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NEWS UPDATE #81


India, Colombia and Nigeria have the most cases of conflict caused by climate change and environmental disputes, according to a map of global ecological conflict. The Environmental Justice Atlas, released last month, shows that more than 200 conflicts in India are caused by ecological disputes and scarcities of basic resources such as water and forests.

Map shows India at top of climate violence
Down to Earth
India, Colombia and Nigeria have the most cases of conflict caused by climate change and environmental disputes, according to a map of global ecological conflict. The Environmental Justice Atlas, released in Current Science last month, shows that more than 200 conflicts in India are caused by ecological disputes and scarcities of basic resources such as water and forests (see map). Colombia has 101 and Nigeria has 71 environmental conflicts, the researchers say. The atlas is a work in progress and aims to map 2,500 environmental conflicts and injustices by the end of 2017.

NDA revives a 1916 pact for dams on the Ganga
Business Standard
Amidst the argument between Union ministers Uma Bharti and Prakash Javadekar over the future of dams in the upper Ganga basin, one question begs attention: how and when did an antiquated document dating back to 1916 become the basis on which the National Democratic Alliance is deciding the fate of the people in Uttarakhand, its rivers and hydroelectric projects in the hill state? The 1916 document is an agreement on how much water should flow through the weirs, dams and canals and the main stem of the Ganga river specifically across the ghats of Haridwar so that the Hindus taking a dip in the river continue to believe in its ‘purity’. It was signed between the then British government, some kings of the era, Madan Mohan Malviya and others speaking on behalf of the ‘Hindus’.

38,000 trees to be axed for a smooth ride between Belagavi and Panaji
The Hindu
A faster ride between Belagavi and Panaji will now come at the cost of nearly 38,000 trees. A recent meeting of the Regional Empowered Committee, Southern Zone of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, has accorded Stage I in-principle permission for the widening project that is expected to improve connectivity between the northern hinterlands of the State and the port at Panaji. The National Highways Authority of India had sought permission to divert nearly 210 acres of forest land for the four-laning project. The estimated number of trees to be cut is 37,682.

No one in the government is responsible for attaining the air quality standards India sets: Anup Bandivadekar
Business Standard
Anup Bandivadekar, Passenger Vehicles Program Director of the US-headquartered International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) tells Nitin Sethi of the lessons from the odd-even scheme and how India lacks a planned approach to reducing air pollution

2015 Officially the Hottest Year on Record
Common Dreams
The final tally is in: 2015 was the hottest year in recorded history—by a record-breaking margin. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the official record for last year’s runaway temperatures, which by NOAA’s calculation hit an average of 58.62 degrees Fahrenheit (14.79 degrees Celsius). That’s 1.62 (F) degrees hotter than any average year in the 20th century. And according to NASA, which measures differently, temperatures in 2015 jumped .23 (F) degrees just from the previous year. “It’s getting to the point where breaking record is the norm,” Texas Tech climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe told the Associated Press. “It’s almost unusual when we’re not breaking a record.”

World ocean assessment warns of excessive pressures on ocean resources
Down to Earth
Cumulative impacts of human activities have pushed the oceans’ carrying capacity almost to its limit, according to “The First Global Integrated Marine Assessment” carried out under the United Nations and released on January 22. The report, which assesses the state of the world’s oceans from the scientific as well as socio-economic point of view, was presented at and endorsed by the UN General Assembly in December 2015. It warns that climate change, overexploitation of marine living resources, increased uses of ocean space, rising pollution and other factors have placed excessive pressure on oceans.

New Report Issues Dire Carbon Warning: Keep It in the Ground—or Else
Common Dreams
From coal mines to oil reserves, a new report released Monday by a group of leading environmental organizations outlines the world’s biggest carbon threats in an era of runaway warming—and the ongoing efforts to keep those fossil fuels in the ground. The report, compiled by Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and 350.org, examines the carbon risk of deposits throughout the globe that, if developed, would push the world past the agreed-upon 2°C climate threshold. Released just months after world leaders signed a climate pact at the COP21 negotiations in Paris—and just days after scientists declared 2015 the “hottest year on record”—the report issues an urgent call to stand up to powerful fossil fuel interests and prevent environmental catastrophe.

El Niño: why predictable climate event still has the scientists guessing
The Guardian
El Niño is one of the most predictable climate events on the planet, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but it also has a way of keeping climate scientists guessing. In March the oceanographers predicted the current event could be the weakest on record, but in August the same agency warned it could be the strongest. Right now it still looks strong, says Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Using satellite data, meteorologists keep a steady watch on El Niño because it can play out demurely, or it can bring catastrophe. It has been linked to drought and harvest failures on the African continent, devastating fires in the normally moist rainforests of the Indonesian archipelago, both drought and flood in Australia, damaging floods in the Americas, and unusually mild winters in Europe.

World heritage forests burn as global tragedy unfolds in Tasmania
The Guardian
A global tragedy is unfolding in Tasmania. World heritage forests are burning; 1,000-year-old trees and the hoary peat beneath are reduced to char. Fires have already taken stands of king billy and pencil pine – the last remaining fragments of an ecosystem that once spread across the supercontinent of Gondwana. Pockets of Australia’s only winter deciduous tree, the beloved nothofagus – whose direct kin shade the sides of the South American Andes – are now just a wind change away from eternity. Unlike Australia’s eucalyptus forests, which use fire to regenerate, these plants have not evolved to live within the natural cycle of conflagration and renewal. If burned, they die.

Japan begins work on ‘world’s largest’ floating solar farm
The Guardian
The Japanese electronics multinational Kyocera has begun work on what it says will be the world’s biggest floating solar farm. The power plant is being built on a reservoir in Japan’s Chiba prefecture and is anticipated to supply enough electricity for nearly 5,000 households when it is completed in early 2018. Space-starved Japan has already seen several floating solar farms built as part of the country’s drive to exploit more renewable energy in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The shutdown of nuclear plants has seen Japan increasingly reliant on fossil fuel imports that have hit its emissions-cutting ambitions.

Saudi Aramco – the $10tn mystery at the heart of the Gulf state
The Guardian
The scale of the Aramco empire dwarfs every other corporation in the world. Its oil assets alone are 10 times more than those held by the world’s largest publicly quoted oil company, ExxonMobil. If the Texas-based business has a stock market value of $400bn, that would make Aramco’s oil assets potentially worth $4tn (£2.7tn). Energy analysts admit they find it impossible to accurately calculate the exact worth of a company that boasts of producing 9.5m barrels of oil a day – one in every eight of the world’s production. But some estimates go as high as $10tn. That is 10 times the combined value of Apple and Alphabet (the new parent company of Google).

Macro Outlook for 2016 (Audio)
Chris Nelder, Energy Transition Show
A full-spectrum romp through the macroeconomic context: Stock markets; oil and gas prices; coal’s collapse; the difficult LNG export market; what commodities are telling us about the health of the global economy; trends in oil and electricity demand and electric vehicles; currency valuations and trends; the outlook for renewables; and much more!

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