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NEWS UPDATE #164


A small group of companies across the world is responsible for one-third of global annual emissions, revealed Thomson Reuters. Coal India tops the list of 100 businesses with the highest CO2 emission. Two other state-owned Indian companies feature in the list: NTPC and ONGC. The only privately-owned Indian company in the list is Reliance Industries.

INDIA

2,414 farmers commit suicide in Maharashtra from Jan to Oct; no dip despite loan waivers
Hindustan Times
Five months after the state government announced a loan waiver and weeks after it actually began disbursement, there has been no drop in the number of farmer suicides. As many as 1,254 farmers ended their lives since the Rs34,000 crore waiver was announced on June 1 this year, taking the total number of deaths to 2,414 until October 31, according to official figures. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced a loan waiver on June 1 after statewide agitations by farmers’ outfits and Opposition parties. (Related: Farmers facing Rs36,000 crore loss, claim unions)

Four Indian companies among 100 global businesses with highest carbon footprint
Down to Earth
A small group of companies across the world is responsible for one-third of global annual emissions, revealed a Thomson Reuters report titled ‘Global 250 Greenhouse Gas Emitters’. Coal India tops the list of 100 businesses with the highest CO2 emission. However, it has seen a reduction in emissions from 2,076 million tonne (MtCO2) in 2015 to 2,014 MtCO2 in 2016. Even then, the emission of a single state-owned business is about 86 per cent of the country’s total CO2 emission. Two other state-owned Indian companies feature in the list: NTPC Ltd 185.6 MtCO2 and Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) 149.8 MtCO2. The only privately-owned Indian company to join the league of top 100 emitters is Reliance Industries with an estimated CO2 emission of 263.3 MtCO2 NTPC Ltd.

How coal plants will avoid complying with new emission norms
Down to Earth
The coal-based power sector is set to avoid complying with new emission norms, with active help from the Ministry of Power and Central Electricity Authority, that will come in effect in December 2017. These new norms were enacted by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in December 2015 in view of the sector’s massive contribution to air pollution and its huge water withdrawal. Non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) calls it a classic case of one ministry proposing and another disposing. (Related: SC demands Centre’s response on implementation of emission norms for coal power plants)

Centre is rushing clean BS VI fuel to the market – but is not so eager about cleaner vehicles
Scroll
The central government this week advanced the deadline for introducing the clean Bharat Stage VI fuel in Delhi by two years to April 2018. But it does not appear as eager to usher in cleaner cars.Simply put, the government  wants to allow people to buy and register BS VI non-compliant vehicles even after April 1, 2020 as long as they are manufactured before the deadline. But this could encourage carmakers to overproduce non-compliant vehicles in the months before the deadline, thus undermining the policy.

2,000 Odisha Tribals Face Arrest After Govt Issues Warrants for Re-Occupying Land Earlier Granted to POSCO
Sabrang
The Odisha government through it’s administration has issued warrants against 2,500 villagers of the Paradip region of Odisha. These persons were earlier protesting the POSCO plant and since May 2017 have been agitating peacefully against the granting of fertile and cultivable lands to JSW steel. Of these 400 have already been arrested and 2,000 therefore now face the threat of arrest.

No water for crops in 11 major dams of Maharashtra region
The Times of india
Nagpur: The region may have to brace for a water crisis during summer with the situation feared to get worse in rural areas. There is not enough water in a number of dams for Rabi crop which is harvested in March. In Nagpur division, six out of 18 major dams have water level at 30% or less water of their capacity. Water cannot be spared for irrigation in such reservoirs as drinking needs will be the first priority. In Amravati division which covers western Vidarbha, the situation is worse. The level has dipped below 30% in five out of the nine major irrigation projects. There are standing instructions that if the level touches 30%, water is not released for irrigation.

Coal burying Goa: Green committee cites pollution fears to stall JSW’s Goa port plan
The Indian Express
The expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for Infrastructure and CRZ projects of the Union Environment Ministry has deferred the proposed terminal and capacity enhancement of berths operated by the JSW Group’s South West Port Ltd at the Mormugao port, citing concerns of air pollution raised during a week-long public hearing. Noting that the concerns have not been addressed satisfactorily, the committee said it has kept the proposal for “reconsideration for environmental and CRZ (Coastal Regulatory Zone) clearance”. (Related: Delhi Principal Health Secy turns approver in Goa mining case)

Centre’s new guidelines on compensatory afforestation ignore communities’ concerns
Down to Earth
The latest guidelines note that “in many cases a substantial portion of the land identified for compensatory afforestation already contain vegetation of varying density. Creation of compensatory afforestation will not fully compensate the loss of trees as there will not be enough space for the requisite number of plants to be planted.” Instead of outrightly rejecting such lands, the Ministry has suggested that at least 1,000 plants per hectare (ha) should be planted on the identified non-forest lands. The guidelines, almost in the same breath, also provide relaxation to the criteria by stating that in case planting 1,000 plants per ha is not possible on non-forest land; the balance number of plantations can be done on degraded forests.

Rajasthan’s Protesting Farmers Arrested as Construction Begins on ‘Disputed’ Land
The Wire
Ten days after the Nindar farmers called off their protest, seeking written orders from the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) that a fresh survey of the acquired land would be conducted, the authority on Saturday began construction work of the housing project – in the presence of police force – on approximately 40 bighas of mandir mafi land, that it says is ‘undisputed’. “It was 11 am when the police gheraoed the Lala Bora ki Dhani and JDA brought in JCB machines. The men had gone out on work and only women and children were at home. We rushed out and showed them the high court orders but they didn’t listen to us,” Manni Devi (50), who was beaten up by the police, told The Wire.

Upholding World Bank’s Immunity in Case Against Gujarat Fishermen Will Have Long-Term Ramifications
The Wire
Even before the CGPL, popularly referred to as the Tata Mundra Power Plant, was made operational, there was good reason to believe that it would pose a significant threat to the surrounding neighbourhood and the environment. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private lending arm of the World Bank Group, provided $450 million for the plant. The communities living in the vicinity of the project thus blamed the IFC for damage to their lives, livelihoods and property, as without the loan, the project would not have had been established and the subsequent damage to the environment would never have happened.

A quiet burial for some of the mining cases against Janardhana Reddy?
The News Minute
A few years ago, the involvement of Gali Janardhana Reddy, one of the most powerful mining barons in the country, in illegal mining had become a national scandal. One of the main cases in the Rs 35000-crore illegal mining scam in Karnataka first exposed by JD(S) leader Kumarawamy and then investigated by former Lokayukta Santosh Hegde has been closed by the Central Bureau of Investigation. In a missive sent by the CBI’s Anti-Corruption Branch to the Chief Secretary of Karnataka in September 2017, the investigating agency has cited technical reasons for closing the preliminary investigation in the case.

Madhya Pradesh govt opens sand mines for all
The Times of India
In a major decision, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, BJP government on Tuesday threw open the sand mining sector for the common man to “generate employment opportunities and provide sand at cheaper rates”. The decision was taken at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday to formulate a new sand mining policy whereby any individual who requires the commodity would be able to dig sand at will and take it away. (Related: 1) SC bans sand mining by 82 lease holders in Rajasthan 2) Illegal sand mining is to blame for damaged Palghar bridge 3) Now drone camera checks illegal sand mining in Telangana)

Vidarbha pesticide deaths: Probe panel may file report this week
Live Mint
The deaths of over 40 farmers and farm workers in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region since July has put the spotlight on the abuse of pesticides and lack of protection for those spraying them, even as a committee investigating the case prepares to submit its findings this week. A seven-member special investigation team (SIT) formed by the Maharashtra government to find the cause of farm deaths is likely to submit its report this week, a member of the SIT, who did not want to be named told Mint.(Also read: Maharashtra plans to bring 44 lakh farmers under group farming)

NGT clears Kerala’s proposal on works at Periyar Tiger Reserve
The Hindu
The Southern Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday gave the go-ahead to Kerala’s proposal to undertake development works in Periyar Tiger Reserve, pointing out that National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had already approved the works. Tamil Nadu has been opposing the project, which also includes construction of a parking lot in the area abutting Mullaperiyar dam, claiming that the construction falls within its leased area and the water spread area of the dam, and hence will affect the ecology of the region.

Elephant corridors in India threatened, says study
The Hindu
Elephant herds are known to migrate across 350-500 sq. km. annually but increasingly fragmented landscapes are driving the giant mammals more frequently into human-dominated areas, giving rise to more man-animal conflicts, experts have found. Maintaining elephant corridors is therefore of crucial importance to both elephant and human habitats. ‘Right of Passage’, an 800-page study released in August 2017, authored by experts and published by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) in collaboration with Project Elephant and the U.K.-based NGO Elephant Family, identifies and records details pertaining to 101 elephant corridors across India. (Related: The horror elephants face in India — in one heartbreaking photo)

Frogs with missing eyes, extra limbs in Western Ghats alarm scientists
The Hindu
The Western Ghats have been witnessing an unusual number of frogs with deformities. Scientists and public health experts are alarmed by the phenomenon, which they suspect to be symptomatic of underlying toxicity in the environment and the food chain. “Missing eyes, deformed hind legs, missing limbs, extra limbs, partial limbs, limbs that are bent or bony, and abnormally thin or weak limbs are some of the reported frog abnormalities in the Western ghats,” said Dr. S. Muralidharan from the Division of Ecotoxicology at Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology & Natural History.


WORLD

Carbon Dioxide Levels on Earth Haven’t Been This High in Three Million Years
Futurism
The United Nations has issued a warning that last year, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased at a rate that has never been observed before. Current levels have not been matched in over three million years. aThe global concentration of carbon dioxide reached 403.3 parts per million (ppm) in 2016, up from 400 ppm in 2015. The rise can be attributed in part to the recent El Niño event, but the figures from the past several years reveal that this isn’t the only factor. (Related: ‘Political watershed’ as 19 countries pledge to phase out coal at Bonn)

Bonn climate talks end as developing countries fight the odds to keep their hopes alive
Scroll.in
The Bonn climate change summit concluded on Saturday with bitter fights, intrigue and convoluted trade-offs between developing and developed countries dragging the negotiations well beyond the allotted two-weeks into the weekend. At the end, the best many developing countries could say of the negotiations was that, against odds, the window of opportunity had been kept open to implement Paris climate change agreement effectively from 2020 onwards. (Related: World’s Biggest Investment Fund Considers Divesting From Fossil Fuels)

China plans world’s biggest national park on Tibetan plateau
South China Morning Post
Dubbed the Third Pole National Park because the plateau and mountains, including the Himalayas, have a natural environment that in many ways resembles polar regions, it would be the world’s biggest national park. The plateau covers an area of more than 2.5 million sq km, mainly in Tibet and Qinghai, dwarfing the biggest national park at present, Greenland’s 972,000 sq km Northeast Greenland National Park. But unlike the unpopulated park in Greenland, the Tibetan plateau is home to cities, towns and nomadic tribes, with native Tibetan population estimated at 7.8 million. The main purpose of a national park is conservation, which would limit a wide range of economic activities and might necessitate the relocation of some residents. (Also read: 1) Bhutan, WWF and partners announce deal to permanently secure Bhutan’s extensive network of protected areas 2) Conservation sites improving across Asia – IUCN report)

Deadly flash floods in Greece a ‘biblical disaster’
Sky News
At least 15 people have died in Greece after the central Mediterranean was hit by heavy flooding and violent storms. Roads around the country were turned to muddy torrents and homes half-submerged by heavy rainfall that is expected to continue for several days. Walls have been swept away, buildings collapsed and roads filled with rubble, as cars and trucks were thrown across streets and into fences.

Trump Administration Reverses Ban on Elephant Trophy Imports
EcoWatch
The Trump administration has agreed to allow the remains of elephants killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia to be brought back to the U.S., a reversal of an Obama-era ban. In 2014, the President Obama’s administration banned the imports of elephant trophies to protect the species. “Additional killing of elephants in these countries, even if legal, is not sustainable and is not currently supporting conservation efforts that contribute towards the recovery of the species,” they said at the time.

Christmas Island Bat, Last Seen in 2009, Confirmed Extinct
EcoWatch
The news came eight years too late. This week the IUCN announced that the Christmas Island pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus murrayi) had officially been declared extinct. This, sadly, was not exactly news to those who have followed this species. I wrote about the pipistrelle bat three times in 2009, a critical year when conservationists struggled in vain to prevent the species’ extinction.

Norway, Unilever setting up $400-million fund for ‘resilient socioeconomic development’
Down to Earth
At a roundtable discussion, Vidar Helgesen, the Minister of Climate and Environment of Norway, said, “I am pleased to announce that Norway with Unilever and other partners is setting up a new $400 million fund to invest in business models that combine investments in high productivity agriculture, smallholder inclusion and forest protection. This should be only one of many new public and private investments in more resilient socioeconomic development.”

Indonesian president recognizes land rights of nine more indigenous groups
Mongabay
Indonesian President Joko Widodo last month gave several indigenous communities back the land rights to the forests they have called home for generations. The total amount of customary forests relinquished to local groups under this initiative remains far short of what the government has promised, and looks unlikely to be fulfilled before the next presidential election in 2019. At a recent conference in Jakarta, a senior government official said the president would sign a decree to help more communities secure rights.

World’s tallest tropical tree discovered, along with nearly 50 other record-breakers
Mongabay
The tallest is a towering 94.1-meter (nearly 309-foot) tree with a canopy that measures 40.3 meters (132 feet) in diameter, discovered in Malayasian Borneo’s relatively undisturbed Danum Valley. Asner was able to observe the tree first-hand during a helicopter ride on Monday to the remote region. “I’ve been doing this for a solid 20 years now, and I have to say, this was one of the most moving experiences in my career,” Asner told Mongabay. The tree is in the genus Shorea, though the exact species has yet to be determined. Asner and his colleagues also found 49 other trees taller than 90 meters spread all over Sabah, and plan to visit each of them in the coming weeks.

China faces looming energy crisis, warns state-funded study
Nafeez Ahmed, Insurge
A new scientific study led by the China University of Petroleum in Beijing, funded by the Chinese government, concludes that China is about to experience a peak in its total oil production as early as next year. Without finding an alternative source of “new abundant energy resources”, the study warns, the 2018 peak in China’s combined conventional and unconventional oil will undermine continuing economic growth and “challenge the sustainable development of Chinese society.”
This also has major implications for the prospect of a 2018 oil squeeze — as China scales its domestic oil peak, rising demand will impact world oil markets in a way most forecasters aren’t anticipating, contributing to a potential supply squeeze.

Saudis and Trump: Gambling Bigly
Richard Heinberg
Mohammed bin Salman’s chances of igniting a regional conflict are substantially higher than his chances of achieving an economic-social soft landing for his nation. But he’s far from being the only double-down-delusional national leader in today’s world. Perhaps he, Trump, and Kushner together fantasize about the unimaginable wealth they can realize for themselves by doing just one more deal, rolling the dice one last time.

 VIDEO: ‘It’s a delicate place’: Nasa captures 20 years of Earth’s seasonal changes
The Guardian
A Nasa oceanographer explains how the US space agency successfully captured 20 years of changing seasons to form a striking new global map. The projection of the Earth and its biosphere is derived from two decades of satellite data from September 1997 to September 2017

 

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