Environment Current Affairs

22 April: Earth Day

Every year Earth Day is being observed on the 22nd April to build support for environmental protection around the world. This year is 46th anniversary of Earth Day.

Significance of the Day: It recognises that Earth and its ecosystems provide its inhabitants with life and sustenance. It also aims to raise awareness that humans have a collective responsibility to promote harmony with nature and to balance the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations.

2016 Theme: Trees for the Earth!’. The theme signifies that trees are crucial for combating climate change as they absorb harmful levels of Carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

This year’s Earth Day coincides with the signing of the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The agreement is a legally binding on signatory countries to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

On this day more than one billion people participate in Earth Day campaigns from all around the globe of all nationalities, faiths and backgrounds.

Background

  • The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970. Since then it is being observed in more than 192 countries.
  • The concept of observing Earth Day was formally proposed by John McConnell at a UNESCO conference on Environment in 1969 as a global holiday.
  • Later in 1971, a proclamation was signed to observe international Earth Day annually on the Vernal Equinox by UN Secretary-General U Thant.

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Union Cabinet approves signing the Paris Agreement adopted at 21st CoP

The Union Cabinet gave its approval for signing the Paris Agreement adopted at the 21st Conference of Parties of UNFCCC held in Paris in December 2015.

In this regard, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar will sign the agreement on behalf of India.

The Paris Agreement on climate change is considered as a milestone in global climate cooperation. It is meant to enhance the implementation of the Convention and recognizes the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities, equity and respective capabilities in the light of different national circumstances.

Key features of the Paris Agreement

  • Rights of Developing Countries: Acknowledges the development imperatives of developing countries and their rights to development.
  • It also supports their efforts to harmonize development with environment and protecting the interests of the most vulnerable.
  • Sustainable Development: It recognizes the importance of sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption.
  • In this regard developed countries take the lead and also highlight the importance of ‘climate justice’ in its preamble.
  • Implementation of the Convention: It reflects the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities especially in the light of different national circumstances.
  • Other Objectives: It further ensures that it is not mitigation-centric and includes other important elements such as adaptation, finance, loss and damage, technology, capacity building and transparency of action and support. Pre-2020 actions are also part of the decisions.
  • Financial support from Developed countries: They have been urged to scale up their level of financial support with a complete road map.
  • The sole purpose the financial support from developed countries is to achieve the goal of mitigating climate change jointly providing US 100 billion dollars by 2020.
  • The financial support will be used for mitigation and adaptation by significantly increasing adaptation finance from current levels. It will further provide appropriate technology and capacity building support.
For more details: (i) Paris Agreement (ii) Paris Agreement on Climate Change

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