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Environment Lite Blogs

Traditional irrigation technique helps Kangra farmers

In fact, people from other development blocks, where there are no such water channels, are moving away from cultivation to embrace other forms of livelihood because of lack of irrigation facilities…writes Rohit Prashar

“Kuhls are the lifeline for us farmers. Our livelihood is entirely dependent on them. We’ve cherished them for generations and passed them on to our children as a legacy,” said Kulwant Singh, a farmer from Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh.

Kuhls are a traditional system of irrigation usually maintained by the local community. They resemble small canals that carry water from a larger water body to the fields. Made usually of cement now, these channels transport water from the main kuhl to the villages and fields through smaller drains. Pucca or kachcha gates are constructed at intervals along their length to regulate the water flow. These gates are usually opened and closed on a predetermined schedule.

A vital part of the regional economy, the Tikhrul Kuhl here has been maintained by farmers from more than 150 villages for over a century. These are agriculturists from 12 panchayats in the Panchrukhi block of Kangra, the largest district of Himachal Pradesh. Running up to a length of 25km till Simbalkhola village, the canal has been irrigating about 10,000ha of land for over a 100 years.

Situated in the lap of the snow-capped Dhauladhars, Kangra district practised rain-fed farming till about 300 years ago, when the Katoch kings of the Trigarta kingdom introduced the kuhl system for irrigation and appointed a Kohli, a person responsible for the upkeep of kuhls. Thanks to the ready availability of water, the farming community of the region has been thriving economically. They can grow vegetables along with the traditional seasonal paddy and wheat cultivation.

Benefits galore

Kulwant Raj, a member of the Tikhrul Kuhl Management Committee, pointed out that with water from the kuhl, he grows seasonal vegetables that enables him to sustain his family. He said the villagers worked together to repair the kuhl every year to ensure that water was available for farming all through the year.

Vijay Lakshmi, a farmer from Simbalkhola panchayat, said this kuhl had earned her national recognition. Lakshmi had produced a record 41 quintal of high-quality wheat from 1ha of land, for which she was awarded the Krishi Karman Puraskar by the Union Minister for Agriculture.

However, the areas that do not benefit from kuhl irrigation present a very different picture. In fact, people from other development blocks, where there are no such water channels, are moving away from cultivation to embrace other forms of livelihood because of lack of irrigation facilities.

“Farming in our area is completely rain-fed. So we are able to cultivate mainly wheat and maize here,” said Rajendra Kumar, a farmer from Lambagaon, another block in Kangra. “We do not have a channel for water, so most young people prefer to move to other professions.”

On being asked whether they ever thought of implementing a similar irrigation plan, he said, “The channels have only been constructed in places where there’s a regular source of water. There’s no river or nullah anywhere near these areas, due to which no kuhls have been constructed here.

Similarly, Renu Kumari, a woman farmer from Pragpur block, also pointed out that they had ample cultivable land but no irrigation system in place, due to which they are unable to grow vegetables alongside traditional crops.

Upkeep and maintenance

Tikhrul Kuhl is 25km long and irrigates more than 10,000ha of land belonging to 8,000 farmers of Panchrukhi block. Water is transported from Aba Khad (ravine) near Banuri to a distance of 25km, covering more than 150 villages. As much as 80 per cent of this canal is concrete, while 5km is still kachcha.

The 12 panchayats of Kangra formed a 20-member committee to oversee the upkeep of Tikhrul kuhl. The committee meets every year to decide on the specifics of water distribution to its villages. The kohli, who’s responsible for the maintenance of the channel, and a representative of each village, then disseminates this information, after which every villager is bound to uphold the decision.

Moreover, one person from the village is present when the water is being released to their village, and to ensure that no damage is inflicted on the irrigation channel, the committee has laid down several rules. Anyone caught flouting them is fined Rs 500.

Devendra Kumar, the pradhan of Simbalkhola, said the panchayat and Jal Shakti Department draw up a budget to repair the kuhls. Delar Chand, who’s been looking after Tikhrul Kuhl for the past 22 years, said, “This kuhl is more than 100 years old, and we repair it every year. Before me, my father was responsible for it for 32 years.”

Sonika Gupta, block technology manager of the agriculture department in Panchrukhi, said the farmers here had preserved this old irrigation facility, which puts them at an advantage while cultivating crops like seasonal vegetables.

Furthermore, project director of Kangra in the department, Dr Shashi Pal Attri said that in many areas of the district, farmers had come together to protect the channels, which in turn made them prosperous. The government also makes a budget provision from time to time for the maintenance of these channels, which has assured the smooth functioning of the kuhls.

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Environment Lite Blogs

World against single use plastic

With a push from the Centre/CPCB, almost all states and UTs are working towards implementing the ban by various means, including an emphasis on awareness and providing alternatives to the banned items…reports NIVEDITA KHANDEKAR

When Sandhya Sharma, a homemaker from central Delhi, bought vegetables and fruits the vendor quickly pulled out a polythene bag. Handing over her cloth bag, Sharma asked him if he was aware that from July 1 polythene bags are banned. The vendor answered in the negative.

As against this, in Tamil Nadu the ‘Meendum Manjappai’ (Once again, yellow bag) campaign has been working wonders for almost a year now. It refers to the age-old practice by Tamilians to carry a cotton bag, coloured yellow with turmeric, while stepping out of their homes.

A Manjappai vending machine – people insert a Rs 10 coin or a note to get it – installed at the largest Koyambedu wholesale market in Chennai has already sold about 1,000 cloth bags over this week indicating the response from the citizens to the ban on SUP.

But it is not just polythene bags. Scores of businesspersons, vendors and even users are still not aware that from July 1 there is going to be a total ban on single use plastic (SUP) across India.

The proposed ban includes items such as plastic straws, polythene bags, plastic sticks for candy or ice creams, polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration, plastic cups, glasses and cutlery items, plastic sticks for ear buds, for balloons, wrapping films for sweet boxes or cigarettes and even PVC banners of less than 100 microns.

What exactly is the ban?

As per the Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules, 2016, there is a complete ban on sachets using plastic material used for storing, packing or selling gutkha, tobacco and pan masala. As per PWM (Amended) Rules, 2021, the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic less than 75 microns (i.e. 0.075 mm in thickness) has been banned with effect from September 30, 2021 as opposed to the 50 microns recommended earlier under PWM Rules, 2016.

The Centre then brought out another notification on August 12, 2021 that prohibited manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of the identified single use plastic items, which have low utility and high littering potential with effect from July 1, 2022.

It is an attempt to reign in the plastic menace, especially for things that are literally used only once and are then discarded, polluting the soil and harming marine biodiversity.

Has the Centre done enough?

Across India, since the Environment Ministry’s notifications last year, on the one hand it is the Ministry and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) that is working in tandem with their counterparts in the states while on the other hand, it is the states that are working with the local bodies to set the house in order.

Chaired by the Secretary, Environment Ministry, there is a national task force of all Chief Secretaries of states/UTs. Then, there is another task force headed by the CPCB comprising all the state pollution control boards/pollution control committees. For over a year now, there are regular meetings happening, there is stocktaking happening.

“The state PCBs have made an inventory of industries dealing with SUP and issued letters to each of them. Basically, that has ensured that each one of them is aware and on board,” said an official from the Ministry.

But it is easier said than done. “The government had given one year to bigger industries but even then certain large manufacturers — such as Amul’s resistance to plastic straws — are trying to jeopardize the future of the younger generation by trying to dilute this ban,” said Bharati Chaturvedi of Chintan, an NGO working for waste management and with waste pickers.

“There should be a massive public awareness campaign in all languages, including regional ones and in local media too so that people know about the banned items. The government should also then strictly implement the ban and forbid availability,” said Ravi Agrawal of research think tank Toxics Link.

What are the states doing?

With a push from the Centre/CPCB, almost all states and UTs are working towards implementing the ban by various means, including an emphasis on awareness and providing alternatives to the banned items.

Stating that it is fabulous that these 14-15 items are going to be banned and that they are not going to be missed as alternatives are possible and they don’t really take away from the livelihoods of waste recyclers, Chaturvedi pointed out: “The state and the Central governments ought to give soft loans, give subsidies and any and every kind of help to the alternative products that are manufactured by single, small entrepreneurs for local consumption.”

The local bodies too can have a role in this. However, not all are as active as they ought to have been. There are some 4,700-odd urban local bodies (ULBs) across India, of which, earlier this month, only some 2,500 had notified the ban on SUP. It had prompted the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) to ask them to phase out SUP and contribute to the overarching clean and green mandate.

The SPCBs and the state level task forces too have been working on awareness campaigns. For instance, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has taken out public advertisements in April and May and also issued guidelines for all producers, manufacturers, stockists, distributors, sellers and also the users in newspapers and other media. Uttar Pradesh has planned a roll out of an intensive campaign from June 28 till July 3. Kerala has done a lot of work in spreading awareness.

But it is Tamil Nadu that has been amongst the front runners on multiple fronts. It had announced its own ban in 2018 itself and by 2019, put a ban on 14 select plastic items. Since 2021, the ‘Meendum Manjappai’ campaign has been launched and has received a roaring response.

The focus now is not just on spreading awareness but also on providing an alternative to the people. A short film with a popular actor promoting the message and a theme song is doing regular rounds on all media, including state governments’ social media channels. “We had recently held an exhibition of eco-alternative products, especially those manufactured by rural innovators and entrepreneurs. Another incentive was the Rs one lakh each award to 100 green entrepreneurs who have become role models for others,” Supriya Sahu, Tamil Nadu’s additional chief secretary, Environment, Climate Change and Forest, told.

Belling the cat!


Awareness, awareness and awareness – this seems to be the focus.

“Just as this demon of plastic did not occupy so much space in our lives overnight, it is not going to go away overnight. The ban is on production, storage, sale and usage. So for now, we are targeting the production end and increasing awareness at the user end,” Naresh Pal Gangwar, additional secretary in the Environment Ministry, said.

Earlier last month, Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav had spoken about how his Ministry plans to deal with the ban and subsequent consequences. Amongst the several steps he had listed, Yadav also spoke about an App brought out by the CPCB for daytime monitoring and use of Artificial Intelligence for the same.

ALSO READ-Ban on single-use plastics comes into effect in Abu Dhabi

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Environment India News

India ranks 3rd globally for renewable additions

According to the report, India added 843 MW of hydropower capacity in 2021, raising the total capacity to 45.3 GW…reports Asian Lite News

Despite the promise of a worldwide green recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, this historic opportunity has been lost, says a report, but India ranked third globally for total renewable power capacity additions with 15.4 GW in 2021, following only China (136 GW) and the US (43 GW).

REN21’s Renewables 2022 Global Status Report (GSR 2022) sends a clear warning that the global clean energy transition is not happening, making it unlikely that the world will be able to meet critical climate goals this decade.

The second half of 2021 saw the beginning of the biggest energy crisis in modern history, exacerbated by the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022 and unprecedented global commodity shock.

“Although many more governments committed to net zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2021, the reality is that, in response to the energy crisis, most countries have gone back to seeking out new sources of fossil fuels and to burning even more coal, oil and natural gas,” said Rana Adib, REN21 Executive Director.

According to the report, India added 843 MW of hydropower capacity in 2021, raising the total capacity to 45.3 GW.

India was the second largest market in Asia for new solar PV capacity and third globally (13 GW of additions in 2021). It ranked fourth for total installations (60.4 GW), overtaking Germany (59.2 GW) for the first time.

India ranked third globally for the total installed capacity of wind power (40.1 GW), behind China, the US and Germany.

The GSR annually takes stock of renewable energy deployment worldwide.

The 2022 report, released on Wednesday, is the 17th consecutive edition and provides proof of what experts have been warning about: the overall share of renewables in the world’s final energy consumption has stagnated — rising only minimally from 10.6 per cent in 2009 to 11.7 per cent in 2019 — and the global shift of the energy system to renewables is not happening.

In the electricity sector, record additions in renewable power capacity (314.5 gigawatts, up 17 per cent from 2020) and generation (7,793 terawatt-hours) were unable to meet the overall increase in electricity consumption of six per cent.

In heating and cooling, the renewable share in final energy consumption increased from 8.9 per cent in 2009 to 11.2 per cent in 2019.

In the transport sector, where the renewable share went from 2.4 per cent in 2009 to 3.7 per cent in 2019, the lack of progress is particularly worrying, as the sector accounts for nearly a third of global energy consumption.

For the first time, the GSR 2022 provides a world map of renewable energy shares by country and highlights progress in some of the leading countries.

Despite many new commitments to net zero, political momentum has not translated into action.

In the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021, a record 135 countries pledged to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

However, only 84 of these countries had economy-wide targets for renewable energy, and only 36 had targets for 100 per cent renewables.

For the first time in the history of UN climate summits, the COP26 declaration mentioned the need to reduce coal use, but it failed to call for targeted reductions in either coal or fossil fuels.

The GSR 2022 makes clear that meeting countries’ net zero pledges will require massive efforts, and that the momentum associated with Covid-19 has passed untapped.

Despite important green recovery measures in many countries, the strong economic rebound in 2021 — with global real gross domestic product (GDP) growing 5.9 per cent — contributed to a four per cent rise in final energy consumption, offsetting the growth of renewables.

In China alone, final energy consumption rose 36 per cent between 2009 and 2019. Most of the increase in global energy use in 2021 was met by fossil fuels, resulting in the largest surge in carbon dioxide emissions in history, up more than 2 billion tonnes worldwide.

The collapse of the old energy order threatens the global economy.

The year 2021 also marked the end of the era of cheap fossil fuels, with the largest spike in energy prices since the 1973 oil crisis.

By the end of the year, gas prices reached around 10 times the 2020 levels in Europe and Asia and tripled in the US, leading to a spike in wholesale electricity prices in major markets by the end of 2021.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine deeply aggravated the unfolding energy crisis, causing an unprecedented commodity shockwave that weighed heavily on global economic growth, rattling the more than 136 countries that are reliant on fossil fuel imports.

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2 billion people at risk as Third Pole faces water imbalance

The Third Pole, which includes the Tibetan Plateau and the surrounding Hindu Kush Himalayan mountain ranges, is known as the “Asian water tower”.

Rapid global warming has worsened the water imbalance for almost 2 billion people in the Third Pole region — including India, Bangladesh and Nepal — where about 90 per cent of water is used for irrigation, a new study has warned.

This will lead to greater water demand in densely populated downstream countries, according to a new paper published in the journal Nature Reviews Earth & Environment.

The Third Pole, which includes the Tibetan Plateau and the surrounding Hindu Kush Himalayan mountain ranges, is known as the “Asian water tower”.

With the largest global store of frozen water after the Antarctic and Arctic, the Third Pole region, located in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, is home to headwaters of over 10 major Asian rivers.

The “Asian Water Tower” region has gotten out of balance between solid water in glaciers and liquid water in lakes and rivers under the global climate change impact, reports Xinhua news agency.

The rise in temperatures with changes in the westerlies and the Indian monsoon led to glacier retreat and more precipitation in the region’s northern part and less in the southern.

The spatial imbalance will alleviate water scarcity in the Yellow and Yangtze River basins while increasing scarcity in the further-south Indus basins, the study said.

“Such imbalance will likely pose a great challenge to the supply-demand balancing of water resources in downstream regions,” said Yao Tandong, lead author of the study and an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The highest water demand is projected to be in the Indus basin, said Walter Immerzeel, co-author of the study and a researcher at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

Everest glaciers thinning. Credit: ICIMOD

He stressed that this demand would affect irrigation, accounting for more than 90 per cent of water use across the area.

“Since this north-south disparity is expected to be amplified by climate warming in the future, adaptation policies for sustainable water resource management are greatly needed in downstream countries,” said co-author Piao Shilong, also a researcher at Peking University.

The scientists said they still need more information to help the public respond to the changes, such as comprehensive monitoring stations in data-scarce areas.

They also call for collaboration between upstream and downstream countries.

ALSO READ: Urgent steps must be taken to save world’s third pole

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Environment India News

Southwest Monsoon progressing slowly this year

In the normal course, as on June 7, the SW Monsoon covers all four southern states and touched Maharashtra, especially the Konkan coastal areas and large parts of western Maharashtra…reports Asian Lite News

Against the normal progress when it reaches Maharashtra at this time, the crucial for agriculture South West Monsoon on Tuesday had further advanced over more parts of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Karaikal, and the southwest and west-central Bay of Bengal.

The SW monsoon onset over Kerala had happened on May 29 amid heavy rainfall but soon after, however, just after two days, the rainfall slowed down along with the speed with which the monsoon progressed further.

In the normal course, as on June 7, the SW Monsoon covers all four southern states and touched Maharashtra, especially the Konkan coastal areas and large parts of western Maharashtra.

This year, the SW Monsoon has covered Kerala, approximately 75 per cent of Tamil Nadu and about half of Karnataka. On the eastern side, it has covered the entire northeast, which, the IMD said, is progressing at normal pace.

According to an IMD scientist, the northern limit of SW monsoon has not touched Goa and Maharashtra but also has not touched Andhra Pradesh.

Asked about the possible reason for delay in progress, senior IMD scientist R.K. Jenamani said: “Between May 31 and Monday, there were no major systems (to drive the monsoon rainfall). But now, the winds are continuing to support and help the rainfall over peninsular southern India advance on Tuesday.”

As per data from the IMD, even when the SW monsoon has entirely covered Kerala, the rainfall from June 1 till now shows a departure of negative 48 per cent as the rainfall totaled to just 62.8 mm as against the normal of 120.6 mm.

Similarly, even when the entire NE states have been covered, three states have witnessed deficit rainfall: Tripura at minus 48 per cent, Mizoram minus 35 per cent, and Manipur minus 50 per cent departure from normal.

ALSO READ-India calls for continued work on increased climate finance

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-Top News Environment

India calls for continued work on increased climate finance

Led by its Additional Secretary, Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, Richa Sharma, a delegation of 10 officials from India are currently at Bonn for the negotiations, said a ministry official…reports Asian Lite News

India, on behalf of BASIC countries, on Tuesday called for continued work on Loss & Damage, and the Global Goal on Adaptation and Climate Finance at the joint opening Plenary of the 56th Session of Subsidiary Bodies at Germany’s Bonn, ahead of the COP27 in November at Egypt’s Sharm-el-Sheikh.

Implementation of the Paris Agreement 2015 is the main theme for such climate negotiations. Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), it is an agreement for combined efforts at reducing emissions to restrict global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era.

The Paris Agreement had reaffirmed the 2013 Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (used just as ‘Loss & Damage’ in climate parlance) as the main vehicle under the UNFCCC process to avert, minimise and address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts, including extreme weather events and slow onset events, especially crucial for developing nations.

Led by its Additional Secretary, Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, Richa Sharma, a delegation of 10 officials from India are currently at Bonn for the negotiations, said a ministry official.

“Adaptation finance should be equal to mitigation finance. The developed nations do not want to invest in adaptation because the return on investments is low. But adaptation is a matter of existence for island nations and many developing countries. Going forward, finance for adaptation and Loss & Damage will be very important and India will take this forward,” the official said here.

Asserting that developed nations should deliver on finance, he said: “They will push for operationalising Article 6 but the finance for it has not yet come. Also, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) credits have not been counted yet.”

As it was agreed at last year’s climate change negotiations conference (COP26) at Glasgow that a document, ‘From Glasgow to Sharm-el-Sheikh’, will be prepared, the official said: “We are trying to ensure that these issues are part of this document.”

India also highlighted the importance of intra-generational equity along with inter-generational equity between and within nations.

Asked about the updated NDC – the nationally determined contribution as part of each nation’s actions for combating climate change – the official said: “India would submit the updated NDC under Paris Agreement before the designated time.”

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Environment Lite Blogs

Earth’s carbon levels are highest in human history

The meeting will take place against a backdrop of accelerating climate impacts and geopolitical tension…reports Asian Lite News

The level of planet-warming carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere reached a record high in May this year, continuing its relentless climb. Carbon dioxide levels are currently more than 50% than they were before the industrial revolution, according to a recently released data by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Scientists announced on June 3 that carbon dioxide measured at NOAA’s weather station atop the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii peaked in May at 421 parts per million, pushing the atmosphere further into territory not seen since the preindustrial age.

As power plants, automobiles, farms, and other sources throughout the world continued to pump large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the concentration of the gas is highest in four million years.

Emissions totaled 36.3 billion tons in 2021, the highest level in human history.

“The science is irrefutable: humans are altering our climate in ways that our economy and our infrastructure must adapt to,” said NOAA’s administrator Rick Spinrad.

“We can see the impacts of climate change around us every day. The relentless increase of carbon dioxide measured at Mauna Loa is a stark reminder that we need to take urgent, serious steps to become a more Climate Ready Nation,” Spinrad added.

As the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rises, the Earth warms, resulting in higher flooding, more intense heat, drought, and increasing wildfires, which are already affecting millions of people across the world.

Bonn summit to begin in backdrop of accelerating climate impacts

The Bonn Climate Change Conference is set to kick off from June 6-16, designed to prepare for the UN Climate Change Conference COP27 in November.

COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, will build on the positive outcome of last year’s UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, which finalised operational details of the Paris Agreement and identified work going forward, in the key areas of mitigation, adaptation, support — particularly finance — and loss and damage.

The meeting will take place against a backdrop of accelerating climate impacts and geopolitical tension.

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, called on governments not to be deterred. “Climate change is not an agenda we can afford to push back on our global schedule. We need decisions and actions now and it is incumbent on all nations to make progress in Bonn,” she said.

Espinosa noted that to implement the commitments made to achieve the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal of the Paris Agreement, the world has a “significant workload ahead, but also a great deal to build on. But ambition must urgently be raised to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and immediate action is needed”.

Currently, the world is on track to more than double the 1.5 Celsius goal of the Paris Agreement by the end of the century.

“COP27 in Egypt needs to focus on implementation. There, nations must show how they will, through legislation, policies and programs, and throughout all jurisdictions and sectors, begin putting the Paris Agreement into practice in their home countries,” the UN’s top climate change official said.

“In Egypt, all sectors of the economy and societies need to tangibly show that they recognize the magnitude of the climate emergency we face and are taking bold, concrete steps — backed by specific plans — to deliver the urgent and transformational climate ambition we simply must see before it’s too late,” she added.

At the June sessions, discussions will take place on a range of important topics, including greenhouse gas emission reductions, adapting to climate impacts, and providing financial support for developing countries to cut emissions and adapt to climate change.

The “hot” topics to track in Bonn are:

Loss and Damage

This negotiating session will host the first official “Glasgow Dialogue on Loss and Damage” — a two-year process to explore ways to provide funding to address loss and damage.

Adaptation

Developing countries have high expectations for progress on the Glasgow-Sharm el-Sheikh work programme on the global goal on adaptation. In Bonn delegates will begin preparations that will lead to a decision at COP27 on the scope of the goal, data and metrics and reporting methodologies.

Finance

Developed countries will be pressed to reassure developing countries that the $100 billion annual climate finance commitment will be met, and that progress is made toward doubling adaptation finance by 2025. There will be a technical dialogue during week two on providing climate finance beyond 2025.

Mitigation

Delegates will prepare a draft decision for the mitigation work programme which details the role of sectoral commitments or targets, encourages improvements to national climate plans and could offer enhanced support for taking action.

Global Stock take

First technical meeting on the Global Stocktake will also be held in Bonn. The Global Stocktake offers an official process to check on the progress towards achieving the Paris Agreement’s goals. The countries should signal how the Global Stocktake process can translate technical outputs into political outcomes.

Rules and Implementation

Delegates will continue to discuss technical work related to Article 6 (carbon markets), transparently reporting climate data, and other rules underpinning the Paris Agreement.

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Stockholm+50 calls for ‘real’ commitment to environment

Stockholm+50 featured four plenary sessions in which leaders made calls for bold environmental action to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, reports Asian Lite News

Hundreds of speakers attending Stockholm+50 have called for “real” commitment to urgently address global environmental concerns and for a just transition to sustainable economies that work for all people.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde co-hosting with UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid and United Nations Foundation event on gender equality & climate at Stockholm+50. (Photo: Twitter@StockholmPlus50)

The two-day international meeting concluded with a statement from co-hosts Sweden and Kenya, drawn from member states and stakeholders through the meeting’s plenaries and leadership dialogues.

The statement contains several recommendations for an actionable agenda, including, placing human well-being at the centre of a healthy planet and prosperity for all; recognizing and implementing the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment; adopting systemwide changes in the way the current economic system works, and accelerate transformations of high impact sectors among others.

“We believe that we have collectively mobilized and used the potential of this meeting. We now have a blueprint of acceleration to take further,” Sweden’s Minister for Climate and the Environment, Annika Strandhall, said in her closing remarks on Friday.

“Stockholm+50 has been a milestone on our path towards a healthy planet for all, leaving no one behind.”

Stockholm+50 featured four plenary sessions in which leaders made calls for bold environmental action to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Three leadership dialogues, hundreds of side events — including several youth-led sessions — and webinars, as well as series of regional multi-stakeholder consultations in the run-up to the meeting enabled thousands of people around the world to engage in discussions and put forward their views.

“The variety of voices and bold messages that have emerged from these two days demonstrate a genuine wish to live up to the potential of this meeting and build a future for our children and grandchildren on this, our only planet,” said Keriako Tobiko, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for the Environment.

“We didn’t just come here to commemorate, but to build forward and better, based on the steps taken since 1972.”

(Photo: Twitter@StockholmPlus50)

“We came to Stockholm 50 years after the UN Conference on the Human Environment knowing that something must change. Knowing that if we do not change, the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste will only accelerate,” said Inger Andersen, Secretary-General of Stockholm+50 and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme.

“Now we must take forward this energy, this commitment to action to shape our world,” she added.

There were calls from the floor calling for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and strong calls to end the expansion of fossil fuels and, while the final text has yet to be released, it would be an important move to see those calls echoed in the closing documents.

Tzeporah Berman, Chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, told IANS: “For too long, fossil fuel production has become a festering wound of the climate crisis due to decades of ignoring the problem at the negotiating table.

“We have no more time for targets without action, vague net zero promises and accounting tricks while governments continue to approve more oil, gas and coal projects. The bottom line is the world’s governments still have no framework for working together to end the expansion of fossil fuel production and that’s why we need a Fossil Fuel Treaty.”

Governments around the world are still approving plans to produce twice as much oil, gas and coal than can be burned for a livable planet, taking us far off track to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

As the UNEP Production Gap Report has consistently highlighted, failure to stop fossil fuel expansion and to plan for a global just transition for the managed phase out of fossil fuels undermines any efforts to meet Paris Agreement goals.

On the sidelines of the Stockholm+50 meeting, India and Canada have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish stronger cooperation on environmental protection and climate action.

Indigenous climate activists and youth leaders at Stockholm+50, calling on world leaders to adopt a Fossil Fuel Treaty. (Photo: Twitter@StockholmPlus50)

India’s Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav and Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault signed the MoU to increase bilateral cooperation on climate action, environmental protection and conservation.

The signing was made possible thanks to an earlier meeting between the two ministers at COP26 in 2021.

Under the MoU, both countries have agreed to collaborate, exchange information and expertise, and support the respective ambition in a wide range of areas, including increasing renewable energy capacity, decarbonizing heavy industries, reducing plastic pollution, supporting the sound management of chemicals, and ensuring sustainable consumption.

Both countries are intent on supporting each other’s climate and environmental goals by finding effective, long-term solutions that will also provide opportunities to advance economic growth and job creation.

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Environment Kerala

Monsoon hits Kerala, conditions favourable for further advance

Isolated heavy rainfall is also likely over Kerala & Mahe till June 2…reports Asian Lite News

The much awaited Southwest Monsoon reached Kerala on Sunday, three days ahead of its normal date of onset of June 1, India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

For the agrarian economy, the news of onset of SW monsoon – termed as the real finance minister of India – over Kerala is the most awaited news at this time of the year. Having a normal monsoon or not has a major impact on the domestic economy vis-a-vis crop production.

“Southwest Monsoon has advanced into remaining parts of south Arabian Sea, Lakshadweep area, most parts of Kerala, some parts of south Tamil Nadu, some parts of Gulf of Mannar and some more parts of southwest Bay of Bengal on May 29. Thus, Southwest Monsoon has set in over Kerala today, against the normal date of June 1, i.e. three days ahead of its normal date,” IMD statement said.

The conditions that are satisfied for declaration of onset of Southwest Monsoon over Kerala include wind speed, direction, outgoing long wave radiation (OLR) and rainfall at designated stations.

“The depth of westerly winds extends up to 4.5 km above mean sea level. The strength of the westerly winds has increased over southeast Arabian Sea and is about 15-20 kts (25-35 kmph),” IMD said.

“Cloudiness over southeast Arabian Sea and adjoining areas of Kerala have increased and the average outgoing long wave radiation (OLR) is about 189.7 W/M2 (thus, satisfying the condition of OLR is less than 200 W/M2),” it added.

One condition that has not been fully satisfied is that there has been widespread rainfall activity over Kerala during past 24 hours and out of 14 rainfall monitoring stations for declaring onset of monsoon over Kerala, only 10 have received rainfall of 2.5 mm or more.

However, conditions are favourable for further advance of southwest monsoon into some parts of central Arabian Sea, reaming parts of Kerala, some more parts of Tamil Nadu, some parts of Karnataka, and some more parts of south and Central Bay of Bengal, some parts of northeast Bay of Bengal and northeastern states during next 3-4 days, the Met forecast said.

The rainfall/thunderstorm forecast & warning said that under the influence of monsoonal westerly winds from Arabian Sea over the south peninsular India in lower & middle tropospheric levels and a cyclonic circulation over Kerala & neighbourhood in mid tropospheric levels, widespread light/moderate rainfall with thunderstorm/lightning is very likely over Kerala & Mahe and Lakshadweep and isolated to scattered rainfall over Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Puducherry & Karaikal during next five days.

Isolated heavy rainfall is also likely over Kerala & Mahe till June 2.

This year, IMD’s first prediction for monsoon onset was for May 27 with the model error of plus/minus four days. But after that, there was a lot of flip flop by the IMD over actual date. Prior to it, on May 19, the IMD had said, the SW monsoon onset over Kerala was possible by May 25.

Earlier on May 26, the IMD had said monsoon onset can happen anytime in the forecasting week (meaning till June 1) and the conditions are being monitored real time. It did finally happen before June 1.

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Environment Lite Blogs

Birdwatchers raise alarm as bird count at Hokersar wetland dwindles

Adding that the haphazard dredging had hindered the movement of thousands of migratory birds, birdwatchers have urged the administration to look into the issue…reports Hirra Azmat

Every winter, Hokersar wetland near Srinagar in Jammu & Kashmir transforms into a paradise for birdwatchers. European goldfinch, common teal, northern pintail, garganey, mallard, common coots, greater white fronted goose, bramblings, jackdaw and various types of bunting species flock to the wetland, which, in 2005, was declared a Ramsar site — a wetland deemed of international importance.

Known as the ‘Queen Wetland of Kashmir’, Hokersar — also called Hokera — attracts half a million winter birds every year as well as thousands of birdwatchers. Spread over 1,375 hectares, it plays host to winged guests from Siberia, Turkey, Central Asia and eastern Europe between October and April.

However, the past two winters, city ornithophiles observed that the migratory birds have dwindled in numbers in Hokersar. They blamed it on the “ill-planned” dredging work in the area, which started in July 2020. It has severely damaged the land because dredged soil was dumped at the site during work to install a flood management system.

Adding that the haphazard dredging had hindered the movement of thousands of migratory birds, birdwatchers have urged the administration to look into the issue.

“The water levels have dipped, because of which the number of winged visitors we get in winter has declined,” said a senior member of Kashmir Birdwatch, a local club that boasts 11,000 members.

According to the Annual Asian Water Bird Census, Kashmir recorded 8,07,554 birds in 2020 while the number dropped to 6,48,322 in 2021. The report reveals that two Ramsar sites (Hokersar and Wular) saw a substantial decrease in bird population in the recent years – Hokersar wetland witnessed a drop from 4.8 lakh (2020) to 65,000 in 2021, while at Wular Lake, the population of birds declined from 1.2 lakh to 707 birds in the same time period.

Extensive damage to wetlands

Dr Irfan Rashid, senior assistant professor at the Department of Geoinformatics, University of Kashmir, attributed the decrease in the population of birds in the wetlands to land-system changes, rapid urbanisation and increase in agricultural activities around these areas.

“The breeding and nesting grounds are mostly marshy areas in these wetlands. The marshlands have undergone a substantial change due to continuous land filling and encroachments. The water spread and depth has also decreased in the wetlands over the years, thereby affecting the habitat of the birds,” he explained.

Commenting on the census, he pointed out that the bird count was not arrived at correctly.

“Such drastic decline from lakhs to mere thousands is not possible. They either conducted the survey through ill-trained personnel, or the samples were not taken properly. The use of advanced drone technology could have helped in arriving at the precise count, though I believe it was not put to use,” Dr Rashid said.

Local birdwatcher and college student Reyan Sofi, who has spotted 204 species of birds in the Hokersar wetland so far, said the birdwatchers held a meeting with the wildlife officials and the divisional commissioner of Kashmir in August 2021. They demanded a scientific assessment of the wetland by experts to gauge the extent of the damage. They also demanded restoration of the natural paths of water and an increase in security guards to check encroachments. But their demands have not been met yet.

Moreover, the count of birds in Hokersar decreased far more considerably when compared to the bird population in other wetlands in Pampore, Wular and Hygam.

“Birders have repeatedly highlighted the deplorable state of the wetland. Their efforts prompted the government to take some measures in September last year,” said Sofi, who has been extensively documenting birds around Hokersar since 2015.

The student further said that the dry areas around the wetlands had been filled and a flood channel originating from the Jhelum had been diverted to the wetland.

“The solution, though temporary, has increased the water level in Hokersar. But they have also dug a 60-ft nullah in the middle of the wetland, which pumps out the water entering the wetland. This should be stopped immediately,” Sofi emphasised.

Dr Rashid further stressed that the wetlands can be salvaged through effective policy-making and by conducting a proper scientific assessment of these ecologically fragile zones. A separate wetland policy should be framed, he added, by bringing experts from all concerned departments on board.

Human interference the other culprit

The ibisbill (Ibidorhyncha struthersii), a wader that inhabits the broad, stony rivers of the Pamirs, Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, is fast dropping in numbers. The bird is usually spotted at several sites along the river Sindh, in Wayil, Wussan, Kijpora, Sonmarg, Neel Grath and Baltal.

However, human interference in the form of mining (extraction of sand and boulders from the river), human presence (movement of local people, tourist activities and fishing) and grazing by livestock (sheep, cattle and goat along the riparian areas and islands in the river) has affected the birds, including the ibisbill, and their habitats.

“Our surveys tell us that there was hardly any breeding of ibisbill in the Sindh area last year,” said a member of Kashmir Birdwatch.

Another researcher and birder Iqram ul Haq explained that since ibisbills prefer a particular kind of habitat — they are partial to high-altitude, boulder-strewn rivers — they are prone to local extinction if this threat continues.

“Immediate action needs to be taken to save the bird as most of the areas inhabited by the ibisbill are not protected. Research organisations and NGOs need to highlight the plight of the birds and approach authorities like the departments of wildlife protection and mining to ensure that its breeding grounds are protected,” said Haq, adding that mining needs to be checked at the sites inhabited by the bird.

Tahir Gazanfar, avid birder and wildlife biologist at the Wildlife Trust of India, said spring sees the arrival of the golden oriole (posh nool), swallow (Katij) and the paradise flycatcher (phamb-seer).

“These migratory spring birds are in our folklore more than those residing here permanently, perhaps because they signal the end of the gloomy winter,” he said.

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