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Union Cabinet approves India’s negotiating position adopted at Kigali conference to Montreal Protocol

The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval to the negotiating position adopted by India at the recent 28th Meeting of Parties (MoP) to the Montreal Protocol in Kigali, Rwanda.

The negotiations at Kigali meet held in October 2016 were aimed at including HFCs in the list of chemicals under the Montreal Protocol.

The Union Cabinet has approved baseline and freeze years proposal of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest (MoEFCC) over the issue of phasing down the climate-damaging refrigerants hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as negotiated in Kigali meet.

Key Facts

  • In the Kigali meet, India had successfully negotiated the baseline years within a range of 2024 to 2030 and freeze year in subsequent years for phasing down the use of HFCs.
  • It had two set of baselines years were agreed for developing countries. India along with nine other countries will have baseline years of 2024, 2025, 2026.
  • India will completely phase down of HFCs in 4 steps from 2032 onwards with cumulative reduction of 10% in 2032, 20% in 2037, 30% in 2042 and 85% in 2047
  • It also gives additional HCFC allowance of 65% that will be added to the Indian baseline consumption and production.
  • Other developing countries including China (largest producer of HFCs in the world), South Africa and Brazil opted for 2020-22 baseline.
  • The developed countries on the other will hand reduce use of HFCs over a 2011-13 baseline and will reduce production and consumption of HFCs by 70% in 2029.
  • The freeze year for India will be 2028 and it will be with a condition that there will be a technology review in 2024/2025.
  • India’s position was mainly aimed at allowing sufficient room for growth of its domestic sectors using refrigerants.

Background

  • The Montreal Protocol of the Vienna Convention for Protection of Ozone Layer which entered force in January 1989 aimed to phase out the ozone depleting substances (ODS).
  • At Kigali, it was decide to include HFCs in the list of chemicals under the Montreal Protocol in order to regulate their production, consumption and phasing them out with time.
  • It also added mechanism to provide financial assistance from the Multilateral Fund created under the Montreal Protocol.
  • Under it, funding for R&D and servicing sector in developing countries also was included in the agreed solutions on finance.
  • Kigali amendments to the Montreal Protocol also for the first time will incentivise improvement in energy efficiency in case of use of new refrigerant and technology.
  • Note: HFCs are not ODS but potent global warming substances and controlling them can contribute substantially to limit global temperature and advance actions for addressing climate change.

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Worst coral die-off recorded at Australia’s Great Barrief Reef

Scientists have recorded worst mass coral bleaching event on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It has killed more corals than ever before, sounding the alarm over the delicate ecosystem.

It is estimated nearly two-thirds of 2,300-kilometre long reef or 700 km stretch of coral in the Great Barrier Reef’s northern part have died in the past nine months.

This is the worst die-off ever recorded in Great Barrier Reef and also the largest ever recorded anywhere. However, the central and southern sections of the reef are fared far better, with only 6% and 1% of the coral dead, respectively.

What are Corals reefs?

  • Coral reefs result from the natural work of little polyps (few millimeters long) is budded on top of one another. They are the most biologically diverse ecosystems of the planet
  • Over centuries, shells (mostly made up of Calcium Carbonate) of these corals combine to form the exotic shapes of coral reefs.
  • Tiny differences in the anatomy of each polyp species mainly affect the shape of their shells and produce the exotic shapes of each reef.
  • Conditions required for growth of corals: Warm tropical oceans with minimum temperature of 20 degree. They are primarily located between 30 degree north and 25 degree south latitudes where water temperature favours the growth of coral organisms; Transparent parts of ocean bodies; Oceanic water must free of sedimentation; it should have relatively low salinity.

What is coral bleaching?

  • Coral bleaching causes corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour. It calcifies the corals to  turn into white.
  • Algae are vital to the coral, which uses the organic products of photosynthesis to help it grow. The loss of algae makes it vulnerable to disease and it will eventually die.
  • When a coral bleaches, it is not dead. They can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to re-colonise them.
  • Reasons: It occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures.
  • In recent times unusual warm ocean water is mainly heated by man-made climate change and the natural El Niño climate pattern.

About the Great Barrier Reef

  • It is the biggest coral reef system in the world composed of over 2,900 individual reefs. It was recorded as a World Heritage site in 1981.
  • The reef is located in the Coral Sea, north east of Australia and covers an area of approximately 348,000 sq km.
  • It is credited as the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms and is visible from the outer space.

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Himalayan hydro power projects face flood risk

The potential hydro power projects in the Himalayan region face increased flood risks from the formation of new lakes and the expansion of existing ones due to melting glaciers.

It was revealed by study conducted by Swiss researchers on the impact of climate change in the Himalayas.

The study made analysis of Himalayan glaciers and their possible future impact on livelihoods in States adjoining the region. It found that the global warming could cause Himalayan glaciers to melt rapidly increasing the flow of water.

According to the study

  • 441 hydro-power projects spanning India, Nepal, Pakistan and China are on possible Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) tracks.
  • It means that these projects could be gorged with extra water from melting glaciers. These 441 projects accounts 66% of constructed and potential hydro power projects,
  • Thus, almost a third of these hydro-power projects could experience GLOF discharges well above what these dams account for.
  • If the hydro-power projects are situated close to these glaciers, they would have to account for higher water flows.
  • The fear of floods can be mitigate by taking in to consideration extra need of design or safety features in these projects.

What is Indian Scenario?

In this study, 129 hydro projects from India were analysed. In the Parvati Valley catchment area, 12 lakes in 1989 had increased to 77 lakes in 2014 and in the Beas basin, six lakes (in 1989) had increased to 33 (in 2011). Most of the lakes were in Himachal Pradesh are relatively small or with a capacity less than of a million cubic metres, and only a few of them had a capacity larger than 10 million cubic metres of water.

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