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NEWS UPDATE #117


The Economic Times reports:  The International Energy Agency has said it was significantly increasing its five-year growth forecast for renewables, thanks to strong policy support in key countries like United States, China, India and sharp cost reductions. Renewables have surpassed coal last year to become the largest source of installed power capacity in the world.

India’s fossil fuel, especially coal subsidy equaling 2.7% of GDP, main hurdle in climate change target: Report
Rajiv Shah, Counter View
A new report, “Thermal Coal in Asia – Stopping the Juggernaut”, by top international energy consultants, Energy Transition Advisors Pty Ltd, has raised the alarm that India’s fossil fuel subsidies, especially those related with coal, remain a major hurdle in the country’s contribution to achieving climate change target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees centigrade.

Delhi’s air quality plunges to ‘severe’ category
Deccan Herald
Delhi’s air quality has plunged to ‘severe’ category, which carries the risk of affecting people’s respiratory system, as smoke caused by fireworks, as part of Diwali festivities, blanketed the national capital. The Centre’s System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) recorded the level of respirable pollutants, PM 2.5 and PM 10, at 283 and 517 micrograms per cubic metre respectively around 8 PM, violating the safe limits by multiple times.

GM Mustard protests intensify: Congress, AAP, Left, JD-U & RSS join hands
Catch News
The  Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, and Communist Party of India (Marxist) shared the stage with farm activists to protest against genetically modified mustard, which the government is planning to introduce. Janata Dal (United) chief and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s speech rejecting GM Mustard was played on video, while AAP minister Kapil Mishra and Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi addressed the protests. The environment ministry is considering allowing GM Mustard for commercial cultivation, the second such GM crop since Bt Cotton.

Workers at Alang in Gujarat “exposed” to toxic fumes, risk explosions when torch-cutting in T-shirts: Danish report
Counter View
An investigative report, claimed to be comprehensive, says that there are breaches of labour rights, workers exposed to grave risks for their health and safety, and severe environmental pollution caused by the breaking of ships in the intertidal zone of the Alang Shipbreaking Yard in Gujarat. Released by “Danwatch”, a Denmark-based independent media and research centre that focuses on corporate social responsibility, human rights, environment and conflict areas, the report says that shipbreaking practices at Alang do not even remotely meet international standards.

‘Yettinahole project is unscientific, govt. should encourage harvesting’
The Hindu
Nagesh Hegde, columnist, said on Thursday that the Yettinahole project, also called the Netravati River Diversion Project, is an unscientific one that will bring little respite to the parched districts of south Karnataka. He was delivering a special lecture on ‘Water Crisis, Cauvery, Mahadayi etc: How do we resolve?’, organised by the Centre of Gandhian and Peace Studies, a constituent of Manipal University, and Adelphi, Berlin. Mr. Hegde said that huge pipes have been dumped on nearly 80 acres of paddy-growing fields for implementing the project, and every scientific study has shown that it will not provide much water to the parched districts of the southern parts of the State.

How Climate Change Is Threatening The Very Existence Of Tribals In Andhra
Muhammad Salman Khan, Youth Ki Awaaz
The eighth largest state of India, situated in the southeastern corner of the country is home to around 49.67 million people. Andhra Pradesh is a rich reservoir of biodiversity and natural resources with an estimated total forest area of around 36,914 km2l, which is now unfortunately threatened by deforestation, forest mismanagement and climate change. At the recent 6th Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaption Forum held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from October 17-19, lessons were shared from what was learned on ground in Andhra Pradesh on how community-led ecosystem adaptation projects can help build resilience and mitigate the threats of climate change.

Citing climate change, Loliem village rejects plans for IIT Goa campus
Nihar Gokhale, Catch News
The Indian Institute of Technology Goa, which was opened this year, faces an uncertain future as the village where it planned to have its permanent campus has resolved to not allow it there. The campus was planned on the Bhagwati Moll plateau in Loliem, a village in South Goa’s Canacona block. At a special gram sabha convened on 26 October, an overwhelming majority voted to that they would conserve the plateau and allow only agricultural, pastoral and such activities it.

Tadri Port Project: In Troubled Waters
Dr Mahabelshwar Hegde & Krithika Dinesh, India Legal
The biggest challenge to any major project is its environmental credentials. Recently, the Prime Minister’s Project Monitoring Group (PMG) revealed that 40 percent of the 419 stalled large investment projects were struck due to lack of environmental clearances. Karnataka’s ambitious Tadri Port project could be number 420. It is the state’s largest such project but has come under the scanner for allegedly violating environmental norms and is, to all intents and purposes, illegal. That represents a huge setback to the state.

Himachal tribals protest in Kinaur against Congress govt refusing to provide land under Forest Rights Act, 2006
Counter View
The tribal district Kinaur has witnessed a huge protest rally against the refusal of the Himachal Pradesh (HP) government for the implementation of Forest Right Act (FRA), 2006. The state government has taken the stand that there is no need to implement FRA, as the issue was “settled” decades ago by the British through the imperial settlement process.

IEA raises 5-year renewable growth forecast as 2015 marks record year
The Economic Times
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said it was significantly increasing its five-year growth forecast for renewables, thanks to strong policy support in key countries and sharp cost reductions. Renewables have surpassed coal last year to become the largest source of installed power capacity in the world. The latest edition of the IEA’s Medium-Term Renewable Market Report now sees renewables growing 13 per cent more between 2015 and 2021 than it did in last year’s forecast, due mostly to stronger policy backing in the United States, China, India and Mexico.

300 million children live in areas with extreme air pollution, data reveals
The Guardian
Three hundred million of the world’s children live in areas with extreme air pollution, where toxic fumes are more than six times international guidelines, according to new research by Unicef. The study, using satellite data, is the first to make a global estimate of exposure and indicates that almost 90% of the world’s children – 2 billion – live in places where outdoor air pollution exceeds World Health Organisation (WHO) limits.

World’s largest marine protected area declared in Antarctica
BBC News
Delegates from 24 countries and the European Union have agreed that the Ross Sea in Antarctica will become the world’s largest marine protected area (MPA). Some 1.57m sq km (600,000 sq miles) of the Southern Ocean will gain protection from commercial fishing for 35 years. Environmentalists have welcomed the move to protect what’s said to be the Earth’s most pristine marine ecosystem. (Also read: Scientists report ‘devastating’ coral death at Great Barrier Reef)

Mosul battle shows link between war and environmental degradation, says U.N. agency
Chris Mooney, The Washington Post
The United Nations Environment Programme is highlighting the battle by Iraqi forces to reclaim Mosul from the Islamic State as the latest instance in the complex but very real linkage between military conflicts around the world and extreme environmental degradation. Citing dangerous air conditions from 19 torched oil wells as Islamic State militants retreat from their positions, as well as toxic air pollution following the burning of the Mishraq Sulphate Factory, the group’s head Erik Solheim said in a statement, “This is sadly just the latest episode in what has been the wholesale destruction of Iraq’s environment over several decades – from the draining of the marshlands to the contamination of land and the collapse of environmental management systems.”

We’re placing far too much hope in pulling carbon dioxide out of the air, scientists warn
Chelsea Harvey, The Washington Post
In the past decade, an ambitious — but still mostly hypothetical — technological strategy for meeting our global climate goals has grown prominent in scientific discussions. Known as “negative emissions,” the idea is to remove carbon dioxide from the air using various technological means, a method that could theoretically buy the world more time when it comes to reducing our overall greenhouse-gas emissions. Recent models of future climate scenarios have assumed that this technique will be widely used in the future. But some scientists are arguing that this assumption may be a serious mistake.

UN Adopts Landmark Resolution Calling To Ban Nuclear Weapons, North Korea Votes Yes, India Abstains
Countercurrents.org
In a historical vote a United Nations General Assembly committee voted to launch negotiations on a new treaty banning nuclear weapons. It was for the first time in its 71 year history that the global body voted to begin negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. Four of the five UN Security Council nuclear powers — Britain, France, Russia,  and the United States — voted against the resolution while China abstained, as did India and Pakistan. Japan, which has long campaigned against the use of nuclear weapons, voted against it, as did South Korea, which is facing a nuclear threat from North Korea. Israel voted No, surprisingly North Korea voted yes. (Also read: India renews talks on building nuclear power plants: report)

Past our peak: plants and a burgeoning problem with CO2
The Guardian
In recent decades warmer temperatures have led to shorter winters, and in the UK the plant growing season is now a full month longer than it was in 1990. The same is true across much of the northern hemisphere, and this extra plant growth has helped to mop up atmospheric carbon dioxide and keep a lid on global warming. But no longer. New measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide reveal that plants have reached saturation point, and that since 2006 the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by plants has been declining.

The Methane Riddle: What Is Causing the Rise in Emissions?
Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360
The cause of the rapid increase in methane emissions since 2007 has puzzled scientists. But new research finds some surprising culprits in the methane surge and shows that fossil-fuel sources have played a much larger role over time than previously estimated.

The Oil-Gas War Over Syria (In 4 Maps)
Eric Zuesse, Strategic Culture Foundation
Qatar is a Sunni gas-powerhouse and wants to become the main supplier of gas there, and Saudi Arabia is a Sunni oil-powerhouse, which wants to become the major supplier of oil, but Saudi oil and Qatari gas would be pipelined through secular-controlled (Assad’s) Syria, and this is why the U.S. and its fundamentalist-Sunni allies, the Sauds, and Qataris, are using Al Qaeda and other jihadists to conquer enough of a strip through Syria so that U.S. companies such as Halliburton will be able safely to place pipelines there, to be marketed in Europe by U.S. firms such as Exxon. Iran also wants to pipeline its gas through Syria, and this is one reason why Iran is defending Syria’s government, against the U.S.-Saudi-Qatari-jihadist invasion, which is trying to overthrow and replace Assad.

Peak salt: is the desalination dream over for the Gulf states?
Stephen Leahy & Katherine Purvis, The Guardian
Gulf states are among the most water-scarce in the world. With few freshwater resources and low rainfall, many countries have turned to desalination (where salt is removed from seawater) for their clean water needs. But Gulf states are heading for “peak salt”: the more they desalinate, the more concentrated wastewater, brine, is pumped back into the sea; and as the Gulf becomes saltier, desalination becomes more expensive. The Middle East is home to 70% of the world’s desalination plants – mostly in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain. Tens of billions of dollars, $24.3bn (£18.8bn) in Saudi Arabia alone, are being invested over the next few years to expand desalination capacity.

Study links blood pressure risk to road noise
The Guardian
People living near noisy roads could have a bigger risk of high blood pressure, a new study suggests. Meanwhile, long-term exposure to air pollution can also increase a person’s risk, experts found. The new study tracked 41,000 people in five different countries for up to nine years. An extra adult per every 100 living in the most polluted areas will develop high blood pressure compared with those living in the less polluted areas, the research suggests. (Also read: Alliance of 600,000 British Doctors Calls for ‘Imperative’ Coal Phase-Out)

Removal of Klamath Dams Would Be Largest River Restoration in U.S. History
Molly Peterson, KQED
Four hydroelectric dams may soon be demolished along the Klamath, near the California-Oregon border. Hundreds of miles of the Klamath would run free to the Pacific Ocean — opening up the largest river restoration in U.S. history. What’s made this possible is compromise, forged over years of negotiation, among upriver and downriver interests, in California and Oregon, farmers and tribes and fishery advocates.

 

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