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NEWS UPDATE #99


Neither the US nor India has committed to a formal ratification of the Paris agreement by the end of 2016 in the much-hyped joint statement on climate change. The political imperatives before US President Barack Obama, domestic legal requirements in India and the procedural complications of the Paris agreement collectively ensured that the two didn’t.

Domestic Compulsions Prompt India, US to Stop Short of Paris Agreement Ratification
Nitin Sethi, Business Standard
Neither the US nor India has committed to a formal ratification of the Paris agreement by the end of 2016 in the much-hyped joint statement on climate change. The political imperatives before outgoing US President Barack Obama, domestic legal requirements in India and the procedural complications of the Paris agreement collectively ensured that the two didn’t. The statement, issued during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington, reads: “The United States reaffirms its commitment to join the Agreement as soon as possible this year.” The US has shied from using the word ‘ratification’, as it would require approval from the US senate, which President Obama is unlikely to secure from the Republican citadel. (Also read: New climate fund established to help developing countries track climate actions)

Drought forces Sec-144 in MP town, use of water restricted to domestic purposes
The Times of India
In wake of deepening water crisis section 144 was imposed in Betul town, Madhya Pradesh by local administration on Monday.  Any new or ongoing, private or government construction work have been banned till June 25. “The orders are effective in the Betul town as we are facing water supply problems and construction works need a lot of water. So, to tackle it section 144 has been imposed banning any construction work till June 25,” Betul collector Gyaneshwar B Patil told TOI.

Jharkhand pays lip service to a tribal icon while diluting his legacy to serve corporations
Dayamani Barla, Scroll.in
The Jharkhand government’s order last week that statues of Birsa Munda, which usually depict the freedom fighter in chains, will be replaced by those in which he is unshackled, is an empty gesture. The order comes even as the Bharatiya Janata Party government has announced further dilutions to the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act, which was enacted in 1908 after a revolt led by Birsa Munda, whose death anniversary is being observed on Thursday. The law restricts the sale of tribal land to non-Adivasis in 16 of Jharkhand’s 24 districts. In 1996, it was amended to allow the use of tribal land for mining and industry. Now, the government is proposing to dilute this law further to serve corporate interests.

NGO funding from foreign sources declined by half after government crackdown
Scroll.in
Foreign funding to Indian non-governmental organisations declined by half, from Rs 13,600 crore recorded in 2013-’14 to just Rs 7,600 crore in 2014-’15, according to an estimate by a coalition of more than 700 civil society organisations. At an event in New Delhi on Friday to clarify their position on the implications of the government’s amendments to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, the groups claimed that the law was being used to intimidate potential dissidents. (Also read: NGOs come together against alleged harassment by NDA government)

Maneka, Javadekar lock horns over culling of animals
Business Standard
The spat between Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar and Maneka Gandhi, the women and child development minister, over the former’s clearances to states, permitting selective culling of animals that harm agriculture came out in public on Thursday. “I don’t understand this lust for killing animals. Environment ministry is writing to every state, asking which animal should be killed and that they will give permission for it,” said Gandhi, whose interest in animal rights breaches her ministerial domains. (Also read: Bihar Nilgai Shooter was Arrested in 1991 for Arming AP Maoists )

Capacity for renewable energy in India hits 42,850 mw; surpasses capacity of hydel projects
The Economic Times
India’s quest for green energy has crossed a major milestone, with renewable plants, mainly wind and solar, surpassing the capacity of large hydroelectricity projects, which were once the country’s biggest source of electricity and regarded as “temples of modern India”. The total capacity of renewable energy projects expanded to 42,850 megawatts, overtaking hydropower that stood at 42,783 mw, out of the country’s total capacity of about 3 lakh mw on April 30, as per the latest assessment of the Central Electricity Authority. However, the country still depends primarily on thermal power, which has a much higher installed capacity. (Also read: Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor states asked to mull options to 5 gas-fired plants)

Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy acquitted of terror charges, but will remain jailed for 14 pending cases
Scroll.in
Maoist ideologue Kobad Ghandy on Friday was acquitted of terror charges by Delhi’s Patiala House Court, but was convicted for cheating and forgery and sentenced for a period for which he has already served a term in jail. However, the 65-year-old will continue to remain in jail because proceedings in 14 other cases against him are still pending, ANI reported. The court also acquitted his aide and co-accused Rajinder Kumar of terror charges but convicted him for charges related to cheating. Ghandy is reportedly facing prosecution in 20 criminal cases.

About-turn: How govt went back on plastic ban
Nitin Sethi, Business Standard
he Union government has scripted a U-turn in a year. Until March 2015, several regulatory authorities held the common stand that PET bottles and plastic multi-layered packaging was injurious for human health, besides being a serious environmental hazard. By August 2015, this common line turned fuzzy. By March, the volte-face was complete: the government, almost unanimously, concluded that there was no proof that plastic packaging was dangerous, at least for medicines. How did the about-face happen?

Just 6% of funds to repair destroyed forests have been used
Himadri Ghosh, IndiaSpend.com
No more than 6% of a government fund – collected over six years from companies and institutions – meant to restore forests lost to development projects has been used, according to government data, a pointer to the laws violated and promises not kept after forests are cut. Even the money so used has been misused, with more than a third being used for “non-plantation activities, such as cultural activities, computers, furniture, laptops, vehicles and fuel”, said a media report. The data reveal widespread failures of the “Ad-hoc” Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority, a ministry of environment and forests agency, which the government’s own auditor said was failing to implement what appeared to be inherently flawed laws. (Also read: Karnataka’s green cover has shrunk by 15%: CM)

Art of Living pays Rs 5 crore fine imposed by NGT, tries to save face
Nihar Gokhale, Catch News
On 6 June, the Art of Living Foundation (AOLF) paid up the Rs 5 crore environmental compensation charge imposed on it nearly three months ago. The National Green Tribunal had levied the fine for tampering with the Yamuna floodplains, where AOLF hosted its World Culture Festival from 11-13 March. The amount was to be paid up before the event began. In what was a clear attempt to save face, after paying the fine, AOLF held a press briefing in New Delhi arguing that the event did not affect the floodplains.

Solar-powered ferry to debut in sunlit Kerala
Sapna Gopal, India Climate Dialogue
In the last couple of years, the transportation industry in India has been adopting renewable energy in a big way. From airlines to railways, solar has become a preferred option. Now the waterways are taking to it as well. Solar powered e-boats on the Ganga in Varanasi, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, made news recently. India’s very first ferry powered by solar energy, to be deployed in the backwaters of Alappuzha by the Kerala State Water Transport Department (KSWTD), is another case in point. It will also be the country’s largest commercially operational, solar-powered mode of transport.

Could Arctic Ice Disappear For First Time in More Than 100,000 Years?
Common Dreams
The Arctic could become virtually ice-free by 2017 for the first time in 100,000 years, a leading scientist has told the Independent. Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University, cited new statistics from the National Snow and Ice Data Center which showed that as of June, Arctic sea ice had slimmed down to about 11 million square kilometers—lower than the last 30 years’ average of 12.7 million square kilometers—and it continues to melt. At that rate, Wadhams said, “Arctic ice may well disappear, that is, have an area of less than one million square kilometers for September of this year.” (Also read: Arctic sea ice fell to record low for May)

Surveying Damage on World Oceans Day, Experts Say Worst is Yet to Come
Common Dreams
Threatened by climate change, pollution, overfishing, and oil spills, the world’s oceans are suffering, scientists warned on Wednesday—the day designated by the United Nations as one to honor the deep blue sea. From widespread coral bleaching to floundering fish species to garbage stretching across the water’s surface and hundreds of feet down, it’s clear that human activity is taking its toll on the world’s oceans, which cover more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface.

World carbon emissions stopped growing in 2015, says BP
The Guardian
Carbon emissions stopped growing in 2015 for the first time in 10 years as the world turned its back on coal and embraced energy efficiency and renewable power with increased vigour, according to a new set of statistics. China led the way in driving down emissions but the latest figures from oil company BP come with a warning that the progress may not last. With the exception of a drop in global emissions around the time of the 2009 financial crisis, which heavily depressed overall business activity, the BP figure of 0.1% growth in CO2 is the lowest for 25 years. (Also read: Global Primary Energy Consumption Grew By Only 1% In 2015, According To BP)

After Paris, A Move to Rein In Emissions by Ships and Planes
Yale Environment 360
International aviation and shipping emissions were excluded from the Paris pact, which introduced limits on greenhouse gas emissions for all nations starting in 2020. With power generation, manufacturing, domestic transport, deforestation, and even changes in land use all now constrained, calls are growing for these two big sectors to be tamed as well. Aviation and shipping each emit roughly the same volume of CO2 annually as the U.K. or Germany, and unlike the emissions of those two countries, their greenhouse gases continue to rise dramatically. Between 1990 and 2010, their contributions to the accumulation of planet-warming CO2 in the atmosphere rose by an average 3 percent a year, three times faster than overall global CO2 emissions.

New study reveals impact of climate change on pollination
Down to Earth
Flowers are feeling the heat as global warming is robbing them of their fragrance. The scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel have found that flowers are losing their fragrance because of a steady rise in temperature. According to a research conducted by Alon Can’ani, a PhD student at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, change in global climate is “interfering with plant-pollinator mutualism, an interaction facilitated mainly by floral colour and scent”. The research was based on two varieties of Petunia plants – P720 and Blue Spark. They showed a decrease in floral scent production when their ambient temperature increased. Hence, there was a significant decrease in emission of scent compounds as well.

Venezuela: How a water crisis brought an entire country to its knees
Julia Buxton, The Conversation
Venezuela is experiencing critical shortages, prompting concerns that a humanitarian crisis will engulf this oil-rich South American country. Food, medicine, money, electricity and water are all either rationed or unavailable, as Nicolas Maduro’s government confronts deep recession and drought. The halving of the international oil price in a country dependent on oil for 95% of its export earnings has sharply reversed advances made in reducing poverty and inequality in the mid-2000s.

CO2 turned into stone in Iceland in climate change breakthrough
The Guardian
Carbon dioxide has been pumped underground and turned rapidly into stone, demonstrating a radical new way to tackle climate change. The unique project promises a cheaper and more secure way of burying CO2 from fossil fuel burning underground, where it cannot warm the planet. Such carbon capture and storage (CCS) is thought to be essential to halting global warming, but existing projects store the CO2 as a gas and concerns about costs and potential leakage have halted some plans. The new research pumped CO2 into the volcanic rock under Iceland and sped up a natural process where the basalts react with the gas to form carbonate minerals, which make up limestone. The researchers were amazed by how fast all the gas turned into a solid – just two years, compared to the hundreds or thousands of years that had been predicted. (Also read: Innovative Sludge-to-Energy Plant Makes a Breakthrough in China)

Adani may abandon Australian coal mine project
The Hindu
Bogged by a six-year delay, Adani may pull out from the proposed $21.5 billion rail and mine project in Australia amid a series of legal challenges from environmental groups against the Indian energy giant’s plans to build one of the world’s largest coal mines. Stating that he was “disappointed”, the company’s founder and chairman Gautam Adani told The Australian newspaper that the “pit to plug” project was yet to receive the green light after six years of environmental assessments and court battles. “You can’t continue just holding. I have been really disappointed that things have got too delayed,” Mr. Adani said. Mr. Adani said he hoped the court challenges to Australia’s largest proposed coalmine would be finalised in early 2017. (Also read: Climate Change Censorship: Australia And UNESCO)

Demand destruction and peak oil
Roger Baker, Cassandra’s Legacy
We are fully under the influence of petroleum demand destruction. The global oil market can’t function without real oil production price discovery, which doesn’t exist in the currently deflationary global economy, which forces indebted producers to sell far below cost. Both supply and demand seem to cyclic in nature and we are not finished with the supply destruction phase, which can only be revived through a globally realistic oil trading price, which nobody knows. This is an unknown until demand destruction also runs its course. The global demand in the oil supply-demand balance that sets the global oil price cannot be known until we can understand where the global economy is headed. (Also read: Why Peak Oil Demand Will Destroy Oil Prices)

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