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NEWS UPDATE #115


Live Mint reports: By 2030, without significant investment into making cities more resilient, climate change may push up to 77 million more urban residents into poverty, said a new World Bank report. It stated that a growing number of natural disasters, economic, social, and environmental shocks and stresses, pose the greatest risk to rapidly-growing cities.

SC stays commercial release of GM mustard
The Hindu
The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the commercial release of Genetically Modified (GM) Mustard crop for 10 days and asked the Centre to take public opinion on such seeds before releasing them for cultivation, even as the government approval is awaited. A Bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar said the Centre would not commercially release the GM mustard crop till October 17 when it would hear the matter in detail. (Related: Beyond ideology, why scientists disagree on GM mustard)

Work starts on two more Kudankulam units as India, Russia step
Business Standard
The second unit of Kudankulam nuclear plant was today dedicated to the nation and foundation stone of two more units was laid after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin held comprehensive talks in which they resolved to further boost cooperation in the atomic sector. The second unit generates 1,000 MW of power and the new units will each have the same capacity. A joint statement issued after the talks said Russia strongly supported India’s early entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

India to ban release of potent greenhouse gas
The Hindu
Environment Minister Anil Dave has said India will no longer permit the release of HFC-23, a family of potent greenhouse gases, released when local companies produce the refrigerant HCFC-22. Mr. Dave is at Kigali, Rwanda, in the midst of thrashing out a deal with the developed countries to amend the Montreal Protocol, a 1987 agreement whereby countries have agreed to limit the emission of gases that destroy the ozone layer. The latest amendment is to discuss the phasing out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs, of which HFC-23 is one), only beginning to be used in India and still used in the developed countries and once a replacement for the ozone-destroying gases. Over the years, HFCs were found to be exacerbating global warming. (Related: Why the global clampdown on hazardous refrigerants hasn’t been effective)

India blocks Pak project at green climate fund meet
Nitin Sethi, Business Standard
India blocked a climate change project from Pakistan at the Green Climate Fund, raising eyebrows at the meeting in South Korea. The project is to be located in Gilgit-Baltistan and the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is an arm of the climate change convention to fund projects in developing countries, supported by financing by rich countries and multilateral donors. India is one of the three board members representing the Asia-Pacific region, along with China and Saudi Arabia. The fund’s board is meeting in Songdo, South Korea, to consider funding proposals.

Govt sets up panel to revamp forest law
Nitin Sethi, Business Standard
The Union environment, forests and climate change ministry has constituted an 11-member committee to revamp the Indian Forest Act, 1927. The panel has not been given a detailed mandate, but the first meeting of the panel suggests it has considered revamping the forest governance regime in the country. The government is yet to announce the formation of the committee in public. News of the government planning to review the law was leaked earlier and the minister, Anil Madhav Dave, had said the idea was to make forests more productive under new laws.

Mumbai can choke. BJP wants to kill off national park for political gain
Ashwin Aghor, Catch News
It sseems the Bharatiya Janata Party in Mumbai will go to any lengths for political gain. It now wants to kill off the lungs of Mumbai – the Sanjay Gandhi National Park – in order to gain political mileage ahead of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) elections. The BJP-led state government, which has taken many populist decisions at the cost of the environment in the past, maintains a studied silence. But if the state party leadership has its way, the illegal slums and other structures built on forest land surrounding the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) will soon be regularised. BJP MPs and MLAs are lobbying to get the Central government to reduce the buffer zone of the SGNP to 100 metres from from 10 kilometre, and regularise illegal structures on land owned by Bombay Port Trust.

The government has put the wind back in India’s turbines
Sapna Gopal, Scroll.in
The last few months have been eventful for the wind power industry in the country. After a decision on reverse bidding, the Indian government announced a policy for repowering of wind energy projects. Explaining the need to do so, the draft policy for repowering of wind power projects states: “Most of the wind turbines installed up to the year 2000 are of capacity below 500 KW and are at sites having high wind energy potential. It is estimated that over 3,000 MW capacity installations are from wind turbines of 500 kW or below. In order to optimally utilise the wind energy resources, repowering is required.” Repowering is the replacement of ageing turbines with powerful, new units.

Pune organisation wins UNFCCC award for work with women on combating climate change
Garima Mishra, The Indian Express
Pune-based organisation Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) is one of the 13 winners of the 2016 UNFCCC Momentum for Change Award for its work on Rural Community Women Leaders Combating Climate Change. Momentum for Change is an initiative spearheaded by the UN Climate Change secretariat to recognise innovative and transformative solutions that address both climate change and wider economic, social and environmental challenges. Under SSP’s award-winning initiative, rural women are involved as entrepreneurs in propagating clean, green practices in sustainable agriculture, protecting natural resources and adopting renewable energy solutions.

Interview: ‘You can either save the Ken-Betwa link project or the Panna Tiger Reserve’
Rashme Sehgal, Scroll.in
The Ken-Betwa river-linking project, when complete, is expected to irrigate more than six lakh hectares of land in the two states, but there is a catch – The Daudhan Dam to be built to divert the water of Ken river will submerge about 10% of the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh. It is this as well as concerns about the effectiveness of the project that has prompted several environmentalists to oppose it. One such eminent conservationist is MK Ranjisinh, who has helped shape India’s wildlife conservation policies for the last five decades. But the retired bureaucrat now finds himself with his back against the wall as the government is firm on going ahead with the river-linking project that will end up destroying the very wildlife sanctuaries that he and others like him have been trying to protect.

Low on jobs, weak on industrial production, and high on bad loans. What’s India celebrating?
Madhura Karnik, qz.com
he world’s fastest-growing major economy may have hit an air pocket. India’s 7.6% annual growth in the 2016 fiscal year has made it a standout performer amid a sluggish global economic environment. So far, this year, the GDP numbers look good and a bountiful monsoon will help further. Benign global oil prices will also add to the headline GDP number since India imports over 75% of its crude oil requirement. But there are some reasons to worry. Data released over the last few weeks show that the bad-loan mess in the banking system remains serious, industrial production has fallen for two straight months, and unemployment is at a five-year high.

Climate change and earthquake link needs more study in India
Jayanta Basu, India Climate Dialogue
Some seismologists associated with the government of India say that climate change has some influence on occurrence of earthquakes. Others say more research is needed before any connection can be proved or disproved. “We were not bothered even 10 years ago about the influence of climate change on occurrence of earthquakes, but now a lot of work has been going on globally, particularly in Scandinavian countries, to show that there is some influence of climate change on earthquakes,” Vineet Kumar Gahalaut, director of National Centre for Seismology under Ministry of Earth Sciences, told indiaclimatedialogue.net.

Climate change may push up to 77 million urban residents into poverty by 2030
Mayank Aggarwal, Live Mint
By 2030, without significant investment into making cities more resilient, climate change may push up to 77 million more urban residents into poverty, said a new report released by the World Bank on Wednesday. The report ‘Investing in Urban Resilience’ by the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) comes a few days ahead of the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Ecuador from 17– 20 October. It stated that rising numbers of natural disasters, as well as a growing number of economic, social, and environmental shocks and stresses, pose the greatest risk to rapidly-growing cities.

Forget ‘Peak Oil’: We could reach ‘Peak Demand’ for energy before 2030
CNBC
A new report from the World Energy Council has found that per capita energy demand will peak in the next decade or so. The report, launched at the 23rd World Energy Congress in Istanbul, states that “unprecedented efficiencies created by new technologies and more stringent energy policies” would see primary energy demand growth diminish and per capita energy demand peak before 2030. World Energy Scenarios 2016 – The Grand Transition, was produced by the WEC “in collaboration” with Accenture Strategy and the Paul Scherrer Institute. (Related: 23 countries just got energy efficiency report cards – and they’re almost all flunking)

Aviation industry agrees deal to cut CO2 emissions
Roger Harrabin, BBC
The first deal limiting greenhouse gases from international aviation has been sealed after years of wrangling. From 2020, any increase in airline CO2 emissions will be offset by activities like tree planting, which soak up CO2. The deal comes in a momentous week for climate policy when the Paris agreement to stabilise climate change passed a key threshold for becoming law.

German Lawmakers Vote to Ban the Internal Combustion Engine
Gizmodo
Germany’s Spiegel Magazin reported that the country’s top legislative body was able to reach a bi-partisan agreement that hopes to allow only zero-emission vehicles on EU roads in 14 years. For the resolution to be instituted across Europe, it will have to be approved by the EU. But according to Forbes, “German regulations traditionally have shaped EU and UNECE regulations.” Greens party lawmaker Oliver Krischer told Spiegel, “If the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming emissions is to be taken seriously, no new combustion engine cars should be allowed on roads after 2030.”

Climate Direct Action: Activists Halt Flow of Tar Sands Oil by Shutting Off Valves of Five Pipelines
Democracy Now
Ten climate activists were arrested Tuesday for attempting to shut down all tar sands oil coming into the United States from Canada by manually turning off pipelines in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and Washington state. The group, which calls itself Climate Direct Action, includes five activists and five other supporters and videographers. The activists issued a statement on Tuesday saying the action was in support of the call for International Days of Prayer and Action for Standing Rock. (Related: Impacted Communities Take Fight Against Dakota Access to Corporate Heads)

American Politics: The U.S. Needs Repentance and Atonement
Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun.org
After statements by Pope Francis and Islamic clerics on climate change and environmental destruction, American Jewish cleric Rabbi Michael Lerner has written on the occasion of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), that the country needs to atone, among others, “For the sin of not being vigilant stewards of the planet and instead allowing the water resources of the world to be bought up by private companies for private profit, energy companies to pollute the air and ground, and endless consumption to waste the earth’s scarce resources and contribute to the rapidly increasing climate change…”

Before the Flood: Leonardo DiCaprio hopes his new film will inspire climate action
The Guardian
“Try to have a conversation with anyone about climate change and people just tune out,” says Leonardo DiCaprio in his new film. “If the UN really knew how I feel, how pessimistic I am about our future, I mean to be honest they may have picked the wrong guy,” he says in Before the Flood, which shows him urging world leaders at the UN to act on fossil fuels. But after touring the world to see global warming’s impact first-hand, from Canada’s tar sands and Greenland’s ice to China’s coal belt and Miami’s flood problems, the actor came away more upbeat.

Samarco dam collapse: one year on from Brazil’s worst environmental disaster
Dom Philips, The Guardian
Nearly one year on from the worst environmental disaster in Brazilian history, the Gualaxo do Norte river in the south eastern state of Minas Gerais still runs iron-ore red. At 3.45pm on 5 November 2015 a huge tailings dam operated by Brazilian mining company Samarco collapsed and a tidal wave of 32m to 40m cubic meters of mining waste washed across the bucolic countryside of pretty green valleys, villages and farmland. The waste – a liquid mix of water, sands and clays – killed 19 people, destroyed villages, left hundreds homeless, and killed fish and aquatic life as it flowed on down the bigger River Doce to the sea more than 600km away.

5 Urgent Warnings From Big Banks That The “Economy Has Gone Suicidal”
Mac Slavo, SHTFPlan.com
The economy is collapsing on its own weight, and the weight of literally incalculable levels of toxic debt. And it is going to create the greatest disaster of our time, if the warnings from the world’s most powerful bankers are any indication. While the general population is obsessed with the details of the world’s most entertaining and bizarre election in American history, the big banks are gearing up for a deadly serious economic collapse. Just during the past few weeks, there have been major discussions about stock markets dropping, the insolvency of Europe’s biggest investment bank, the mounting debt crisis and a deeper, long-term decline for ‘everyday Americans.’

NASA: Megadrought Lasting Decades Is 99% Certain in American Southwest
Dan Zukowski, EcoWatch
A study released in Science Advances Wednesday finds strong evidence for severe, long-term droughts afflicting the American Southwest, driven by climate change. A megadrought lasting decades is 99 percent certain to hit the region this century, said scientists from Cornell University, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “Historically, megadroughts were extremely rare phenomena occurring only once or twice per millennium,” the report states.

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