantations, especially monoculture plantations focused on fast-growing tree species.
● They argue such plantations are demonstrably less effective at capturing carbon compared to natural forests.
● The CCG points to the disappointing results of past compensatory afforestation efforts in India as evidence for this concern.



Additional Concerns:

● The MoEFCC's lack of response to the CCG's letter creates uncertainty about the program's potential environmental consequences.
●The details regarding Green Credit trading remain unclear, raising concerns about potential manipulation for profit instead of genuine environmental benefit.

Overall, the CCG's criticisms highlight the potential downsides of the Green Credits Programme. While promoting environmental action is an admirable goal, the program's design raises concerns about potential loopholes that could lead to forest loss and a misplaced emphasis on plantations over natural ecosystem preservation.




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