Down To Earth (November 16-30-2023)
Existential Threat of Climate Change
- Countries need to come together to deal with the existential threat of climate change.
About the Climate Crisis:
- Climate change is the defining crisis of the present, and no corner of the globe is immune from the devastating consequences of it.
- Rising temperatures are fueling environmental degradation, natural disasters, weather extremes, food and water insecurity, economic disruption, conflict, and terrorism.
- Sea levels are rising, the Arctic is melting, coral reefs are dying, oceans are acidifying, and forests are burning.
Rising Global Temperature:
- Glaciers and ice sheets in polar and mountain regions are already melting faster than ever, causing sea levels to rise.
- Almost two-thirds of the world’s cities with populations of over five million are located in areas at risk of sea level rise and almost 40% of the world’s population live within 100 km of a coast.
- According to UNEP Emission Gap Reports, world countries are on track to maintain a ‘business as usual’ trajectory.
- Billions of tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere every year as a result of coal, oil, and gas production.
- According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Report, world countries are at least 1°C above pre-industrial levels and close to ‘an unacceptable risk’.
- The Paris Agreement on Climate Change (2015) calls for holding eventual warming ‘well below’ 2°C and for the pursuit of efforts to limit the increase even further, to 1.5°C.
- But if we don’t slow global emissions, temperatures could rise to above 3°C by 2100, causing further irreversible damage to our ecosystems.
Food and Water Insecurity:
- Global warming impacts everyone’s food and water security. Climate change is a direct cause of soil degradation, which limits the amount of carbon the earth is able to contain.
- Some 500 million people today live in areas affected by erosion, while up to 30% of food is lost or wasted as a result. Meanwhile, climate change limits the availability and quality of water for drinking and agriculture.
- Disasters linked to climate and weather extremes have always been part of our Earth’s system. But they are becoming more frequent and intense as the world warms.
- No continent is left untouched, with heatwaves, droughts, typhoons, and hurricanes causing mass destruction around the world. 90% of disasters are now classed as weather and climate related, costing the world economy 520 billion USD each year, while 26 million people are pushed into poverty as a result.
A catalyst for conflict:
- Climate change is a major threat to international peace and security. The effects of climate change heighten competition for resources such as land, food, and water, fueling socioeconomic tensions and, increasingly often, leading to mass displacement.
- The World Bank estimates that more than 140 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South Asia will be forced to migrate within their regions by 2050.
- The Israel-Palestine conflict highlights the sheer helplessness of the UN in addressing such issues.
- The unarmed war—between the West and East (US v China)—is going to make things worse for the fight against climate change.
- China is today the world’s largest annual emitter of greenhouse gases. By 2030, it will catch up with the US in terms of per capita emissions and the share of the carbon budget.
- While science tells us that climate change is irrefutable, it also tells us that it is not too late to stem the tide. This will require fundamental transformations in all aspects of society — how we grow food, use land, transport goods, and power our economies.
- While technology has contributed to climate change, new and efficient technologies can help us reduce net emissions and create a cleaner world.
- In the meantime, nature-based solutions, including improved agricultural practices, land restoration, conservation, and the greening of food supply chains, provide ‘breathing room’ while we tackle the decarbonization of the economy. These solutions allow us to mitigate a portion of our carbon footprint while supporting vital ecosystem services, biodiversity, access to fresh water, improved livelihoods, healthy diets, and food security.
India’s Atlas on Weather Disasters
- India recorded extreme weather events for 122 consecutive days between June and September 2023.
- India experienced extreme weather events like lightning and storms, heavy rains, floods and landslides, heat waves, cold days and cold waves, snowfall, cloudbursts, and cyclones claimed nearly 3000 lives in 2023.
Purpose of the Database:
- It is to establish the frequency and geographical spread of extreme weather events in India and to quantify the loss and damage due to them.
- The primary datasheets have been sourced from two government organisations—the IMD and the Disaster Management Division.
- It is based on publicly available data that has quantified the number of extreme weather event days and not the number of extreme weather events.
Process and Assumptions:
- The database has classified extreme weather events into seven broad types, based on the classifications used in various government documents.
- They are heavy rains, floods and landslides; lightning and storms, cyclones, snowfall, cloudbursts, cold days/cold waves and heatwaves.
- In the heavy rains, floods and landslides category, it considers heavy rainfall events (64.5 to 115.5 mm in 24 hours) only if they had associated deaths or damage. The lightning and storms category includes thunderstorms, hailstorms, dust storms, and gales.
- The cold day/cold wave category includes cold days, severe cold days, cold waves and severe cold waves.
- The heatwave category includes heatwaves and severe heatwaves.
Loss and Damage:
- These have been assessed under four categories: human deaths, crop area affected, houses destroyed, and animal deaths.
- While reports from media, IMD and Disaster Management Division have been used to ascertain human deaths and crop area affected, the remaining two is sourced only from Disaster Management Division, which are available only for the monsoon months.
- In India, State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMA) collect and collate data on damage due to disasters. These agencies then feed the information to the central agencies.
- Some of the SDMAs, such as Assam and Himachal Pradesh, regularly release their own data. This report has not considered them to avoid double counting and data gaps.
Poor Air Quality
- Three Indian cities — Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata — recorded some of the worst air quality levels in the world.
- New Delhi topped the real time list by Swiss Group IQAir with an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 483, followed by Lahore at 371.
- Kolkata and Mumbai were also among the top five worst-hit cities by air pollution, with AQIs of 206 and 162, respectively.
Air Quality Index:
- It is a tool for effective communication of air quality status to people in terms, which are easy to understand. It transforms complex air quality data of various pollutants into a single number (index value), nomenclature and colour
- There are six AQI categories, namely Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe.
- Each of these categories is decided based on ambient concentration values of air pollutants and their likely health impacts (known as health breakpoints).
AQ sub-index and health breakpoints are evolved for eight pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3, and Pb) for which short-term National Ambient Air Quality Standards are prescribed.
Factors contributing poor air quality:
- Vehicular emissions: The percentage share of fine particulate matter PM2.5 (generated by vehicles, industry and open burning) and PM10 in Delhi has crossed 50%, which indicates a higher impact of combustion sources.
- Further, levels of nitrogen dioxide—which comes largely from vehicles— are rising in the capital, indicating the high impact of vehicular pollution.
- Industrial pollution: India is home to a number of heavy industries and by-products of manufacturing and power generation, particularly coal-fueled power plants, and fumes from chemical production that release harmful pollutants into the air.
- Construction dust, crop residue burning and firecrackers also contribute to the poor air quality in Indian cities.
Battery Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2023
- The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has issued the Battery Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2023.
- The amendments bring several key changes to the existing regulations in the Battery Waste Management Rules of 2022.
- The new rules lay down mandatory targets for collection, recycling or refurbishment of waste batteries in electric three-wheelers.
- Definition of ‘Battery’: It has been updated to include both new and refurbished cells or batteries, including accumulators that serve as a source of electrical energy generated by the direct conversion of chemical energy.
- This definition also encompasses disposable primary or secondary batteries.
- Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR): Producers are now obligated to adhere to Extended Producer Responsibility for the batteries they introduce into the market. This responsibility includes ensuring the recycling or refurbishing of waste batteries in line with Schedule II of the rules.
- Registration: Producers must obtain registration from the CBCB through an online centralised portal. The registration certificates issued by the Board are now valid until cancelled or withdrawn.
- Reporting: Producers are required to submit annual returns to the CPCB detailing pre-consumer waste batteries generated during manufacturing, assembling, or importing batteries.
- Recycling and Refurbishing Targets: Producers are mandated to meet collection, recycling, and refurbishment targets specified in Schedule II for batteries or battery packs available in the market, including those they use for their own purposes.
- Electronic Trading Platform: The rules allow for the establishment of one or more electronic trading platforms for the sale and purchase of Extended Producer Responsibility certificates.
- These platforms are to be regulated as per guidelines issued by the CPCB.
- Relaxation of Timelines: The Central Government may, by order, relax the timelines for filing returns by producers, recyclers, and refurbishers for up to nine months to facilitate effective implementation of the rules.
- These amendments aim to ensure the sustainable production of batteries and improve waste management practices. The rules emphasise environmental responsibility and compliance with Extended Producer Responsibility targets.
- The Wildlife Justice Commission’s report highlighted the killing of people for opposing illegal sand mining.
- The Wildlife Justice Commission for the first time labels sand mining as an environmental crime, highlighting the impact of indiscriminate extraction on water bodies and biodiversity.
- As per the report, some 40-50 billion tonnes of sand are exploited globally each year with no large-scale treaty or policy to check the activity.
Sand Mining: An Ecological Threat
- Illegal sand mining is a significant ecological threat in India, with the Chambal region being a prime example.
- This activity is causing severe damage to the environment and endangering several threatened species.
The Chambal Scenario
- The Chambal region, home to the National Chambal Sanctuary (NCS), is witnessing rampant illegal sand mining.
- The NCS, a protected riverine area, spans across Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.
It is home to rare wildlife and some of the most pristine sandbanks, which are crucial habitats for various endangered species.
Do You Know?
Impact on Wildlife
- The illegal sand mining activities are forcing gharials to migrate to Kuno and Parbati rivers, tributaries of the Chambal, in search of safer egg-laying habitats.
- The mining is destroying the sandbanks along the Chambal, which are the basking and egg-laying habitats for these critically endangered species.
The Human Factor
- Illegal sand mining in the Chambal region continues unabated, endangering several threatened species.
- The mining occurs day and night, with everyone involved turning a blind eye.
- The illegally mined sand reaches all corners of the region, the NCR, and further.
The Need for Action:
- The situation calls for immediate action from the authorities. Strict enforcement of laws and regulations is necessary to curb illegal sand mining.
- Public awareness about the ecological importance of these regions and the impact of illegal sand mining can also play a crucial role in addressing this issue.
- Sand mining, especially when carried out without proper regulations, poses a significant threat to our environment.
- It’s high time we address this issue seriously to protect our biodiversity and ensure the health of our ecosystems.
Green Hydrogen Policy, 2023
- The Rajasthan government has approved the draft of the Green Hydrogen Policy, 2023, to improve clean energy generation in the state.
Major Highlights in Green Hydrogen Policy, 2023:
- The Rajasthan government will offer a 50% rebate in transmission and distribution charges for 10 years for 500 KTPA (kilo-tonnes per annum) renewable energy plants to be installed on the state's transmission system.
- Some incentives in the policy include exemptions from transmission and distribution fees for certain renewable energy plants and grants for land allocation and research on green hydrogen production.
- It aims to provide exemption from additional and cross-subsidy surcharges for 10 years if green hydrogen is procured from third parties;
- Priority in land allocation for green hydrogen production;
- 30% subsidy of up to Rs 25 crore for establishing green hydrogen research centres;
- Freedom to bank generated electricity;
- No capacity restrictions on captive power projects; 100 percent waiver on transmission charges; and
- Reimbursement/waiver of energy banking charges for 7-10 years.
- Hydrogen is the simplest and smallest element in the periodic table. No matter how it is produced, it ends up with the same carbon-free molecule.
- However, the pathways to produce it are very diverse, and so are the emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4).
- Green hydrogen is defined as hydrogen produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable electricity.
How does it differ from traditional emissions-intensive ‘grey’ hydrogen and blue hydrogen?
- Grey hydrogen is traditionally produced from methane (CH4), split with steam into CO2 and Hydrogen.
Grey hydrogen has increasingly been produced also from coal, with significantly higher CO2 emissions per unit of hydrogen produced, so much that is often called brown or black hydrogen instead of grey.
- Blue hydrogen follows the same process as grey, with the additional technologies necessary to capture the CO2 produced when hydrogen is split from methane (or from coal) and store it for long term.
- It is not one colour but rather a very broad gradation, as not 100% of the CO2 produced can be captured, and not all means of storing it are equally effective in the long term.
- The main point is that by capturing a large part of the CO2, the climate impact of hydrogen production can be reduced significantly.
- Saleemul Huq, a climate scientist, activist and advisor to developing countries, and founder of International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) died.
- Saleemul Huq was a Bangladeshi-British scientist and a prominent figure in the field of climate change, environment, and development.
- He was the Founder and Director of the International Centre for Climate Change & Development (ICCCAD) based in Bangladesh.
- He was also a Professor at Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB).
- Influencing Global Discourse on Climate Adaptation: Professor Huq played a key role in influencing the global discourse on climate adaptation.
- Development of Funds and Mechanisms: He was instrumental in the development of the Least Developed Countries Fund and the Loss and Damage mechanism within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
- Work with IPCC: He was a lead author of the chapter on Adaptation and Sustainable Development in the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and was one of two coordinating lead authors of ‘Inter-relationships between adaptation and mitigation’ in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (2007).
- He also contributed to the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC.
- Climate Justice Advocacy: Saleemul Huq made a lasting impact on the global climate movement by championing the causes of loss and damage issues for the global south. His work promoted climate justice, emphasising adaptation measures.
- Recognition and Awards: He was elected one of Nature’s 10 top scientists in 2022. He was awarded the 2020 National Environment Award by the Government of Bangladesh for his contribution to the development of the environment.
- Huq was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2022 New Year Honours for services to combating international climate change.
- Saleemul Huq highlighted the need for developed countries to provide support for areas like the Sunderbans in India and Bangladesh, where millions suffer despite contributing virtually nothing to carbon emissions.
- His work emphasised the perspective of developing countries, particularly the least developed countries (LDCs), in the discourse on climate change mitigation, adaptation, and sustainable development.
- His work has left a significant impact on the global climate movement and his legacy continues to inspire many in the fight against climate change.
Genetically Modified Organisms
- India’s apex food regulator has no data on the presence of genetically modified organisms in fresh produce imported by the country over the past five years.
- Right to Information (RTI) investigation revealed that the the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the country’s nodal food regulatory body, does not know if the fresh food produced imported in the past five years included genetically modified (GM) varieties.
Genetically Modified Organism (GMO):
- When a new variety of plant is created by inserting in it the genes of another plant, organism or bacteria, the variety becomes a GMO.
- Genes can be introduced, enhanced or deleted within a species, across species or even across kingdoms.
- GMOs may be used for a variety of purposes, such as making human insulin, producing fermented beverages and developing pesticide resistance in crop plants.
- Globally, about a dozen GMO species are being farmed on a large scale. Some 28 countries allow large-scale farming of these GMO crops.
- Since there is not enough data or research on the long-term impacts of GMO on human health, there is no unanimity in the scientific community on their regular consumption.
- In India, the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, prohibits import, manufacture, use or sale of GM food without FSSAI’s approval. So far, the country has allowed cultivation and import of only one GMO — cotton, a non-food crop.
- In India, the regulation of all activities related to GMOs and products derived from GMOs is governed by ‘Rules for the Manufacture/Use/Import/Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms, Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells, 1989’ (commonly referred to as Rules, 1989) under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 through the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
- India has the world’s fifth largest cultivated area under genetically modified (GM) crops, at 11.4 million hectares (mh) in 2017.
- Its entire GM crop area is under a single crop — cotton — incorporating genes from the Bacillus Thuringiensis or Bt soil bacterium coding for resistance against heliothis bollworm insect pests
- In 2022, India also allowed commercial cultivation of GM mustard, but the move has been challenged and is pending at the Supreme Court.
Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act, 1957
- Centre-state tussle and bureaucratic incompetencies withhold compensation for land acquisition in Jharkhand’s coal belt.
About the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act, (CBA) 1957:
- It was enacted to establish greater public control over the coal mining industry and its development, that provides for the acquisition by the State of unworked land containing or likely to contain coal deposits or of rights in or over such land.
- It allows the Union Ministry of Coal’s public sector undertaking Coal India Limited (CIL) and its subsidiaries like the Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) to acquire as much land as needed for exploration.
- The ‘economic interests’ of the country justify mining without limitations, not even requiring consultation with the communities facing displacement.
- It declares that the compensation is always secondary, which can be seen as the result of cases where the compensation is denied, delayed, inadequate and often gets decided after land acquisition.
- As per the data available with the Press Information Bureau, Jharkhand, where CIL and its subsidiaries have acquired more land than in any other state (74,756 ha) has seen many pending cases for compensation.
- It also provides for the extinguishment or modification of such rights accruing by virtue of any agreement, lease, licence or otherwise.
- The land is acquired for Government Companies only for coal mining and activities strictly incidental to mining purposes.
- The Act provides for the acquisition of coal bearing lands and their vesting in Government companies, free from any encumbrance.
Issues related to Compensation:
- The government has not released any consolidated data on land acquired for coal mining, people affected or compensation awarded in nearly a decade.
- The Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs’ 2014 ‘Report of the High Level Committee on Socio-Economic, Health and Educational Status of Tribal Communities of India’ said that CIL and its subsidiary companies have displaced nearly 87,000 people since 1973, including more than 14,000 people from the Scheduled Tribes.
Adaptation Gap Report 2023
- ‘The Adaptation Gap Report 2023’ was released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
- The Adaptation Gap Report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) looks at progress in planning, financing and implementing adaptation actions.
- The main finding for 2023 is that progress on climate adaptation is slowing when it should be accelerating to catch up with rising climate change impacts.
- It finds that the adaptation finance needs of developing countries are 10-18 times as big as international public finance flows – over 50% higher than the previous range estimate.
- Developing countries need $215 billion to $387 billion for adaptation every year, which is 10-18 times as high as current fund flows of $21.3 billion (as of 2021).
- As per the ‘Adaptation Gap Report 2023’, adaptation gap — the difference between estimated financing needs for adapting to climate change and actual finance flows—is growing even as climate change wreaks havoc.
- The report iterates that action in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing adaptation efforts is inadequate, despite the increasing impacts of warming.
Do You Know?
- Inadequate investment and planning on climate adaptation leaves the world exposed and finds that progress on climate adaptation is slowing on all fronts when it should be accelerating to catch up with rising climate change impacts.
- Adaptation planning and implementation appear to be plateauing despite the increased need for adaptation actions.
- As a result of slow mitigation and adaptation, climate-related losses and damages are increasing. Investing in adaptation and mitigation now will minimise climate costs in the future.
(Fig: Averting, minimising and addressing losses and damages)
Finding innovative ways to deliver finance to back increased adaptation is essential – with a focus on anticipatory adaptation and effectiveness.
Production Gap Report 2023
- The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released the report ‘Production Gap Report 2023’.
Major Highlights of the report:
- It says twenty major fossil fuel-producing countries remain out of sync with global goals to limit warming, and it tracks the discrepancy between countries’ planned or projected fossil fuel production and global production levels consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C or 2°C.
- The Report provides newly expanded country profiles for 20 major fossil-fuel-producing countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Qatar, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America.
- These profiles show that most of these governments continue to provide significant policy and financial support for fossil fuel production.
- It suggests that the countries assessed would produce 110% and 69% more fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C and 2°C, respectively.
- The 20 countries assessed are responsible for 82% of production and 73% of consumption of the world’s fossil fuel supply.
- The USA is expected to decrease coal production by 5.1 EJ in 2030 relative to 2021, but oil and gas are expected to rise by 5.2 EJ and 2.5 EJ, respectively.
- India expects to see an increase of 10.7 Exajoules (EJ) in coal production for 2030 relative to 2021. No data is available for its oil and gas production.
- Developed countries view natural gas as a bridge fuel. However, experts warn that it does not guarantee zero emissions and, in most places, will be more expensive than renewable energy.
Net Zero Pledges:
- Of the 20 countries, 17 have net zero pledges.
- China is on track to double its wind and solar energy capacity by 2025, and India has earmarked over $4 billion for clean energy.
- Countries appear to rely on technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Carbon Dioxide Removal, which are still in their early stages.
- Even if all planned global CCS facilities become operational, by 2030, they would lower less than 1% of 2022 global carbon dioxide emissions.
- The report calls for a near-total phaseout of coal production and use by 2040, and combined reduction in oil and gas production and use of 75% by 2050, from the 2020 levels.
Drought in Amazon
- Droughts kill billions of trees in the Amazon like no other extreme event.
- Droughts in the rainforest are typically fuelled by high sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic Ocean on the northeast and in the tropical Pacific Ocean on the northwest as it marks the onset of El Nino, the warm phase of a recurring climate pattern El Nino-Southern Oscillation.
- Severity of drought has been increasing in the Amazon. In the past two decades each drought has broken past records.
- Many drought episodes in the Amazon have occurred during intense El Nino conditions such as those recorded in 1926, 1983, 1997-1998, and 2010.
- These conditions weaken the ‘Walker Circulation’ — and atmospheric circulation in the Pacific Ocean over the tropics.
- Walker Circulation resembles a loop consisting of rising air in the west and sinking air in the east.
- During an El Nino, the rising moist air, which is meant to bring rainfall, does not reach the continent of South America. Instead, there is more sinking and dry air moving towards the land, setting the stage for a drought.
The High Sea Surface Temperature:
- It is explained by a multitude of factors, including atmospheric circulation, air pollution, and climate change.
- Warm sea surface temperatures in the tropical North Atlantic causes a change in the position of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) — a region near the equator where the trade winds from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres meet.
- The intense sun and warm water near the equator heat the air in this region, making it humid and buoyant. This rising air then merges with moisture-laden trade winds, which causes it to expand and cool. This process sheds the accumulated moisture through thunderstorms on the land.
- However, when the ITCZ rain band migrates northward because of high sea surface temperature, rainfall misses the Amazon.
Climate-risked Food System
- Rich countries need to consume and produce less animal-source foods.
- The global food system is both a victim of and a contributor to the climate emergency.
- Our food practices, from production to consumption to distribution, generate up to 37% of annual greenhouse gas emissions.
- At the same time, one-third of our food production is at risk due to climate-related events.
- This climate-risked food system leads to hunger, malnutrition and ultimately to chronic poverty, ending which are key development goals that the world is trying to achieve by 2030.
- People around the world are facing unprecedented levels of hunger. Even those who have access to food are not eating healthy, leading to wider prevalence of malnutrition — particularly undernourishment.
- The climate crisis is worsening the situation, as it disproportionately impacts the poorest.
- Practising agriculture has always been an unpredictable business due to the vagaries of weather, but the climate crisis is making it harder for farmers to grow food. Climate change is making weather more unpredictable and extreme.
- As a result, agricultural production suffers.
- Perishable foods such as vegetables, fruits, dairy, fish and chicken, which tend to be more nutritious, are particularly vulnerable to weather extremes because they require prompt transportation and storage that rely on infrastructure such as roads that are not flooded and electricity supply that is not interrupted by high winds.
- The food system caters to our basic survival needs, but there is a wide gap between meeting those needs and overconsumption, resulting in disparities in food system - related emissions among countries, which is similar to global inequalities in carbon emissions.
Focusing on Consumption and Production:
- The systems used by developed countries are very efficient (emissions per unit of food produced is low).
- In low and middle income countries where the consumption of animal source foods is low. But people need to increase the consumption of such foods as these are good sources of vitamins and minerals essential for growth and development of the body.
- It needs to make animal-source food production more efficient.
- In a less efficient production system, many animals die prematurely and lead to emissions that do not contribute to good human nutrition.
- Different countries need to make different adjustments according to their levels of consumption and production of animal source foods.
- High-income countries need to consume and produce less while low-income countries need to produce more efficiently.
- In recent years, many countries, particularly wealthy economies, have initiated or announced programmes to reduce emissions from food systems, especially in the agricultural sector.
Access to Technology and Finance:
- Farmers need access to technology and financing to reduce emissions per unit of animal-source foods. And if they need to reduce animal-source food production altogether, they need transition payments while they develop new product lines.
- A ‘healthy’ diet is desirable, and it is a human right.
- But a healthy diet is simply not affordable for nearly one-third of the world’s population.
Pathway for Healthy Diet:
- Incomes have to rise. In the medium-run, this relies on improved education opportunities and in the short-run on social safety nets which transfer incomes and food to those on low income.
- The price of healthy foods has to drop for all. This can be achieved by shortening value chains and reducing the number of intermediaries between the farm and the market. Reducing food loss means more of the food that is produced is consumed.
- Supporting the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that the poor rely on—these SMEs need access to technologies, business development services and finance.
- Nutrition security is already a sticky development challenge. Nutrition security depends on good access to nutritious foods, good access to clean water and sanitation, good access to preventative health care and enough time for parents to take care of their young.
- For the first time, at the 28th iteration of the UN Climate Conference (COP28), there will be significant attention on food, agriculture and water at a climate conference, with a day dedicated to the topic of the food system.
Sewage Wastewater Treatment Technologies
- India is adopting new sewage wastewater treatment technologies that are more efficient, but it must choose the ones that best meet local needs.
- As per the latest data released by the Central Pollution Control Board, wastewater treatment and recovery are critical to address water scarcity and environmental pollution.
- Indian cities currently treat only 28 % of the 72,368 million litres of sewage they generate every day.
- While the country clearly needs to increase its treatment capacity, it also needs to upgrade the currently employed wastewater treatment processes for more efficient technologies.
- Most sewage treatment plants in the country rely on outdated technologies such as the activated sludge process, planted drying beds, soil biotechnology and upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactors that have a treatment efficiency of around 65% and are cumbersome to set up and manage.
- The principal objective of wastewater treatment is generally to allow human and industrial effluents to be disposed of without danger to human health or unacceptable damage to the natural environment.
- Many stretches of rivers in the country are polluted due to discharge of untreated and partially treated domestic sewage from cities/towns and industrial effluents in their respective catchments, problems in operation and maintenance of sewage and industrial effluent treatment plants, lack of dilution and other non-point sources of pollution.
- Rapid urbanisation and industrialization have compounded the problem.
- Almost all the sewage treatment plants are based on two technologies — Sequencing Batch Reactors (SBRs) and Moving Bed Biofilm Reactors (MBBRs).
- Telangana and Bihar have replaced most of its obsolete and inferior sewage treatment plants with SBRs. Similar upgrades are also reported in Maharashtra, Goa, Haryana, West Bengal and Uttarakhand.
- When compared to traditional treatment techniques, these technologies have higher treatment and nutrient removal capacity, are better at handling shock loads (spikes in pollution concentration in wastewater), are more resource-efficient and generate high-quality effluent with greater reuse potential.
- Thermal Hydrolysis: This technology serves three purposes: wastewater treatment, the reduction of waste byproducts, and the production of biogas.
- Microbial Fuel Cells (MFC): MFC technology uses bacteria to clean wastewater.
- Other emerging technologies include Solar Photocatalytic Wastewater Treatment, Membrane technology, Microbial fuel cells, and Microalgae.
Role of Government:
- As per the seventh schedule of Constitution of India (Article 246), ‘Water’ is a State subject, and it is the responsibility of the States/UTs to ensure the cleanliness and development of rivers within their jurisdiction.
- Cleaning of rivers is a continuous process and the Government of India is supplementing the efforts of the State/UT Governments in addressing the challenges of pollution of rivers by providing financial and technical assistance.
- The Manual on Sewerage and Sewage Treatment published by the Ministry in 1993 emphasises conventional sewage treatment technologies such as Activated Sludge Process (ASP), Waste Stabilization pond (WSP), Upflow anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB) Reactor, etc.
Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) for 2022-23
- The National Sample Survey Office recently released the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) for 2022-23.
- The latest survey covered 101,655 households with 419,512 people.
After the pandemic years, this is the first survey that can be considered representative of a normal situation.
Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS):
Major Findings of PLFS, Annual Report 2022- 2023:
Estimates of key labour market indicators in usual status:
- Increasing Trend in Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) for persons of age 15 years and above.
- In rural areas, LFPR increased from 50.7% in 2017-18 to 60.8% in 2022-23 while for urban areas it increased from 47.6% to 50.4%.
- LFPR for male in India increased from 75.8% in 2017-18 to 78.5% in 2022-23 and corresponding increase in LFPR for females was from 23.3% to 37.0%.
Increasing Trend in Worker Population Ratio (WPR) for persons of age 15 years and above:
- In rural areas, WPR increased from 48.1% in 2017-18 to 59.4% in 2022-23 while for urban areas it increased from 43.9% to 47.7%.
- WPR for male in India increased from 71.2% in 2017-18 to 76.0% in 2022-23 and corresponding increase in WPR for females was from 22.0% to 35.9%.
Decreasing Trend in Unemployment Rate (UR) for persons of age 15 years and above:
- In rural areas, UR decreased from 5.3% in 2017-18 to 2.4% in 2022-23 while for urban areas it decreased from 7.7% to 5.4%.
- UR for male in India decreased from 6.1% in 2017-18 to 3.3% in 2022-23 and corresponding decrease in UR for females was from 5.6% to 2.9%.
Increasing Trend in Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) for persons of age 15 years and above:
- In rural areas, LFPR increased from 48.9% in 2017-18 to 56.7% in 2022-23 while for urban areas it increased from 47.1% to 49.4%.
- LFPR for male in India increased from 75.1% in 2017-18 to 77.4% in 2022-23 and corresponding increase in LFPR for females was from 21.1% to 31.6%.
Increasing Trend in Worker Population Ratio (WPR) for persons of age 15 years and above:
- In rural areas, WPR increased from 44.8% in 2017-18 to 54.2% in 2022-23 while for urban areas it increased from 42.6% to 46%.
- WPR for male in India increased from 68.6% in 2017-18 to 73.5% in 2022-23 and corresponding increase in WPR for females was from 19.2% to 30%.
Decreasing Trend in Unemployment Rate (UR) for persons of age 15 years and above:
- In rural areas, UR decreased from 8.4% in 2017-18 to 4.4% in 2022-23 while for urban areas it decreased 9.5% to 7%.
- UR for male in India decreased from 8.7% in 2017-18 to 5.1% in 2022-23 and corresponding decrease in UR for females was from 9% to 5.1%.
- The PLFS provides data on different metrics so that the policymakers can understand the proportion of people demanding work, the proportion of people among them who failed to get a job, the gender differences in employment as well as wages etc.
- The PLFS tells the sectoral distribution of workers in the economy — what percentage is involved in agriculture, for instance.
- It records the type of work people do — for instance, how many are engaged in casual labour, how many work for themselves, and how many have regular salaried jobs etc.
- Avian/Bird flu has reached the Antarctic region for the first time.
How did the infection reach Antarctica?
- The researchers suggest that some corpses of skua, a predatory seabird, may have carried the disease from South America, which is in the midst of an avian influenza outbreak.
- The H5N1 virus that causes avian influenza has been found on birds.
How dangerous is avian influenza?
- The H5N1 viral strain of avian influenza is common but deadly among birds, and can cause them respiratory distress and lower reproduction.
- This strain can also be transmitted to other species, including humans.
- The first case of human H5N1 infection was reported in the 1990s.
Which species are at high risk?
- Researchers say the most threatened avian group are gulls and skuas, followed by hawks.
Bird Island is also home to remote populations of penguins and seals, which are at risk.
Avian influenza or bird flu:
Protective actions around birds:
- According to an estimate, South America's largest lake Titicaca has recorded a 74-cm drop in water level.
- Titicaca lake has shrunk due to extreme drought conditions and high temperatures, exacerbated by the weather phenomenon El Nino.
- The dry conditions are expected to persist, increasing the risk of the lake reaching its lowest water level on record.
- It is the largest and highest freshwater lake in South America, and one of less than twenty ancient lakes on earth, and is thought to be million years old.
- It is located on the Peru-Bolivia border (between Peru to the west and Bolivia to the east) in Puno and Huancane provinces.
- It lies between Andean ranges in a vast basin that comprises most of the Altiplano (High Plateau) of the northern Andes.
- Tiquina, a narrow strait, separates the lake into two separate water bodies.
The Puraquequara Lake
- The Puraquequara lake in Brazil’s Amazonas state has dried up.
- The Puraquequara lake in Brazil’s Amazonas state has dried up and is stranded on mud flats.
- Communities of the lake’s floating village now struggle to access food and freshwater and are relying on aid.
- The historic drought in the Amazon indicates that the rainforest is approaching an irreversible tipping point.
- Water level of the River Negro, one of the world’s voluminous rivers and the largest tributary of the mighty Amazon, was flowing at its lowest in 121 years.
- Due to this, the Amazon river basin, which carries a fifth of the planet’s freshwater and is home to the largest rainforest, is in the grip of a historic drought.
- The drought has fuelled wildfires in the Amazon region that have made the air unbreathable in the region.
The heatwaves have led to the country’s worst mass die-offs of wildlife in history, including river dolphins, pink dolphins, and tucuxi (grey river dolphins).
Do you know?
Olive Ridley Turtle
- Odisha has placed a seven-month prohibition on sea fishing within 20 km of the Kendrapara coast with the start of the Olive Ridley turtle mating and breeding season.
About the Olive Ridley Turtle:
- Scientific name: Lepidochelys Olivacea;
- Location: Found in warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
- One of the smallest sea-turtles on the earth. Olive green colour of their shell.
- Food: Mainly shrimp, crab, molluscs, fish and crabs.
- Known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs. They hatch in 45 to 60 days.
- Sea Turtles in India: There are five species of sea turtles in Indian waters. viz.,Leatherback, Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Green and Olive Ridley.
- Conservation Status:
- IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
- Schedule I of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
- CITES Appendix I
- Nesting Sites: Rushikulya rookery coast (Odisha), Gahirmatha beach (Bhitarkanika National park) and Mouth of the Devi River.
- Threats: More frequent and intense flooding and cyclones, sex ratio of turtles is getting skewed because of global warming, hunted for meat, shell, and anthropogenic factors like fishing trawlers etc.
Restrictions on Transfer of Agricultural Land Rules, 2023
- The Goa government has notified the Restrictions on Transfer of Agricultural Land Rules, 2023
- The Goa Restriction on Transfer of Agricultural Land Act, 2023 is a legislative act passed by the Legislative Assembly of Goa.
- It imposes restrictions on the transfer of certain agricultural lands in the State of Goa.
- It aims to stop the sale of agricultural land to entities that are not a part of the sector.
- As per the rules, anyone who intends to buy agricultural land must produce before the registering authority a Krishi Card or a certificate identifying themselves as an agriculturalist.
- The Act imposes restrictions on the transfer of agricultural land. No person who owns or occupies or is in possession of agricultural land shall transfer such land by way of sale, gift, exchange, lease or by any other mode of transfer, in favour of a person other than an agriculturist.
Breeding of Indigenous Cows
- Governments are supporting breeding of indigenous cows, offering incentives to farmers to buy them.
Rashtriya Gokul Mission (2014)
- Implemented by: The Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries
- 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.
- Focus on conservation and development of indigenous breeds through bull production programme, setup and strengthening of semen stations, extension of artificial insemination programme and in vitro fertilisation technology, skill development and awareness of farmers
Nand Baba Milk Mission (2023)
- Implemented by: Government of Uttar Pradesh
- A grant of Rs 40,000 to farmers for the purchase of indigenous cows from other states
Mukhyamantri Pragatisheel Pashupalak Protsahan Yojana
- Implemented by: Government of Uttar Pradesh
- Incentives up to Rs 15,000 for rearing high-yield indigenous breeds
Scheme for Conservation and Development of Indigenous Cattle and Murrah Development
- Implemented by: Government of Haryana
- Owners of purebred Hariana, Sahiwal, and Belahi cows and Murrah buffaloes meeting peak yield benchmarks will receive cash incentives ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000
Desi Gaupalan Protosahan Yojana (2023-24)
- Implemented by: Government of Bihar
- Support for breeding of indigenous cows, prioritising milk production and conservation of native breeds with substantial subsidies to feed suppliers and cattle herders, ranging from 40% to 75%.
- Enumerate the reasons behind poor air quality in Indian cities. What are the efforts taken by the government to improve the air quality?
- What do you understand about the climate crisis, and how it is related to the extreme climatic events? Suggest measures to minimise the impacts.
- How sand mining affects the environment and biodiversity. Do you consider it an ecological threat?
- What are genetically modified organisms? What are the issues associated with it?
- How far do you agree that our food system is challenged by climate change? What are the key issues involved in a climate-risked food system?