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Indian biologist bags UN’s highest environmental honour

It is the UN’s highest environmental honour. To date, the award has recognized 111 laureates: 26 world leaders, 69 individuals and 16 organizations….reports Asian Lite News

Purnima Devi Barman, conservation biologist known for initiating all-female grassroots conservation movement from Assam for saving the greater adjutant, one of the world’s rarest storks, is among the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) 2022 Champions of the Earth award announced on Tuesday.

Since its inception in 2005, the annual Champions of the Earth award has been awarded to trailblazers at the forefront of efforts to protect the natural world.

It is the UN’s highest environmental honour. To date, the award has recognized 111 laureates: 26 world leaders, 69 individuals and 16 organizations.

This year a record 2,200 nominations from around the world were received.

“Healthy, functional ecosystems are critical to preventing the climate emergency and loss of biodiversity from causing irreversible damage to our planet. This year’s Champions of the Earth give us hope that our relationship with nature can be repaired,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

“This year’s Champions demonstrate how reviving ecosystems and supporting nature’s remarkable capacity for regeneration is everyone’s job: governments, the private sector, scientists, communities, NGOs and individuals.”

UNEP’s 2022 Champions of the Earth are Barman honoured in the Entrepreneurial Vision category, is a wildlife biologist who leads the “Hargila Army”, an all-female grassroots conservation movement dedicated to protecting the greater adjutant stork from extinction.

The women create and sell textiles with motifs of the bird, helping to raise awareness about the species while building their own financial independence.

Arcenciel (Lebanon), honoured in the Inspiration and Action category, is a leading environmental enterprise whose work to create a cleaner, healthier environment has laid the foundation for the country’s national waste management strategy.

Today, arcenciel recycles more than 80 per cent of Lebanon’s potentially infectious hospital waste every year.

Constantino (Tino) Aucca Chutas (Peru), also honoured in the Inspiration and Action category, has pioneered a community reforestation model driven by local and Indigenous communities, which has led to three million trees being planted in the country.

He is also leading ambitious reforestation efforts in other Andean countries.

Partha Dasgupta (Britain), honoured in the Science and Innovation category, is an eminent economist whose landmark review on the economics of biodiversity calls for a fundamental rethink of humanity’s relationship with the natural world to prevent critical ecosystems from reaching dangerous tipping points.

Cecile Bibiane Ndjebet (Cameroon), honoured in the Inspiration and Action category, is a tireless advocate for the rights of women in Africa to secure land tenure, which is essential if they are to play a role in restoring ecosystems, fighting poverty and mitigating climate change.

She is also leading efforts to influence policy on gender equality in forest management across 20 African countries.

Following the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), this year’s awards shine a spotlight on efforts to prevent, halt and reverse ecosystem degradation globally.

Ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean face massive threats. Every year, the planet loses forest cover equivalent to the size of Portugal. Oceans are being overfished and polluted, with 11 million tonnes of plastic alone ending up in marine environments annually.

One million species are at risk of extinction as their habitats disappear or become polluted.

Ecosystem restoration is essential for keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius and helping societies and economies to adapt to climate change.

It is also crucial to fighting hunger: restoration through agroforestry alone has the potential to increase food security for 1.3 billion people.

Restoring just 15 per cent of converted lands could reduce the risk of species extinction by 60 per cent. Ecosystem restoration will only succeed if everyone joins the #GenerationRestoration movement.

ALSO READ: Success story of first Muslim female neurosurgeon in India

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COP27: UN climate talks head into overtime

An extended plenary discussion has been agreed for midnight on Saturday, with a formal announcement of any final text expected a day later, reports Asian Lite News

The 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) will close at least one day later than expected as climate talks continued on Saturday, with the Egyptian Presidency calling for negotiators to “shift gears” so an agreement can be reached on the remaining sticking points.

While the conference saw over 35,000 people roaming over the past two weeks, the feeling was quite different on the closing day on Friday evening.

An extended plenary discussion has been agreed for midnight on Saturday, with a formal announcement of any final text expected a day later.

Climate negotiators told IANS that five texts are still live. The cover text, finance, mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage and the design of carbon markets are still causing problems.

In every track, the debate between countries almost seems to be where it was following the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015, says a negotiator.

Who’s saying what?

Saudi Arabia is still talking about ignoring the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and zero transparency carbon offsets, the US is still talking about what it is against but not what it’s for, China isn’t saying anything at all beyond its talking point on the immorality of western countries supporting fossil fuel phase out while increasing fossil fuel use in the face of the war induced energy crisis.

India has moved up the fossil-fuel phase out agenda, but not landed it, and the EU attempted to flip the script with their Loss and Damage proposal which made agreement on a facility dependent on ambitious mitigation and broadening the definition of who should supply money to fill it — aka the donor base.

As Carbon Brief points out, the EU proposal to just focus on vulnerable countries framed around the least developed countries and small islands would exclude Nigeria, Pakistan and Philippines — all hit hard in 2022 by extreme weather.

Some NGO representatives have expressed their discontent with the latest draft of the conference’s final outcome, also known as the “cover decision”.

“An EU climate damage fund for only the most vulnerable is 10 years out of date. Climate impacts are now so bad. How can you tell Pakistan for example, they can’t have access to support in the wake of 2022 floods? Delay tactic now biting rich countries,” Harjeet Singh, ActionAid, told IANS.

“It’s increasingly looking like a Glasgow ‘repetition COP’, particularly on fossil fuel phase out, there’s no progress from last year. There’s still no mention of phase out of oil and gas in the text.”

“We also don’t need a fund in name only. A fund that doesn’t specify the requirement for historic polluters to deliver finance and shifts the burden to undefined aother sources’ won’t meet the needs of vulnerable countries facing the adverse impacts of climate change,” remarked Mohamed Adow, Power Shift Africa.

The Climate Responses for Sustaining Peace (CRSP) initiative was launched at COP27, which seeks to ensure that integrated climate responses contribute to sustainable peace and development.

In an effort to spur the talks along, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday morning met separately with members of the European Union and the Group of 77 and China — which comprises almost all developing countries.

The UN chief also met with China’s Special Climate Envoy, Xie Zhenhua, and continued “extensive consultations” with several parties.

“As the negotiations draw to a close, the Secretary-General urges parties to aim for maximum ambition on loss and damage and in reduction of emissions,” said Guterres in a note issued in Sharm el-Sheikh by his spokesperson.

The success or failure of COP27 depends on the inclusion of an equitable phase out of all fossil fuels in the formal outcome, says a civil society expert.

Many countries, including Vanuatu and Tuvalu as well as large producers like the US, Norway, Colombia, and the EU are already pushing for this, but more countries must show clearer leadership.

The world supports them; half a million people just signed a petition calling on a global phase out of fossil fuels.

The Egyptian presidency and other nations have a choice: will they take the opportunity to shape a historic deal, or continue to disappoint and ignore the calls for all fossil fuels in the text.

Other countries must also step up, in particular Canada and Australia are two major producers that have so far been silent. More Latin American and African governments must also recognise that a just transition to renewable energy and not fossil fuels is worth fighting for at this COP.

The current lack of language around phasing out oil and gas in the formal draft text of the UN Climate Talks will strengthen Vanuatu and Tuvalu’s call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, an international mechanism that would see countries end the expansion of fossil fuels and manage a global just transition away from coal, oil and gas.

Responding to the EU’s proposal on a loss and damage Fund, CAN Europe Director Chiara Martinelli said, “We should acknowledge that in the past year the EU has moved significantly and is now supporting a loss and damage fund at COP27, including a new proposal to finance it by taxing polluters and fossil fuels.

People visit the Green Zone of the 27th session of the Conference of Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, Nov. 10, 2022. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa/IANS)

“To gain support, at this final stage of the negotiations, the EU needs to strengthen the inclusion of equity and recognise the historical responsibility of big emitters, bringing new and additional funds.”

Christian Aid warned that the US and Europe should stop trying to play power politics over the creation of a loss and damage fund.

Mariana Paoli, Christian Aid’s Global Advocacy Lead, said: “It is clear that the USA and Europe are trying to divide the developing country bloc of countries at COP27.A The new proposals from the EU on a loss and damage fund is an attempt to wriggle out of commitments made under the Paris Agreement which commits rich polluting countries to cut emissions in an effort to keep global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“The EU is now trying to expand this to include lower income countries which go against the principles of the Paris Agreement, which states that it is developed countries which caused the climate crisis, that need to cut their emissions most urgently.”

ALSO READ: COP27: Action plan launched to speed up decarbonisation

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Over 200 stakeholders to accelerate zero-emission transportation

Automakers with 2035 ICE phase-out targets account for 23 per cent of the market, up slightly from 19 per cent a year ago…reports Asian Lite News

The Accelerating to Zero (A2Z) Coalition was launched on Thursday, the next step in securing more ambitious commitments to a zero-emission vehicles transition aligned with the Paris Agreement.

Announced on Solutions Day at COP27, more than 200 stakeholders are signalling their commitment to a rapid transition to zero-emission transportation.

The A2Z Coalition connects the world’s leading organisations on zero-emission transportation, creating a platform to support in understanding, developing, and implementing ambitious zero-emission transportation policies and plans, and showcase leadership.

With transportation accounting for approximately 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, shifting the sector is crucial to meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement.

Over 200 organisations from governments, industry and civil society are joining together with support from the A2Z Coalition to accelerate the transition to zero emission transport.

The A2Z Coalition is a partnership of the UK government’s COP26 Presidency, The Climate Change High-Level Champions, the International Council on Clean Transportation, Climate Group, and the Drive Electric Campaign working towards all sales of new cars and vans being zero emission no later than 2035 in leading markets and 2040 globally.

A2Z Coalition’s partners also work on the acceleration of zero-emission medium and heavy duty vehicles.

The A2Z Coalition builds off the momentous foundation of the “Zero Emission Vehicles Declaration” (ZEV Declaration) generated at COP26 and hosted by the UK COP Presidency in collaboration with the High Level UN Climate Champions and the Climate Group.

Originally launched at COP26, at COP27, it brings together over 200 signatories from national and sub-national governments, vehicle manufacturers, NGOs, businesses, fleet owners, and others all committed to all new car and van sales being zero emission by 2035 in leading markets, and by 2040 globally.

Since COP26 there has been a global growth of 95 per cent across the electric vehicles market, yet climate experts say the world must accelerate the transition and the share of sales of electric vehicles will need to accelerate five times faster for passenger vehicles, 10 times faster for electric buses, and even more rapidly for freight.

BloombergNEF’s ZEV Factbook, published on Thursday, sounds a note of caution as progress on new commitments to zero-emission vehicles from both automakers and governments has slowed over the last year.

National ZEV targets and internal combustion engine (ICE) phase-out targets now cover nearly 41 per cent of the global passenger vehicle market by 2035, similar to a year ago.

Automakers with 2035 ICE phase-out targets account for 23 per cent of the market, up slightly from 19 per cent a year ago.

Nigel Topping, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for the UK, COP26, said: “Accelerating the transition to a sustainable and clean transport sector should be a top priority for governments and businesses. We’re glad to launch the A2Z Coalition as a platform that builds on the positive momentum achieved by the ZEV Declaration to increase commitments and support the declaration signatories.

“We call on more non-state actors to come forward next year and make and implement ambitious commitments to transition to zero-emission vehicles and reap the benefits of cleaner air, jobs, economic growth, and keeping our Paris Agreement goals within reach.”

ALSO READ-India on course to fulfil net zero emissions: Yadav at COP27

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Loss & damage funding on COP27 agenda for first time

With delegates discussing finance issues on Wednesday at COP27, the first African COP for six years, the new report lays out the grim economic future some of the poorest countries in the world will face….reports Asian Lite News

With the adoption of the loss and damage funding formally in the COP27 agenda in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt, a platform has been created to explore the financing options to find possible ways to address climate change risks.

A slew of financial pledges were announced by the developed nations in the backdrop of a year when extreme climate events demonstrated again the urgency to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Also climate envoy calling on rich countries to support poor nations at most risk from the environmental damage.

At the opening of the two-day Climate Implementation Summit at COP27, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for a historic pact between the developed and developing countries to combine capacities, and pivot the world towards reducing carbon emissions, transforming energy systems and avoiding a climate catastrophe.

Joining the issue, Britain Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, “Instead of developing countries being unfairly burdened with the carbon debt of richer nations and somehow expected to forgo that same path to growth, we are helping those countries deliver their own fast track to clean growth.

“The UK is making further commitments to support this today by investing 65 million pounds in a range of green investment projects in Kenya and in Egypt.”

With delegates discussing finance issues on Wednesday at COP27, the first African COP for six years, the new report lays out the grim economic future some of the poorest countries in the world will face.

The analysis in the report, titled ‘The cost to Africa: drastic economic damage from climate change’, was led by Marina Andrijevic, an economist at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna.

By 2050 and 2100 the economies of these countries are still expected to be higher than they are today. This study highlights the amount of damage caused to their GDP by climate change, compared to a scenario where climate change didn’t take place.

Estimates based on peer-reviewed methodology by Burke et al show that based on current climate policies, where global temperature rise reaches 2.7C by the end of the century, African countries can expect to suffer an average GDP hit of minus 20 per cent by 2050 and of minus 64 per cent Aby 2100.

Even if countries keep global temperature rise to 1.5C as set out in the Paris Agreement, African countries face an average GDP reduction of minus 14 per cent by 2050 and minus 34 per cent by 2100. This underlines the fact that a robust loss and damage mechanism will be needed, even if countries succeed in keeping global heating to under 1.5C.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said, “In virtually everything we do on loss and damage, Scotland is trying to ensure that we listen to international perspectives, especially the perspectives of the Global South.

“After all, for more than 30 years now, since the views of island states were first ignored, decisions at COP have been dominated by the voices of the Global North.

“With loss and damage now on the formal agenda for the first time, this COP can mark a turning point in ensuring the views, experiences and perspectives of the Global South assume a far more central role. If that does happen it will lead to greater progress on loss and damage and will also. I hope lead to quicker action on other aspects of climate change. I encourage all parties to make space for serious, open and honest discussion over the next two weeks.a

“The funding Scotland has announced is a small sum in terms of the overall scale of the loss and damage that developing countries face, but I hope that it sends an important message,” Sturgeon said.

A man walks past a board showing the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, Nov. 5, 2022. (Xinhua/Sui Xiankai/IANS)

Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy, Climate Action Network International, said: “The new financial pledges from some rich countries to address loss and damage are welcome. It shows that they are finally acknowledging the lack of finance to meet the needs of people affected by climate disasters.

“But this drip-feed of assorted pledges cannot detract from the demand of setting up a Loss and Damage Finance Facility at COP27 to fill the gap in the financial architecture under the UN system. What we need is institutionalised support that can be scaled up drastically to respond to multiplying economic impacts due to extreme weather events, and deal with the new challenges, such as sea level rise and melting of glaciers.”

The fact that developed countries did not block the agenda item on finance for Loss and Damage in COP27 is welcome, said Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development, Bangladesh.

“As well as promises of funds by countries like Denmark. But we need them to agree to establish the Sharm El-Sheikh Finance Facility for Loss and Damage at the end of COP27.”

Ulka Kelkar, Director, Climate Change programme, World Resources Institute (India) said the loss and damage finance pledges at COP27 are an outcome of the persistence of climate vulnerable countries and civil society voices.

“An idea that was seen as marginal and radical just a year ago now has political will. Scotland’s announcement is particularly laudable because it aims to help communities deal with climate impacts that cannot be simply measured in money terms, such as gender inequity and cultural heritage loss.”

COP27 Presidency on Monday launched the Sharm-El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda in partnership with the High-Level Champions.

The agenda outlines “30 Adaptation Outcomes to enhance resilience for 4 billion people living in the most climate-vulnerable communities by 2030. Each outcome presents global solutions that can be adopted at a local level to respond to local climate contexts, needs and risks and deliver the systems transformation required to protect vulnerable communities to the rising climate hazards, such as extreme heat, drought, flooding, or extreme weather.”

The 30 Adaptation Outcomes include urgent global 2030 targets related to: Transitioning to climate resilient, sustainable agriculture that can increase yields by 17 per cent and reduce farm level greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 21 per cent, without expanding agricultural frontiers, and while improving livelihoods including of smallholder farmers.

Also protecting and restoring an estimated 400 million hectares in critical areas (land and freshwater ecosystems) supporting indigenous and local communities with use of nature-based solutions to improve water security and livelihoods and to transform 2 billion hectares of land into sustainable management.

Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP27, said: “The outcomes were identified jointly with a broad range of active stakeholders, reflecting existing and new global targets based on science along with local knowledge and initiatives. The outcome targets will continue to be refined and expanded by the High-Level Champions with inputs from state and non-state actors to support their operationalization.”

This agenda will accelerate the Race to Resilience’s global goal of making 4 billion vulnerable people more resilient by 2030. Of particular importance is the role of key enablers like finance and planning to accelerate adaptation in the near-term. A sum of $140 to $300 billion needs to be mobilised across both public and private sources annually with a minimum target of 50 per cent for adaptation, as called by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Of particular concern and focus is Africa, where the private finance share in the total financing of climate adaptation efforts is not more than 3 per cent ($11.4 billion). “Seven times that amount will be needed annually until 2030,” added Mohieldin.

ALSO READ: COP27: UAE, Indonesia unveil Mangrove Alliance for Climate

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COP27 DAY 3: Building climate resilience for 4 billion people by 2030

The Adaptation Agenda is the first comprehensive global plan to rally both State and non-State actors behind a shared set of 30 Adaptation Outcomes that are required by 2030 across food and agriculture, water and nature, oceans and coastal, human settlements and infrastructure systems as well delivery across key enablers of as planning and finance, reports Asian Lite News

In response to the devastating impacts of climate change affecting vulnerable people all over the world, the COP27 Presidency on Tuesday launched the Sharm-El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda in partnership with the High-Level Champions and the Marrakech Partnership.

“The Sharm-El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda outlines 30 Adaptation Outcomes to enhance resilience for 4 billion people living in the most climate-vulnerable communities by 2030,” the UN Climate Change said in a statement posted on its Twitter handle.

Each outcome presents global solutions that can be adopted at a local level to respond to local climate contexts, needs and risks and deliver systems transformation required to protect vulnerable communities to rising climate hazards, such as extreme heat, drought, flooding, or extreme weather.

It comes as research warns that nearly half the world’s population will be at severe risk of climate change impacts by 2030, even in a 1.5-degree world according to analysis published by IPCC AR6 WG II Report and the UN Climate Change High-Level Climate Champions.

Credit: Dennis Schroeder | NREL

Collectively, these outcomes represent the first comprehensive global plan to rally both State and non-State actors behind a shared set of adaptation actions that are required by the end of this decade across five impact systems: food and agriculture, water and nature, coastal and oceans, human settlements, and infrastructure, and including enabling solutions for planning and finance.

At the launch today, COP27 President Sameh Shoukry and High-Level Champions Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin and Nigel Topping, called on all State and non-State actors to get behind this critical Agenda.

COP27 President and Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry: “It is our aspiration that the Sharm-El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda represents a significant contribution to enhancing global action on adaptation and resilience as an utmost priority. The COP 27 Presidency is keen to develop a governance arrangement to secure continuity in scope, priorities and reporting.”

“It will lead the work building on: a) the adaptation-focused initiatives launched by COP27 Presidency at COP27 that shall accelerate action across system interventions and b) the adaptation and resilience outcome targets identified by the High-Level Champions. The Marrakech Partnership, the High-Level Champions and a number of specialised UN agencies will work together- as partners- to accelerate an agenda of global adaptation action through following up on the implementation of Sharm-El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda,” he added.

Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry talking to Becky Anderson of CNN about COP27 priorities, agenda, opportunities and challenges.

Mahmoud Mohieldin UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP27 said: “The Outcomes were identified jointly with a broad range of active stakeholders, reflecting existing and new global targets based on science along with local knowledge and initiatives. The Outcome targets will continue to be refined and expanded by the High-Level Champions with inputs from State and non-State actors to support their operationalization.”

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Climate financing, crypto tops India’s G20 agenda

Finance Minister said that India will try to be a voice of the low-income countries in the G20 grouping. India is set to assume the G20 presidency from Dec 1 till Nov 2023…reports Asian Lite News

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said that climate financing, funding energy transition, developing urban infrastructure and regulating crypto assets would be some of the major agenda items for India as G20 President.

India will be assuming presidentship of G20 on December 1, which will continue till November 20, 2023.

Addressing the ICRIER’s 14th annual G20 conference, the Finance Minister said that India will try to be a voice of the low income countries in the G20 grouping.

Sitharaman further said that global spillovers and global taxation are also areas of priority and it would be India’s endeavour to build consensus on it among the member nations.

She said that debt distress will be an issue India would like to discuss during it’s presidency tenure.

Multilateral, particularly financing, institutions will be major issues of focus as these institutions are apparently not leveraging their endowments properly, the minister said.

Short term finance to poor nations

Meanwhile, Chief Economic Adviser V. Anantha Nageswaran on Tuesday said that India G20 is a platform for developing nations and that the country will try and make a difference during its tenure as president of the group.

Addressing the ICRIER’s 14th annual international G20 conference, Nageswaran said that ensuring short term financial support to low income nations would be one of India’s priority areas.

Providing climate financing to such nations would be another area of priority for India, Nageswaran said.

India is set to assume the G20 presidency from December 1, 2022 till November 20, 2023.

Indonesia is the current president.

Some other issues which India will be tackling include regulation of virtual assets, cross border remittances and capital flows, he said.

“We know the circumstances under which India will assume the Presidency of G-20. One of the necessary requirements to ensure that we do a good job of the presidency, is to be able to improvise and be flexible as circumstances emerge in the global economic and political landscape,” Nageswaran added.

Demand for inclusive discourse on energy transition

The need for the global clean energy transition mechanisms to be inclusive and just beyond the context of coal, and the lead role G20 countries — the Presidency of which India is set to take over this year — should play in furthering the focus on demand-side perspectives in energy transition of vital sectors was underscored by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) on Monday.

In a policy brief, TERI identified the vital sectors as agriculture, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and transport.

Energy transitions, the key factor to achieving sustainable development and climate goals, in recent times have been dominantly centered on “just transitions” in the coal sector with the emphasis firmly on energy supply and mitigation aspects.

Just transitions have gained traction in the climate change discourse since COP26 and will also be a priority for the COP27 Presidency as well.

The policy brief ‘Inclusive Energy Transitions: Messages for the G20 Forum’. produced by TERI as a part of its Act4Earth SDG Charter initiative, analyses the three energy and carbon intensive sectors of agriculture, MSMEs, and transport in G20 countries and emphasises the need for the G20 forum to aid consensus building and spur the push for normative shifts to bring in more attention to the energy demand aspects of the three sectors.

It also highlights the gap in gender inclusion policies covering the transport, MSMEs, and agriculture sectors in the G20 countries.

On the urgent need to plug the gaps, Ajay Shankar, Distinguished Fellow, TERI, and former Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, said: “The G20 consume over 70 per cent of global energy. As India assumes the G20 Presidency at the end of the year it would have the responsibility of shaping a consensus not only on faster energy transition but also on it being just and inclusive especially from the gender perspective.”

The TERI paper, he said, asserts the need for a holistic approach in the energy transition agenda for the sectors of transport, MSMEs and agriculture.

Shailly Kedia, Senior Fellow and Associate Director, TERI, emphasised that energy systems need to be inclusive of both supply and demand perspectives. “Markets on just transitions concerning energy systems should factor in energy demand and not just supply. The G20 can push for global indicator frameworks on SDGs (sustainable development goals) to report and monitor energy demand-side indicators along with gender disaggregated data.”

The discourse on just transitions at COP27 needs to engage with inclusive energy demand interventions as well as adaptation. Transitions need to be both “just” and “inclusive”, she noted.

“The focus on energy supply and mitigation is not in line with the principles of equity and climate justice,” she added.

More than one-third of the world’s energy — 71.6 per cent in 2019 — was consumed by G20 countries and the EU. With the attention skewed towards supply-side, the policy brief also underscores the need to focus on the demand side policy interventions during India’s G20 Presidency through the dedicated working group on energy transitions under the Sherpa track.

India, it notes, can assume a normative leadership role in energy demand side management areas when it comes to inclusive energy transitions and strengthen the priority areas.

ALSO READ-Climate change poses big threat to Emperor Penguins

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Climate change poses big threat to Emperor Penguins

At present along Antarctica’s coastline there are 61 breeding colonies of emperor penguins. As per USFWS there are between 270,000 and 280,000 breeding pairs in these colonies…reports Asian Lite News

With climate change, some species of animals on Earth face the danger of being wiped out. Adding to this ever-increasing list of threatened creatures are emperor penguins – the largest of these wingless birds – making these iconic Antarctic birds endangered in the coming days as per a livescience.com report.

Last year, research showed that these emperor penguins aka Aptenodytes forsteri are facing imminent perils. Study reflected that 70 per cent of their colonies in Antarctica could get wiped out by 2050 at the current rate of sea ice loss. Painting a graver image, the research said that 98 per cent of these colonies could vanish by 2100 without providing a chance for the birds to stage a comeback.

Confronted with this grim prospect, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect these birds under the Endangered Species Act. On October 25, USFWS officially declared them to be a threatened species, extending all the protection that are provided under the ESA.

In a Press statement, Martha Williams USFWS Director said: “This listing reflects the growing extinction crisis and highlights the importance of the ESA and efforts to conserve species before population declines become irreversible. Climate change is having a profound impact on species around the world and addressing it is a priority for the Administration. The listing of the emperor penguin serves as an alarm bell but also a call to action.”

At present along Antarctica’s coastline there are 61 breeding colonies of emperor penguins. As per USFWS there are between 270,000 and 280,000 breeding pairs in these colonies.

While these numbers look stable yet with sea ice loss looming large, the number of these birds is expected to come down “in a significant portion of its range”.

Scientific models predict that if humankind brings down the carbon emissions levels substantially the population of emperor penguins globally could come down by 26 per cent by 2050. In case the emission of high carbon continues then the number of these creatures could fall by more than 50 per cent in the same time frame.

What is significant is that the decline will not be evenly spread across the planet.

Highlighting this point, the USFWS statement said: “The Ross and Weddell Seas are strongholds for the species, and populations in these areas will most likely remain stable. However, emperor penguin colonies within the Indian Ocean, Western Pacific Ocean, and Bellingshausen Sea and Amundsen Sea sectors are projected to decline by over 90 per cent due to melting sea ice.”

The ESA with its provisions for protecting the emperor penguins could help in checking the decline in their numbers.

As per the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, by classifying a species as threatened “promotes international cooperation on conservation strategies, increases funding for conservation programs, spurs research and provides concrete tools for threat reductions.”

Apart from this the federal agencies of the US will have to make sure that their projects and plans don’t harm either the birds or their habitat. It has to be ensured that industrial fisheries do not decrease the supply of prey base of these penguins.

ALSO READ-‘UAE playing a leading role in tackling climate change’

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Will ‘loss and damage’ debate dominate COP27?

The forthcoming COP27, UN climate talks due to be held in Egypt in November, may highlight the compensation system for poorer countries known as “loss and damage”, caused by the Climate Change, writes Asad Mirza

Various reports highlight the fact that Climate Change has been caused by the rich nations and thus poor countries have started demanding compensation for the climate changes, which have adversely impacted them.

The forthcoming COP27, UN climate talks due to be held in Egypt in November, may highlight the compensation system for poorer countries known as “loss and damage”, caused by the Climate Change.

It is a fact, corroborated by various UN and independent reports that Climate Change over the last 25 years particularly has caused costly damages, including drought, rising heat, less or more rains, tropical cyclones and more gradual changes, such as desertification and rising sea levels across the globe.

It has been proven that these changes could be attributed to the presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The rich industrialised countries are responsible for most of the emissions causing these phenomena.


Loss and Damage

The poorer countries, as they are unable to take timely corrective measures to mitigate these changes caused by others in the past, face the negative affects of Climate Change first. Thus, the new concept of “Loss and Damages” has started taking roots amongst them.

Under this new concept they are demanding adequate financial help to take corrective measures to mitigate these changes, caused by the richer, industrialised nations, in the past. Now they are redefining it as a matter of liability and compensation, rather than aid after a particular natural disaster.

Loss and damage is also referred to as the “third pillar” of climate change politics, after mitigation (tackling the root cause of the problem by reducing emissions) and adaptation (preparing for current and future impacts).

However, developed countries have pushed back against this since 1990s when the text of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was being drawn up, terming it completely implausible.

Meanwhile, a group of island countries had proposed that an international insurance fund be created to compensate low-lying countries for the damage caused by rising sea levels.

The Economist magazine reports that in 2015, at the talks, which culminated in the adoption of the Paris Agreement, developing countries again sought a strong clause on loss and damage financing. But they ended up with only a vague reference to the issue. And concrete action was left for future discussions, thus the Egypt Summit offers a chance again to hammer out a concrete policy and action plan on the issue.

Positive actions

Denmark has recently pledged just over $13m to developing countries that have suffered damage from climate change and more developed countries may follow suit.

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, at COP26 in Glasgow last November, promised 2 million pounds ($2.7 million) as a one-off loss and damage payment, apparently hoping that other rich countries might follow suit, however, they did not.

But the pressure for them to do so is increasing. Last month ministers from an alliance known as the ‘Least Developed Countries Alliance’ (LDCA) having 46 members, called the creation of a financial mechanism for loss and damage a “fundamental priority” for COP27. At the UNGA last month, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres suggested that windfall taxes on fossil fuel companies might provide the funding for one.

But is easier said that done and may not happen at all. There is an utter lack of enthusiasm among the developed countries for such a pay out. Some developing countries are tentatively seeking redress through international law.

On September 22, the UN Human Rights Committee ordered the Australian government to pay compensation to indigenous people living on the islands of the Torres Strait, which are being eroded by rising seas. Perhaps it is for the first time that such a payment has been ordered. The Australian government seemed sympathetic to the islanders’ plight. But whether it will translate into hard cash, let alone a costly acceptance of liability – remains to be seen. Hence, a global framework for loss and damage still looks like a distant prospect.

Rescuers evacuate people from a flood-hit area in Rajanpur district of Pakistan’s Punjab province on Aug. 27, 2022. The death toll in separate accidents caused by heavy rains across Pakistan has surged to 1,000 since the start of monsoon season on June 14, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said on Saturday night. (Photo by Mansoor/Xinhua)



Disasters in the developed world

Meanwhile, the developed world is also not safe from the Climate Change vagaries. Natural disasters such as Hurricane Ian, which recently left behind a trail of damages running in billions of dollars, are on the rise in the United States.

Hurricane Ian, which battered parts of Florida and South Carolina, is estimated to be the latest in a growing trend of billion-dollar disasters in the United States.

As compared to between 1980 and 2021, when the average of such events happening was 7.7, the past five years have witnessed an increase to 17.8 of such events per year. Last year marked the seventh consecutive year in which ten or more billion-dollar disasters pummelled the US. By July of this year there had already been nine such disasters.

It has been reported that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in May 2022, reached a level that has not been seen in millions of years, and that is over 50 percent higher than in the pre-industrial era. The heat trapped by carbon dioxide and other human-produced greenhouse gases has increased the world’s average temperature.

Climate change is “supercharging the increasing frequency and intensity” of weather extremes, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It spawns greater rainfall variability, lengthens the wildfire season in the American West, increases drought vulnerability, and drives bigger storm surges as sea levels rise. Given the relentless accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, 2022 is likely the harbinger of a more violent weather in future.

To reduce such natural mishaps happening again and again, both developed and developing nations need to adopt practices, which rapidly reduce and remove heat-trapping emissions from the atmosphere to limit warming extremes.

In addition, they’ll have to look towards greener sources of energy instead of fossil fuels, which have contributed to a large extent to green gas emissions.

But at the same time, they’ll also have to adopt and put into practice policies, which mitigate the damages in the poorer countries, instead of just offering one time aid to ease off their burden.

The forthcoming Egypt Summit should strive to find a new feasible approach to counter the Climate Change disasters, instead of just hollow promises and no real ground work, as has happened at previous COP conferences.

(Asad Mirza is a political commentator based in New Delhi. He writes on Indian Muslims, educational, international affairs, interfaith and current affairs)

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Environment India News

Marigold revolution put farmers on path to prosperity

The aromatic plants are hardy, less prone to animal attacks and, most importantly, have a huge demand in the perfume, flavouring and condiment industries…reports Ashutosh Kumar

A new marigold revolution has started to sweep across the barren hills in Himachal Pradesh’s  backward Chamba district bringing in prosperity for local farmers from the sale of aromatic oil extracted from the yellow flower known for its fragrance.

Meet Pawan Kumar, 47, a small farmer at Talla village, who is at the centre of the revolution. Pawan Kumar alone has 30 bighas of wild marigold cultivation producing 220 quintals of the crop and has linked nearly 400 farmers in Shiyunta mountain belt with the yellow flowers.

Last year, Pawan Kumar extracted around 90 kilos of oil from the produce and the entire stock got sold-out to two leading buyers at Gujarat and Delhi through an e-market linkage .

“I can’t tell you the exact returns from the crop, but I have paid Rs 10 lakh as GST for my two transactions to supply aromatic oil in 2021. By next year, the amount could see a substantial increase as I have taken land on lease from a few fellow farmers for wild marigold cultivation. This is a waste land as farmers had abandoned it due to the monkey menace” he said.

Today, Pawan has become a role model for most farmers in the district. The income, he says, is almost five times as compared to what he used to earn from cultivation of maize or other traditional crops.

The climatic conditions in Chamba are best suited to the cultivation of marigold. The oil is sold on demand at Rs 9,000 to 10,000 per litre because of its high quality.

The aromatic plants are hardy, less prone to animal attacks and, most importantly, have a huge demand in the perfume, flavouring and condiment industries.

There is no irrigation facility in the Chamba area. Wild animals like monkeys, langoors and wild boars that damage crops have forced the farmers to give up cultivation, as it has turned unviable. The agriculture operation also used to be limited to three or four months. This was the basic reason for poverty and economic deprivation. Many families have moved out to towns for livelihoods.

“The credit for the marigold revolution goes to Palampur based CSIR- Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT), which provided seeds free of cost to the farmers and imparted training as well . IHBT also sanctioned distillation plants for oil extraction and thereafter provided linkages to the market” Pawan Kumar explained.

The best thing about wild marigold is that monkeys, wild animals and stray cattle don’t damage the crop.

Dr Sanjay Kumar, Director CSIR-IHBT, said, “Initially the farmers were quite reluctant but after IHBT scientists did some workshops, imparted training, gave them high quality seeds, set-up processing units and took care of market linkages things worked well.”

IHBT has been able to set-up 57 distillation units of which 14 are in Himachal Pradesh, primarily in Chamba district. During five years the farmers have earned Rs 22 crore alone from wild marigold cultivation as more than 400 farmers have adopted the crop. Total returns from all essential oils from lemon grass, Damask rose and few other Himalayan aromatic crops was around Rs 32 crores .

Under the aroma mission of the central government more than 14 states have been selected for promoting the cultivation of marigold and other crops. The states like Uttarakhand, Odisha, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Manipur and Maharashtra are producing some of finest natural oil extracted from the flower. This has a high export value and a huge demand in the domestic market, he says.

The extracts from the flowers are used to make essential oils used extensively in making perfumes.

The farmers are even set to meet the growing demand for essential oils from countries like France, Brazil, Kenya and Australia. The product has high demand, guaranteed buyers and fetches lucrative prices.

Rumla Devi, a local panchayat Pradhan recalls that even during the Covid time, the farmers managed to continue cultivation and oil extraction. IHBT met the demand for seeds and helped in the marketing of the oils.

The prices of oil varied from Rs 7,000 to Rs 10,000 kg. Those farmers who used to earn Rs 1000 per bigha from their traditional crops were happy with returns increasing to 10,000 to 15,000 per bigha. Few had incomes ranging between Rs 1.2 to 1.5 lakhs per hectare by growing this crop and producing essential oil within a period of 5-6 months.

The domestic industry imports marigold from Australia, France, Brazil and Kenya. The global essential oil market demand is projected to expand at a compounded annual growth rate of 8.6 per cent from 2020 to 2025.

Says Rakesh Kumar, a principal scientist at IHBT, “In the beginning we tied up a buy back arrangement with private companies but now the farmers are getting direct supply orders from the companies.

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SINDHIS IN SEARCH OF POTABLE WATER

Water is life, but in Sindh it breeds death! Water treatment plants in various towns in Sindh draw their raw water from the Indus River, or from canals, depending on their location. The surface water bodies in Sindh are polluted, with the degree of pollution varying from one location to another. This means that the water from rivers, canals and streams in Sindh require adequate treatment to make it safe for drinking … writes Dr Sakariya Kareem

WaterAid’s Pakistan Country Strategy for 2010-2015 states that around 50 per cent of the population has adequate access to drinking water and a mere 15 per cent to sanitation.

In terms of availability of water, the worst affected is Sindh province in Pakistan, where only 10 per cent of the land area has fresh groundwater availability. Almost 78 per cent of the province relies on saline groundwater which is not fit for irrigation. As the groundwater is saline in most areas, the rural population is dependent on supplies from the canal system. It is, therefore, not surprising that the province recently witnessed a double whammy in the form of torrential rain and floods as well as protests against the dumping of toxic waste in a reservoir close to a coal power plant. This has led to several households being affected and future generations being put at risk.

A survey carried out by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources, informs that out of 1247 surveyed water supply schemes only 529 (42 per cent) were functional in 22 districts of Sindh with an average duration supply of 5 hrs/day. Only 25 per cent of water samples were fit for drinking while the remaining are contaminated with microorganisms and arsenic.

The issue of water contamination in Sindh recently came to the limelight when residents belonging to five villages near the Gorano reservoir (Tharparkar) held a protest at a time when the Chief Minister of Sindh was visiting. The cause of these protests was the dumping of toxic water into the water-waste reservoir.

Protestors at the site claimed that the Sindh government had failed to meet its promises made to the local people. They claimed that their homes and grazing lands for animals had vanished and several residents had become homeless, due to the dumping of highly toxic water from the reservoir. It is clear that toxic water wreaked havoc on the ecology and environment in the area.

Water treatment plants in various towns in Sindh draw their raw water from the Indus River, or from canals, depending on their location. The surface water bodies in Sindh are polluted, with the degree of pollution varying from one location to another. This means that the water from rivers, canals and streams in Sindh requires adequate treatment to make it safe for drinking. Water treatment plants convert contaminated water to safe drinking water. They are designed according to the type of contaminants in the water.

In the case of Gorano, over 500 families were supposedly given an annual compensation of Pak Rs1,00,000 each for a few years, although the Chief Minister had promised to release of compensation funds every year against huge losses suffered by villagers. Locals complained that more and more water was being released in the Gorano waste water reservoir, increasing environmental issues for thousands of the residents, their livestock and wildlife species. They threatened to widen the scope of their protest if their demands were not met.

A story in the Express Tribune shows that the reservoir, a vast body of brackish water, was formed after water discharged from Thar Block-II, where a coal-fired power plant functions and coal mining is undertaken, began accumulating in the area. An area of 2,500 acres was marked for the pond, which was planned to contain the water disposed of. However, the pond covers an area of over 4,000 acres and twelve villages in its surroundings face its hazardous effects.

A water testing report of samples from Gorano, Thar Block-II, issued by the Soil Salinity and Reclamation Institute Tandojam, has declared the water unfit. The report, (17 July 2020) states that the ratio of total suspended solids in stunt water is above 6,000 one part per million (ppm), deeming the water unfit for irrigation. Similarly, a report by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, (May 2020), informs that Thar will be a major air pollutant and mercury and CO2 emission hotspot in South Asia. At a time when toxic water was damaging people’s livelihoods in one part of Sindh, another part of the province was inundated by floods.

Media reports say that as many as 30 villages were submerged in the Sindh province after flash floods from Baluchistan entered the province, taking the total number of drowned villages to fifty. Torrential rains and flash floods in Baluchistan, caused streams of floodwater to enter in adjacent Qambar-Shahdadkot district and the hilly region of Kachho in Dadu district, causing more losses in different areas. This year, Baluchistan has been the worst affected, where the death toll has reached 150. The recent deaths were reported in Zhob, QillaSaifullah, Kohlu, Naushki and Lasbela areas of Balochistan that endured flash floods.

In Sindh, the village of MasuBhurgri (Hyderabad Taluka) has been in the news recently due to the floods destroying the cotton fields of several farmers. Torrential rains have left fields flooded and cotton crops destroyed. Southern Pakistan has been hit hard by floods after unusually heavy monsoon rains this year. Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of homes have been swept away. Around fifty villages in Sindh were inundated, reported local media, after flash floods from the neighbouring province of Baluchistan flowed over, destroying thousands of acres of agricultural land and orchards. MasuBhurgri has around sixty families, mostly engaging in agricultural work, planting cotton, wheat, and chillies. The region has been suffering from drought for decades and the monsoon rains were always welcome. But this year, it was too much of a good thing and now farmers are at a loss. Rana Shakeel Ahmed, a village elder, described the loss as substantial and said no help from authorities was forthcoming.

A cursory glance at Pakistan’s water situation tells us that conditions are dire and yet successive governments have done little to find effective solutions to the crisis. A Pakistan Institute for Development Economics report on Pakistan’s Water Crisis shows that more than 80 per cent of the country’s population faces “severe water scarcity.” Water availability in Pakistan has plummeted from 5,229 cubic meters per inhabitant in 1962 to just 1,187 in 2017. The question today is not so much when the next crisis will come but how soon. Amidst this gloomy picture, Pakistan’s leaders need to be sensitized to another reality, particularly in Sindh. Water is supposed to give life; instead, it has become the harbinger of death.