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NEWS UPDATE #80


The Economic Times reports: The Central government has unveiled a new Crop Insurance Scheme with the premium to be paid by farmers as low as 1.5 per cent of the sum assured for all rabi crops and 2 per cent for kharif crops. The scheme comes without any cap on overall premium rate to ensure full claims.

Centre unveils new Prime Minister Crop Insurance Scheme, no upper limit on government subsidy
The Economic Times
The government has unveiled a new Prime Minister Crop Insurance Scheme with premium to be paid by farmers as low as 1.5 per cent of sum assured for all rabi crops and 2 per cent for kharif crops. The scheme comes without any cap on overall premium rate to ensure full claims, which means there is no upper limit on the subsidy the government provides towards balance premium.

Coal auction put off due to poor response
The Hindu
The government annulled the process for fourth round of coal block auctions, scheduled for the next month, on account of poor response from bidders in sectors like steel as well as depressed commodity prices and adverse market conditions. The government had last month kick-started the process to auction nine blocks for sectors like iron and steel, cement and captive power plants. “We have not got sufficient number of bids to carry on with the coal block auctions. We have received 15 bids for nine blocks… so in view of this, we had to annul the process,” Coal Secretary,Anil Swarup, told reporters. (Also read: Data Bite: December Numbers Signal a Looming End to India’s Appetite for Foreign )

Not just Delhi: How odd-even has made pollution a priority in cities across the country
Mayank Jain, Scroll.in
Regardless of its effectiveness in controlling pollution, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal seems to at least have succeeded in making the subject headline-worthy and enabling a real conversation among various stake-holders. Even as experts pore over pollution data collected during the period to judge how effective the odd-even experiment was in curbing pollution in the city, the move has already begun to be replicated around different places in the country.

Falling oil prices not benefiting people: CPI(M)
The Economic Times
CPI(M) said falling oil prices in the global market are not benefiting the people in the country as the government is trying to increase its revenue earnings before the budget. “Oil prices are falling in the international market. These have decreased three times from the earlier rates. But the government has increased it nine times since Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken over,” CPI(M) Secretary General Sitaram Yechury said outside Parliament. (Also read: Narendra Modi government profiteering at the cost of common people: Congress)

From Seabirds to Starfish: Climate Change Driving Unprecedented Die-Offs
Common Dreams
From seabirds to whales to antelopes to starfish, animal die-offs across the globe are raising alarm about the deadly impact of climate change on the world’s ecosystems and their vulnerable inhabitants. An estimated 8,000 black-and-white common murres were found dead on the beaches of Alaska’s Prince William Sound over the weekend, joining thousands more that have washed up on beaches from California to the Gulf of Alaska over the past year. The seabirds, who appear to have died of starvation, “are indicators of what is happening in the marine ecosystem,” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) wrote in a press release (pdf) on the matter.

Freshwater vulnerability threatens developing nations’ stability, Stanford researchers find
Stanford News
Many nations and regions already facing uncertain political futures must contend with a growing threat to stabilization: freshwater vulnerability. The finding comes from a new study co-authored by researchers in Stanford’s Global Freshwater Initiative that weighed a variety of contributing factors, such as regulatory enforcement, corruption, transboundary competition and water transported “virtually” in agricultural products, as well as traditional constraints like scarcity and infrastructure.

The World Health Organisation is calling air pollution “a public health emergency” across the globe
Firstpost.com
Weeks before the organisation is slated to reveal data on high levels of pollution from 2,000 cities, Maria Neira, head of public health at the WHO, told The Guardian that toxic air is “one of the biggest problems we are facing globally, with horrible future costs to society.” Research has now found that polluted air is the cause of not only pneumonia or asthma but also of cardiovascular diseases and dementia, which will cost governments a lot of money in health care in the future, she said.

Richest 62 people as wealthy as half of world’s population, says Oxfam
The Guardian
Oxfam said that the wealth of the poorest 50% dropped by 41% between 2010 and 2015, despite an increase in the global population of 400m. In the same period, the wealth of the richest 62 people increased by $500bn (£350bn) to $1.76tn. The charity said that, in 2010, the 388 richest people owned the same wealth as the poorest 50%. This dropped to 80 in 2014 before falling again in 2015.

LA Methane Leak Spews 1,200 Tons of Gas Daily
Discovery.com
Californians are increasingly worried about about the massive methane leak that’s been spewing from a natural gas well near Porter Ranch, a community in the San Fernando Valley to the northwest of Los Angeles. University of California, Davis scientist Stephen Conley, flew over the site in an airplane specially-equipped to detect pollution. He found that the leaky well is releasing 1,200 tons of methane per day, which works out to 100,000 pounds per hour. “To put this into perspective, the leak effectively doubles the emission rate for the entire Los Angeles Basin,” Conley said in a press release. “On a global scale, this is big.”

War Between Saudi Arabia And Iran Could Skyrocket Oil Prices
James Stafford, Oilprice.com
While not impossible, war is speculative at this point. Also, $250 and $500 per barrel are numbers pulled out of thin air, and may seem a bit sensationalist. But despite the glut in global oil production – somewhere around 1 mb/d – the margin from excess to shortage is thinner than most people think. OPEC is producing flat out and spare capacity is actually remarkably low right now. The EIA estimated that OPEC spare capacity stood at just 1.25 mb/d in the third quarter of 2015, the lowest level since 2008.

Why oil under $30 per barrel is a major problem
Gail Tverberg
If prices are high, oil companies can extract a lot of oil, but consumers can’t afford the products that use it, such as homes and cars; if oil prices are low, oil companies try to continue to extract oil, but soon develop financial problems. Complicating the problem is the economy’s continued need for stimulus in order to keep the prices of oil and other commodities high enough to encourage production. Stimulus seems to takes the form of ever-rising debt at ever-lower interest rates. Such a program isn’t sustainable, partly because it leads to mal-investment and partly because it leads to a debt bubble that is subject to collapse.

Why are we looking on helplessly as markets crash all over the world?
Will Hutton, The Guardian
It’s clear what needs to happen. There needs to be wholesale change in economic thinking. Forces in world labour markets – new forms of 21st-century trade unionism – need to be strengthened. The power of financial markets needs to be constrained. Credit growth needs to be managed by direct controls on the growth of bank balance sheets and banks need to be weaned off the financial casino they have built.

Why clean energy is now expanding even when fossil fuels are cheap
The Washington Post
Measured in terms of electricity generating capacity, the world saw an additional 64 gigawatts of wind capacity added and 57 gigawatts of solar capacity, BNEF estimates. The most striking figure here is that while 2015 only saw about 4 percent more clean energy investment than 2014 (when $ 316 billion was invested), the growth in renewable energy generating capacity was much higher at 30 percent. This, again, signals declining cost, says Zindler. “The technologies have reached an important tipping point in a number of markets in the world,” he says. “They are now, in a growing number of locations, becoming cost competitive.” (Also read: Solar power tariff touches a new low of ₹4.34/unit)

 

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