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NEWS UPDATE #121


The United Nations Emission Gap Report 2016 finds that 2030 emissions are expected to reach 54 to 56 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. The predicted 2030 emissions will, even if the Paris Agreement pledges are fully implemented by all countries, place the world on track for a temperature rise of 2.9 to 3.4oC this century.

Demonetisation Has Wrecked Farmers
Jaideep Hardikar, People’s Archive of Rural India
This would have been the time of year for brisk sales at the agricultural markets in Vidarbha. But farmers here are being forced to incur terrible losses – by accepting lower prices, losing their perishable produce, or due to a fear of depositing cash payments in old notes in banks where they owe loan repayments. (Related: Demonetisation leaves rural residents jobless)

Why are Drought-Affected States not Lifting Sufficient Food Grain: Supreme Court
Indo-Asian News Service
The Supreme Court on Thursday sought response from 13 drought-affected states as to why they were not lifting enough food grain to made available at subsidised rates to the priority and vulnerable sections of the people in affected areas. The bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice N.V. Ramana sought response from the 13 states as NGO Swaraj Abhiyan told the court that they were not lifting sufficient food grains as the central government was asking them to pay minimum support prices (MSP) beyond the 75 per cent limit under the National Food Security Act, 2013.

Centre places draft bills on water conservation, management
Live Mint
The Centre has placed two draft bills for water conservation in the public domain for feedback as the country battles a water crisis. The government has also released a draft of a programme to improve groundwater management in the country. Comments have been invited on the two draft bills–National Water Framerwork Bill, 2016, the Model Bill for the conservation, protection, regulation and management of groundwater and the National Groundwater Management Improvement Programme—from states and other stakeholders. The ministry for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation has also placed a draft of the national groundwater management improvement programme.

Climate change will hit 70% of area under crops, say Experts
Mihika Basu, Bangalore Mirror
Crop production losses due to climate changes will go up in the state, with an estimated 70 per cent of the cultivated area, which supports 60 per cent and 67 per cent of livestock and rural population of Karnataka, facing ‘extreme to high’ levels of vulnerability, said experts from Bengaluru-based National Bureau Soil Survey & Land Use Planning, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). Data pertaining to 29 districts of the state were collected under three major crop groups: cereals, pulses and oilseeds, from various departments of the state and Central governments.

Govt has failed to save India’s rivers, admits water resources secy
Vishakh Unnikrishnan, Catch News
Shashi Shekhar, secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, admits that the ministry has failed to do its job – bring out an action plan to address the unabated exploitation of India’s rivers. Shekhar’s remarks were certainly unexpected; after all, it’s not every day that the top bureaucrat in a ministry publicly blames the ministry and his political masters for failure. He said there were various reasons behind the abject exploitation of rivers, river beds and flood plains, which had led to the level of pollution we are witnessing today – but a major reason was the nexus between political leaders and the construction business, in which many of these politicians had a vested interest.

Coca Cola, Pepsi suffer setback, Madras High Court disallows Tamil Nadu bottling plants from using river water
Counterview
The Madras High Court has ordered that water from the river Tamirabarani in Tamil Nadu must not be diverted to Coca-Cola and Pepsi producing plants in Gangaikondan due to the severe water shortages in the area. The court passed the interim injunction disallowing river water to the bottling plants for 2 months on November 21, 2016.

World will witness 2.9 to 3.4°C temperature rise even if Paris deal fully implemented
Down to Earth
The United Nations Emission Gap Report 2016 was discussed on November 14, 2016 at a side event in CoP 22 in Marrakech. This report finds that 2030 emissions are expected to reach 54 to 56 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent – far above the level of 42 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, which is needed to have a chance of limiting global warming to 2oC this century. The predicted 2030 emissions will, even if the Paris Agreement pledges are fully implemented by all countries, place the world on track for a temperature rise of 2.9 to 3.4oC this century. Waiting to increase ambition would likely lose the chance to meet the 1.5oC target.

‘The Coral Was Cooked’: 2016 Deadliest Year On Record For Great Barrier Reef
Nika Knight, Common Dreams
The Great Barrier Reef suffered through the worst coral die-off in recorded history this year, scientists found, with unusually warm ocean water and record-setting bleaching events killing a stunning 90 percent of all coral in the worst-hit area. Those were the conclusions of a study published Monday by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

Dakota Access Pipeline Permit Denied
Nika Knight,, Common Dreams
In a long-awaited victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has denied a permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline, tribal leadership announced late Sunday. The agency will not allow the pipeline to be built under Lake Oahe, a reservoir near the tribal reservation, without a full environmental impact assessment that examines alternative routes for the pipeline. While acknowledging that it may only end up being a temporary pause in pipeline construction, many see it as an incredible victory for the water protectors. (Related: 1) Water, History, And Finance Converge As Sioux Nation Mounts Storied Battle Over Oil Pipeline
2) Naomi Klein, Tulsi Gabbard Travel To Standing Rock Alongside Thousands Of Veterans)

Thunderstorm asthma: ‘You’re talking an event equivalent to a terrorist attack’
The Guardian
A sudden drop in temperature in Melbourne on Monday evening from peaks of 35C brought with it severe thunderstorms and triggered a mass asthma event that left hospitals struggling to treat 8,500 patients. There is a small group of researchers around the world working to understand the phenomenon known as “thunderstorm asthma”, which although rare, can have devastating consequences. Climate change, they say, may be where part of the blame lies.

Fukushima decommissioning costs to soar
Nikkei Asian Review
The combined costs of paying compensation for the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the decommissioning of the plant’s reactors may be double the initial estimate, rising to more than 20 trillion yen ($176 billion), according to estimates by the country’s industry ministry. At the end of 2013, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry calculated the cost at 11 trillion yen, which has since become the government’s official estimate. As electric companies other than Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the crippled plant, will also pass part of the cost on to consumers through higher rates, an increase in the public burden is unavoidable.

Over 2,000 scientists urge Trump to respect ‘scientific integrity and independence’
The Washington Post
More than 2,300 scientists, including 22 Nobel Prize winners, have issued an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump and the 115th Congress, urging them to “adhere to high standards of scientific integrity and independence in responding to current and emerging public health and environmental health threats.” The letter underscores the extent to which many scientists, who have worked with the Obama administration to address climate change, pandemics and other major policy issues, are worried about whether Trump and his deputies will slash science funding and overhaul the way several federal agencies operate. (Related: Obama Quietly Undercutting Climate Legacy With Foreign Fossil Fuel Investments: Investigation)

EU targets energy waste and coal subsidies in new climate package
The Guardian
Europe will begin phasing out coal subsidies and cut its energy use by 30% before the end of the next decade, under a major clean energy package announced in Brussels on Wednesday. The 1,000 page blueprint to help the EU meet its Paris climate commitments also proposes measures to cut household electricity bills, integrate renewables into power markets, and limit use of unsustainable bioenergy.

Shrinking glaciers cause state-of-emergency drought in Bolivia
Climate News Network
The government of Bolivia, a landlocked country in the heart of South America, has been forced to declare a state of emergency as it faces its worst drought for at least 25 years. Much of the water supply to La Paz, the highest capital city in the world, and the neighbouring El Alto, Bolivia’s second largest city, comes from the glaciers in the surrounding Andean mountains. But the glaciers are now shrinking rapidly, illustrating how climate change is already affecting one of the poorest countries in Latin America.

Climate Catastrophe and Resilience in 2016
Down to Earth Infographics
About 11,000 extreme weather events killed more than 528,000 people and caused economic losses of around US$ 3.08 trillion between 1996 and 2015. Which countries faced the maximum brunt? How can we prevent and prepare? The statistics is intimidating, but it is important to contextualise ongoing climate policy debates, especially the international climate discussions.

Four of world’s biggest cities to ban diesel cars from their centres
The Guardian
Four of the world’s biggest cities are to ban diesel vehicles from their centres within the next decade, as a means of tackling air pollution, with campaigners urging other city leaders to follow suit. The mayors of Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City announced plans on Friday to take diesel cars and vans off their roads by 2025. (Related: Delhi air quality continues to deteriorate)

Electricity from coal should be phased out in Australia – Senate report
The Guardian
A Senate report has recommended that Australia should move completely away from coal-generated electricity, citing economic factors as the primary drivers. It comes about a month after the unplanned closure of Hazelwood, Australia’s dirtiest coal station, and before the expected unplanned closure of several others around the country. (Related: Anti-coal protesters rally in Melbourne against Adani loan proposal – video)

Megacity planning must change in four years to limit global warming
The Guardian
By the end of this decade it may be too late to limit global warming to scientifically guided limits, if the infrastructure built in the next four years is constructed along the same lines as currently planned. Building high-carbon infrastructure – from transport systems predicated on motor car use, to new coal-fired power plants, and buildings that leak energy – effectively “locks in” a future of greenhouse gas emissions that are likely to far exceed the planet’s capacity to absorb carbon.

Joy as China shelves plans to dam ‘angry river’
The Guardian
Environmentalists in China are celebrating after controversial plans to build a series of giant hydroelectric dams on the country’s last free-flowing river were shelved. Activists have spent more than a decade campaigning to protect the Nujiang, or “angry river”, from a cascade of dams, fearing they would displace tens of thousands of people and irreparably damage one of China’s most spectacular and bio-diverse regions.

After 60 years, is nuclear fusion finally poised to deliver?
Damian Carrington, The Guardian
Leaders representing half the world’s population – through the Iter partners, the EU, China, Russia, US, India, Japan and South Korea – are now making the €18bn wager that fusion can deliver and have radically overhauled Iter’s management to fix the mistakes of the past. The goal is to trap a plasma in a huge magnetic ring and force heavy hydrogen isotopes to fuse together to release prodigious amounts of energy – four times more than the splitting of uranium atoms produces in conventional fission reactors.

First polluted river in the world discovered
Deccan Herald
Scientists have discovered what could be the world’s first polluted river, contaminated about 7,000 years ago by Neolithic humans who may have been producing copper metals from ores. In the now-dry riverbed in the Wadi Faynan region of southern Jordan, Professor Russell Adams from the University of Waterloo in Canada, and colleagues found evidence of early pollution caused by the combustion of copper. The findings shed light on a turning point in history, when humans began moving from making tools out of stones to making tools out of metal.

 

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