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NEWS UPDATE #119


Scroll.in reports: As demonetisation enters its second week, traders in Patna’s Maroofganj mandi are seeing something unprecedented. In the last seven days, the supply of new stocks in this market has plummeted. The supply of cooking oil, for instance, is down by 80%. In the same period, orders from shopkeepers have fallen steeply as well.

Demonetisation has left India’s food markets frozen – and the future looks tense
M Rajshekhar &  Abhishek Dey, Scroll.in
As demonetisation enters its second week, traders in Patna’s Maroofganj mandi are seeing something unprecedented. In the last seven days, the supply of new stocks in this wholesale market, which supplies cooking oil, spices, rice, wheat and pulses to shopkeepers across Patna, has plummeted. The supply of cooking oil, for instance, is down by 80%. In the same period, orders from shopkeepers have fallen steeply as well. (Related: 1) As Cash Runs Dry, No Work For Migrants From Drought-Hit Bundelkhand 2) With no money to buy seeds, farmers in Bihar’s low-lying areas say time is fast running out)

India ranks 20th in Climate Change Performance Index
Deccan Herald
India has been ranked 20th in the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2017, which underlined that countries like India are making “great efforts” in the fields of renewables and energy efficiency. With the historic Paris Agreement having recently entered into force, the latest CCPI confirms a boost for renewable energy and positive developments in energy efficiency. (Related: India Wavers on Emissions as Power Plants Balk at Price Tag)

45 lakh children, mostly tribals, stunted in MP: Study
Hindustan Times
Nearly 45 lakh children, mostly tribals, suffer from stunted growth in Madhya Pradesh, with researchers claiming that the government is to blame for this as it has blocked access of tribals to forests, says an analysis by Down To Earth magazine. Forests were traditionally the main source of nutritious sustenance – including meat — for tribals, who extract close to 150 different varieties of food from them, said a statement by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). According to the study, decades of hunger have led to this stunting which is also being seen in other tribal-dominated states in India.

Relaxed rules leading to environmental clearance for all linear projects
Vijay Pinjarkar, The Times of India
The Regional Empowered Committee (REC), Nagpur, having jurisdiction over Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, has approved diversion of 351.71 hectare forest land during the first half of 2016. Three-fourth of this area is for linear projects, like roads, canals etc. In six meetings from January to June 2016, the ministry of environment, forest and climate change’s (MoEF&CC) REC recommended 14 projects out of 26 proposals it considered. Of these, one is from Chhattisgarh and 13 are in Maharashtra. Incidentally, no project has been rejected as yet. “It seems action has shifted from the Centre to the region, when it comes to forest diversion for small as well as large linear projects,” said Pushp Jain, director of Delhi-based EIA Resource & Response Centre (ERC), which keeps a close watch on forest clearances and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports.

What it Means to Take the Long View on Air Pollution in Delhi
Sarath Guttikunda, The Wire
Now, let’s take the long view, exemplified by the question: what is it that we can do to really make a difference in the coming years? These are real solutions that are not gimmicks and some of them are straightforward (which should not be confused for easy) and, more importantly, need some time to manifest their results over subsequent months and years. It is a basic human right to breathe clean air, so let’s discuss where we can start. (Related: 1) Pollution is not just Delhi’s problem: at least 11 Indian cities are reeling 2) Airpocalypse: What Delhi Can Learn From Beijing’s War On Pollution)

India’s Groundwater Crisis: Water Levels Fall In 65% Wells In A Decade
Charu Bahri, IndiaSpend
Barely 3% wells across India registered a rise in water level exceeding 4 metres in the year ending January 2016, according to this 2016 Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) report. Only 35% of wells showed any rise in water level, which declined in 64% of wells. Average water levels in January 2016 were lower than the average water level between 2006 and 2015.

India’s Rhino Population Up 35 Times In 107 Years
Mukta Patil, IndiaSpend
While everybody knows of India’s efforts and struggles to conserve the tiger, here’s one of India’s most successful conservation stories: From a population of barely 75 in 1905, there were over 2,700 Indian rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis) by 2012, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature–India (WWF-India), a global wildlife advocacy. Rhinos are mega-herbivores, part of a small and disappearing group of large herbivores that weigh over 1,000 kilograms and include the elephant and the hippopotamus.

Pollutants from pharma units leave residents gasping for air
Sudipta Sengupta, The Times of India
It’s a pitched battle against air pollution that close to a million people living across ‘hi-tech’ Hyderabad are fighting these days. Thanks to the unregulated rise of the pharmaceutical industry in the area, residents here are either forced to stay indoors or regularly complain of health issues – mostly asthma, bronchitis and eye infections. While repeated rallies and hunger strikes had brought the menace haunting the region since 2010 under check for a few months earlier this year, residents report that it’s now back with a vengeance.

NGT stays tree felling for Yettinahole project
The New Indian Express
New-Delhi based Principal Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) has stayed the felling of trees at Yettinahole river diversion project site until further orders, on Monday. The Tribunal, headed by chairperson Justice Swathantra Kumar, took serious note of reckless chopping of trees at the project area in Sakaleshpur taluk. The complainant K N Somashekar had challenged the state and Centre’s order on granting clearance for felling trees to KNNL (Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Ltd) by filing an appeal before the NGT.

Having Destroyed Ballari’s Forests, Reddy Gifts Saplings To Guests
The News Minute
For all the opulence and extravagance that marked the five-day wedding of mining baron and former BJP minister G Janardhana Reddy’s daughter, the return gift seemed like a private joke by the Reddy brothers and their BFF, B Sriramulu. On Wednesday afternoon, guests trickled out of the sprawling Palace Grounds in Bengaluru carrying green paper bags. A closer look revealed that two saplings peeped out of the top of the bags.

Stunningly good news for the planet: Carbon emissions were flat for the third straight year
Chris Mooney , The Washington Post
Scientists have published a projection suggesting that for the third straight year, global carbon dioxide emissions did not increase much in 2016. The news comes from the Global Carbon Project, a group of scientists who measure how much carbon dioxide humans emit each year, as well as how much is subsequently absorbed by plants, land surfaces and oceans. The difference between the two determines the amount of carbon dioxide that remains in the atmosphere and drives global warming.

‘Climate Emergency’: North Pole Sees Record Temps, Melting Ice Despite Arctic Winter
Common Dreams
As 2016 continues on its march toward becoming the hottest year on record, the Arctic is seeing extreme warmth beyond anything previously recorded at this time of year—prompting alarm from climate scientists around the world. The temperature at the North Pole as of Thursday was a stunning 36ºF (20°C) above normal. The bizarre heat is fueling the rapid melt of the pole’s ice caps, and it is particularly unusual because it’s all happening during the polar night—the time of year when the North Pole never sees the sun, observed UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain. (Related: 2016 Set to be Hottest Year on Record, UN Announces Amid Climate Talks)

Despite Paris Climate Pledge, Planet On Track To Surpass 3°C Temperature Rise
Nika Knight, CommonDreams.org
Global warming is on track to top 3° Celsius, the United Nations warned this week, because today’s climate pledges are “not nearly enough” to prevent dangerous levels of warming. That’s according the latest annual “Emissions Gap Report” from the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), which concluded that pledges to cut emissions will result in a global temperature rise of 3.4ºC above pre-industrial levels, far above the 2º limit and 1.5º goal agreed to under last year’s Paris climate accord.

Climate Change Has Already Altered Nearly Every Ecosystem on Earth
Countercurrents.org
Climate change is already affecting life on Earth, despite a global temperature increase of just 1°C, according to a new study published in the journal Science on Friday. Nearly every ecosystem on the planet is being altered, and plants and animals are being so affected that scientists may soon be forced to intervene to create “human-assisted evolution,” the study, titled The Broad Footprint of Climate Change from Genes to Biomes to People, found. The researchers say 82 percent of “core ecological processes” on land and sea have been affected by climate change in a way that had not been expected “for decades.” (Also read: Citizens Have a Right to Sue for Climate Change Action)

Anti-Poverty Organizations Say More Coal Will Cause More Poverty
Vrinda Manglik, Sierra Club
A new position paper released last week by 12 organizations — including the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, Christian Aid, the Overseas Development Institute, and Oxfam International — rips apart the coal industry’s claim that coal is needed to fight extreme poverty and deliver energy access to billions of people. Having worked on poverty eradication for decades, these organizations are a powerful and credible set of voices against the propaganda of the coal industry. This paper offers a new tool for debunking the coal industry’s myths, and also provides useful information about the flexibility, reliability, and job-creation potential of renewable energy.

Obama puts Arctic Ocean off limits for drilling in last-ditch barrier to Trump
The Guardian
Barack Obama’s administration has ruled out drilling for oil and gas in the pristine Arctic Ocean, throwing up a last-ditch barrier to the pro-fossil fuels agenda of incoming president Donald Trump. The US Department of the Interior said that the “fragile and unique” Arctic ecosystem would face “significant risks” if drilling were allowed in the Chukchi or Beaufort Seas, which lie off Alaska. It added that the high costs of exploration, combined with a low oil price, would probably deter fossil fuel companies anyway. (Related: U.S. a Rogue State if Trump Gets Wish on Climate Deal, Says UN Envoy)

Haze from Indonesian fires may have killed more than 100,000 people – study
The Guardian
A smog outbreak in Southeast Asia last year may have caused over 100,000 premature deaths, according to a new study released Monday that triggered calls for action to tackle the “killer haze”. Researchers from Harvard and Columbia universities in the US estimated there were more than 90,000 early deaths in Indonesia in areas closest to haze-belching fires, and several thousand more in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia. The new estimate, reached using a complex analytical model, is far higher than the previous official death toll given by authorities of just 19 deaths in Indonesia.

France’s Nuclear Storm: Many Power Plants Down Due to Quality Concerns
Lee Buchsbaum , Power Mag
he discovery of widespread carbon segregation problems in critical nuclear plant components has crippled the French power industry—20 of the country’s 58 reactors are currently offline and under heavy scrutiny. France’s nuclear safety chairman said more anomalies “will likely be found,” as the extent of the contagion is still being uncovered. With over half of France’s 58 reactors possibly affected by “carbon segregation,” the nation’s nuclear watchdog, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN) has ordered that preventative measures be taken immediately to ensure public safety.

Morocco lights the way for Africa on renewable energy
The Guardian
As the host of this year’s COP22 climate change conference in Marrakech, Morocco has been keen to demonstrate its green credentials and make this COP the “African COP”. In the past year, Morocco has banned the use of plastic bags, launched new plans for extending the urban tram networks in Casablanca and Rabat, started the process of replacing its dirty old fleet of buses and taxis, launched Africa’s first city bicycle hire scheme, and launched a new initiative – the “Adaptation of African Agriculture” – to help the continent’s farmers adjust to climate change. But by far the most attention has been on the development of “mega” infrastructure projects in an ambitious plan to transform the country’s energy mix.

Tehran shuts schools as thick smog is linked to hundreds of deaths
The Guardian
At this time of the year, citizens of Tehran are accustomed to a thick curtain of fog that falls across the city, veiling everything from the 435 metre-tall Milad tower to the nearby Alborz mountains. This week, however, the blanket of smog smothering the Iranian capital has been blamed for a string of deaths and prompted unprecedented emergency measures by the city’s authorities. Habib Kashani, a member of Tehran’s municipal council, said on Tuesday that pollution in Tehran had led to the death of 412 citizens in the past 23 days, according to the state news agency, Irna.

Energy Giant Shell Says Oil Demand Could Peak in Just Five Years
Bloomberg
Royal Dutch Shell Plc, the world’s second-biggest energy company by market value, thinks demand for oil could peak in as little as five years, a rare statement in an industry that commonly forecasts decades of growth. “We’ve long been of the opinion that demand will peak before supply,” Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry said on a conference call on Tuesday. “And that peak may be somewhere between 5 and 15 years hence, and it will be driven by efficiency and substitution, more than offsetting the new demand for transport.” Shell’s view puts it at odds with some of its biggest competitors.

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