Down To Earth (October 16-31 2023)
- UN Climate Conference (COP 28) in Dubai aims to discuss the issue of regulation of a carbon market.
- Carbon trade is the buying and selling of credits that permit a company or other entity to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.
- The carbon credits and the carbon trade are authorised by governments with the goal of gradually reducing overall carbon emissions and mitigating their contribution to climate change.
Purpose of Carbon Trade:
- The purpose of carbon trade is to create a market-based system aimed at reducing CO2 emissions that cause global warming.
- The value of the carbon is based on the ability of the country to store it or to prevent it from being released into the atmosphere.
- Ensuring transparency in the carbon market;
- Deciding the objectives of the market — voluntary, bilateral or multilateral — and design rules accordingly.
- Currently, the market pays less than the costs of a renewable energy project or a biogas project. The poor are literally subsidising the rich emitters in this market.
Working of Carbon Trade Mechanism:
- Carbon trading is based on the cap and trade regulations that successfully reduced sulphur pollution during the 1990s.
- This regulation introduced market-based incentives to reduce pollution: rather than mandating specific measures, the policy rewarded companies that cut their emissions and imposed financial costs on those that could not.
- The idea of applying a cap-and-trade solution to carbon emissions originated with the Kyoto Protocol, a United Nations treaty to mitigate climate change that took effect in 2005.
- The essential tenet of the Kyoto Protocol was that industrialised nations needed to lessen the amount of their CO2 emissions.
- Ineffectiveness: Some offset schemes have proven ineffective and even counterproductive. The two most important carbon markets so far – the EU Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS) and the UN’s carbon offsetting scheme, Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) – are considered failures.
- Low Impact on Industry: The price of carbon credits can be so low that they have no impact on industry and offer no incentive to invest in low-carbon technology.
- Corruption: The carbon market has been riddled with corruption.
- Lack of Standards and Regulations: Varying regulations and lack of standards make these efforts slow and complicated, heavily impacting effectiveness.
- Double Counting: There are serious concerns pertaining to carbon markets, ranging from double counting of greenhouse gas reductions.
- Quality and Authenticity: There are concerns about the quality and authenticity of climate projects that generate credits.
- Poor Market Transparency: There is poor market transparency in carbon markets.
- The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC will be the 28th United Nations Climate Change conference, held at the Expo City, Dubai.
Four Pillars of COP28:
- Fast-tracking the energy transition and slashing emissions before 2023;
- Transforming climate finance by delivering on old promises and setting the framework for a new deal on finance;
- Putting nature, people, lives, and livelihoods at the heart of climate action; and
- Mobilising for the most inclusive COP ever.
- Rules for a global carbon market were established at the Glasgow COP26 climate change conference in November 2021, enacting an agreement first laid out at the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
- Several countries and territories have started carbon trading programs.
- Carbon trade agreements allow for the sale of carbon credits in order to reduce total emissions. These measures are aimed at reducing the effects of global warming but their effectiveness remains a matter of debate.
Sikkim Floods and Glacial Lake Outburst
- A glacial lake outburst in northern Sikkim led to flash floods in the state.
- Waters of the South Lhonak Lake in the Sikkim Himalayan region breached and raised the level of the Teesta river downstream.
- The flash floods also damaged the Chungthang dam, a part of the state's largest hydropower project, releasing more than 5 million cubic metres of water from the reservoir leading to disruptions in electricity, communication and transportation.
How did South Lhonak Lake become susceptible to GLOF?
- With the rising global temperatures, glaciers in Sikkim Himalayan have been melting rapidly, giving rise to many glacier lakes and expanding the already existing ones in the region.
- According to the Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority, there are currently more than 300 glacial lakes in Sikkim Himalayan. Out of these, 10 have been identified as vulnerable to outburst floods.
- A report published by the Sikkim Forest and Environment Department found that the lake’s area had significantly increased in the past five decades.
What is GLOF?
M S Swaminathan: Architect of Agriculture
- M S Swaminathan led India's fight against hunger to make it not just food-secure, but a global agricultural leader.
Agriculture in India:
Role of MS Swaminathan Indian Agriculture:
The Green Revolution:
- In India, the green revolution was launched under the guidance of geneticist Dr. M. S. Swaminathan.
- The Green Revolution was a period that began in the 1960s during which agriculture in India was converted into a modern industrial system by the adoption of technology, such as the use of high-yielding variety (HYV) seeds, mechanised farm tools, irrigation facilities, pesticides and fertilisers.
- The green revolution's primary aim was to introduce high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of cereals to alleviate poverty and malnutrition.
Introduction of Mexican Wheat varieties in India:
- Norman Borlaug, an American agronomist, had bred the semi-dwarf wheat varieties in Mexico.
- These were the less tall varieties with strong stems that responded to high-fertiliser doses.
- Encouraged by their yield performance at the multi-location trials, Swaminathan proposed that Borlaug’s varieties be planted in the fields of Indian farmers, especially smallholders, in the ensuing 1964-65 rabi season. ○ He sought 1,000 such ‘national demonstrations’ in India.
Doubling of wheat production in Droughts:
- In 1965-66 and 1966-67, India suffered back-to-back droughts.
- As foodgrain production fell to 72-74 million tonnes (mt), from the previous five years’ average of 83 mt, imports soared and touched 10.4 mt in 1966.
- Swaminathan pushed for the import of 18,250 tonnes of seeds of the two Mexican varieties.
- As the imported seeds get planted on a large scale, foodgrain output crossed 95 mt in 1967-68 and 108.5 mt by 1970-71.
- Wheat production alone more than doubled from 11.4 mt to 23.8 mt between 1966-67 and 1970-71.
Master strategist & cautionary:
- He had flagged the risks of pathogen and pest attacks from mono-cropping (a single variety grown in large, contiguous areas)
- He warned about the unscientific tapping of underground water (leading to) the rapid exhaustion of this wonderful capital resource left to us through ages of natural farming.
- Swaminathan’s leadership as director general of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines was instrumental in his being awarded the first World Food Prize in 1987, recognized as one of the highest honours in the field of agriculture.
- The United Nations Environment Programme has called him ‘the Father of Economic Ecology’.
- In 1999, he was one of three Indians, along with Gandhi and Tagore, on Time’s list of the 20 most influential Asian people of the 20th century.
- In his later years, troubled by the growing farmer unrest, M S Swaminathan raised a few questions for the country’s agriculture.
- He chaired the National Commission on Farmers in 2004, which recommended far-reaching ways to improve India’s farming system.
Universal Basic Income: Blessing in Disguise
- Localised experiments with universal basic income have shown mostly positive outcomes across states, strengthening calls in favour of the social policy.
About Universal Basic Income (UBI):
- Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a regular cash payment made individually to each member of a political community, without any means-testing, work requirements or conditionalities.
- The lack of access to disposable income is not just the result, but also a cause of great poverty and inequality. Traditional policy tools are inadequate in protecting the weakest sections of India.
- UBI can empower them to meet their needs as they deem appropriate without conditionalities.
- Additionally, universality and unconditionality of the scheme would mean that the government does not need to spend time and resources in assessing eligibility of the potential beneficiaries, and poor and vulnerable people are freed from the burden of such paperwork.
- In a country with inadequate documentation and awareness, such a scheme provides the state the best chance of robust coverage.
- Nyuntam Aay Yojana (minimum income scheme) proposed by Congress in 2019 that guaranteed Rs 6,000 per month for poor families for 20% of the poorest families.
- Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) by the Government of Odisha for farm families, landless farmers and agricultural labourers to reduce costs and invest in income generation activities.
- Cash transfer schemes for women came up in Madhya Pradesh—more than a decade after the sewa pilot—Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
- Madhya Pradesh has an age bar and limits the scheme only to women, which is the case for Tamil Nadu and Karnataka as well. In Odisha, benefits are targeted to farmers.
Targeted schemes run the risk of exclusion:
- Economic Survey 2016-17 states that the Centre’s seven largest welfare schemes, including PDS, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, had high misallocation of funds.
- This indicates that some people are left out of the schemes' coverage. Subramanian says that introducing ubi would reduce misallocation of funds and decrease leakages as funds will be transferred directly to beneficiaries.
- India’s diversity has always thrown up unique governance challenges. A tribal woman in Assam, a young graduate in Delhi, a landless labourer in Maharashtra belonging to a marginalised caste and a homemaker in peri-urban Tamil Nadu all have such diverse and distinct needs that creation of uniform policies is a near impossible task.
- Cash, as a universal medium of exchange, has the unique potential to provide to each person a basic economic floor and empower them to meet their needs as they deem fit.
- The basic income pilot in Hyderabad, WorkFREE, has seen increased health insurance coverage among participants.
- The Delhi pilot by Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) saw people gaining access to better quality food and thus improving nutritional outcomes.
Rashtriya Gokul Mission
- Indiscriminate crossbreeding of indigenous bovines with Gir under Rashtriya Gokul Mission endangers the future of the very animals it promises to protect.
- Almost a decade into the Rashtriya Gokul Mission—India’s flagship scheme to improve indigenous cattle breeds — the country has hit a peculiar roadblock.
- Instead of improving the quality of all the indigenous breeds, as envisioned under the scheme, it has ended up promoting only one indigenous variety, the Gir cow, across the country.
- If not corrected, this trend could end up threatening the purity of indigenous breeds across the country.
Rashtriya Gokul Mission:
- The scheme is continued under a revised and realigned scheme of the Department from 2021-22 to 2025-26 with an allocation of Rs 2400 crore.
- Information on the Nationwide Artificial Insemination Programme is uploaded online on the Information Network on Animal Productivity and Health (INAPH) database.
- National Programme for Bovine Breeding (NPBB) for research and development of high-quality semen to increase the chances of female calf births and
- National Mission on Bovine Productivity (NMBP) for the setting up of semen stations to ensure easy access to high-quality semen for livestock rearers across the country.
- Implemented By: The Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying.
- To enhance productivity of bovines and increase milk production in a sustainable manner using advanced technologies.
- To propagate use of high genetic merit bulls for breeding purposes.
- To enhance Artificial insemination coverage through strengthening breeding network and delivery of Artificial insemination services at farmers doorstep.
- To promote indigenous cattle & buffalo rearing and conservation in a scientific and holistic manner.
- Under RGM, there is a scheme to provide subsidies of Rs 4 crore, 1 crore, 60 lakh, 50 lakh respectively on cow/buffalo/pig/chicken/goat breeding farms and silage making units.
- Out of the total amount, 50% subsidy will be given by the Government of India and apart from this, 3% interest subvention can also be taken on the loan amount.
- The scheme is important for enhancing milk production and productivity of bovines.
- Meeting the growing demand of milk and making dairying more remunerative for the rural farmers of the country.
Battery Waste Management Rules of 2022
- India needs to revamp its Battery Waste Management Rules of 2022 for efficient and economic extraction of the critical minerals through recycling.
- Electric vehicles are key to decarbonise mobility. India’s ambitious electrification programme supported by upscaled domestic battery manufacturing will require a secured supply of battery materials.
- But the country does not have enough mineral reserves. At present, its electric vehicle sector is almost entirely dependent on imported battery cells.
- Recycling retired batteries can help the sector hedge geopolitical risks, build material security, while minimising environmental hazards from the e-waste and staying on the path to net-zero emissions.
- India plans to achieve 100% electrification of two and three wheelers and 65-70% electrification of buses by 2030.
- India is also one of the 130 signatories to the Zero Emissions Vehicle Declaration made at a side event at the UN Climate Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow in 2021.
- Though not legally binding, signatories to the declaration will ensure that only zero-emission cars and vans are sold by 2040.
- NITI Aayog in its 2022 report, ‘Advanced Chemistry Cell Battery Reuse and Recycling Market in India’, estimates that the cumulative potential of lithium-ion batteries in India during 2022-30 will be around 600 GWh across all segments in the base case.
- Of this, 128 GWh will be available for recycling by 2030 with 46% (59 GWh) coming from electric vehicles alone. These retired batteries have enormous potential to power India’s clean energy transition.
Key Highlights of Battery Waste Management Rules of 2022:
- The Battery Waste Management Rules 2022 have taken on board some critical aspects of battery management and recycling that if implemented well can build a robust recycling programme needed to enhance material security.
- It applies to all stakeholders including every manufacturer, producer, collection centre, importer, re-conditioner, refurbisher, dismantler, assembler, dealer, recycler, auctioneer, among others.
- The Rules have set a target for 90% recovery of the material, 70% recovery by 2024-25, 80% by 2026, and 90% recovery by 2026-27 onwards.
- Mandatory collection targets: As per the rules, an electric two-wheeler manufacturer has to meet a mandatory collection target of 70% of batteries placed in the market in 2022-23 and has a seven-year compliance time frame starting 2026-27. From 2033-34 onwards to 2039-40, 80% and above is needed.
- For electric three-wheeler manufacturers, it is 70% of the vehicles placed in 2021-22 onwards. And for electric four-wheelers the compliance cycle is 70% from 2029-30 till 2035-36.
- Mandatory phases in targets have been set for using recycled material in new battery products to finally achieve 20% by 2030-31.
- Introduced Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and defined the role of the producer. This provides for transactable EPR certificates for producers for environmentally sound management of waste batteries based on the weight of battery processed, %age fulfilment of material recovery targets for the specified year and geographical source of battery.
Battery Recycling Techniques
What is missing in the current rules?
- While the new rules promise to trigger a circular economy, the policy needs to be further modified to address a few critical gaps and to enable more efficient and effective recycling and material recovery and promote a circular economy.
- If implemented properly, this can become a platform to expand inputs to feedstock for cell manufacturing in the future. This will enhance material supply security and offer cost benefits.
Some of the key gaps in the current rules are as follows:
- Rules do not address the labelling requirements of lithium ion batteries – Prior knowledge of the battery chemistries that can vary widely and what has gone inside is critical for the recyclers for efficient disassembly, separation and recovery.
- Rules need to promote eco-design for recycling and remanufacturing. It should be possible to foresee at the design stage the implication of the assembly for recycling and employ corrective methods accordingly.
- Rules need to provide for tracking of battery material used on the batteries. This traceability is critical to reduce the carbon and environmental footprint of the batteries.
- Need to establish regulatory standards for testing and classifying used batteries that have a second life and could still be used in other applications such as in households or as energy backup.
- Provide incentives for recycling capacity and facilities. Recycling plants are capital intensive and will be operating at low capacity as the volume of end-of-life batteries are still very low at this early stages of the EV programme.
- This review reveals that there is an urgent requirement to promote closed-loop recycling, whereby spent batteries are collected and recycled directly, thus reducing energy use and waste by eliminating the mining process.
Revise the Battery Waste Management Rules 2022 to make battery labelling mandatory and transparent to provide all the critical information needed on battery composition, state of health, battery performance etc for efficient refurbishing and recycling. Develop proper guidelines for capturing the information and for making the information easily accessible to the recyclers.
A Passport for Batteries
Global Biodiversity Framework Fund
- The world’s new biodiversity framework fund is without any real financial commitment to meet conservation targets.
About the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF):
- It is a groundbreaking initiative that was ratified and launched at Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework Pavilion at the Seventh Assembly of the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
- This fund is uniquely dedicated to supporting the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, its goals, and its targets.
- The launch of the GBF Fund provides additional impetus in moving from agreement to action, to take the steps towards putting biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030.
- It is a new source of funding that will directly support global efforts to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 20303, a goal agreed to by 196 countries as part of the Global Biodiversity Framework established at COP15.
- The GBFF received initial contributions from two countries to start its capitalization. Canada contributed 200 million Canadian dollars, and the United Kingdom donated 10 million pounds.
- These contributions provide a significant boost to the fund’s ability to support global efforts to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.
Purpose and Scope:
- The GBFF aims to support the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which has the ambitious goal of halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030 and guiding nature towards recovery by 2050.
- The fund provides an opportunity to receive funding from all sources, quickly disburse through streamlined procedures, with enhanced access for indigenous peoples and local communities, according to their own priorities
- The GBF Fund also provides the opportunity for a greatly enhanced involvement of Multilateral Development Banks and Development Finance Institutes, which will facilitate the mainstreaming of biodiversity necessary to implement the Framework.
- Additional resources will need to be mobilised from domestic sources, at all levels of government, the private sector, and innovative mechanisms.
Issues with GBFF:
- Resource Mobilisation: Mobilising these resources efficiently and effectively is a significant challenge.
- Mainstreaming Biodiversity: The fund aims to enhance the involvement of Multilateral Development Banks and Development Finance Institutes to facilitate the mainstreaming of biodiversity.
- However, integrating biodiversity considerations into all aspects of decision-making is a complex task.
- Operationalizing GBF Indicators: The success of the GBF heavily depends on adopting and operationalizing GBF indicators relevant to each target. This requires a robust mechanism for monitoring and evaluation.
- Addressing Threats to Biodiversity: The fund aims to support nations in the conservation and sustainability of wild species and ecosystems threatened by wildfires, flooding, extreme weather, and human activity, including unsustainable industrial agriculture, consumption and production pressures, and urban sprawl. Addressing these threats requires comprehensive and integrated approaches.
- Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals: The GBF Fund is part of a broader effort to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the vision of living in harmony with nature by 2050. Balancing the needs of development and conservation is a significant challenge.
- The GBF Fund represents a significant step forward in global efforts to conserve biodiversity. It provides a much-needed source of funding and a framework for action that will help guide the world towards a more sustainable future.
Changes in India’s Patent Rules
- The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) proposed amendments ‘Draft Patents (Amendment) Rules ’ for the comments.
- India passed a Patents (Amendment) Act, 2005 that permitted product patents on food items, chemicals and pharmaceuticals to comply with the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) regime.
- However, India’s Patents (Amendment) Act, 2005 was unique in many ways by balancing the WTO demand on IPRs with special safeguards to protect public health.
- It ensured there were provisions for issuing compulsory licences to meet public health emergencies and an opportunity to anyone—individuals or patient associations, among others—to freely mount pre-grant opposition if they felt the patent application, specially for drugs, was being made on specious or shaky grounds.
Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
Major Provisions in the Draft Patents (Amendment) Rules, 2023:
- The Draft Patents (Amendment) Rules, 2023 were published by the Indian Patent Office, which aim to streamline the operations of the patent office and expedite patent processing timelines.
- The amendments include a variable fee for Pre-Grant Opposition (PGO) filing, which was previously free. This could pose financial challenges for smaller groups or individuals interested in opposing patents.
- The time period for applicants to reply to notice on PGO has been reduced to 2 months. This could affect the ability to prepare and submit responses effectively.
- Revised Time: The applicant is required to file a request for examination in Form 18 within 48 months from the date of priority or from the date of filing the application, whichever is earlier. The draft rules propose to reduce the time for filing a request for examination from 48 months to 31 months.
- Patent Agent Examination Paper-1 and Paper-2: The Draft Rules 2023 propose to clarify that the patent agent examination Paper-1 shall cover Patents Act, 1970, Patents Rules, 2003, Designs Act, 2000 and Designs Rules, 2001. Further, Paper-2, shall cover Drafting and interpretation of patent specifications, design specifications and other documents.
- These changes are aimed at streamlining processes, increasing transparency, and offering more clarity to applicants, and to provide a comprehensive overhaul of several crucial areas in the realm of patent filing, examination, and maintenance.
- Traditional knowledge of seed preservation helps Nagaland's native communities ensure continued sustenance.
- Traditionally agrarian, the Ao and Sümi Naga communities practise jhum or shifting cultivation.
- They commonly grow crops, such as rice and millet (Poaceae); pepper, tomato, brinjal, tobacco (Solanaceae); creepers and climbers (like Cucurbitaceae or cucurbits); and beans, lentils and legumes (Fabales).
- Seeds selected for cultivation in new jhum fields depend on the type of land. Traditional jhum fields are of two kinds: in highlands, the soil is loosely condensed and glutinous, better suited for maize, taro, mustard crops, glutinous rice and long grain rice; and in lowlands, it is compact and more porous, suitable for beans, chilli and leguminous crops.
- The communities select seeds from initial harvests in new jhum fields to preserve for successive cycles, as these are recognised to exhibit optimal yield and resilience.
Community Seed Banks (CSBs):
- These are an initiative of local community institutions dedicated to the management of plant genetic resources of importance to farming communities.
- They ensure farmer seed security and improve availability and accessibility of seeds through offering seeds at lower costs than acquiring them through seed vendors.
- They also involve in selecting, collecting, regenerating, distributing, maintaining and storing seed of local varieties and sharing knowledge and expertise among farmers.
- The CSBs can act as knowledge banks- to function as a local information centre for traditional knowledge systems around seed preservation and other management practices.
Traditional knowledge (TK)
Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property:
IP related issues:
- Bill Gates has invested in capturing carbon from the air, rather than planting more trees.
- Bill Gates suggests that we need to replace monocultures with native trees, shrubs, and grasses. Once this balance is established, burying biomass becomes a practical carbon capture method.
- Biomass burial potentially stores carbon in forest soils for hundreds of years, thousands and perhaps even millions, if done under the right geological conditions.
- However, most nature-based solutions relying on tree-planting have a drawback. Plantations leave biomass on the surface and when trees die, they quickly decompose, releasing captured carbon into the atmosphere. Wildfires exacerbate this issue, releasing carbon stored in soils and roots.
What is Carbon Capture and Storage?
- It is a way of reducing carbon emissions, which could be key to helping to tackle global warming.
- However, Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS): The idea is that, instead of storing carbon, it could be re-used in industrial processes by converting it into, for example, plastics, concrete or biofuel.
- CCS has been in operation since 1972 in the US, where several natural gas plants in Texas have captured and stored more than 200 million tons of CO2 underground.
It’s a three-step process:
- Capturing the carbon dioxide for storage: The CO2 is separated from other gases produced in industrial processes, such as those at coal and natural-gas-fired power generation plants or steel or cement factories.
- Transport: The CO2 is then compressed and transported via pipelines, road transport or ships to a site for storage.
- Storage: The CO2 is injected into rock formations deep underground for permanent storage.
How can CCS help prevent global warming?
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted that, to achieve the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and limit future temperature increases to 1.5°C, countries need to deploy technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere, along with the increasing efforts to reduce emissions.
- CCS is one of these technologies and can therefore play an important role in tackling global warming.
Where are carbon emissions stored in CCS?
- Possible storage sites for carbon emissions include saline aquifers or depleted oil and gas reservoirs, which typically need to be 1 km or more under the ground.
- The UN Trade and Development Report reveals volatility in food commodities prices in the last few years have coincided with global food traders reporting record profits.
- India emerged a net exporter of agriculture and allied products in 2021-22, with the country’s export revenue reaching an all-time high of $50.2 billion. The agriculture sector continued to employ the highest number of workers.
- The Trade and Development Report 2023 by UNCTAD calls for a change in policy direction, including by leading central banks, and accompanying institutional reforms promised during the COVID-19 crisis to avert a lost decade.
- It urges global financial reforms, more pragmatic policies to tackle inflation, inequality, and sovereign debt distress, and stronger oversight of key markets.
- The report projects world economic growth to slow from 3% in 2022 to 2.4% in 2023 with few signs of a rebound next year.
- It says most regions will see a significant slowdown. While Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico, and Russia will buck the trend, they are not expected to grow strongly.
- The report series is intended for economists, policymakers, academics, and all those involved in economic and trade research and analysis. It identifies key trends in global macroeconomic dynamics as most pressing concerns for developing countries and new sources of potential systemic instability.
- According to the Economic Survey Report 2022-23, the agricultural growth rate in India has fallen to 3% in 2021-22 from 3.3% in 2020-21.
- The agriculture sector has been growing at an average annual growth rate of 4.6% during the last six years.
- Government investment in agriculture has declined — to 4.3% in 2020-21 from 5.4% in 2011-12. Meanwhile, private investment is at a high of 9.3%, which indicates increasing corporatisation in agriculture.
- Despite these challenges, the sector has shown robust growth, absorbing the shock of the pandemic and other factors like the ongoing war in Ukraine.
- However, the sector needs ‘re-orientation’ in the backdrop of challenges like adverse impacts of climate change, fragmented landholdings, sub-optimal farm mechanisation, low productivity, disguised unemployment and rising input costs.
Microplastics in the Cloud
- A study by Japanese scientists indicates the presence of microplastics in the clouds above Mount Fuji.
- This underscores the extent to which all forms of plastics have invaded every part of the Earth, posing the biggest threat to mankind.
- Microplastics (plastic particles of 5 mm or less) have been found in cloud water collected from high-altitude regions.
- The microplastics contained a high number of hydrophilic groups, which form as the plastic deteriorates, leading the researchers to conclude that these plastics could be playing a role in forming clouds.
- This would mean that microplastics could indirectly alter how rain is distributed or change how much solar radiation reaches the ground.
New Map of the Earth's Eighth Continent
- An international team of seismologists and geologists have created a new map of Zealandia, the world’s lost continent submerged 1-2 km in the South Pacific Ocean.
- Scientists used the rock and sediment samples recovered from the ocean bed, and have refined existing maps of the landmass that is 94% under the sea, and concluded that it is large enough to be considered a continent rather than a microcontinent.
- The continent of Zealandia and the location of a belt of granitic rocks that link back to the Rodinia supercontinent which existed before Gondwana.
- Zircon crystals from these granites reveal that these rocks are underlain by much older 1 billion year old rocks that are still concealed deep beneath Fiordland's crust.
- 4.9 million sq km
- 94% underwater
- Zealandia meets the criteria to be one of Earth's continents, like distinctive geology, well-defined area, crust much thicker than that found on ocean floor, elevation above surrounding area, and area greater than one million sq km and not connected to other continents.
Dengue Cases Surge Worldwide in El Nino Year
- The World Health Organization (WHO) is preparing for the very high probability that 2023 and 2024 will be marked by an El Nino event, which could increase transmission of arboviruses, such as Zika and chikungunya.
- Bangladesh, Cambodia, Jamaica, Vietnam, Sudan, and Peru are facing the worst dengue outbreak in its history.
- The health authorities attributed the spread of the disease to El Nino, the warm phase of the El Nino Southern Oscillation that creates favourable conditions for mosquito breeding. The WHO has also highlighted this potential link.
- El Nino, a warming of water surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. This is likely to yield extreme weather later this year, from tropical cyclones spinning toward vulnerable Pacific islands to heavy rainfall in South America to drought in Australia and in some parts of Asia.
- The WHO chief also warned that climate change is fueling the breeding of mosquitoes, and incidence of dengue has already risen sharply in recent decades, particularly in the Americas.
- The disease is transmitted through the bites of Aedes Aegypti Mosquitoes, with symptoms that include fever, eye, head, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
- The EU has initiated efforts to contain ‘greenwashing’, a form of deceptive marketing on a company's environmental measures, by approving a new draft rule against misleading advertisements.
- The law will be rolled out in 2026 and will impose strict rules to ban advertisements with claims such as marking products ‘environmentally friendly’, or ‘natural’.
What is Greenwashing?
- Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or misleading information about how a company’s products are environmentally sound.
- Greenwashing involves making an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly or have a greater positive environmental impact than they actually do.
- UN member-states adopted a new global framework to reduce environmental risks from hazardous chemicals and waste.
- The Fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) took place at the World Conference Center Bonn (WCCB) in Bonn, Germany.
- The aim of the framework is to phase out lethal agricultural pesticides by 2035.
- The conference, included a High-level Segment (HLS), was organised by UNEP and hosted by the government of Germany, who holds the presidency of this fifth session of the Conference.
- ICCM was a potential milestone with the expected adoption of the ‘The Beyond 2020 global chemical and waste framework’ and the Bonn High-level Declaration on Chemicals and Waste.
- ICCM is responsible for guiding and monitoring the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) process.
- The SAICM is a policy framework to foster the sound management of chemicals ensuring that, by the year 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimise significant adverse impacts on the environment and human health.
- The intersessional process worked to develop ‘The Beyond 2020 global chemical and waste framework’ which is expected to be adopted at ICCM.
Social Impact Assessments
- The Odisha legislative assembly passed a Bill to waive social impact assessments and public hearings for strategic and development projects.
- The Odisha government in India has recently passed a bill that exempts certain projects from the mandatory Social Impact Assessment (SIA) and special provisions for safeguarding food security during land acquisition.
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act:
- It was passed to streamline the transfer of land to a variety of projects critical to the country’s national security or defence and infrastructure projects, such as educational institutions, health infrastructure, government offices, electrification, irrigation projects, housing, and drinking water projects.
- The amendment would help the state attract private investments in mega projects across sectors through Make-in-Odisha initiatives.
- Odisha is not the first state to exempt developmental projects from the purview of SIA and public hearing.
- Gujarat introduced a similar amendment in 2016, followed by Maharashtra in 2018, and Karnataka in 2019.
- It has raised serious concerns among experts and activists, as the state continues its crackdown against protestors and activists fighting land acquisitions in the state.
- Social Impact Assessments (SIAs) are a crucial component of the Act, as they seek to identify and assess the potential negative social consequences that may arise during the project’s execution.
SOCIAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT:
- It is a structured process used to identify and evaluate the potential positive and negative impacts of a project, grant, or investment on a community or group of individuals.
- It is a methodology to review the social effects of infrastructure projects and other development interventions.
- Examples of social impacts include people’s way of life, their culture, their community, their political systems, their health and well-being.
- An SIA usually covers specific areas to identify impacts and mitigation measures, such as community and stakeholder engagement, workforce management, housing and accommodation, local business and industry content, health and community well-being.
Diabetes in India
- India has the second-highest number of diabetes diagnostic centres in the world.
- With 58 centres, Indian ranks after the US which has more than 1,400 diabetes diagnostic facilities.
- This number assumes significance as the report says 40% of diabetes cases globally go undiagnosed.
- It is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.
- Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar.
- Hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body's systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels.
- There are estimated 77 million people above the age of 18 years are suffering from diabetes (type 2) and nearly 25 million are prediabetics (at a higher risk of developing diabetes in near future).
- More than 50% of people are unaware of their diabetic status which leads to health complications if not detected and treated early.
- Adults with diabetes have a two- to three-fold increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Combined with reduced blood flow, neuropathy (nerve damage) in the feet increases the chance of foot ulcers, infection, and the eventual need for limb amputation.
- Diabetic retinopathy is an important cause of blindness and occurs as a result of long-term accumulated damage to the small blood vessels in the retina.
- Diabetes is among the leading causes of kidney failure.
- Highlights the major issues associated with the carbon trade and suggests the measures to minimise the impact on developing countries.
- What do you understand by the Glacial Outburst Lake? What are the issues associated with these lakes?
- Critically analyse the ‘Universal Basic Income’ concept. Do you think it can reduce poverty in India?
- How Battery Waste Management Rules of 2022 helps to mitigate the problems of e-waste in India?
- What do you understand about the Traditional Knowledge System? What are the recent steps taken by India to promote it?