Nature & India : News, Views and Discussions

RISING SUN

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India among few countries in the world where forest cover is consistently increasing​

The efforts made by the Narendra Modi government have brought positive results in the conservation of wildlife. The government has said that the coverage of Protected Areas which was 4.90 percent of country’s geographical area in 2014 has now increased to 5.03 percent.

This includes an increase in Protected Areas in the country from 740 with area of over one lakh 61 thousand square kilometers in 2014 to 981 with an area of over one lakh 71 thousand square kilometers at present.

On the other hand, forest and tree cover has increased by 16 thousand kilometers in the last four years and India is among few countries in the world where forest cover is consistently increasing.

AIR correspondent reports that India is home to 52 Tiger Reserves covering 18 States with around 75 percent population of the wild tiger at the global level.

The Tiger Population in India has increased from 2 thousand 226 in 2014 to 2 thousand 967 in 2018. The budgetary allocation for tiger conservation was raised from 185 crore rupees in 2014 to 300 crore rupees in 2022.

The population of Asiatic Lions also recorded a steady increase with a population of 674 individuals since 2015. So far it has witnessed one of the highest growth rate of 28.87 percent.

Besides, the country has also witnessed over 60 percent increase in the population of leopard since 2014. The number of leopards has gone up from 7 thousand 910 in 2014 to 12 thousand 852 in 2020.
 

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Tamil Nadu notifies India’s first sanctuary for slender lorises​

 

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What is the Mangrove Alliance for Climate, which India joined at COP27?​

At the 27th Session of Conference of Parties (COP27), this year’s UN climate summit, the Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC) was launched with India as a partner on Tuesday (November 8). The move, in line with India’s goal to increase its carbon sink, will see New Delhi collaborating with Sri Lanka, Indonesia and other countries to preserve and restore the mangrove forests in the region.

Attending the event in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt on Tuesday, Union Minister for Environment Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav said that India is home to one of the largest remaining areas of mangroves in the world — the Sundarbans — and has years of expertise in restoration of mangrove cover that can be used to aid global measures in this direction.

An initiative led by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Indonesia, the Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC) includes India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Japan, and Spain. It seeks to educate and spread awareness worldwide on the role of mangroves in curbing global warming and its potential as a solution for climate change.

Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE’s Minister of Climate Change and the Environment, while launching the alliance, said that her country intends to plant 3 million mangroves in the next two months, in keeping with UAE’s COP26 pledge of planting 100 million mangroves by 2030.

“Increasing reliance on nature-based solutions is an integral element of the UAE’s climate action on the domestic as well as international level, therefore, we seek to expand our mangrove cover,” she said, as per a report in Dubai-based news channel Al Arabiya. “We are pleased to launch MAC jointly with Indonesia, and believe it will go a long way in driving collective climate action and rehabilitating blue carbon ecosystems,” she added.

However, the intergovernmental alliance works on a voluntary basis which means that there are no real checks and balances to hold members accountable. Instead, the parties will decide their own commitments and deadlines regarding planting and restoring mangroves. The members will also share expertise and support each other in researching, managing and protecting coastal areas.

The significance of mangroves
Mangroves have been the focus of conservationists for years and it is difficult to overstate their importance in the global climate context. Mangrove forests — consisting of trees and shrub that
live in intertidal water in coastal areas — host diverse marine life. They also support a rich food web, with molluscs and algae-filled substrate acting as a breeding ground for small fish, mud crabs and shrimps, thus providing a livelihood to local artisanal fishers.

Equally importantly, they act as effective carbon stores, holding up to four times the amount of carbon as other forested ecosystems. Mangrove forests capture vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and their preservation can both aid in removal of carbon from the atmosphere and prevent the release of the same upon their destruction.

The current state of the mangroves

South Asia houses some of the most extensive areas of mangroves globally, while Indonesia hosts one-fifth of the overall amount.

India holds around 3 percent of South Asia’s mangrove population. Besides the Sundarbans in West Bengal, the Andamans region, the Kachchh and Jamnagar areas in Gujarat too have substantial mangrove cover.

However, infrastructure projects — industrial expansion and building of roads and railways, and natural processes — shifting coastlines, coastal erosion and storms, have resulted in a significant decrease in mangrove habitats.

Between 2010 and 2020, around 600 sq km of mangroves were lost of which more than 62% was due to direct human impacts, the Global Mangrove Alliance said in its 2022 report.

India at COP

Unlike other world leaders — US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak — Prime Minister Narendra Modi has skipped this edition of the conference, with Union Minister Bhupender Yadav representing India instead.

As seen in the previous sessions of the climate conference, building consensus among the 190+ countries who are members of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a tough task. China, for instance, has ramped up the use of coal amidst energy security risks and rising tensions with Taiwan. Its deteriorating relationship with the US, the second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gas behind Beijing, has further complicated possibilities of negotiations.

The European Union, which negotiates as a single entity for its 27 members, is at the lower end of the spectrum of gas emitters, but is under pressure to ease its resistance to its staunch position
against the issue of ‘loss and damage’, which calls for rich and developed countries to compensate poorer, developing countries who are disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change.

G77 and China is the largest intergovernmental organisation of developing countries in the UN. Pakistan, which currently chairs the group and faced devastating floods this year, will lead the group in its demand for a dedicated fund for compensation from wealthy countries, Reuters reported. The Climate Vulnerable Forum, which represents 58 countries that are disproportionately affected by the consequences of climate change such as Bangladesh and Maldives, reportedly demands a dedicated fund in which rich polluting nations help bear the costs of “loss and damage”.
 

RISING SUN

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RISING SUN

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COP27: India draws support for wider climate target than coal alone​

India is drawing support for its proposal for countries to agree to the phase down of all fossil fuels at the UN climate summit in Egypt, rather than the narrower deal to phase down coal that was struck at the last summit. The country that derives the majority of its power supply from coal was blamed along with China for weakening the final agreement about ending coal use at last year’s Glasgow summit. India’s attempt to take the focus away from coal at COP27 has gained traction unexpectedly. The EU’s green chief Frans Timmermans on Tuesday said the bloc was supportive of “any call to phase down all fossil fuels”. A broad commitment to phase-down all fossil fuels has not previously featured in a final COP agreement. But the shift away from coal, oil and gas use are crucial to limiting greenhouse gas emissions and curbing climate change, scientists conclude. Timmermans said that provided the commitment to phase-down coal was not undermined as a result, the Indian proposal would be acceptable. The risk could be that an agreement about all fossil fuels could result in the slowdown in the phase-down of coal-powered plants, if it was brought into line with the timeline for phasing down oil and gas. Any agreement “should not divert our attention and our efforts to phase down coal”, Timmermans said. Another flashpoint surrounds any reference to limit global warming to 1.5C, that dates back to the Paris Agreement. Extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent and severe with every fraction of a degree of warming.

Temperatures have already risen at least 1.1C in the industrial era. Meeting the 1.5C goal requires tougher and faster action than limiting warming to 2C, the less ambitious Paris Agreement goal. US climate envoy John Kerry said at a weekend briefing that “very few” parties had raised the issue, and he did not believe the COP27 Egyptian presidency would want its legacy to be associated with the removal of the global warming goal. The Egyptian team met with countries to discuss their priorities and concerns on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of penning a draft final text. COP27 ambassador Wael Aboulmagd said the presidency would “do everything in its power of course to encourage parties to agree”. The Indian proposal about the inclusion of all fossil fuels in the Egyptian agreement builds on discussions in Glasgow last year. At COP26, India was “very consistent in the negotiating rooms” in asking for the pledge to include all fossil fuels, not just coal, said David Waskow, director of international climate action at WRI. Can India adapt to extreme heat? | FT Film “There were some folks who thought at the beginning [of COP] this was a negotiating gambit” from the Indian delegation, he added. However, there was now growing support for it, he said. Any blanket policy to end the use of all fossil fuels is likely to encounter fierce resistance from countries dependent on oil and gas exports, however. Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, said in an interview that tackling climate change was “not about fossil fuels” production but about reducing emissions across sectors. Asked whether Riyadh believed a phase down or phase out of oil and gas would be necessary to limit global warming, he said “not even phase down”. India’s proposal could culminate in a “showdown” between Opec countries and others, said one energy analyst at COP27. Getting such a commitment into a final COP agreement would be a “long shot”, they said. The United Arab Emirates, an Opec member, is hosting next year’s COP28 summit. Climate experts have also flagged concerns about the influence of the oil and gas industry and its lobbyists at COP27. The Gas Exporting Countries Forum and Opec held a meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday to discuss “the importance that oil and gas will continue to play” in global energy. The groups will deliver formal statements to the conference on Wednesday.
 

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India moves two ranks in climate performance index​

The latest Climate Change Performance Index by Germanwatch, an independent development organisation, has put India eighth amongst a group of 59 countries and the European Union in terms of climate action, ahead of most developed countries

The strengthening of its climate targets, and announcement of a net-zero goal, has seen India move up two ranks in an annual rating of climate change performances by countries.

The latest Climate Change Performance Index by Germanwatch, an independent development organisation, has put India eighth amongst a group of 59 countries and the European Union in terms of climate action, ahead of most developed countries. The UK has been ranked 11, Germany 16, while China and the United States are placed at 51st and 52nd ranks respectively. Denmark and Sweden have been assessed to be the top performers this year as well.

“India earns a high rating in the GHG Emissions and Energy Use categories, with a medium for Climate Policy and Renewable Energy. The country is on track to meet its 2030 emissions targets (compatible with a well-below 2 degree Celsius scenario). However, the renewable energy pathway is not on track for the 2030 target,” a statement accompanying the index said.

It noted that since last year’s rankings, India had increased its climate targets in the NDC (nationally determined contributions) and also announced a net zero target for 2070. In its upgraded NDC, India has promised to ensure that at least 50 per cent of its electricity generation in 2030 would come from renewable energy sources, up from 40 per cent earlier. It also promised to make far deeper cuts in emissions intensity, 45 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, instead of the 33-35 per cent which was the earlier target.

The statement, however, said that India’s climate actions were still not consistent with the 1.5 degree Celsius goal. “India has plans to increase its oil and gas production by over 5 per cent by 2030. This is incompatible with the 1.5 degree Celsius target,” it said.

China has dropped 13 places in the ratings this year, mainly because of the country’s continued reliance on coal and lack of clarity on long-term climate policies. The statement said China’s 2030 target for peaking of its emissions was not aligned to the global target of keeping the temperature rise well below 2 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times.

The United States has risen three ranks in the ratings because of the recent climate measures announced by the Joe Biden administration. But the statement says many of the polices are not mandatory, and implementation has been very slow.

“The main shortcoming is that the US will not halt domestic fossil fuel extraction, and there are still fossil fuel subsidies in place,” it said.
 

RISING SUN

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India hails compensation fund approved at U.N. climate summit​

PTI
India on Sunday called as historic the U.N. climate summit in Egypt for securing an agreement on establishing a fund to address ‘Loss and Damage’ due to climate change-induced disasters, saying “the world has waited far too long for this”. Making an intervention in the closing plenary of COP27, Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav also said the world should not burden farmers with mitigation responsibilities.