Report: India – Spearheading Climate Solutions

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Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has released a publication titled  “India – Spearheading Climate Solutions” on 12 February, 2019. This document mentions India’s key actions taken towards combating and adapting to climate change.

India’s Key Actions Towards Combating and Adapting Climate Change

  • India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) that has eight major missions on Solar, Enhanced Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Habitat, Water, Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, Green India, Sustainable Agriculture and Strategic Knowledge on Climate Change.
  • International Solar Alliance (ISA) – It is an alliance of 121 countries, most of them sunshine countries (i.e. lying either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn). It was founded in 2015 at Paris and was initiated by India. Membership now has been extended to all the members of the United Nations
  • State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC)
  • FAME Scheme – It stands for Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles (FAME-India) Scheme, which was launched in 2015 under the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP). It aims to create the infrastructure for and promote e-mobility.
  • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation & Urban Transformation (AMRUT) –The scheme was launched in the year 2015 and is solely aimed for Smart Cities
  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana – The scheme was launched in 2016. It aims for providing access to clean cooking fuel
  • UJALA scheme – It stands for Unnat Jeevan by Affordable LEDs and Appliances for All and was started in 2015. Its aim is to embrace energy efficient LED bulbs
  • Swachh Bharat Mission – It is a nationwide campaign from 2014 to 2019 aiming to clean up India.
  • National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC) – It was launched in 2015-16 and aims to support robust adaptation techniques to reduce adverse effects of climate change.

Other Initiatives Taken by Government

  • Apart from the above, Government of India has taken an ambitious goal of generating 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022.
  • India will leapfrog from Bharat Stage -IV to Bharat Stage-VI emission norms by April 2020.
  • India’s renewable energy capacity stands at more than 74 GW today including about 25 GW from solar.
  • Further, India submitted its Second Biennial Update Report (BUR) to UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) in December 2018 as per the reporting obligations under the convention, which stated that India’s GDP emissions came down by 21% between 2005 & 2014.
  • It also stated that India’s climate-goal for pre-2020 is well on track.

 

Initiatives to reduce carbon emissions from Farming

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Government of India has taken the following steps to reduce the emissions from the farm sector:

  • Crop diversification programme under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), National Food Security Mission (NFSM) and Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI).
  • Increasing the area under System of Rice Intensification (SRI) as an alternative to the widely used practice of transplanted paddy.
  • Deployment of zero tillage drill machines and other residue management equipment to enable planting of Rabi crop in the standing residue of rice crop to avoid stubble burning.
  • Adopting the practices like alternate wetting and drying, direct seeded rice system of rice cultivation, use of slow-release nitrogen fertilizers, integrated nutrient management practices, leaf colour chart-based nitrogen application, use of urea super granules etc in rice cultivation.
  • Neem coating of urea.
  • Planting of trees under National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI), Sub-Mission on Agro-Forestry (SMAF) and National Bamboo Mission (NBM).
  • Spreading of micro irrigation under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)-Per Drop More Crop
  • Models of Integrated Farming System (IFS) have been developed for replication in Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) and in the States for enabling climate-resilient agriculture and cutting down the carbon emissions.

Together with above initiatives, various sub-programmes initiated by government like Soil Health Card (SHC), Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), Mission Organic for Value Chain Development for North East (MOVCD), Rainfed Area Development (RAD), Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) and National Bamboo Mission (NBM) are contributing towards cutting down of carbon emissions from farm sector.

CoP-24 / Katowice Climate Talks

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The 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference that took place in Katowice, Poland, is the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24). It is also referred to as the Katowice Climate Change Conference or Katowice Climate Talks.  The most important outcome of COP24 was that the countries have agreed on rules for the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Main Outcomes of COP 24 in Katowice:

  • The participating nations agreed on the rules to implement the Paris Agreement that will come into effect in 2020.
  • The rules are regarding how the member nations will measure the carbon-emissions and report on their emissions-cutting efforts. 
  • This ‘rulebook’ can be called as the detailed “operating manual” of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
  • The members of the conference did not agree to “welcome” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on 1.5°C. 
  • The US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait refused to “welcome” the IPCC report.
  • The parties to the conference agreed to record the pledges in a public registry, as per the existing interim portal.
  • The public registry will continue to include a search function, although many attempts have been made to get it deleted.
  • It was also agreed among the members that future pledges should cover a “common timeframe” from 2031. The number of years for the timeframe will be decided later.

Many difficult matters could not reach an agreement and have been postponed to next year for resolution. This includes questions such as ways to scale up existing commitments on emission reduction, different ways of providing financial aid to the poor nations, wording that prevents double counting and whether member nations are doing enough to cut their respective emissions.

Benefits of Vegetarianism : WRI Report

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Facts:

  • WRI estimates that the global demands for beef may increase by a whopping 95% by the year 2050.
  • There are 1.3 billion cattle across the world today (and India rears 300 million of them).
  • We would need over 2.6 billion cattle 30 years from now!

WRI Report:

  • The World Resources Institute (WRI), based in Washington, DC, USA, has recently suggested that people should reduce (if not abandon) eating beef
  • This is despite the fact that beef-eating in the US has dropped, due to health concerns about eating “red meat.”
  • Word cattle here includes cows and bulls, buffaloes, horses, sheep and goats – in effect farm animals.
  • Need of pastures: Breeding cattle impacts the climate conditions on earth, contributing to global warming. It also takes up lot of land for pasturing (it is estimated that 25% of the earth’s land mass (minus the Antarctica) would be needed for pasture).
  • Water intensive: It is also estimated that a third of the global water is needed for farm animal production .
  • Greenhouse Gases: On top of this, cows, buffaloes, sheep, goats and other “ungulates” belch a lot; this alone emits enormous amount of greenhouse gases that contribute over 60% to global warming.
  • In contrast, plants such as wheat, rice, maize, pulses, roots and tubers need no pasture land, demand far less water and, more importantly, generate little or no “greenhouse gases”.
  • We have promised to cut down global warming to no more than 1.5°C within the next 20 years, but with the projected demand for increase the number of cattle, the situation can only worsen.
  • Overeating: Today about 20% of the world overeats, leading to obesity and being overweight, and there are consequent health problems.
  • Cutting the calories down to the optimal level will lead to both health benefits and saving in land and water use.
  • Include more plant-based proteins and cut down animal-based ones. Traditional Mediterranean diet (fish and poultry meat, at low levels) and vegetarian meals (with legumes-based proteins) are suggested.
  • Reduce beef consumption specifically – Cutting down beef (cattle in general) in daily diet will offer both dietary and environmental benefit. The environmental benefits are clear; it saves agriculture for land use and reduces greenhouse gases. Rather than beef, one can turn to pork, poultry, fish and, of course, legumes.
  • History: The move to vegetarianism, which started around 1500-500 BCE by the Indians and the Greeks, was connected with the idea of nonviolence towards animals, and promoted by religion and philosophy. The Tamil scholar-poet Thiruvalluvar, the Mauryan kings Chandragupta and Ashoka, and the Greek sage Pythagoras (of the theorem fame) were vegetarians.
various legumes on white background top view top view

Environmental Tipping Points

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What are ‘Tipping points’?

‘Tipping points’, are essentially the  thresholds beyond which the earth’s systems are no longer able to stabilise.  

The danger in crossing tipping points becomes higher with more warming.

Such tipping points include: 

  1. melting of Greenland ice, 
  2. collapse of Antarctic glaciers (which would lead to several metres of sea level rise),
  3. destruction of Amazon forests, 
  4. melting of all the permafrost and so on.

Living Planet Report (LPR) 2018

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About Report:

  • Published by World Wide Fund for Nature(WWF)
  • It is published every 2 years

 

Highlights of report

  • Soil Biodiversity: 
    • It encompasses presence of micro-organisms, micro-fauna (nematodes and tardigrades for example), and macro-fauna (ants, termites and earthworms).
    • Millions of microbial and animal species live and make up soils, from bacteria and fungi to mites, beetles and earthworms. Soil biodiversity, thus is total community from genes to species, and varies depending on environment.
    • The immense diversity in soil allows for great variety of ecosystem services that benefit species that inhabit it, the species that use it and its surrounding environment.
  • WWF’s ‘risk index’ for globe:
    • It indicated threats from loss of above-ground diversity, pollution and nutrient over-loading, over-grazing, intensive agriculture, fire, soil erosion, desertification and climate change.
    • India was coloured red on atlas and is among countries whose soil biodiversity faces the highest level of risk. Other countries in this category include Pakistan, China, several countries in Africa and Europe, and most of North America.
  • India’s per capita ecological footprint: It was less than 1.75 hectares/person (it is in lowest band among countries surveyed). India’s high population made it vulnerable to ecological crisis, even if per-capita consumption remained at current levels.
  • Pollinators: 150 million bee colonies were needed to meet the pollination requirements of about 50 million hectares of agricultural land in India, only 1.2 million colonies were present.
  • Ecological loss: Population of fish, mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles has dwindled by average of 60% from 1970 to 2014 and fresh-water species have declined by 83% in same period. Globally, extent of wetlands os estimated to have declined by 87% since 1970.

Biodiversity-loss

India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP)

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India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP)

  • ICAP addresses cooling requirement across sectors and lists out actions which can help reduce cooling demand.
  • Its thrust is to look for synergies in actions for securing both environmental and socio-economic benefits.
  • ICAP’s overarching goal is to provide sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all while securing environmental and socio-economic benefits for the society.
  • India is the first country in world to develop such document.
  • It provides a 20-year perspective, with projections for cooling needs in 2037-38.

 

Goals suggested in ICAP are

  • Reduce refrigerant demand by 25% to 30% by year 2037-38.
  • Reduce cooling demand across sectors by 20% to 25 % by year 2037-38.
  • Reduce cooling energy requirements by 25% to 40% by year 2037-38.
  • Train and certify 100,000 servicing sector technicians by 2022-23, in synergy with Skill India Mission.
  • Recognize cooling and related areas as thrust area of research under national science and technology programme to support development of technological solutions and encourage innovation challenges.

 

Broad objectives of ICAO include

  • Assessment of cooling requirements across sectors in next 20 years and the associated refrigerant demand and energy use.
  • Map the technologies available to cater the cooling requirement including passive interventions, refrigerant-based technologies and alternative technologies such as not-in-kind technologies.
  • Suggest interventions in each sector to provide for sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all.
  • Focus on skilling of refrigeration and air-conditioning (RAC) service technicians.
  • Develop R&D innovation ecosystem for indigenous development of alternative technologies.

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WGEEP Vs Kasturirangan Panel

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Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP):

  • In the year 2010, Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) was constituted by the Central Government, under the chairmanship of Madhav Gadgil.
  • WGEEP issued recommendations for the preservation of the fragile western peninsular region.

 

Highlights of Gadgil Report

  • Recommended that the entire stretch of the Western Ghats should be declared as Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA).
  • It recommended the division of region into three zones – ESZ1, ESZ2, ESZ3 and gave a broad outline of certain restrictions for each zone.
  • The committee recommended the division of region into zones at the block/taluk level.
  • It recommended that no new polluting industries (red and orange) were to be permitted in ESZ1 and ESZ2 and gradual phasing out of such existing industries by 2016.  Complete ban on mining in ESZ1 and regulation of mining in ESZ-2.
  • It was recommended that bottom to top approach be followed for conservation of Western Ghats.
  • Western Ghats Ecological Authority was proposed to be set up as a statutory body and given powers under the Environment protection Act 1986.

 

Criticism of WGEEP:

There were many criticisms of the Gadgil Committee Report. Some among them were :

  • The report was not prepared keeping in mind the ground realities. If the report is implemented, the development and the energy requirements in the states coming within the boundary of Western Ghats would be adversely affected.
  • There is no need to set up a new body while there are many such bodies for the protection of environment.

 

Madhav Gadgil has said the recent havoc in Kerala is a consequence of short-sighted policymaking, and warned that Goa may also be in the line of nature’s fury.

 

Kasturirangan Panel:

Following severe resistance to the implementation of Gadgil Committee report, Kasturirangan Panel was set up in 2012 to advise the government on Gadgil Committee Report.

 

Highlights of Kasturirangan Report:

  • Divide the Western Ghats into Natural Landscape and Cultural Landscape
  • Of the natural landscape, it picked out 37% as “biologically rich” and with “some measure of contiguity”. Restrictions were placed in this area.
  • It proposed the demarcation of ESZ be done at the village level.
  • Only red category (heavy polluting) industries were restricted.
  • Hydro power project would be given the green signal on a case to case basis, post assessment of its benefits and the possible damage it could cause.

 

Gadgil Vs Kasturirangan :

  • Gadgil report laid too much importance to the environment, Kasturirangan report was biased towards development.
  • Kasturi Rangan report was criticized by many as that it provided loopholes for mining, which if allowed would turn detrimental to the environment, in long-term will affect development too. 
  • Kasturirangan report got the tag as anti-environmental soon after its release.
  • The WGEEP had earlier proposed “much larger areas for being included in the eco-sensitive zone” though the Kasturirangan panel had reduced it.

 

The Ministry had accepted the Kasthurirangan report and issued the draft notifications on ecologically sensitive zones.

 

NGT action:

  • Now, the six Western Ghats States, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat have been restrained by the NGT from giving environmental clearance to activities that may adversely impact the eco-sensitive areas of the mountain ranges.
  • The panel directed that the extent of Eco-Sensitive Zones of Western Ghats, which was notified by the Central government earlier, should not be reduced, in view of the recent floods in Kerala.
  • The Tribunal Bench, in its order, noted that any alteration in the draft notification of zones may seriously affect the environment.

 

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National REDD+ Strategy

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What is Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)?

  • REDD is set of steps designed to use market and financial incentives in order to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from deforestation and forest degradation.
  • It is collaborative programme of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • Its original objective is to reduce greenhouse gases but it is claimed that it can deliver co-benefits such as biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation.

 

What is REDD+?

  • REDD+ initiative goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
  • It aims at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.
  • It gives emphasis to activities that will help in sustainable livelihood of local communities and also in conservation of biodiversity.

 

National REDD+ Strategy

  • It aims at achieve climate change mitigation by incentivizing forest conservation.
  • This strategy will soon be communicated to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • It has been prepared by Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education (ICFRE), Dehradun.
  • It is one of tools to further supplement India’s commitment to 2015 Paris agreement.
  • It will support empowerment of youth cadres as community foresters to lead charge at local level.
  • Under it, Green Skill Development programme will be launched for imparting forestry-related specialised skills among the youth.
  • Significance: 
    • National REDD+ strategy will help India to fulfil its nationally determined contribution (NDC)  commitments and will also contribute to livelihood of forest dependent population.
    • It will help to enhance efforts for forest conservation and enhance productivity of forest eco-systems.
    • It takes into consideration important role played by tribal, other forest dwelling people and society as whole in reiterating India’s commitment to Paris Agreement.

 

Why REDD+ is important?

  • Paris Agreement on Climate Change recognises role of forests in climate change mitigation and calls upon participating nations to take action to implement and support REDD+.
  • India in its NDC to this agreement has committed to capture 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) through additional efforts in forestry sector.
  • India’s first biennial update report to UNFCCC has revealed that forests in India capture about 12% of India’s total GHG emissions.
  • Thus, forestry sector in India is making positive cost effective contribution for climate change mitigation.

 

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Cheetah Reintroduction Project

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Cheetah:

  • Cheetah, fastest land animal was declared extinct in India in 1952.
  • India’s last spotted Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) had died in Chhattisgarh in 1947.
  • This species was hunted into extinction by British colonial officers and Indian royalty.

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Cheetah Reintroduction Project:

  • According to earlier action plan, around 20 cheetahs were to be translocated to Nauradehi from Namibia in Africa.
  • Namibia Cheetah Conservation Fund had then showed its willingness to donate felines to India.
  • However, State was not ready to finance plan contending that it was the Centre’s project.
  • Madhya Pradesh forest department has written to National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to revive its Cheetah Reintroduction Project to reintroduce Cheetahs in Nauradehi sanctuary located in Sagar district of state.

 

Background

  • In 2011, NTCA, a statutory body under Union Environment Ministry had committed Rs.50 crore to State for this project.
  • Dehradun based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) also had prepared Rs. 260 crore Cheetah Re-introduction Project in 2012.
  • It was estimated that Rs. 25 crore to Rs. 30 crore will be needed to build enclosure with huge boundary walls in area of 150 sq km for introduction and protection of Cheetahs in Nauradehi before releasing them in wild.
  • Nauradehi sanctuary was found to be most suitable area for reintroduction of Cheetahs as its forests are not very dense to restrict fast movement of Cheetahs and also has abundant prey base.