cheetah death Supreme court

Extension Of Scientist Behind ‘Project Cheetah’ Withdrawn

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on Tuesday withdrew the extension granted to noted biologist and Wildlife Institute of India (WII) dean YV Jhala on his superannuation on February 28, 2022, till February 28, 2024.

In an order issused on February 28, 2022, the Union ministry said, “Dr. Y.V. Jhala, Scientist-G, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun was granted an extension of two years from the date of his superannuation, i.e.,28.02.2022. In this context, the undersigned is directed to mention that the said extension period is curtailed and restricted to one year i.e., up to 28.02.2023.”
“The vacancy arising, as a result, shall be filled up with the ongoing process of recruitment of Scientists. This issues with the approval of the competent authority,” the order stated further.

Speaking to ANI on Tuesday, Jhala had said, “The (Cheetah) project itself was mine, but the government is the parent. The government can do whatever it wants. What can we do about it? Last evening, I was told that my tenure is over. No reason was given to me by the government.”

However, contesting Jhala’s claim, an official in the Union ministry told ANI, on the condition of anonymity, “‘Project Cheetah’ is a project of the Union government in association with the Madhya Pradesh government and the WII. It’s not an individual-driven project.”

Jhala was one of the scientists involved in preparing the technical ground for the ambitious ‘Cheetah project’, under successive Union governments since 2009. He was a member of the Ceetah Task Force’ set up in 2010 under conservationist M K Ranjitsinh.

To a question from ANI on the withdrawal of the extension granted to Jhala, the official said, “Dr. Y V Jhala had already retired from the Wildlife institute of India, Dehradun, and was serving on extension. So, it would be wrong to say that his tenure has been curtailed.”

On allegations of Jhala being sidelined from the ‘Cheetah Project’, the official said the claim is unfounded as he had participated in every meeting of the task force. (ANI)

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Modi With King Charles III

Modi Discusses Climate Action With King Charles III Of the UK

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with King Charles III of the UK on the telephone on Tuesday and discussed several subjects including climate change, biodiversity conservation, and solutions for the financing energy transition.

As this was PM Modi’s first conversation with King Charles III after he assumed the Office of Sovereign of the United Kingdom, he conveyed his best wishes to Britain’s monarch for a very successful reign.
A PMO release said that a number of subjects of mutual interest were discussed during the call, including climate action, conservation of biodiversity, and innovative solutions for the financing energy transition.

The Prime Minister expressed his appreciation for the abiding interest and advocacy of King Charles III on these issues.

The Prime Minister briefed him on India’s priorities for its G20 Presidency, including the propagation of digital public goods.

He also explained the relevance of Mission LiFE – Lifestyle for Environment, through which India seeks to promote environmentally sustainable lifestyles.

The leaders exchanged views on the Commonwealth of Nations and how to further strengthen its functioning.

They also appreciated the role of the Indian community in the UK in acting as a “living bridge” between both countries and enriching bilateral relations.

King Charles III was officially announced as Britain’s monarch in September last year following the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II.

India and UK are engaged in negotiations for the finalization of a Free Trade Agreement. UK Secretary of State for International Trade Kemi Badenoch visited New Delhi last month to carry forward the FTA negotiations. She held discussions with Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal. The two sides also discussed bilateral trade and economic relations. (ANI)

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Climate Change

Climate Warriors Get Assertive At COP 27

It seems that Climate Change is now gaining real traction and importance for the common people more and more, but our politicians are not ready to take any notice of these changes, which are going to have immeasurable negative impact on the lives of billions of people across the globe.

Besides calls for wealthier nations to provide compensation to underdeveloped countries to cover the costs of severe damage and losses, citizens of some countries have also initiated legal proceedings against their governments for inadequately addressing the climate change fallouts.

The month of November saw two environment-related incidents taking place. First, at the latest COP summit at Sharm El Shiekh in Egypt, termed as ‘Africa’s COP’, the voice of the most-vulnerable and most-affected countries was heard with an agreement to establish a loss and damage facility.

However, progress is still snail-paced in terms of raising ambitions to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Leaders attempted to keep that goal alive at the Egypt conference, but did not increase calls to reduce carbon emissions.

November also saw hundreds of activists, including Greta Thunberg, marching through the streets of Stockholm to a court to file a lawsuit against the Swedish government for what they claim is insufficient climate action.

Lawsuit by Swedish citizens

Over 600 young activists signed an 87-page document, which would serve as the foundation for the lawsuit, which was filed in the Stockholm District Court.

They want the court to rule that the country’s climate policies violate the human rights of its citizens. According to Anton Foley, spokesman for the youth-led initiative Aurora, which prepared and filed the lawsuit, Sweden has never treated the climate crisis as a crisis. Sweden is failing to fulfil its responsibilities and is breaking the law.

Earlier, in one of the most high-profile cases, Germany’s highest court ruled last year that the government’s climate targets must be adjusted to avoid undue burden on the young.

The German government responded by pushing back its target for net zero emissions by five years to 2045 and laying out more ambitious near and medium-term steps to achieve that goal.

What emerges from this is that people all across the world are increasingly becoming aware of the damages wrought by the Climate Change, and also understanding that who is the main culprit for unleashing this catastrophe, in pursuance of greed and lucre.

What is loss and damage?

The Alliance of Small Island States at international climate negotiations in Geneva in 1991, first introduced the concept of loss and damage, but it was not seriously considered again until 2013 at the COP-19 climate conference in Warsaw, Poland.

The Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage was created with the aim of enhancing knowledge of the issue and finding ways to approach it. There has been little progress since then.

The Glasgow COP, last year rejected a proposal made by members of the G-77 group of over a hundred developing countries and China for a formal loss and damage financial facility. Instead, in a bureaucratic manner, the Glasgow Dialogue was established for further discussion on the issue and it’s funding.

Critics have described the dialogue as “an excuse to delay further action.” It seems as if the rich countries are dragging their feet on financing any such endeavour.

While historically, between 1751 and 2017, the United States, the European countries and the UK were responsible for 47% of cumulative carbon dioxide emissions, as compared to just 6% from the entire African and South American continents. Yet, the culprits have been slow to make financial contributions to ease the impact on the most affected countries.

In 2010, Global North nations agreed to pledge $100 billion (€101 billion) annually by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.

But according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which tracks funding, in 2020 wealthy countries pledged just over $83 billion. That was a 4% increase on the previous year, but it still falls short of the agreed amount.

What’s the impediment?

Though in principle, developed nations acknowledge the need to address loss and damage, some amongst them argue for financing through existing climate funds, insurance schemes and humanitarian aid. Their reluctance is reflected in the European Union’s briefing, for example, which said that it was “open to discussing L&D (loss and damage) as a topic but hesitant about creating a dedicated L&D fund.”

Former British PM and WHO ambassador for global health financing, Gordon Brown has realistically opined that the announcement of the new initiative – the global loss and damage fund – to right historical wrongs by compensating climate-hit developing countries, might be a good feel factor but the real question is whether the developed world will really loosen its purse strings?

This breakthrough, he says, brought back memories of another initiative, the £100 billion a year agreed at the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit to help poor countries mitigate the effects of the climate crisis.

Brown says further that that money has never fully materialised. If 13 years’ experience of the £100 billion fund that never was is anything to go by, eulogies of praise will soon turn into allegations of betrayal. Far from the loss and damage fund narrowing the credibility gap on climate action, it is likely to bridge nothing if money fails to flow from rich to poor.

What is needed, however, is not less but more aid to help developing countries tackle the dramatic consequences of an unprecedented series of crises. Indeed, developing countries, unlike advanced economies, had no fiscal, monetary, or social space at the onset of these crises, to raise the issue.

One key priority for the global community should be not only to increase aid but also to make it much greener to help developing countries tackle the challenge of climate adaptation in an effective manner. Green aid encompasses financial and technical assistance to governments and direct investments in projects in both mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

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Challenges to Food Security

3 Challenges to Food Security — Covid, Climate, Conflict: Jaishankar

Highlighting the three Cs–Climate change, Covid-19, and Conflict–which are impacting food security across the world, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said a concerted global push for millets is imperative to counter the challenges, increase self-reliance and global availability.

While addressing the High Commissioners/Ambassadors based in Delhi during the luncheon hosted jointly by the department of agriculture and farmers welfare and the ministry of external affairs as a pre-launch celebration of the International Year of Millets (IYOM), Jaishankar said, “I see three challenges to food security- Covid, Conflict, Climate. Each one has impacted food security significantly.”
Jaishankar also said, “Millets have increasing relevance in the world today in the backdrop of Covid, climate change, and conflicts.”

Jaishankar stressed that millets are important for food security as well as international relations.

To reduce the risk of the global economy more decentralized production and more self-reliance are required as well as “willingness” on part of the country not only to grow for themselves but to help each other.

He said COVID was a period that reminded the world what a pandemic could do to food security. He said climate changes can lower production and disrupt trade. He suggested that in international relations, much greater attention ought to be given to food security.

During his address, Jaishankar said that India is the world’s largest producer of millet where almost 20 percent of the world’s production is of the country.

“International relations started with food security. The fundamental urge to secure their own food and to see how they can get food from others. That is why we were keen to take the Indian year of millets to the International year of millets,” the minister added.

At the event, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who was also there said that the International Year of Millets (IYOM) 2023 will provide an opportunity for increasing global production, efficient processing, and better use of crop rotation and promoting millets as a major component of the food basket.

Millet is a storehouse of micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals. International Year of Millets will raise awareness about the contribution of millets to Food Security and Nutrition, motivate stakeholders for continuous production and quality improvement of millets, and attract attention to increase investment in research and development services, according to the ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare.

Asia and Africa are the major production and consumption centers of millet crops. India, Niger, Sudan, and Nigeria are the major producer of millet.

Minister of State for External Affairs Meenakashi Lekhi, Secretary for Economic Relations Dammu Ravi, Ministry of External Affairs Secretary (West) Sanjay Verma and about 100 High Commissioners/Ambassadors based in Delhi and senior officials were present at the event. (ANI)

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Climate Change Comes Calling

Suddenly, scattered rain has arrived with torrential magic in the east and north of India, the first terrain longing for more, and the latter parched, hopeless and tragic, now soaked with incomplete hope. Across the Hindi heartland the relief moves like a respite, but real optimism is still far away, because the water falling from the sky is too little and too late, especially in Purvanchal, where the earth is not green, there are no natural water resources, and no canal system either, as it is in the green revolution belt of fertile Western UP, Haryana and Punjab.

Indeed, this summer has been cruel after the end of the condemnation, sorrow and isolation of the pandemic; if there was a rainbow in the horizon, it was all in the mind.

The farmers in the deep of the Hindi heartland are thirsty and in despair. The migrant labourers who are also landless labourers during the agricultural season are in eternal sorrow; they too are thirsty and in despair. With tens of thousands jobless, the economy in a relentless slump, and no light at the end of the tunnel, they look up at the sky with empty eyes, knowing so well that this tryst with destiny is becoming more tragic than ever. And there is no respite.

From the rural interiors of Sasaram and Mughalsarai and beyond to Allahabad and Kanpur Dehat, across the Eastern UP terrain of parched earth, the farmers are expecting rain with a hopeless longing which no government seems to notice. In a country where multi-billionaires are being celebrated, who cares for the farmers and landless labourers anyway?

Even green and beautiful rural Bengal, surprisingly, is crying for rain. Unlike last year, trapped in the interiors of the same home day after day, Kal Boishaki arrived with its theatrical thunder, bereft of nuance or subtlety, and filled the air with lightning, thunderbolts, roaring clouds, and  all the drama and spectacle which only this Bengal phenomena can generate.

The sky would suddenly become dark like black ink, and turn into a mystical night of great mystery and romance, the sound and fury of the season would overwhelm and overpower all forms of softer narratives, and if you would whistle in the dark, it would simply vanish into the blue. Then rain would arrive in slanted, unfinished and diagonal sentences, like a symmetrical symphony of  Bach printed in the atmosphere, amidst the clouds and the sunshine, in the paddy fields and on the streets, playing hide and seek. The spectacle itself would heal the pandemic soul, and a damned and meaningless life would suddenly seem more precious once again.

This year, this phenomenon did not happen: the theatrics, the spectacle and the sound and fury. Instead, it was day after day of suffocating heat and humidity, with not a whiff of cool winds to soothe the soul, with huge deficiency of rainfall for the current paddy crop, and torrential rain just refusing to arrive.

ALSO READ: Can Glasgow Summit COPe With Climate Crisis?

An old woman who sells fish in South 24 Paragana in Bengal went to Canning near Sunderbans to check if there is water in her fields. There was none. Or, not enough for the young crop.

A woman farmer in Sunderbans called up her daughter in Kolkata. “There is water everywhere in the rivers of Sunderbans, but it is full of salt. And the paddy fields are dying for water.”

A young school teacher in an adivasi village in district Birbhum told this reporter: “This year we can just about manage. If the crop fails again in the next season, we are doomed.”

Across Birbhum, either the land is barren, or the young plants are waiting for rain: the paddy needs more and more water. Across Malda and Murshidabad, even in Burdwan, etc, it is the same story. In this green expanse, hides a story of great expectations, and hidden sorrow.

Contrast this with the ritualistic and incessant floods in Assam and Bangladesh, with villages disappearing from the map, along with the documents of the citizens, and scores of people dead. The sight of flooded landscapes with people struggling to survive has become so routine every monsoon, that the media has almost stopped covering it, routine rhetoric of reaching out to the lakhs of marooned people is not even used anymore, it seems, and if there are aerial surveys, they don’t seem to bring in any tangible relief. The army, as always, gets into action, and effective rescue operations are undertaken. It seems, thereby, all is normal.

In Europe, America and the West, the heat wave is incomprehensible and intolerable, even as the poor in London who live in poor housing, cold in winter and hot in the summer, watch their homes burning, while cars move on the highway as if all is well and happy in Tory Britain. A train moves in Spain surrounded by raging fires on both sides, and passengers huddle inside the compartment, and the Al Jazeera news clip looks look like a tense Hollywood movie. Even while the forests, whatever little is left, are crackling with the jungle fires, moving like a bad dream across the urban landscape.

Writes George Monbiot (The Guardian, July 18, 2022): “Can we talk about it now? I mean the subject most of the media and most of the political class has been avoiding for so long. You know, the only subject that ultimately counts — the survival of life on Earth. Everyone knows, however carefully they avoid the topic, that, beside it, all the topics filling the front pages and obsessing the pundits are dust. Even the Times editors still publishing columns denying climate science know it. Even the candidates for the Tory leadership, ignoring or downplaying the issue, know it. Never has a silence been so loud or so resonant….

“…This is not a passive silence. It is an active silence, a fierce commitment to distraction and irrelevance in the face of an existential crisis. It is a void assiduously filled with trivia and amusement, gossip and spectacle. Talk about anything, but not about this. But while the people who dominate the means of communication frantically avoid the subject, the planet speaks, in a roar becoming impossible to ignore. These days of atmospheric rage, these heat-shocks and wildfires ignore the angry shushing and burst rudely into our silent retreat….”

And Africa, what about Africa, the infinite dark continent? Well, in India, this darkness is never reflected in the media, as is the darkness in our rural and tribal hinterland. For the mainline media, Africa simply does not exist.

The Guardian reports from Senegal: “There’s no water, there’s no grass near our homes so we have travelled now for a month,” says Sow, 18, who is heading for Tambacounda, a town that has long been on the route for Fulani herders. “We don’t have a choice. Our goats and cows need to eat and drink so we follow the road to wherever is greener. We don’t know where we will end up.”

The Indian farmer in many parts of the country, might be saying the same thing.

‘I Am A Pollution Refugee, Forced To Migrate From Delhi’

A Delhi citizen all her life, Priyanka Gera was forced to leave a well-settled living due to worsening air quality in the city. Gera says she has lost hope of seeing any improvement

I grew up in Delhi. I was a pure Delhiite until the birth of my daughter when I could no longer ignore the air pollution in Delhi. My husband was perpetually anxious about her wellbeing. We bought an AQI monitor and put air purifiers at every room in our house.

During winters we didn’t send her to pre-school on most of the days because the AQI used to be severe. We would escape to a hill station around Diwali. Then came a point when we no longer wanted to adjust our lifestyle according to pollution levels.

We started wearing N95 masks in 2018-19 while venturing out. Now masks are mandatory due to the pandemic and I find it funny that people still won’t wear masks despite the Covid guidelines, leave alone the poor air quality.

As the situation got worse by each passing year, in 2019, we took the tough call to leave our families, social circle and well-set careers and move to Bangalore for the sake of a better environment. Most people can’t do that or won’t do that – leave their well settled lives because of a danger that they don’t think is clear and present. So, they tell themselves various things to live with it, most vague of these reasoning is that somehow, you’ll develop strength or a kind of immunity in your body to adapt to pollution as if it were some ordinary flu germs. Yes, it’s true, I have heard this from so many people in Delhi!

ALSO READ: ‘NCR Air Is Worse Than Smoke From A Coal Mine’

Having lived in Bangalore for two years have done just the opposite. Now, every time we come to Delhi to visit our families, we get unwell. I wake up coughing every single day. No, it’s not Covid-19, it’s another lung killer that we choose to ignore – pollution!

I don’t know why most people are not anxious about the pollution affecting quality of their life. People like us are exceptions, who are willing to uproot themselves because we’ve lost hope that it can ever improve here.

Surely the government and agencies have been aware of the potential crisis since decades, that’s why CNG was introduced and Metro was planned. All industries have been sent out of Delhi. The problem is not just Delhi, it’s very much there in the neighbouring states too.

Government action is but all ‘reaction’ – nothing much is being done proactively. It takes the Supreme Court to give ultimatums to Delhi Government to take steps, now construction has been halted, schools are shut etc.

Hope From COP

Despite general frustration with COP 26, there are some milestones achieved, some targets that are worth looking forward to and some hope that future COPs will moving in the right direction. To have expected an exceptionally ambitious plan to address climate change would have been naïve particularly as it would have meant considerable disruption to normal life.

Perhaps the four developments that are worth considering are the commitment to deforestation, the setting up of a fund for developing countries to mitigate climate change, India’s commitment to source half of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources and China offering to work with USA to deal with climate crises.

India is one of the main countries along with China and USA leading the world pollution table. Both China and India are continuing to rely on coal significantly. Both have also signalled to change from coal and other fossil fuels to non-fossil sources. India has a growing population and its middle class base in expanding with needs such as cars, refrigerators, mobile phones and other high tech equipment. It is also developing economically. India has a significant challenge to balance the needs and appetite of its population for energy hungry technology and reduce carbon and methane emissions on the other hand.

Unlike western countries where energy needs have reached near peak point, India’s needs are on the up. Developed countries have to change their energy needs from carbon dependency to non-carbon fuels. India cannot just ditch all fossil sourced energy and invest in non-Carbon energy sources. The expense would mean giving up on development or delaying it significantly.

Hence Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to ensure that half of India’s energy will be sourced from non-Carbon fuel by 2030 is significant. This will be around 500 gigawatts. The sheer scale of this new energy sources will make it cheaper all around for the world. It is quite possible that as this alternative fuel sources become cheaper, India will reach its target much sooner and commit to a greater percentage of non-carbon energy by 2030. Cheaper non carbon energy will encourage other countries, including developed countries to invest in non-fossil sourced energy. Currently it is still expensive. It needs exponential increase in numbers.

India has further committed to reduce its total carbon emissions by 1 Billion tones. This is a significant target. Although PM Modi also said that India will reach net zero by 2070 which disappointed many. There is hope that once the escalation to renewable energy takes place, the 2070 target will be reviewed.

India however refused to agree to the para to phase out coal. India along with Russia and China are still dependent on coal. The para was weakened to read ‘phase down’. Nevertheless it is moving in the right direction.

Similarly the setting up of a larger fund for developing countries to change to non-fossil fuels and a fund for small Islands is a step towards the start of a serious drive to assist countries highly dependent on fossil fuels to transfer to other energy sources and become self-sufficient. The Fund is likely to grow as more countries chip in and current developed countries reach deeper into their pockets.

Small Islands facing extinction with rising oceans and temperatures however came out with a punitive lifeline. A mere 2 million has been pledged to them. It is likely to increase.

As significant is the commitment to deforestation. Deforestation has been a major cause of carbon emissions and climate change. Countries such as Brazil and Russia have significant forests. There are many smaller countries in South America, Africa and South East Asia who have large forests but also need land for farming as well as living space for their population. In a competitive world they try and balance their budgets with developing whatever resources they can. A commitment to stop deforestation with appropriate compensation will encourage many countries to scale down encroaching on forests.

ALSO READ: Can Glasgow Summit COPe With Climate Crisis?

The hand of friendship by China to work with USA is another welcome development. Both countries have faced significant consequences of the climate change. China has put the United States in a spot to some extent by this offer. Instead of accusing China of damaging the climate, the USA can cooperate to set achievable targets.

Critics say that the agreements fall far short of efforts needed to keep temperature rise to 1.5° C by end of century. Based on the current agreement, the temperature will probably rise by 2.4 leading the world towards disaster. Critics say that the solutions agreed do not rise to the challenge. This may well be, but the agreements in themselves are a step in the right direction.

The world economy has been dependent on fossil fuel for over a century if not more. The corporations in control of production cannot change overnight without significant damage to economy and jobs. However they feel the heat of public opinion and know that they cannot carry on as usual. COP26 has shown that the tide is beginning to change and both developed countries and Transnationals are beginning to give undertakings to be responsive to reduce Carbon and Methane emissions.

If the pressure continues and the damaging consequences of climate change keep on recurring, within a year or two, the atmosphere will change. More dramatic commitments will be made either in COP27 or by COP28. It also gives enough time for countries and the corporate sector to begin restructure their investments, productions, sourcing etc to be compliant with change to reduce temperature rises. Both developed countries and corporations know that the mood of the public has changed and will not tolerate their intransigence.

A subtext of COP26 was that the Britain under the current Prime Minister is not much trusted around the world. UK itself is investing in a new coal mine. It has cut overseas aid thus depriving poorer countries even further of means to cope with climate change. Britain further failed to join an alliance to phase out oil and gas. To many it seemed the United Kingdom was asking others to commit to targets that it wasn’t interested itself to adopt. Not surprisingly, the largest emitters have postponed their commitment to another day. Its politics.

Nevertheless COP26 gives hope. It has shown that unlike the Paris Agreement where grand gestures and ambitions were made, the mood now is to get down to business. The polluters know they cannot ignore public opinion or media cacophony on climate. They know the science is against them and they have no answers to the growing evidence that has been finding its way into headlines. They know that the Paris Agreement is not something they can ignore. If the Paris Agreement set targets, the Glasgow COP26 has started the journey on the path.

NCR Air Pollution in Winter

‘NCR Air Is Worse Than Smoke From Dhanbad Coal Mines’

Rajesh Kumar, 48, a construction engineer in Faridabad, says he shudders to think how people with respiratory issues cope with NCR air pollution in winter

I grew up in Dhanbad, one of the most polluted places in the country, but trust me the air quality in Delhi-NCR is even poorer than the simmering smoke from coal mines. I live in Faridabad, and while a lot of people are focusing on how polluted Delhi is, the entire NCR is equally bad, if not worse.

I had shifted to Delhi-NCR in 2005 from Manipur and the difference in air quality between the two places was palpable. I begun having difficulty in breathing while driving, and the pollution has shot to such alarming levels in the last five years, that it has become unmanageable. Every day is an ordeal.

Owing to the nature of my work as an engineer, I have to drive every day to my workplace that is often a dusty mass of construction land. I’m not asthmatic, but still if a normally young and healthy person like me can find the situation so troublesome, imagine what it can do to senior citizens, kids and those fighting respiratory illnesses.

My mother, 67, spends her time between Dhanbad and Faridabad. She is asthmatic and with each passing year that she spends in Faridabad, she has been complaining of breathing issues. She stays put inside the house when she comes here to avoid the “heavy, pungent air”. My younger son also finds it difficult to navigate winter months because of the pollution levels. He is allergic to dust and keeps sniffling continuously.

There are factories upon factories in NCR and a never ending series of construction work going on, adding to the pollution. Many of these factories don’t follow the pollution control norms adding to the misery of people. I have even stopped going for my morning and evening walks owing to the pollution. I tried for a few days, but then I begun facing difficulty in breathing (one cannot even think of jogging) and my eyes also started burning.

Kumar says climate crisis is for real

Last year was so different: there was the spectre of Covid looming large over our heads, but the lockdown meant lesser vehicles, lesser factories open and thus very low levels of pollution. It was like we had moved to a different world. Even post-Diwali, the air quality hadn’t deteriorated like every year, the visibility wasn’t low. But we are back to square one again this year. Seems like we have squandered away all the gains made last year.

Climate change is real and a solution is required urgently. Not only are dialogues between nations important, it is prudent for governments across the world to hold dialogues with their citizens. In India, we need to really take a quick, hard look at the problem. As a government employee, my team and I ensure that we don’t compromise the Earth and its people’s health in the name of development. If we have to cut a particular number of trees for construction, we ensure that we plant double the number of trees.

Unless we give the Earth back more than we take from it, we are going to keep facing difficulties. As we have noticed, each year is getting more difficult climate change wise and the weather is getting more and more unpredictable. We cannot ignore the problem of pollution anymore. The parali burning in Punjab also needs to be addressed. Rather than just blaming the farmers, we need to work together in helping them find a solution as well. We all need to come together to save the Earth.

Can Glasgow Summit COPe With Climate Crisis?

A UN-sponsored marathon conference to tackle the global climate crisis is due to being the British city of Glasgow, the coming Sunday (31 October) and will continue till 12 November. The world leaders will meet in the so-called last-ditch effort to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius this century, besides considering plans to how to stop burning fossil fuels, stabilise global temperatures and share money to adapt to increasingly extreme weather.

The global leaders signed up the Paris Agreement in 2015 — with a supposedly non-binding target to keep warming well below 2 C above pre-industrial temperatures, and ideally 1.5 C — yet most of the participating countries continue to burn fossil fuels and chop down trees at rates incompatible with that goal.

With the effects of climate change visible in both rich and poor countries alike, the leaders are meeting for what analysts expect to be the most meaningful conference since that pledge. Climate change has shot up the political agenda amid deadly weather extremes and mass public protest, and leaders of several polluting countries have pledged to decarbonise their economies by the middle of the century.

Summit’s Agenda

The world leaders got to choose how fast their country will cut emissions Under the Paris Agreement, besides agreeing to update their action plans for doing so every five years. But in reality just weeks before the summit, big emitters like China, India and Saudi Arabia are yet to submit new plans.

Reportedly UK, which is co-hosting the summit with Italy, has pressured countries to submit new plans and is pushing for concrete deals that would help reach those targets. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on world leaders to deliver bold commitments on “coal, cars, cash and trees.”

The UK is pushing for a treaty that would “consign coal to history” and has proposed a deadline of 2040 to stop selling combustion engine cars. It also wants to put more money into stopping deforestation.

According to the United Nations Climate Change Framework Convention (UNFCCC) COP26 will work towards four goals: Secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach, adapt to protect communities and natural habitats, mobilise assured finance to help developing and under-developed countries to attain emission cuts, and work together to deliver to frame a list of detailed rules that will help fulfil the Paris Agreement.

On the really big question of keeping the 1.5C temperature threshold within reach, the likelihood is that a significant gap will remain even after Glasgow. Under the terms of the Paris Agreement, those countries that have used fossil fuels the most over the past two centuries – the US and from Europe – accept they will make the bigger cuts in the short term. The larger developing nations that are now the biggest source of CO2 – chiefly China – accept they will make the bigger cuts in the longer term.

The environmentalist and experts say that we can very easily understand the colossal and disastrous results of the climate change, if we can observe the following four weather changes, which have been caused by the increasing global temperature due to the emission of CO2 and other poisonous gases like methane into the atmosphere: Hotter and longer heat waves, more persistent droughts, more fuel for wildfires, and more extreme rainfall events are the resultant climate change vagaries.

Meanwhile, an interesting report by the US intelligence agency’s assessment of climate change has come out and as per the report, India and Pakistan are among the 11 highly vulnerable countries in terms of their ability to prepare for as well as respond to the environmental and social impact of climate change. The first-ever US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the issue of climate change has been published, and it adds that India along with China will be crucial in determining the trajectory at which there is a rise in global temperatures. On the other hand, the report has downplayed the role that the Western world has played in the problem of climate change. Further the report has warned that the possibility of geopolitical tensions and the risk to US national security are present due to global warming in the run up to 2040.

Expectations From Summit

In another development before the summit, India has said that it will raise the topic of compensation to developing nations for the losses caused by climate disasters. The Indian environment ministry said that India stands with other low-income and developing nations on the matter and the compensation clause will be negotiated at the upcoming climate summit.

India has reiterated that the countries responsible for climate change should finance what they have committed to and make technology available at an affordable cost. It is also confirmed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will put forward the Indian stand at the summit

Meanwhile, reports say that Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International has warned against efforts by countries and corporations at the forthcoming talks in Glasgow to “green wash” their on-going pollution of the planet.

By doing so, governments would “give that kind of hope and confidence to their people that they got this and that they’re willing to do things that their corporate interests don’t want them to do,” she added.

Morgan pointed to leaked documents showing how countries such as Australia, Brazil and Saudi Arabia are apparently trying to water down an upcoming UN science panel report on global warming as evidence of the way in which some governments’ public support for climate action is undermined by their efforts behind closed doors.

Documents obtained by Greenpeace indicate how those countries wanted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to remove references to the need to shut down coal-fired power stations, reduce meat consumption and focus on actual emissions cuts rather than ways to capture carbon already released into the atmosphere.

Various outcomes of the Glasgow Summit in view of the non-adherence to the goals of the Paris Agreement are being predicted. Yet, barring a complete collapse in the talks, there are likely to be a range of tangible outcomes. It’s expected that more countries will announce they are moving away from using coal for energy, and more nations may probably sign up to curb methane emissions.

There is only a moral pressure to improve your offer, and a degree of embarrassment if a country doesn’t step up to the mark. Glasgow will reveal whether this approach actually works.

As Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Haseena has put it succinctly and wisely in a recent speech, tackling climate requires a great deal of fortitude, imagination, hope and leadership. If western leaders listen, engage and act decisively on what science demands of them, there is still time to make COP26 the success it desperately needs to be.

(Asad Mirza is a political commentator based in New Delhi. He writes on issues related to Muslims, education, geopolitics and interfaith)