Mumbai's Climate Action Plan Hinges On Six Critical Areas
India's financial capital Mumbai has taken a lead in climate action planning as it aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
India's financial capital Mumbai has taken a lead in climate action planning, as it aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
Not only does this make it the first Indian city to put in place such a plan, it also outpaces Prime Minister Narendra Modi's national net-zero emissions target by two decades.
The urgency is warranted. By 2050, parts of the city's low-lying areas could be inundated. Globally, it is one of the most vulnerable to risk of flooding with densely populated coastal communities, and is also likely to see increasingly intense heat waves. Being a commercial juggernaut also means high levels of air pollution pose significant health risks for its over 20 crore residents.
Left unabated, the climate crisis could cost damages of over $900 million to the city, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.
In unveiling a climate action plan, officials have identified six priority areas where massive changes will have to be made over the next three decades. BloombergQuint has analysed the Mumbai Climate Action Plan policy document to understand how it will be done.
Decarbonising Mumbai's energy grid will be the backbone of the city's climate action plan.
95% of the city's energy needs comes from fossil fuel sources. Electricity consumption alone results in 77% of the emissions from Mumbai's buildings. Without intervention, that amount can more than triple by 2050.
"In Mumbai, the energy decarbonisation story is as much about grid decarbonisation and green building regulations and ratings, as it is about thermal comfort and affordable cooling solutions," the document said.
Under the plan, the city wants to have 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, and 90% by 2050.
Short to medium-term action towards this includes having municipal agencies shift to renewable energy in the next eight years. It also plans to integrate requirement to have renewable energy systems in the building bylaws by 2025.
Apart from that, the city intends to develop a road map for retrofitting low-income and informal housing, like slum areas, with energy-efficient equipment. It will also explore other alternative energy sources like tidal power, green hydrogen and solar-wind hybrid.
The city also wants to change the way its residents cook. The document outlines a transition from LPG to other cleaner methods like electrified cooktops, through awareness campaigns and mandates for new apartments. Buildings that are green-certified will also be promoted.
For more natural cooling, heat-resistant roof and wall materials will be made mandatory in new building structures, whether housing or commercial. Officials will also conduct a pilot for cooling houses in vulnerable areas through increasing green cover and 'cool' roofs.
One-fifth of the city's total emissions are generated from the transport sector, of which 83% comes from road transport.
The policy document envisages a move to low-carbon transport through pushing better public transport and making the city more friendly to walk and cycle around. It also talks about the need to disincentivise private transport.
In the near term, the city will develop integrated ticketing systems for easier use, formulate a parking policy, facilitate exclusive bus lanes for smoother movement and incentivise the use of public transport through tax rebates.
Further, the administration will work on building walking corridors on transit routes, and provide last mile access through bike rentals and other public transport options. A study on policy levers to encourage owning one vehicle per household will also be conducted.
High footfall areas like Kala Ghoda will see pedestrianisation projects on a pilot basis while a non-motorised policy, that includes a cycle master plan, will be implemented.
Mumbai also plans to purchase 2,100 electric buses by 2023. It will offer incentives for electric vehicles like reduced parking and toll charges. Another pilot will be conducted to integrate EV charging with urban infrastructure like streetlights.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation manages an average of 5,500 million tonnes of solid waste every day. While that only forms one-tenth of the city's total emissions, waste is linked to public health, hygiene and livelihood of those involved in waste handling.
For waste management, the climate action plan's approach is to ensure that fewer quantities of waste hits one of the three disposal sites the city has. That involves segregating waste at the collection source, reusing and recycling whatever can be salvaged, and converting whatever is possible to compost or biomass. Waste reaching the landfills has been listed as the least preferred outcome.
By 2030, Mumbai wants a 40% reduction in the waste disposed to landfills. To achieve that, the city will develop litter-free and plastic-free zones and look to phase out single-use plastics by 2025.
Smoke billows from waste burning near Deonar landfill. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)
It also plans to set up centralised waste processing units in Taloja and Mulund to reduce water and soil pollution. A pilot project will also be implemented to develop zero-waste wards.
By 2050, the city wants to have decentralised management where 80% of the waste generated is recovered. To achieve that, it intends to implement a levy for non-compliance of waste segregation at households. It will also look to set up biogas plants in mandis, hotels and parks and gardens to promote composting.
The policy also targets remediation of all existing dumping sites, and converting landfills into parks and green spaces.
While Delhi grabs the headlines for its annual smog cover, Mumbai's air quality has been gradually declining over the years.
Smoke from car exhausts, dust and grime from construction and indiscriminate burning of waste have all contributed significantly to Mumbai's worsening air pollution. The city also lacks adequate monitoring stations, making it hard to ascertain the true extent and toll of air pollution.
To address this, the policy aims at improving monitoring, data collection and forecasting of air quality followed by prescribing defined targets and sector-specific strategies for reducing emissions.
Mumbai wants to have 20-30% better air quality by 2030, compared to 2019 levels. This will include widening the network of Pollution Under Control or PUC centres for vehicles and reducing traffic congestion through better management systems. There are also plans to ban the entry of heavy vehicles in the city during peak hours.
Within city limits, it plans to ensure that all industrial units and power plants have 30-40% power from renewable energy. An action plan will be developed for mitigation strategies for such units.
There are also plans to increase the number of real-time air monitors throughout the city and conduct regular health risk assessments to identify hotspots and vulnerable population.
Green Cover And Biodiversity
Mumbai is the least green metro city in India with a per capita green cover of 1.8 square metres, compared with the 10-12 square metres that is prescribed by India's town planning organisation.
The city's green cover, too, has declined from 46% to less than 26% in the last three decades. And a mere 3.7% of the city offers accessible open spaces for its citizens.
Fixing the city's green cover will have several co-benefits like reducing flood risks, better carbon sequestration, more natural cooling and better health for its people.
Mumbai's action plan aims to increase the green cover to 30-40% of the city surface area by 2030. It also wants to ensure 100% of the city's streetscape is permeable surface — which allows water to percolate into the soil — by 2050.
Towards this end, the municipal body will increase its budget allocation for urban green development. It aims to raise funds through green bonds by 2023 for such initiatives. The city will also offer property tax rebates for housing societies that take initiatives for urban greening.
Storm water drainage networks will also be developed on street-side and public open spaces.
Other steps include:
Updated tree census and public domain biodiversity index.
Tree banking systems for citizens to adopt a tree and receive financial aid in return.
Integrating and incentivising walls and roofs laced with vegetation in the development regulations.
Ensuring strict enforcement against illegal quarrying and deforestation.
Flooding And Water Resources
It's no secret that Mumbai is prone to routine flooding and waterlogging. Rising sea levels mean that without proper flood resilience systems, significant portions of the city can be inundated by mid-century.
That's not the only risk. Access to water and sanitation, too, is a struggle for the city, and is exacerbated by the climate crisis.
The policy document mentions plans to build flood-resilient infrastructure and ensuring that up to 50% of the city's water needs are met through local water conservation initiatives by 2030.
One of the ways to do it is by restoring the land's natural drainage system through increasing permeable surfaces. The BMC will also look to retrofit land surfaces with recycled materials to reduce surface run-off of water.
Large parts of the cities are frequently waterlogged during monsoon. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg News)
By 2040, it plans to make installation of rooftop rainwater harvesting mandatory in existing and new government and private buildings. It also wants to ensure that 100% of the sewage is treated at the outfalls of sewage zones.
Other steps include:
Strict regulation of no-development zones and buffer zones along rivers.
Restoration of the banks of rivers and other water bodies.
Better data monitoring to reduce gaps in forecasting tidal changes and sea level rise.
Climate-proofing public and private infrastructure from physical risks.
Decentralise treatment and reuse of wastewater through bye-laws and incentives.