Amid intensifying extreme weather, Delhi hopes to implement new climate action plan this year

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New Delhi, Jul 8 (PTI) Shaken by unprecedented heat waves and heavy rainfall, Delhi hopes to implement a new but much-delayed action plan to combat climate change this year.

Official sources said the final draft was ready and awaiting approval from the city government's environment minister before being sent to the Union environment ministry.

Delhi was heavily impacted by extreme weather this year.

The national capital recorded 40 consecutive days of temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius since May 13, with Mungeshpur and Narela reaching 49.9 degrees in late May. The intense heat contributed to 60 deaths in the city.

On the other hand, torrential rain on June 28 claimed 11 lives and caused significant property damage.

India introduced the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) in 2008, following which state governments were asked to develop their own State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCC) in alignment with national strategies.

Delhi's previous climate action plan for the 2010-2020 period, finalised in 2019 after a seven-year stakeholder consultation, is now outdated.

Work on a new plan began in 2021, with the first draft completed in 2022. It took around two years to finalise the consultations and fine-tune the plan, sources told PTI.

The state-level steering committee, chaired by the chief secretary, discussed the final draft in two meetings in May and June.

"The new SAPCC draft has been sent to the Delhi environment minister for approval. Once approved, it will be forwarded to the Union environment ministry. The environment department, the nodal agency for the plan, is optimistic about implementing the plan this year," a source said.

The previous plan focused on six key areas -- energy, transport, green cover, urban development, and projected changes in weather patterns.

The new SAPCC incorporates an analysis of extreme weather events over the past decade and focuses on air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, transport issues, air conditioning, heat islands and agriculture patterns, among others.

The draft SAPCC projects a staggering loss of Rs 2.75 lakh crore by 2050 due to climate change impacts, with changes in precipitation and temperature patterns posing significant threats to vulnerable populations.

The plan identifies "heat waves/higher temperature and heavy precipitation events over fewer number of days" as major challenges.

Extreme rain events have exposed Delhi's lack of disaster preparedness and highly vulnerable infrastructure year after year.

The city recorded 228.1 mm rainfall on June 27-28 -- more than three times the June average of 74.1 mm and the highest for the month since 1936.

Last year, Delhi experienced 153 mm rain on July 8-9, the maximum 24-hour precipitation in July since 1982, leading to widespread flooding and temporary school closures.

The new SAPCC projects Delhi's average temperature to rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius in a moderate-emission scenario (RCP 4.5) and by 2.1 degrees in a high-emission scenario (RCP 8.5).

A detailed district-specific vulnerability assessment identified South Delhi as the most vulnerable district and New Delhi as the least. PTI GVS GVS SZM SZM

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