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-Top News Environment USA

Biden seeks to revive climate agenda

Biden, delivering a speech at a former coal-fired electricity plant in Massachusetts, said his administration would do whatever necessary, with or without lawmakers on board…reports Asian Lite News

President Joe Biden, thwarted by lawmakers and the Supreme Court, sought Wednesday to revive his ambitions to tackle climate change as heat waves batter the United States and Europe.

Rocketing summer temperatures have highlighted the growing threat, with 100 million people in the United States currently under excessive heat alerts and devastatingly hot conditions causing misery across Europe.

“Climate change… is literally, not figuratively, a clear and present danger,” Biden said, announcing executive actions including $2.3 billion in investments to help build US infrastructure to withstand climate disasters.

“The health of our citizens and our communities is literally at stake… Our national security is at stake as well… And our economy is at risk. So we have to act.”

Biden, delivering a speech at a former coal-fired electricity plant in Massachusetts, said his administration would do whatever necessary, with or without lawmakers on board.

“Congress is not acting as it should… This is an emergency and I will look at it that way. As president, I’ll use my executive powers to combat the climate crisis,” he said.

But he stopped short of declaring a formal climate emergency, which would grant him additional policy powers. Upon his return home, when asked about the emergency designation, Biden told reporters: “I will make that decision soon.”

Biden began his term last year promising to fulfill campaign pledges to tackle the global climate crisis, but his agenda has faced blow after blow.

His first day in office, Biden signed an executive order to bring the United States back into the Paris climate agreement, followed later by an ambitious announcement that he was targeting a 50-52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in US net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030.

But his signature Build Back Better legislation, which would have included $550 billion for clean energy and other climate initiatives, is all but dead after failing to receive the necessary backing in Congress as fellow Democrat Joe Manchin said he would not support the bill in a evenly divided Senate.

And last month, the conservative-leaning Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cannot issue broad greenhouse gas regulations without congressional approval.

“When it comes to fighting climate change, I will not take ‘no’ for an answer,” Biden said.

“I will do everything in my power to clean our air and water, protect our people’s heath, to win the clean energy future… Our children and grandchildren are counting on us. Not a joke.”

Among the new executive orders was funding to promote efficient air conditioning, and an order to advance wind energy development off the Atlantic Coast and Florida’s Gulf Coast.

The Biden administration has framed climate policies as a job creation project — and as a national security issue, made more urgent by soaring fuel prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The White House said in a statement that Biden was seeking “to turn the climate crisis into an opportunity, by creating good-paying jobs in clean energy and lowering costs for families.”

His speech on Wednesday was at a shuttered coal-fired power plant that will be used for a cable manufacturing factory to supply offshore wind facilities.

State Department spokesman Ned Price this week pointed to the extreme heat wave tormenting Europe this week — with Britain recording a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) — as more proof that climate action cannot wait.

“We are committed to taking advantage of this moment and doing everything we can, including on the world stage,” Price told reporters, “to ensure that this decisive decade does not go by without us taking appropriate action.”

ALSO READ: Fauci to retire by end of Biden’s present term

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-Top News Europe

ECB to incorporate climate change into monetary policy ops

Regarding risk assessment and management, the bank pledges to “better include climate-related risks”…reports Asian Lite News

The European Central Bank (ECB) on Monday announced measures to incorporate climate change into its monetary policy operations.

By taking climate change considerations into account, the bank aims to incentivize companies and financial institutions in the euro area to reduce carbon emissions.

“With these decisions, we are turning our commitment to fighting climate change into real action,” says ECB President Christine Lagarde.

The ECB promised to prioritize issuers with better climate change performance through the reinvestment of the redemptions of the corporate bonds it bought through its bond-buying programs.

Limitations will be put on collateral assets issued by entities with a high carbon footprint.

The measures also necessitate climate-related disclosures for companies and debtors that use marketable assets and credit claims as collateral under the framework of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive as of 2026.

Regarding risk assessment and management, the bank pledges to “better include climate-related risks”.

The ECB fell short of disclosing details of the measures but revealed that it will start publishing climate-related information on corporate bond holdings regularly as of the first quarter of 2023.

It initiated an array of bond-buying programs as part of its non-standard monetary policy measures in mid-2014.

Although the programs came to an end as of end-June, the ECB will continue to reinvest the maturing securities it bought through the programs. Data from the central bank’s official website show that the total holdings under its Asset Purchase Program stood at 3.25 trillion euros and those under the Public Sector Purchase Program topped 2.58 trillion euros at the end of May

ALSO READ-ECB warns of food inflation effects on eurozone

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India News

East, NE, south peninsular India got excess rainfall in May

The IMD counts every station recording such rainfall in a given 24 hours as one incident…reports Asian Lite News

Thanks to the Cyclone Asani that brought in abundant rain on the east coast and also pushed loads of pre-monsoon showers in the south, there has been excess rainfall over east, northeast and south peninsular India while there was deficient rainfall over northwest and central India in May.

Much of the rain due to the cyclone was in the second and third week of the month.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) data showed that the country as a whole received 129 mm rainfall against 129.3 mm of normal in June, which shows no departure at all.

Northwest India showed the highest deficit with just 41 mm rainfall against the normal of 113.3 mm, showing a departure of minus 64 per cent while central India received 22.6 mm rainfall against 36.6 mm normal, a departure of minus 38 per cent.

On the other hand, east and NE India received 442.7 mm rainfall against the normal of 369.4 mm, showing a departure of plus 20 per cent, while the southern peninsula received 194.5 mm rainfall against 118.4 mm of normal, a departure of plus 64 per cent, IMD data showed.

During the month of May, there were 504 incidents of heavy rainfall (i.e., rainfall between 64.5 mm to 115.5 mm), 95 incidents of very heavy rainfall (115.6 to 204.5 mm), and 23 events of extremely heavy rainfall (more than 204.5 mm).

The IMD counts every station recording such rainfall in a given 24 hours as one incident.

“Most of these extreme rainfall events were recorded in the northeast, which has seen excess rainfall this month,” said IMD’s Director General, Meteorology, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra.

“For May, above normal maximum temperatures over many parts of Northwest India were correctly predicted (by us). Similarly, below normal maximum temperature observed over the remaining part of the country were also predicted correctly,” he said.

ALSO READ-‘Vietnam key partner in India’s Act East Policy, Indo-Pacific Vision’

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Environment India News

Bad air behind 6.6 mn premature deaths in 2019; India hardest hit

Ambient air pollution, which refers to air in normal circumstances, was responsible for 4.5 million deaths in 2019, up from 4.2 million deaths in 2015 and 2.9 million in 2000….reports Asian Lite News

More than 6.6 million people died due to air pollution in 2019, a new study published on Tuesday estimated, with India contributing the highest share at 1.67 million, or 17.8% of such premature deaths.

Overall, according to a study in the Lancet Planetary Health, nine million people died to pollution, a number unchanged since the last analysis in 2015. The nine million fatalities represent one in six deaths worldwide.

Water pollution was responsible for 1.36 million premature deaths, lead exposure leading to another 900,000 and toxic occupational hazards added a further 870,000 premature deaths, the report said.

Ambient air pollution, which refers to air in normal circumstances, was responsible for 4.5 million deaths in 2019, up from 4.2 million deaths in 2015 and 2.9 million in 2000.

The report mentions that India made efforts against household air pollution, most notably through the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana programme, but still had the world’s largest estimated number of air pollution related deaths.

“India has developed instruments and regulatory powers to mitigate pollution sources but there is no centralised system to drive pollution control efforts and achieve substantial improvements. In 93% of India, the amount of pollution remains well above WHO guidelines of 10 µg/m3,” it said.

According to the report, air pollution is most severe in the Indo-Gangetic Plain, where topography and meteorology concentrate pollution from energy, mobility, industry, agriculture, and other activities. Burning of biomass in households was the single largest cause of air pollution deaths in India, followed by coal combustion and crop burning. Population-weighted mean exposure to ambient air pollution peaked in India at 95mg/m3 in 2014, was reduced to 82mg/m3 by 2017, but more recently has been rising slowly again.

Of the 1.67 million deaths due to air pollution in India, most — 0∙98 million — were caused by high PM2.5 pollution. Another 0.61 million were due to household air pollution, the report said, adding that the world’s highest ambient PM2.5 levels — on a population-weighted average — are seen in India, closely followed by Nepal.

PM2.5 pollution refers to the high concentration of ultra-fine particles that are typically emitted during combustion — these particles are able to reach deep within lungs and enter the bloodstream, leading to cardiovascular diseases.

“The health impacts of pollution remain enormous, and low- and middle-income countries bear the brunt of this burden. Despite its enormous health, social and economic impacts, pollution prevention is largely overlooked in the international development agenda,” said Richard Fuller, lead author, in a statement.

“Attention and funding has only minimally increased since 2015, despite well-documented increases in public concern about pollution and its health effects,” he added.

The new report is an update to 2017 Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, using data from the 2015 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study.

The new report provides updated estimates for the health effects of pollution based on the most recently available 2019 GBD data and methodological updates, as well as an assessment of trends since 2000.

Globally, deaths from hazardous chemical pollutants increased from 0.9 million in 2000, to 1.7 million in 2015, to 1.8 million in 2019. Overall, deaths from modern pollution increased by 66% in the past two decades, from an estimated 3.8 million deaths in 2000 to 6.3 million deaths in 2019.

Excess deaths due to pollution have led to economic losses totalling US $4.6 trillion in 2019, equating to 6.2% of global economic output.

In 2000, output losses due to traditional pollution were 6.4% of GDP in Ethiopia, 5.2% of GDP in Nigeria, and 3.2% of GDP in India. By 2019, death rates due to traditional pollution were a third of the death rate in 2000 in Ethiopia and Nigeria, and less than half of the death rate in 2000 in India. Consequently, pollution-related economic losses as a proportion of GDP fell substantially.

“Nonetheless, economic losses due to traditional pollution are still approximately 1.0% of GDP in India… Economic losses due to modern forms of pollution have increased as a proportion of GDP between 2000 and 2019 in India, China, and Nigeria, and are now conservatively estimated to amount to approximately 1.0% of GDP in each of these countries,” reads the report.

Traditional sources of pollution include Indian fire stoves (choolahs), while modern sources include factories.

Experts also say gains made in the past need to be sustained for India to meet the targets.

ALSO READ: India’s wholesale inflation rises further

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Africa News Arab News News

UN predicts another crisis in NE Africa

The northeast Africa, especially Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, is facing a severe climate emergency

 The northeast Africa drought threatens to be one of the worst climate-induced emergencies in the area in the last 40 years, UN humanitarians said on Wednesday.

“People in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia have endured three consecutive poor rainy seasons,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. “The latest forecasts indicate that the March to May rains may be average to below-average.”

If the rains are scarce, the drought risks becoming one of the worst climate-induced emergencies in the last 40 years in the Horn of Africa, with millions of people facing severe water shortages and going hungry due to the devastating drought in the region, the office said.

OCHA said dry water sources across the region force people to walk long distances to find water. Conflict over scarce resources increases the risk of violence and abuse against children and women.

The office said because of water scarcity, food insecurity is at a record high. Between 13.1 million and 14.1 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia struggle to put food on the table every day.

“The prolonged drought will leave more than 5.7 million children acutely malnourished in these three countries in 2022, 1.7 million of them severely acutely malnourished,” the office said. “Humanitarian partners are scaling up the response and have assisted 1.6 million people in Somalia, over 2.7 million people in Ethiopia and more than 830,000 people in Kenya.”

The office and its humanitarian partners seek 4.4 billion U.S. dollars to provide life-saving assistance and protection to about 30 million people in the three countries this year, but funding is meager.

OCHA urgently calls on the international community to step up support to organizations responding to the drought across the Horn of Africa.

Crisis in Ethiopia

The ongoing drought in parts of Ethiopia is increasingly deteriorating the living conditions and livelihoods of affected communities, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said.

The ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa is affecting close to 7 million in Ethiopia and is increasingly deteriorating the living conditions and livelihoods of affected communities in Oromia, Somali, South Western Ethiopia, and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) regions primarily, Xinhua news agency quoted the OCHA’s latest situation update as saying.

 Some 3.5 million people are facing the consequences of the drought in Oromia region, while about 3 million people continue to suffer from the brunt of drought in the Somali region with over 900,000 reported livestock deaths, it said.

The OCHA said over 1 million people in 21 districts of East and West Hararge in Oromia region are living in dire condition where water tracking gap stands at 70 per cent, calling for an urgent need for additional 42 trucks in both zones.

  The drought situation in the West Guji zone of Oromia region continues to have a severe impact and repercussions on the lives of affected communities, with over 27,000 children and 22,000 young women are facing serious protection concerns.

ALSO READ: 25 African nations ‘least’ water-secure

  “An emergency response is ongoing and is further required for at least the next five months to save lives and livelihoods and prevent further deterioration of an already extremely dire humanitarian situation with increasing protection concerns for which additional funding is urgently required,” the OCHA said.

Meanwhile, the Agency said measles cases continue to be reported since December 2021 in Doloado and Bokolmayo districts in Ethiopia’s Somali region, with about 700 new cases and 12 deaths recorded as of March 3.

The measles outbreak affected 15 localities, including five refugee camps in the zone, it was noted.

It said that while the number of cases recorded has decreased since cases were diagnosed in December 2021, active cases remain.

Categories
Environment Environment and WIldlife India News

India captures only 8% of 4K billion cubic meters of rain

Water in community areas was collected and stored in artificial wells. Another method was harvesting monsoon water by diverting water from overflowing streams to be stored in water bodies…reports Pavan Kaushik

Many historians and archaeologists believe that the Indus Valley Civi­lisation that existed about 2,500 years ago mysteriously lost its existence and disappeared suddenly due to catastrophic water scarcity caused either by shifting rivers or by drastic climate change.

In India, a major portion of the population does not have a reliable and constant means of getting water for their daily needs. About 70 per cent of our sources are contaminated and country’s major rivers are dying because of pollution. In June 2019, a report suggested that 65 per cent of all reservoirs in India reported below-normal water levels, and 12 per cent were completely dry.

A NITI Aayog report of 2018 clearly stated that nearly half of India’s population, about 600 million people, is all set to face extreme water stress in coming years. NITI Aayog also estimated that 21 major cities, including Delhi, would run out of groundwater by 2030.

Niti Aayog

With time, India has become the world’s largest extractor of groundwater, accounting for 25 per cent of the total available water. Agriculture consumes over 85 per cent of water in India, contrary to the popular belief that domestic usage or industrial usage captures most of the water. With only 40 per cent assured irrigation, the farmers depend heavily either on rains or on groundwater for their needs.

Surprisingly, the irony is, the demand for water through rains is much less than actual rainfall received during the year. Even though the monsoon season in India extends over four months, and we barely get 30 days of heavy rainfall in all, India has not put-in much required efforts to wishfully capture this abundance of rainwater.

India needs a maximum of 3,000 billion cubic meters (BCM) of water a year while it receives 4,000 billion cubic meters of rains. The country captures only 8 per cent of its annual rainfall, which is amongst the lowest in the world. This also means that rain water harvesting and replenishing the ground water, and also conserving the available water resources seems to be one of the most efficient and doable solution, that has scope and opportunity to resolve water scarcity.

There are many lessons in traditional water harvesting system in India too. One of the most popular rainwater conservation practices has been raindrop conservation. Water from the rooftops was collected during the rains and stored in tanks.

Water in community areas was collected and stored in artificial wells. Another method was harvesting monsoon water by diverting water from overflowing streams to be stored in water bodies.

The traditional procedures for saving water had their own methods too. The PATS of Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh are irrigation panels. These irrigation panels are fed using water that is diverted from fast moving hill streams. Then there is JAUHAD, the earthen check dams that were meant to collect rainwater. Because of their earthen nature, water percolated easily into these systems. This resulted in tremendous rise of the groundwater levels. SANJHA KUWAN are wells built on a partnership basis. With multiple users, these SANJHA KUWAN were primarily used for irrigation.

A group of farmers usually had one made amongst themselves. TALAAB have been very famous in the golden old days and even today. These are reservoirs — natural, as in Bundelkhand, or man-made, as in Udaipur. These reservoirs were used to meet irrigation and drinking water requirements. These constructions lasted only as long as the monsoon. Post-monsoon, the beds of these water bodies were cultivated with rice.

Rajasthan has PAAR, a harvesting practice used in the desert areas of Rajasthan. This involves collecting rainwater from the catchment to let it percolate into the soil.

According to Central Water Commission’s report, India would reach a population of about 1.66 billion by 2050. The annual food requirement will also exceed 250 million tonnes. This also means that demand for water will also increase substantially.

Certainly, we do not want to be a civilization that became extinct just because we could not preserve the most precious natural resource — the Water.

ALSO READ-Minister of Climate Change and Environment visits Vietnam Pavilion at Expo 2020

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-Top News UAE News World

Climate security on focus

The UAE is committed to support countries most exposed to climate risk, said Dr. Al Jaber…reports Asian Lite News

The UAE has adopted a partnership approach that focuses on financing projects in countries most exposed to climate risks as climate finance can enable sustainable economic growth while promoting peace and stability, according to Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change.

Delivering the opening remarks at a United Nations Security Council meeting on Climate Finance for Sustaining Peace and Security, Dr. Al Jaber explained that the UAE has provided over $1 billion in climate aid to more than 40 countries, with a special focus on island and least-developed nations. He added that the UAE has also provided several billion dollars in recent years in disaster and conflict relief where climate impacts are a contributing factor.

The Arria-formula meeting, an informal meeting of Security Council members, was chaired by Dr. Al Jaber. Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN, delivered the opening remarks at the meeting which had in attendance Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab, Deputy Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN.

During his speech, Dr. Al Jaber noted that geopolitical tensions are challenging international peace and stability. He said that while the world deals with these challenges, we should not lose sight of other existing and emerging threats that undermine our collective security.

Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber

The UAE’s experience in climate financing underscores that, where appropriate, viewing climate action through the lens of international peace and security can aim finance at priority sectors such as food and water security, according to Dr. Al Jaber. He explained this is one of the goals of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate), an initiative that the UAE launched last year along with 38 countries to scale up investments in agricultural innovation from drought resistant seeds to water-efficient vertical farming.

Addressing dignitaries including, John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, and The Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma, COP26 President, Dr. Al Jaber called for an inclusive approach that empowers women and ensures climate finance contributes to equitable sustainable development when financing projects.

“Fair and balanced climate finance will make all communities more resilient in the short term and will deliver a dividend of peace well into the future.”

Reiterating the importance of climate finance in the fight against climate change, Dr. Al Jaber urged the international community to do more to support developing nations.

ALSO READ: CLIMATE ISSUES OF AFRICA

“Climate finance is one of the most important tools to manage climate risks.” “Yet,” Dr. Al Jaber noted, “the international community continues to fall short of the $100 billion climate finance pledge made to developing nations over a decade ago. Many countries on the Council’s agenda, as well as countries affected by rising sea levels, emphasize this amount alone will be insufficient.”

Dr. Al Jaber stressed “robust, sustained and ambitious climate finance is a critical enabler of continued climate progress and risk reduction.” He added that “greater access to guaranteed finance is critical.”

As a responsible global partner, the UAE is committed to supporting countries most exposed to climate risk, said Dr. Al Jaber, as he pointed out the scale of the climate challenge.

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-Top News Africa News News

CLIMATE ISSUES OF AFRICA

Marking African Environment Day, African experts and pan-African organizations on Thursday emphasized the need to tackle the continent’s continued climate change-induced disasters

Africa Environment Day, celebrated annually on March 3, was established in 2002 by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the African Union, as a way of raising awareness of the pressing environmental challenges facing the continent. Since 2012, the Africa Environment Day has been celebrated in conjunction with Wangari Maathai Day in honor of the late Nobel laureate’s legacy in nature conservancy.

The African continent, in a bid to address the twin effects of climate change and desertification, is in recent years bracing itself to devote undiluted attention to integrating sustainable environmental management into the mainstream development policies at both continental and national levels.

Experts, however, argued that albeit the commendable efforts underway to counter the impact of climate change, the continent is in urgent need to exert strong efforts to end the scourge.

Adefris Worku, a senior forestry expert at the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission (EFCCC) of Ethiopia, said the extent of climate change in Africa is growing due to various causes, including the expansion of the agricultural sector.

Agriculture, which is the backbone of African economies, is said to be one of the major drivers of desertification in Africa. With a growing population, an increasing forest area is being harvested across Africa.

“Desertification is becoming a very significant threat to Africa. African countries have to do strategic interventions and approach to combat desertification because desertification has become overwhelming, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa,” Worku told Xinhua in a recent interview.

The AU, in its call for action issued Thursday in relation to this year’s Africa Environment Day, stressed that Africa continues to endure serious environmental challenges, saying the unfolding phenomena of climate change, biodiversity depletion, desertification, land degradation and unsustainable use of finite natural resources remain a serious risk for Africa as they pose real impediments to achieving the sustainable development goals envisioned in Africa’s Agenda 2063.

While saying environmental deterioration has exacerbated crises such as droughts, armed conflicts, or other natural disasters on the continent, the AU emphasized that sustainable environmental management is fundamental to the pursuit of food security, peace, security, and stability in Africa.

“To address the twin effects of climate change and desertification, Africa is bracing itself to devote undiluted attention to integrating sustainable environmental management into the mainstream development policies at both regional and national levels,” the pan-African bloc said.

According to the latest figures from the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), despite representing just 17 percent of the world’s population and emitting just 4 percent of global pollution, Africa stands as the most affected continent in terms of climate change.

“African economies are losing on average 5 percent of GDP because of climate change, increasing up to 15 percent in some countries,” said Linus Mofor, a senior environmental expert from the ECA, Wednesday.

Mofor, speaking during a virtual meeting on partnerships for tools and capacities to integrate climate resilience in investments for sustainable development, said in the absence of global concerted action on keeping warming at below 1.5 degrees Celsius, African countries must be supported with the tools and capacities needed to integrate climate resilience in the huge investments needed to close development gaps.

Mofor insisted that African countries have shown “great leadership” on climate action, stating “all but two African countries have ratified the Paris Agreement with ambitious nationally determined contributions requiring up to 3 trillion U.S. dollars for implementation.”

Despite the daunting challenges, however, African countries have been introducing a number of ambitious initiatives to contain the rapid expansion of desertification in the continent, thereby mitigating the impacts of climate change on communities’ livelihood.

ALSO READ: UNECA chief urges Africa to tap into tech, innovation

The Great Green Wall or Great Green Wall of the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative, which was launched by the African Union (AU) in 2007 with an overarching aim of planting a wall of trees across Africa at the southern edge of the Sahara desert, is one of the African-led initiatives aiming to restore Africa’s degraded landscapes.

According to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the Great Green Wall initiative will be the largest living structure on the planet once realized, covering 8,000 km of land stretching across the entire width of the continent from Senegal in West Africa to Djibouti in the east.

According to Worku, Ethiopia, one of the signatory countries of the initiative, considers the ambitious project as “a very important and relevant strategy to combat desertification and ensure sustainable development in the country.”

More than 20 countries across Africa have been implementing the initiative in hopes of restoring 100 million hectares of currently degraded land and sequestering 250 million metric tons of carbon by 2030.

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-Top News India News

‘India’s call for climate justice reflected in IPCC report’

He also released Down To Earth’s Annual State of India’s Environment Report 2022 on the occasion…reports Asian Lite News

Stating that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has reaffirmed India’s call for equity and climate justice, Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister, Bhupender Yadav on Tuesday reminded the developed countries to take the lead in providing finance for mitigation and loss and damage.

“The IPCC report has, for the first time, mentioned what India has been all along. India is walking the path of climate resilient development and has demonstrated a clear resolve to move ahead along a sustainable, resource efficient growth path. The environmental negotiations are not about give and take – it is about saving humanity. The developed nations must take historic responsibility and consider what their ancestors have done in the past. Now it is for the rich countries to help urgent mitigation action by providing finance,” he said.

Yadav was speaking at an annual conclave of journalists, called the Anil Agarwal Dialogue, organised by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) at its state of the art residential environmental training facility, the Anil Agarwal Environment Training Institute (AAETI), here at Nimli in Rajasthan’s Alwar district.

He also released Down To Earth’s Annual State of India’s Environment Report 2022 on the occasion.

The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report of the Working Group II (AR6WGII) had on Monday released its report that said it in unequivocal terms that “climate change is a threat to the human well-being and planetary health” and “any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all”.

Human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, despite efforts to reduce the risks, it had said.

CSE Director GBeneral Sunita Narain said: “In the last two years, the world has seen disruption at a scale not seen before. Both Covid-19 and climate change are the result of our ‘dystopian’ relationship with nature — call this the revenge of nature. Covid-19 is because we are breaking the barrier between the wild habitats/humans and the way we produce our food.”

Asserting that climate change is the result of emissions needed for economic growth – fossil fuels are unsustainable, and our lifestyle is the problem, she said: “Both are also linked, and are being exacerbated because of our mismanagement of health systems and the environment.”

ALSO READ-Mukesh Ambani: Climate crisis is an existential crisis for the Earth

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India News Lite Blogs

Coal, Korba and climate, a case study for India’s energy transition

The study points out that Korba has an aging formal workforce — at least 70 per cent of SECL and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) workers are 40-60 years of age…reports Asian Lite News

Korba district in Chhattisgarh has 13 operational mines. Four more mines are in the pipeline. Of the operational ones, as many as 10 are loss-making, and just three are profitable — Gevra, Kusmunda and Dipka — producing 95 per cent of the coal.

It is a quintessential example of an economy that will need to immediately think of what to do when India starts to ‘phase down’ coal as promised at the annual global climate change conference (COP26) last year.

Coal, part of the fossil fuel basket, is the largest contributor towards emissions and hence planned to be phased down as part of climate action to restrict emissions so that the global temperature rise is restricted to 1.5-degree Celsius compared to the pre-industrial temperatures.

A latest study has found that Korba’s coal-centric economy has stymied the growth of other economic sectors, including agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, and services even as the poor socio-economic status and high dependence on the coal economy make it highly vulnerable to the unplanned closure of mines and industries, leading to severe socio-economic consequences.

Keeping in mind that India’s biggest coal and power districts will face energy transition challenges much earlier than anticipated — it is predicted that Korba will reach its peak in 2025 — the economic restructuring and development intervention will be essential, the latest study by International Forum for Environment Sustainability and Technology (iFOREST) has pointed out.

‘Korba: Planning a Just Transition for India’s Biggest Coal and Power District’ was launched earlier this week.

“Our study of Korba in Chhattisgarh essentially shows just transition in India is about re-development of the coal regions. Major policy and legal reforms in land, labour, and finance will be required to enable a smooth just transition. We need to develop a strategic roadmap for this and secure necessary finances to support it, both domestically and through international cooperation,” Chandra Bhushan of iForest said.

Very clear why Bhushan says so. As mentioned in the report, with declining coal production, for the mining companies (here, South-Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL)) shutting down all eight unprofitable mines in Korba district in the next few years is a win-win situation as the resources saved can be diverted to start a just transition in Korba.

Despite having coal mines and multiple power plants and other industries such as Balco Plant, the district is a Schedule V district with over 40 per cent tribal population and declared ‘Aspirational District’ with 41 per cent people living below the poverty line and over 32 per cent of the district’s population being ‘multidimensionally poor’ with limited access to healthcare, education, and basic amenities.

The numbers are alarming considering the fact that Korba produces over 16 per cent of India’s coal and is also an electricity hub, with 6,428 MW of thermal power capacity. Clearly, the coal-based economy did not do justice to the poorest of the poor and that makes the task of transition harder in view of the human resources.

The study points out that Korba has an aging formal workforce — at least 70 per cent of SECL and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) workers are 40-60 years of age.

“Their retirement can be synchronized with plant and mine closure, making the transition of the formal workers less of a challenge. The biggest challenge is the re-employment of informal workers, who constitute over 60 per cent of the workforce in the coal industry. They will require job support and reskilling. Skilling for the new green economy is another challenge,” the report mentions.

Speaking at the launch of the study report, Secretary, Coal Ministry, Anil Kumar Jain, had said, “A place-based approach is the answer to ensuring a just transition as districts have different issues. A strategic approach will be needed as there is a big human aspect involved in the energy transition.”

He also suggested re-purposing mining land can be a key opportunity.

The CEO of NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant, welcomed the idea of the report and said, this can become the template in terms of impact on jobs and livelihood, revenue and other social sector investments the energy shift will have consequences for coal dependent district and states’ just transitional result as a concept around the world to ensure that cold dependent towns of regions do not suffer.”

“I entirely agree that a strategic plan needs to be developed in the sector to prevent closures of mine and socio-economic disruptions and the policy should include components of cold phase out strategy at the national state level coal-based power phase out plan,” he said.

“Just transition is not just about climate change action; it is an opportunity to reverse the resource curse in the coal districts. The next 10 to 20 years will be crucial for Korba to plan and implement a just transition. We need to have the right policies and governance mechanisms to ensure that this opportunity to build a new inclusive economy is realized,” said Srestha Banerjee, Director, Just Transition, iFOREST.

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