1.5 million people, 12 hours, 66 million trees: India's commitment to The Paris Agreement - Planet Ark Environmental Foundation

1.5 million people, 12 hours, 66 million trees: India's commitment to The Paris Agreement

By Elise Catterall  July 20th, 2017

India is the third largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world. In response to this, and to demonstrate their commitment to the recent Paris Agreement, they have just broken the world record for planting trees.


India, the world’s second most populous country, is also the world’s third largest emitter of carbon dioxide (after China and the US).  Further, its capital, New Delhi, and its surrounding suburbs, currently hold the record for the world’s worst air quality. 

These facts make India’s response to the recent Paris Agreement especially heartening - a broad commitment to address climate change and global warming.  This large environmental focus includes a pledge of $7.8 billion (US$6.2bn) to reforest 95 million hectares of the country – which equates to around 12% – by 2030.

Kicking off this reforestation commitment was the recent world record-breaking tree-planting drive.  On Sunday July 2, 1.5 million volunteers came together to plant 66 million tree saplings in 12 hours.  Between the hours of 7am and 7pm, children and adults of all ages planted 20 different varieties of treein Madhya Pradesh in Central India, along the Narmada River.  The riverside locations were chosen to allow for constant water supply, in order to increase the trees’ chances of survival.

Deforestation and forest degradation are said to account for 17% of the world’s carbon emissions and the planet loses 15 billion trees every year.  In India particularly, deforestation is a growing issue due to the rising population (currently more than 1.3 billion) and the increasing need for agricultural land and housing.

Madhya Pradesh State Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced the campaign over twitter:

“In [the] Paris climate change meeting it was decided we need to plant trees to save [the] environment for future generations. [. . .] By planting trees, we are not only serving Madhya Pradesh, but the world at large”.

The Madhya Pradesh campaign beat the previous world record for tree-planting, also held by India.  In 2016, in the northern state of Utter Pradesh, 49.3 million trees were planted in 24 hours.  This latest campaign also exceeded a similar campaign in Kerala last month, which saw more than 10 million trees planted in 24 hours.

As part of the reforestation commitment, the west central region of Maharashtra will be planting over 40 million trees later in the year.

India is not the only country to take practical steps on a national level to redress deforestation – other countries, for example Indonesia, Africa and Australia, have committed to tree-planting. Indonesia, a decade ago, attempted to plant nearly 80 million trees in a single day. More recently, in 2016, 10 African nations pledged to reforest 31.7 million hectares as part of the African Forest Landscape Restorative Initiatives.  Closer to home, a team of Australian engineers has developed technology that will allow the planting of one billion trees every year by drone.  

Australia’s efforts do not stop there, of course - Planet Ark’s National Tree Day is coming up on the 30th of July. National Tree Day, now 21 years old, is Australia's largest community tree-planting and nature care event and is your way to get hands-on and support the environment at the local level. Visit Planet Ark for more information.

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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.  


By Elise Catterall

Elise is a writer, photographer, and naturopath with a passion for nature. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2017 through the University of Sydney. Her photographic work focuses on flowers and plants as a way of celebrating nature. She has been writing for Planet Ark since 2017, sharing positive environment stories, personal environmental experiences and perspectives.

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