Environment Current Affairs 2017

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Two-thirds of wild animals may go extinct by 2020

According to recently released study, global wildlife populations have fallen by 58% since 1970 and if the trend continues then two-thirds of wild animals may go extinct by 2020

The study was published as The Living Planet assessment by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

What the study says?

  • It suggests that animals living in lakes, rivers and wetlands are suffering the biggest losses.
  • Human activity, including habitat loss, wildlife trade, pollution and climate change contributed to the decline in global wildlife populations.
  • It also concluded that vertebrate populations are declining by an average of 2% each year.

How the study was conducted?

  • The report in its analysis had looked at 3,700 different species of birds, mammals, fish, amphibians and reptiles, about 6% of total number of vertebrate species in the world.
  • It had also collected data from government statistics, peer-reviewed studies and surveys collated by conservation groups and NGOs.
  • They had included any species with population data going back to 1970, with two or more time points in the study.
  • Then using this data researchers had analysed how the population sizes had changed over time.
  • Some of this information was weighted to take into account the groups of animals that had a great deal of data or very little data.

Background

  • The Living Planet Report is published every two years. It aims to provide an assessment of the state of the world’s wildlife.
  • The last report was published in 2014. It had estimated that the world’s wildlife populations had halved over the last 40 years.

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CO2 level reaches record high in 2016: WMO

According to the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin level of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the atmosphere has reached a record high.

The globally averaged concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere reached to 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 2015. It is expected to surge again to new records in 2016 on the back of the very powerful El Niño event.

Key Facts

  • This is for the first time CO2 levels have reached the 400 ppm barrier on a global average basis for the entire year.
  • Besides, longest-established GHGs monitoring station at Mauna Loa, Hawaii predicts that CO2 concentrations will stay above 400 ppm for whole of 2016 and not dip below that level for many generations.
  • There was a 37% increase in radiative forcing (the warming effect on our climate) because of long-lived GHGs such as CO2, methane and nitrous oxide (N2O) released from industrial, agricultural and domestic activities between 1990 and 2015.

What is relation between CO2 emissions and El Niño event?

  • According to WMO, the growth spurt in CO2 was fuelled by the El Niño event, which started in 2015 and had a strong impact well into 2016.
  • The El Niño event had triggered droughts in tropical regions and reduced the capacity of “sinks” like forests, vegetation and the oceans to absorb CO2.
  • These sinks currently absorb about half of CO2 emissions but now there is a risk that they may become saturated.
  • Once these sinks become saturated it will increase the fraction of emitted CO2 which stays in the atmosphere.

About World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

  • WMO is an intergovernmental organization and specialised agency of the UN for meteorology (weather and climate), operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
  • Established: It had originated from the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), which was founded in 1873.
  • Membership: 191 Member States and Territories.
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

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World Bank must aid countries to manage shift away from coal

The global development lenders like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ABD) must provide help countries including India to shift away from coal for energy purpose.

It was proposed by the World Coal Association to finance countries to help them to shift from their to more efficient technologies so that they can meet their COP21 commitments.

Why should global development lenders provide aid?

  • Coal is backbone of countries energy mix to meet their energy demands. Even if countries push towards renewable energy they are not going to do away with coal in overall energy mix.
  • In absence of any funding countries invest in inefficient sub-critical thermal plants, which have much higher CO2 and particulate matter (PM) emissions. Thus, leading to higher emissions.
  • The aid global development lenders will facilitate countries to adopt Super critical and ultra-super critical (USC) plants technologies.

What are benefits of aid from global development lenders?

  • Super critical and ultra-super critical (USC) plants technologies have capability to substantially reduce CO2 emissions and virtually eliminate PM emissions.
  • It will help countries in reducing their emissions from coal, rather than reducing coal itself and meet target provided in Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).
  • Thus some target of Paris agreement on Climate Change about reducing the emissions from coal power plants will be achieved.

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