International Whaling Commission

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  • It is an international body set up by the terms of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (Signed in Washington, 1946)
  • Aims to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry
  • In 1982 the IWC adopted a moratorium on commercial whaling.
  • Japan, Russia etc. oppose this moratorium
  • The IWC allows non-zero whaling quotas for aborginal subsistence and also member nations may issue ‘Scientific Permits’ to their citizens.
  • IWC is accompanied by legally binding schedule which sets out specific measures that the IWC has collectively decided as necessary in order to regulate whaling and conserve whale stocks. 
  • Schedule can be amended by at least three quarters majority agreement unlike convention.
  • Conservation measures advocated under the schedule are catch limits (which may be zero as it the case for commercial whaling) by species and area, designating specified areas as whale sanctuaries, protection of calves and females accompanied by calves, and restrictions on hunting methods.
  • What it does?
    • designate specified areas as whale sanctuaries;
    • set limits on the numbers and size of whales which may be taken;
    • prescribe open and closed seasons and areas for whaling; and
    • prohibit the capture of suckling calves and female whales accompanied by calves.

Japan Withdrawal:

Japan has announced its decision to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC). The withdrawal would enable Japan to resume commercial whaling activities.

Japan has said that it would undertake commercial whaling  from July 2019 limited to Japan’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zones. As per the announcement, Japan would not undertake whaling activities in Antarctic waters or in the southern hemisphere.

Why the withdrawal?

The Japanese government was trying hard to persuade the IWC to allow its commercial whaling operations. IWC refused to budge and rejected the proposal of Japan.

Japan has said that since most whale species are not endangered and that eating whale is a part of its culture, Japan has been forced to withdraw from the IWC.

With the withdrawal Japan joins Iceland and Norway in openly defying the organization’s ban on commercial whale hunting.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

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  • It is an UN agency
  • It coordinates UN’s environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices.
  • It was founded as a result of the UN Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Conference) in 1972
  • HQ : Nairobi, Kenya
  • UNEP also has six regional offices and various country offices.
  • Its activities cover a wide range of issues regarding the atmosphere, marine and terrestrial ecosystems, environmental governance and green economy.
  • UNEP has also been active in funding and implementing environment related development projects.
  • UNEP has aided in the formulation of guidelines and treaties on issues such as the international trade in potentially harmful chemicals, transboundary air pollution, and contamination of international waterways
  • UNEP is also one of several Implementing Agencies for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol
  • The International Cyanide Management Code, a program of best practice for the chemical’s use at gold mining operations, was developed under UNEP’s aegis.


Vermin animals

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  • Vermin means wild animals which are believed to be harmful
  • Legally speaking, if a species is declared vermin, that particular species can be hunted or culled without restriction
  • Any species can be declared vermin except:
    • Species which are listed in Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act 1972
    • Species which are listed in Part II of Schedule II of WPA 1972
  • Section 62 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 empowers the states to send a list of wild animals to the Centre requesting it to declare them vermin for selective slaughter.
  • For the period the notification is in force such wild animal shall be included in Schedule V of the law, depriving them of any protection under that law.
  • The hunted wildlife is declared as government property and it imposes restrictions on how these carcasses must be disposed of.


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  • United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • It is an international environment treaty
  • Opened for signature in 1992
  • Came into force from 1994
  • Secretariat is located in Bonn, Germany
  • Signatories : 165
  • Ratifiers : 197 (196 countries + EU)
  • The convention is legally non-binding, but makes provisions for meeting called ‘protocols’ where negotiating countries can set legally binding limits
  • What it does?
    • It aims to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system
    • The framework set no binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries and contains no enforcement mechanisms.
    • Instead, the framework outlines how specific international treaties (called “protocols” or “Agreements”) may be negotiated to set binding limits on greenhouse gases. Kyoto Protocol was negotiated under this framework.
    • One of the first tasks set by the UNFCCC was for signatory nations to establish national greenhouse inventories of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals, which were used to create the 1990 benchmark levels for accession of Annex I countries to the Kyoto Protocol and for the commitment of those countries to GHG reductions. Updated inventories must be regularly submitted by Annex I countries.
  • Annex I, Annex II countries and developing countries

Parties to UNFCCC are classified as:

  • Annex I countries: industrialized countries and economies in transition
    • Annex I countries which have ratified the Protocol have committed to reduce their emission levels of greenhouse gasses to targets that are mainly set below their 1990 levels.
    • There are 43 Annex I countries and the European Union is also a member.
  • Annex II countries: developed countries which pay for costs of developing countries
    • Annex II countries are a sub-group of the Annex I countries. They comprise the OECD members, excluding those that were economies in transition in 1992.
    • There are 24 Annex II countries and the European Union. Turkey was removed from the Annex II list in 2001 at its request to recognize its economy as a transition economy.
  • Non Annex I countries: Developing countries.
    • Developing countries are not required to reduce emission levels unless developed countries supply enough funding and technology. Setting no immediate restrictions under UNFCCC serves three purposes:
      • it avoids restrictions on their development, because emissions are strongly linked to industrial capacity
      • they can sell emissions credits to nations whose operators have difficulty meeting their emissions targets
      • they get money and technologies for low-carbon investments from Annex II countries.
    • Developing countries may volunteer to become Annex I countries when they are sufficiently developed.
  • India is Non Annex party to UNFCC
  • Conference of Parties (COP) :
    • COP is the supreme decision-making body of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). ‎
    • All States that are Parties to UNFCCC are represented at COP. ‎
    • At COP, all parties review implementation of Convention and take decisions necessary to promote the effective implementation of Convention.


Bhitarkanika National Park

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  • It is a national park located in Kendrapara district of Odisha 
  • National Park since 1998
  • Ramsar Convention site since 2002
  • Surrounded by the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary. 
  • Gahirmatha Beach and Marine Sanctuary lies to the east
  • It is home to Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), White Crocodile, Indian python, King Cobra, black ibis, darters and many other species of flora and fauna.
  • The sanctuary is the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India.
  • The national park and wildlife sanctuary is inundated by a number of rivers – Brahmani, Baitarni, Dhamra, Pathsala
  • The park is famous for its green mangroves, migratory birds, turtles, estuarine crocodiles and countless creeks.
  • It is said to house 70% of the country’s estuarine or saltwater crocodiles, conservation of which was started way back in 1975.



Olive Ridley turtle

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Olive Ridley Turtles

  • Olive Ridley turtle is the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtle found in the world.
  • It gets its name from its olive coloured carapace, which is heart-shaped and rounded.
  • It is found in warm waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans.
  • It spends entire lives in the ocean and migrates thousands of kilometres between feeding and mating grounds in the course of a year.
  • It is classified  as Vulnerable  in IUCN Red List and is listed in Appendix I of CITES.
  • In India, it is protected under Wildlife (Protection) Act.
  • Though found in abundance, their numbers have been declining over the past few years.
  • Conservation of Olive Ridley turtles is done in the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS),Andhra Pradesh.
  • Members of the Yanadi tribe are directly involved in the conservation bid.
  • They are best known for their behaviour of synchronized nesting in mass numbers.

Breeding Season:

  • It commences its journey from Indian Ocean towards Bay of Bengal during their mating season in October and November every year.
  • A single female can lay up to 100 to 150 eggs in a pit dug on the beaches.
  • Six weeks later these eggs hatches and the newly hatched turtles start the journey to their Indian Ocean habitat.
  • The destination for majority of the turtles for laying egg is Gahirmatha in Odisha.
  • The sandy stretches of Hope Island of the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary also have turned into a breeding area

Why in news?

  • Hope Island in Andhra Pradesh has become graveyard for Olive Ridley turtles.
  • The breeding cycle of this species got severe blow due to mechanised fishing boats scouring in the Bay of Bengal coastline. These boats crush most of these turtles under it leading to their death.

Coral Reefs and Coral Bleaching

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What are Coral reefs?

  • It is underwater marine ecosystem characterized by reef-building corals.
  • Reefs are formed of colonies of coral polyps held together by calcium carbonate.
  • Corals secrete hard carbonate exoskeletons that support and protect them.
  • Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, whose polyps cluster in groups.
  • Coral belongs to class Anthozoa in animal phylum Cnidaria, which includes sea anemones and jellyfish.
  • Corals are often called “rainforests of the sea” as they form some of Earth’s most diverse ecosystems.
  • They occupy less than 0.1% of world’s ocean area, but provide a home for at least 25% of all marine species.
  • Tiny differences in the anatomy of each polyp species mainly affect the shape of their shells and produce the exotic shapes of each reef.

Conditions required for growth of corals:

  • Warm tropical oceans with minimum temperature of 20 degree.
  • They are primarily located between 30 degree north and 25 degree south latitudes where water temperature favours the growth of coral organisms;
  • Transparent parts of ocean bodies;
  • Oceanic water must be free of sedimentation;
  • It should have relatively low salinity.
  • They are most commonly found at shallow depths in tropical waters, but deep water and cold water coral reefs exist on smaller scales in other areas. 

What is coral bleaching?

  • Coral bleaching causes corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour.
  • It calcifies the corals to  turn into white.
  • Algae are vital to the coral, which uses the organic products of photosynthesis to help it grow.
  • The loss of algae makes it vulnerable to disease and it will eventually die.
  • When a coral bleaches, it is not dead. They can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to re-colonise them.

How bleaching occurs?

  • Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour.
  • Algae are vital to the coral, which uses the organic products of photosynthesis to help it grow. The loss of algae makes the host vulnerable to disease and means it will eventually die.

Can coral recover?

Yes. Coral can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to recolonise them.





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What are INDCs?

  • INDCs are declaration of individual countries which indicate  what post-2020 climate actions they intend to take under a new international agreement, known as their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).
  • The INDCs combine the top-down system of a United Nations climate agreement with bottom-up system-in elements through which countries put forward their agreements in the context of their own national circumstances, capabilities and priorities, within the ambition to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius.
  • The INDCs will not only contain steps taken towards emission reductions, but also aim to address steps taken to adapt to climate change impacts, and what support the country needs-or will provide to address climate change.

India’s INDC :

india emissions cut climate change paris

INDCs emphasise eight key goals

  • sustainable lifestyles,
  • cleaner economic development,
  • reducing emission intensity of GDP,
  • increasing the share of non-fossil fuel based electricity,
  • enhancing carbon sink,
  • adaptation and mobilising finance,
  • technology transfer and
  • capacity building.


India’s proposed targets:

  1. Reduce emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35% by 2030 from 2005 level.
  2. Achieve about 40% electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030 with help of transfer of technology and low cost international finance.
  3. Create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.


How much it will cost?

  • Preliminary estimates suggest India would require at least USD 2.5 trillion at current prices to implement all these plans till 2030.
  • NITI Aayog has said that the mitigation activities for moderate low carbon development would cost around 834 billion dollars till 2030.


What are India’s ongoing efforts to achieve its climate objectives?

  • India had set for itself in the run-up to the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen, the previous time the world had attempted to finalise a climate agreement, but had failed. At that time, India had said it would cut its emission intensity by 20 to 25% by the year 2020 compared to 2005.
  • In its INDC, India says its emission intensity in 2010 had already been cut by 12% as compared to 2005.
  • India has already planned to install 175 GW of power generation capacity through renewable energy sources by the year 2022.
  • It has also planned to increase the coal cess and increase taxes on petrol and diesel. India has already cut its petroleum subsidy by 26% over the last one year.
  • Several of government’s flagship programmes like the Smart Cities Mission, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Swachh Bharat Mission, National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY), National Mission for Clean Ganga, Make in India policy, Soil Health Card scheme, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana and many others aim to achieve the climate objectives.


Where does India stand as a polluter?

India is the fourth biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China, the United States, and European Union as a whole


How will India fund these measure?

  • India will bank of fiscal measures including fuel  subsidy cuts and increased taxes on fossil fuels including diesel and petrol.
  • Cess on coal — National Clean Environment Fund — used for financing clean energy, technologies, and project related to it.
  • Tax-free infrastructure bonds – introduced for funding of renewable energy projects
  • 14th FC –> devolution of funds to states –> forest as a criteria



What critics say?

INDC –> additional forest cover promise. But

  • Analysis of existing schemes needed to ensure efficient implementation:
    • National Afforestation Programme (NAP)
    • Joint Forest Management
    • Green India Mission
    • Compensatory Afforestation
  • Availability of land : from where will the land come?
  • NAP, launched in 2002. Around Rs 3,00 crore spent in last decade  with target of 1.94 million ha -> in 2011 –> total area of forest cover actually declined


Are this INDC (and Paris Agreement at large) viable?

There are several challenges:

  • US congress may disapprove Paris agreement like it did with Kyoto Protocol
  • There are still lots of ambiguities in agreement
  • Finance is a major issue.
  • Technology transfer is being opposed by corporates due to their IPRs

Climate Change : Impact on India

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  • According to United Nations report titled ‘Economic Losses, Poverty and Disasters 1998-2017’, India has suffered whopping $79.5 billion economic loss due to climate-related disasters in last 20 years.


What would be the impact of climate change on India?

Major impacts on India would be:

  1. Impact in coastal areas:
    • Nearly 40 million Indians will be at risk from rising sea levels by 2050, with people in Mumbai and Kolkata having the maximum exposure tocoastal flooding in future due to rapid urbanisation and economic growth, according to a UN environment report.
    • On coastal areashighly exposed to cyclones and typhoons, the poor tend to be more exposed to natural disasters because they live on land open to hazards.
    • Warmer climate, precipitation decline and droughts in most delta regions of India have resulted indrying up of wetlands and severe degradation of ecosystems
  2. Impact on poverty:
    • Multi-dimensional poverty in most developing countries will increase
    • Climate change will slow down economic growth and make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security and “prolong existing andcreate new poverty traps
  3. Impact on Rainfall pattern:
    • India will experience decrease in seasonal mean rainfall and an increase in mean and extreme precipitation during monsoon.
    • This will increase both floods and drought.
    • Freshwater resources will be affected due a combination of climate change and unsustainable practices.
    • A 2°C rise in the world’s average temperatures will make India’s summer monsoon highly unpredictable.
    • At 4°C warming, an extremely wet monsoon that currently has a chance of occurring only once in 100 years is projected to occur every 10 years by the end of the century.
    • An abrupt change in the monsoon could precipitate a major crisis, triggering more frequent droughts as well as greater flooding in large parts of India.
    • India’s northwest coast to the south eastern coastal region could see higher than average rainfall.
    • Dry years are expected to be drier and wet years wetter.  
  4. Impact on Agriculture:
    • There will be large reductions in wheat yield in the Indo-Gangetic plain; and substantial increase in heat stress for rice, affecting yield in the country.
    • Alterations in the flows of the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra rivers could significantly impact irrigation, affecting the amount of food that can be produced in their basins as well as the livelihoods of millions of people
  5. Impact on Health:
    • Temperature variations will lead to outbreak of diseases as well and disturb the already poor health indicators of the country. Frequency of hot days and multiple-day heat waves have increased in past century;Increase in deaths due to heat stress in recent years
    • Possibly causing a rise in Diarrhoea cases and cholera outbreaks, as the cholera bacterium survives longer in saline water.
    • Heat waves are likely to result in a very substantial rise in mortality and death, and injuries from extreme weather events are likely to increase
  6. Impact on Energy Security:
    • The increasing variability and long-term decreases in river flows can pose a major challenge to hydropower plants and increase the risk of physical damage from landslides, flash floods, glacial lake outbursts, and other climate-related natural disasters.
    • Decreases in the availability of water and increases in temperature will pose major risk factors to thermal power generation.
    • Hydro Power projects in Himalayas face flood risk from the formation of new lakes and the expansion of existing ones due to melting glaciers
  7. Impact on Water Security:
    • An increase in variability of monsoon rainfall is expected to increase water shortages in some areas.
    • Studies have found that the threat to water security is very high over central India, along the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats, and in India’s north eastern states.
  8. Migration:
    • Climate change impacts on agriculture and livelihoods can increase the number of climate refugees.



What can be done?

  • Improvements in hydro-meteorological systems for weather forecasting and the installation of flood warning systems can help people move out of harm’s way before a weather-related disaster strikes.
  • Investments in R&D for the development of drought-resistant crops can help reduce some of the negative impacts.
  • Major investments in water storage capacity would be needed to benefit from increased river flows in spring and compensate for lower flows later on
  • Coastal embankments will need to be built where necessary and Coastal Regulation Zone codes enforced strictly.
  • Improvements in irrigation systems, water harvesting techniques, and more-efficient agricultural water management can offset some of these risks.
  • Regional cooperation on water issues will be needed.
  • Crop diversification, more efficient water use, and improved soil management practices, together with the development of drought-resistant crops can help reduce some of the negative impact

Climate Change Facts

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  • Global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of G20 countries are continuing to increase
  • Between 1990 and 2013, the absolute carbon dioxide emissions of G20 countries, which account for three-fourths of global CO2 emissions, went up by 56%
  • To be in line with a 2°C-compatible trajectory by 2035, G20 countries face an investment gap of almost $ 340 billion/year in the power sector
  • The globally averaged concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere reached to 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 2015 : WMO
  • From 2001-2014, 25% of all accidental deaths in India due to unnatural causes happened as a result of extreme weather events. Most deaths reported were due to lightning (40%), followed by extreme precipitation (24%), heatwave (20%) and cold wave (15%).


Recent Data about India:

  • Trends in global CO2 and total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions show that India’s emissions have gone up by 4.7% in 2016
  • For most major GHG emitters in the world, the emission figures have gone down, barring India and Indonesia
  • Nearly 90 percent of the country’s coal-fired power generation capacity is in violation of Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) emission limits notified two years ago. - Climate Change Facts