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NEWS UPDATE #140


The Independent (UK) reports – Every car sold in India will be powered by electricity by the year 2030, according to plans unveiled by the country’s energy minister. The move is intended to lower the cost of importing fuel and lower costs for running vehicles, coal and mines minister Piyush Goyal said in New Delhi.

India to make every single car electric by 2030 in bid to tackle pollution that kills millions
Harriet Agerholm, Independent UK
Every car sold in India will be powered by electricity by the year 2030, according to plans unveiled by the country’s energy minister. The move is intended to lower the cost of importing fuel and lower costs for running vehicles. “We are going to introduce electric vehicles in a very big way,” coal and mines minister Piyush Goyal said at the Confederation of Indian Industry Annual Session 2017 in New Delhi.

Govt plans to cut coal imports for power PSUs to zero in 2017-18
The Economic Times
Government today said it is aiming to bring down to “zero” thermal coal imports of power PSUs like NTPC in the current fiscal, a move that would reduce the country’s import bill by around Rs 17,000 crore. The government would also slowly convince the private companies operating in the power space to totally stop the import of thermal fossil fuel. “This year we want that coal import by these plants (of public sector companies) should be brought down to zero and slowly we would convince the private sector that there is no need for you to import coal,” Coal Secretary Susheel Kumar said.

Debt main cause for over 12,000 farmer suicides since 2013
The Times of India
Farmer suicides aren’t abating and the reasons are many – the most common being debts and farming related issues. Here is a look at the how many farmers and agricultural labour in different states committed suicide in 2015 and the reasons that drive poor framers to despair.

Crop fires reduced, Delhi air quality better this year
Neel Kamal & Amit Bhattacharya, The Times of India
There has been an increase in burning of wheat crop stubble in Punjab and Haryana this week compared with the previous one, Nasa’s satellite pictures reveal. But the images also reveal a larger and more significant trend, the practice of crop-burning is down sharply in comparison with the same period last year. Reports from the ground suggest the two state governments’ firm approach seems to be working but major challenges lie in the days ahead as angry farmers demand a viable alternative to the practice.

Cancer has exploded in Bihar as lakhs of people drink water poisoned with arsenic
M. Rajshekhar
Bihar’s heavy cancer burden is largely due to high levels of arsenic, a known carcinogen, in its groundwater. Pollution standards in India peg arsenic concentrations above 50 parts per billion as harmful. This is higher than the permissible limit of 10 parts per billion of arsenic in drinking water set by the United States. Over the last 15 years, field studies in Bihar have thrown up arsenic concentrations that are far higher – up to 3,880 parts per billion.

Interview: Prafulla Samantara, Winner of the 2017 ‘Green Nobel’
Sapna Gopal – The Wire
Samantara, 67, had led a historic 12-year legal battle that affirmed the indigenous Dongria Kondh’s land rights and protected the Niyamgiri hills from a massive, open-pit aluminium-ore mine to be constructed by Vedanta Resources. The Niyamgiri hills in Odisha is an area of incredible biodiversity, whose thick forestlands are home to the endangered Bengal tiger and serve as an important migration corridor for elephants. Apart from shutting the mining project, the victory that Samantara helped secure has established a precedent authorising local village councils throughout India to decide on mining activities in their regions, giving them control over their land and lives.

Swachh Survekshan 2017 encouraging unsustainable approaches for waste management: CSE
Down to Earth
Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) and Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) are the top three cleanest cities of the country, as per the results of the Swachh Survekshan, 2017. But all of them have poor segregation of waste and have adopted a centralised cluster-based approach. Of the top 50 cities, 31 cities are in three states: Gujarat (12), Madhya Pradesh (11) and Andhra Pradesh (8), all which are pushing a cluster-based waste management approach. Cities such as Panjim and Alappuzha, advocating for decentralised waste management based on household level segregation, recycle and reuse, are pushed to the back. There is an urgent need to change the methodology of Survekshan to encourage sustainable practices like segregation at source and recycle and reuse.

New Rs 1000 crore Odisha project “ignores” tribal rights over forest resources: NGO represents to Modi minister
Counterview
The Odisha government’s new Banayana project, which seeks to hand over a whopping Rs 1,000 crore Japan-funded biodiversity project to the state-sponsored Forest Security Committees (Vana Suraksha Samitis or VSSs), has come under heavy criticism for seeking to ignore gram panchayats’ rights over managing forests and their produce. Launched by Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik lask week for “sustainable management of forest and bio-diversity”, the project is proposed to be implemented in 14 forest and wildlife divisions of the state, covering 10 districts, with the active participation of 12,000 VSSs over a period of 10 years.

Gujarat tops India with 49 percent use in hazardous asbestos, causing occupational disease, cancer: Report
Counterview
A new report “National Asbestos Profile: India”, prepared by Vadodara-based civil rights organization, People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), has found that Gujarat accounts for 49% of all industries of India where asbestos, considered one of the most hazardous commodities, is used, followed by neighbouring Maharashtra (18%).
Prepared for the Occupational and Environmental Health Network India, the report quotes a study conducted in a cement factory in Gujarat to say that 6.5% of examined workers had asbestosis, the fatal occupational health disease caused by asbestos, while another 32% of workers were “suspected” to have asbestosis. (Related – Asbestos harms the health of millions of Indian workers. Will the government finally move to ban it?)

Anti-MNC tribal activist’s arrest in Odisha: Green Nobel prize winner, other activists seek NHRC intervention
Counterview
The recent Green Nobel prize winner Prafulla Samantara, along with other senior activists – Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Aruna Roy of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, and Binayak Sen of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) – have sought urgent intervention of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in the recent arrest of a tribal woman, Kumi Sikaka, in Odisha. Belonging to the Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS), whose legal struggle under Samantara for 12 long years led to the ouster of UK MNC Vedanta from Odisha’s Niyamgiri Hills, Sikaka was arrested early on May 2 by security forces on charges of being a Maoist. Sikaka happens to be NSS leader Dodi Pusika’s daughter in law.

Prepare emission standards for industries in NCR by June: Supreme Court asks CPCB
Down to Earth
The Supreme Court, on May 2, asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to frame emission standards for industries in the National Capital Region. The court directed that standards must be prepared by June 30 and must be complied with by December. Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing in a 1985 PIL filed by environmentalist M C Mehta, said that pet coke and furnace oil, which are being used by industries, are harmful because of their high sulphur content. The Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) said that emission of sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides has to be brought down for improving the quality of air in NCR. The EPCA representative added that China had stopped importing the two substances on environmental grounds.

New model agriculture law aims to increase farmers’ income
Soujanya Shrivastava – Down to Earth
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare proposed a new model law, the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act, 2017, which seeks to end the monopoly of APMC mandis and promote private players through wholesale markets, direct sale and purchase of agricultural produce, single market fee, and one time registration for trade in multiple markets. 12 states, namely Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar, Odisha, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, have agreed to implement the reforms. The ministry is also working towards an electronic registeration system which will ensure that once registered, farmers will not have to seek permission to harvest and transport the trees they plant.

National action plan on antimicrobial resistance urges multi-sectoral initiative
Rajeshwari Sinha, Down to Earth
A Global Action Plan on AMR was developed by the World Health Organization, the Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health in 2015. India, along with other member states, is to submit their National Action Plans by May this year. The ambitious and comprehensive plan highlights the need for tackling AMR across multiple sectors such as human health, animal husbandry, agriculture and environment in consideration of the “One-Health” approach.

Drylands face 4 °C warming under Paris Agreement goal
SciDev
The Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting average global warming to less than two degrees Celsius is insufficient to protect the world’s drylands, a new study says. Surface warming of drylands has been 20-40 per cent more than on humid lands. Drylands would get hotter by up to 4 degrees with a global warming of 2 degrees. Warming goal should be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius to protect both dry and wet lands.

A new crack in one of Antarctica’s biggest ice shelves could mean a major break is near
Chelsea Harvey – The Washington Post
Another branch has appeared in a huge crack on one of Antarctica’s largest ice shelves, and scientists fear it’s only a matter of time before a huge chunk — potentially containing up to 2,000 square miles of ice — breaks away. If this happens, the ice shelf may become increasingly unstable and could even fall apart. Scientists have been closely monitoring the Larsen C ice shelf, located on the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, where a large rift in the ice — now about 111 miles long — has been advancing in rapid bursts in recent years. Between the beginning of December and the middle of January alone, the crack lengthened by about 17 miles. And since 2011, it has grown by about 50 miles.

Violence against indigenous people high, as land conflicts heat up
Carolina Torres, Mongabay
There were 137 killings of indigenous people in Brazil in 2015, with the state of Mato Grosso do Sul recording the highest number (25 for the year), said a major report released in September by the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI). Much of the violence is due to land conflicts exacerbated by the government’s failure to demarcate indigenous lands, resulting in conflicts between large-scale farmers and indigenous people. There are 96 indigenous lands in Brazil, but only four have been demarcated and approved so far. Another 68 are classified with the status of “no action” according to CIMI. A high number of indigenous people also took their own lives, with 87 registered cases of suicide in 2015 by indigenous people. Again, Mato Grosso do Sul led the list with 45 cases.

Kenyan citizens Face Steep Fines For Not Going Green
Zainab Calcuttawala, Oil Price
Kenyan anti-deforestation efforts have spurred new sustainable energy policies and encouraged green non-profits to take hold across the country, but capital costs and adherence to established practices are threatening the movement’s future. Nairobi’s required water heater policy was ahead of its time when the parliament approved it in 2012. Five years later, regulatory authorities are warning Kenyans who have not installed the mandated solar water heaters in their homes and businesses that they will face a fine of almost US$10,000 (one million shillings) in May, when the nation’s police are set to begin enforcing the law.

Germany Breaks Record: 85% of Energy Comes From Renewables Last Weekend
EcoWatch
Germany’s “Energiewende”—the country’s low-carbon energy revolution—turned another successful corner last weekend when renewable energy sources nearly stamped out coal and nuclear. Thanks to a particularly breezy and sunny Sunday, renewables such as wind and solar, along with some biomass and hydropower, peaked at a record 85 percent, or 55.2 gigawatts, and even came along with negative prices for several hours at the electricity exchange.

UK air pollution lawsuit set to go ahead despite delayed government plan
The Guardian
Lawyers are taking a class action against the government over its repeated failures to clean up illegal levels of air pollution, the Guardian can reveal, as ministers publish a long-awaited plan to reduce diesel emissions. The unprecedented legal challenge on behalf of asthma sufferers could see ministers paying out significant compensation for allowing the nation’s air to exceed legal limits for so long. The government is expected to publish its new air quality plan at midday on Friday after key local election results have been announced, with a targeted diesel scrappage scheme to cut down on harmful nitrogen dioxide. (Related – Beijing hit by new air pollution crisis as huge sandstorm blows in)

Amazonian Tribe Seizes Military Helicopter And Takes Government Officials Hostage After Oil Spill
True Activist
An Amazonian tribe in Peru took at least eight public officials hostage this week, in response to an oil spill that polluted their lands.
According to Reuters, it was the Wampis community of Mayuriaga which staged the protest and actually seized a military helicopter, capturing multiple crew members along with other government officials. The hostages include three oil company executives, four government regulatory officials and a specialist with the energy and mines ministry. Among many demands, the Tribe insisted that they were left out of a clean-up plan that was associated with the spill.

The bark side: domestic dogs threaten endangered species worldwide
The Conversation
We found that dogs are implicated in the extinction of at least 11 species, including the Hawaiian Rail and the Tonga Ground Skink. Dogs are also a known or potential threat to 188 threatened species worldwide: 96 mammal, 78 bird, 22 reptile and three amphibian species. This includes 30 critically endangered species, two of which are classed as “possibly extinct”. These numbers place dogs in the number three spot after cats and rodents as the world’s most damaging invasive mammalian predators.

Peru rainforest lost to illegal gold mining eclipses 10 Manhattans
Mongabay
Most mining-related deforestation is occurring in southern Peru’s Madre de Dios Department, but is moving northward. In addition to the loss of forest, gold mining activities have shifted the course and nature of rivers and released toxic levels of mercury into the surrounding environment. In total, 62,500 hectares of forest were lost to illegal gold mining between 2012 and 2016. Researchers found forest loss from illegal mining activities peaked between 2010 and 2012, and has since been declining. They attribute this to an uptick in government interventions. However, their analysis highlights several recent incursions into protected areas and primary forest. Conservationists and scientists warn of the impacts of continued illegal mining, and say it’s not likely to end any time soon.

Adani faces possible multi-million-dollar fine over Abbot Point sediment water discharge
ABC news
Mining giant Adani faces a possible multi-million-dollar fine after sediment water eight times above authorised levels was discharged from the Abbot Point coal terminal last month, the ABC can reveal. The Queensland Environment Department granted Adani a temporary emissions licence (TEL) to allow the company to release excess water at the site to cope with heavy rainfall caused by Tropical Cyclone Debbie. Sources have told the ABC coal-laden water, exceeding authorised limits, passed through a monitoring location at the terminal called W2 situated on the northern marine side of the terminal, adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area.

Scientists just debunked one of the biggest arguments against fuel economy standards for cars
Chelsea Harvey – The Washington Post
One common way automakers improve the fuel efficiency of their vehicles — that is, how much gasoline they consume per mile — is to reduce the weight of the automobile. And the new study, a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in April, suggests that a reduction in the overall average weight of vehicles on the road may actually result in fewer fatalities as a result of car crashes. This means that, even for critics who are not interested in reducing greenhouse gases from cars, there’s still an argument to be made for keeping vehicle fuel standards.

World Bank: let climate-threatened Pacific islanders migrate to Australia or NZ
Ben Doherty and Eleanor Ainge Roy, The Guardian
Australia and New Zealand should allow open migration for citizens of Pacific nations threatened by climate change, to boost struggling island economies and prevent a later mass forced migration, a paper from the World Bank argues. Tuvalu (population 11,000) and Kiribati (107,000) are low-lying archipelago nations in the Pacific acutely vulnerable to climate change, in particular to rising sea levels that have already begun inundating land and homes across the islands.

As Arctic Ice Vanishes, New Shipping Routes Open
The New York Times
The amount of sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean has declined sharply each decade since the 1980s, according to measurements taken each September when the ice is at its minimum. Older, thicker ice is disappearing as well. Scientists say global warming is largely responsible for the changes. Parts of the Arctic are warming twice as fast as elsewhere. The changing conditions offer an opening to shipping companies. The Arctic is potentially a faster, more direct route between Asia and ports in Europe and eastern North America.

The End Of OPEC Is Near
Rakesh Upadhyay, Oil Price
OPEC, which has far exceeded the average life of cartels, is on the brink of failure. Though cracks have been developing in the cartel since the start of the current oil crisis, the group has managed to stay together so far. Nevertheless, the success of the current OPEC deal for production cuts will decide its future as a cartel.

 

 

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