No Protection: The Indian government notified the public of its intentions to acquire protected land in Chhattisgarh for mining despite the Supreme Court observing that governments did not have the right to mine in eco-sensitive zones | Photo: Down to Earth

Centre plans to acquire land in protected forest area for mining

India’s coal ministry plans to acquire 1,760 hectares of land for mining in Surguja, Chhattisgarh. But the catch is around 98% of this land is a protected forest area. The ministry, however, has made its intentions known via a notice published in a Raipur newspaper earlier this month. The move comes despite the Supreme Court’s September 30 observation that neither the Centre nor the state has the right to mine an area that comes under an eco-sensitive zone. 

The coal ministry, however, seeks to acquire the land under a subsection of the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act, which allows the Centre to take over the land for mining within two years of notifying if it is satisfied that coal can be extracted from the whole or part tract of the land.  

Japan and South Korea pledge carbon neutrality by 2050; EU one step closer to making pledge legally binding

China’s recent net zero by 2060 announcement seems to have spurred other countries to join in. The newest entrant into the ‘net-zero club’ is Japan that has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. While Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga did not give information on how the coal-dependent country would go about achieving this target, he said the country would promote renewable energy and focus on safety as it pushes for a larger role for nuclear energy. Just days after Japan’s announcement, neighbours South Korea too announced plans to pursue carbon neutrality by 2050. “We will go toward carbon neutral by 2050, taking action on climate change…We will replace coal power with renewable energy, creating new markets and industries as well as jobs,” said South Korean President Moon Jae-in while announcing the move.

Environment ministers in the EU, which set a similar target last year, are set to make the pledge legally binding. This law is likely to set as a goal for the EU as a whole, and not for individual countries. This could mean some countries could get away with having higher emissions if others make deeper cuts.   

Meanwhile, Switzerland and Peru signed a carbon offsetting agreement under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. As per the deal, while Peru gets to fund sustainable development projects, Switzerland gets to count the resulting emissions cuts against its national targets.

Banks financing projects leading to biodiversity loss to the tune of US$2.6 trillion, finds new report

With species extinction rates reaching alarming levels, concerns about unmitigated biodiversity loss and its impacts have also grown. A new report now delves deep into the financing of activities contributing to biodiversity losses around the world. The report, Bankrolling Extinction, has explored 72 business sectors to identify and calculate corporate loans, project finance, general corporate purposes finance, share issuance and bond issuance from 50 banks world wide. The banks analysed included 20 European banks (linked to 36 per cent of the total finance with risk of biodiversity impact identified in this report), 18 banks in the Asia Pacific region (24.7 per cent), 8 in North America (38.7 per cent) and two each in South America (0.4 per cent) and Africa (0.1 per cent). According to publishers,  while banks in China exhibited particularly high levels of financing with risk of direct biodiversity impact, on average, North American banks invested USD 126 billion each in industry sectors linked to bio-diversity impacts. This was 2.7 times the USD 47 billion of finance provided on average by each of the European banks, and 3.5 times the USD 36 billion provided on average by each of the Asian and Pacific banks.

Poorer countries being driven to debt in name of climate finance: Oxfam report

A recent Oxfam report revealed the burden poorer countries are undertaking as part of climate finance. The report stated that billions of dollars were being loaned at high interest rates to these countries seeking help to deal with the impacts of climate change. These loans are sinking these countries into a debt-ridden hole that is sure to last for many more years to come, the report stated. Breaking it down into numbers, the report found poorer countries received $60 billion of climate finance from wealthy countries and publicly funded institutions in 2017-18. But the amount that actually reached these countries was between $19 billion and $22.5 billion after subtraction of interest, repayments and other costs, according to Oxfam. 

Experts cry foul over proposed ship efficiency measures

Shipping experts have expressed their disappointment with a proposal by leading maritime nations to cut the industry’s carbon footprint. The proposal suggests a slew of short-term and long-term technical and operational measures that will not be enforced until 2030, which, experts say, is a decade too late. The proposal, in its current form, falls short of the goals set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Paris Agreement climate goals, according to experts.

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