The environment ministry has approved the grant of terms of reference (ToR) to the Phata Byung Hydroelectric Project that was almost completely washed away during the 2013 flash floods that killed over 6,000 people.

Centre rebuilds hydro power project that ‘aggravated cloudburst disaster’ in 2013 

The Centre started granting environmental clearance to rebuild a hydropower project in the upper reaches of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand that was almost completely washed away during the 2013 flash floods that killed over 6,000 people, according to an HT report. The environment ministry on March 20 approved the grant of terms of reference (ToR) to the Phata Byung Hydroelectric Project (76 MW), one of the first steps in the process of environmental clearance.

The Phata Byung project aggravated the damage caused by the 2013 cloudburst and flash floods by constricting the flow of Mandakini river, one of the headwaters of the Ganga, an expert panel constituted by the ministry found. Despite the ministry’s report concluding that high-altitude hydropower projects aggravate damage of environmental disasters, the expert appraisal committee on March 20 went ahead and recommended the Phata Byung project for grant of standard ToR to conduct an environment impact assessment study with public consultation and without public hearing to Mandakini Jal Urja Private Limited. The exemption from public hearing based on a 2021 guideline for projects where the environment clearance has expired.

G7 to phase out coal in early 2030: Over 25% power in Germany, Japan produced from coal

The G7 countries reached a deal to shut down their coal-fired power plants in the first half of the 2030s.  Italian energy minister Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, who chaired the G7 ministerial meeting in Turin, said the ministers were also pondering potential restrictions to Russian imports of liquefied natural gas to Europe.

The latest G7 draft commits to “phase out existing unabated coal power generation in our energy systems during the first half of 2030s or in a timeline consistent with keeping a limit of 1.5°C temperature rise within reach, in line with countries’ net zero pathways”, the Hindu reported quoting sources.

UN climate chief Simon Stiell earlier urged highly industrialised countries to use their political clout, wealth and technologies to end fossil fuel use. “It is utter nonsense to claim the G7 cannot—or should noț—lead the way on bolder climate actions,” Stiell, who leads the United Nations climate change organisation, told the ministers.

Italy made only 4.7% of its total electricity from coal-fired stations in 2023 and plans to turn off its plants by 2025 (in Sardinia the deadline is 2028). Over 25% of power produced last year in Germany and Japan was from burning coal.

India seeks UK carbon tax exemption in free trade deal talks

India is asking to be exempted from the UK’s planned carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) due to its status as a developing country, an anonymous UK government official informed the Guardian. The newspaper reported that the Indian negotiators have been using the limited time left before the UK general election as a “bargaining chip” to push for an exemption from the carbon tax. “Any decision to exempt India from carbon tax would be controversial,” the article stated. It noted that the mechanism is meant to cut overall emissions and “support UK steel producers by levelling the playing field with countries that have a lower or no carbon levy”.

Government likely to issue green bonds worth ₹20,000 crore- ₹25,000 crore in FY25

India may boost the sale of green bonds this fiscal year to finance sustainable infrastructure projects, the Mint reported, adding that the government, which has already decided to borrow ₹12,000 crore via green bonds in the first half of FY25, may borrow a total of ₹20,000 crore–₹25,000 crore through such bonds during the full year. The outlet said in FY24, the government had issued sovereign green bonds of ₹20,000 crore, even though the budget did not specifically mention the plan. Of this, bonds of ₹5,000 crore with a tenure of five years were sold in November 2023, and ₹10,000 crore worth of bonds with a tenure of 30 years were sold in two tranches of ₹5,000 crore each in January and February 2024; bonds worth another ₹5,000 crore were sold in March.

World Bank, IMF meetings conclude without concrete plan on climate finance

The annual World Bank and IMF meetings concluded without a concrete plan to mobilise the trillions of dollars needed to fight climate change adding in a year where agreement on [the] New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) or a new climate finance goal will be the key issue at the United Nations climate conference (COP29) in Azerbaijan, reported the Press Trust of India.  The news wire said the discussions between G7 and G20 finance ministers on the sidelines of the spring meetings [in Washington DC] that wrapped up on Saturday touched on providing finance to developing countries for meeting climate and development objectives. The Vulnerable Group of Twenty Countries (V20) called for increased concessional finance for climate-vulnerable nations, and urged G7 and high-emitting G21 countries to safeguard the 1.5°C limit. The Intergovernmental Group of Twenty-Four on International Monetary Affairs and Development (G24) called for reforms to ensure timely assistance to vulnerable nations and urged reform of the G20 Common Framework to support countries in debt distress. 

Rich nations pledge $11 billion to World Bank for climate and global crises

Eleven rich nations have pledged a combined $11 billion to fund World Bank efforts to tackle global challenges such as climate change and pandemics, the Financial Times reported. The contributions from countries, including the US, Japan, France, Germany and the UK, will help to fund the bank’s portfolio guarantee scheme, which allows rich countries to pay borrowers’ debts, and its hybrid capital instrument, the newspaper said. The outlet pointed out that the two instruments, which can be leveraged between six to eight times by the bank, were launched last year in a bid to boost the institutions’ lending capacity. 

The newspaper pointed out that the World Bank is under growing pressure to help poorer countries deal with the effects of global warming. The report said Japan will also become the first country donor to the bank’s Livable Planet Fund, with a pledge of $20 million. It has promised $1 billion for the portfolio guarantee platform, making it the scheme’s largest declared donor. FT quoted Tina Stege, climate envoy to the Marshall Islands, saying there was a “willingness by everyone to pursue reform…but the question remains whether systemic reform at speed and scale will be delivered…If action does not overtake inertia in the [multilateral development banks], people across the world will be paying the cost in lives and livelihoods.”

COP29 critical for aid to poorer nations, says incoming president

Mukhtar Babayev, Azerbaijan’s environment minister, who will serve as the COP29 president, told Associated Press that increasing aid for poorer nations would be one of the central negotiating points of the conference. “‘We had only 10 months for preparation,” Babayev said. Azerbaijan only recently picked a venue, Baku’s large Olympic stadium, to try to fit in the 85,000 or so people who come to these conferences. Babayev said his team is yet to set specific goals for the conference, but there is one general goal: More financial help for the developing world to shift to cleaner energy systems, and to cope with the extra heat, floods, storms and droughts worsened by climate change. The agenda is to invite all the donors to at least increase their contribution for developing countries, he said. 

In a separate story, FT reported that the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, defended the country’s fossil fuel sector, arguing its “oil and gas would be needed for years to come because of European demand”.

As US accuse China of flooding market with cheap EVs, Elon Musk’s surprise visit to China

Tesla’s Elon Musk has made a surprise visit to China, reported the Times, adding that while western governments accuse the country of flooding the global market with cheap electric vehicles, the Tesla chief executive met Li Qiang and other officials. Chinese officials told Musk the carmaker’s manufacturing in China was an example of strong Chinese-American trade co-operation, according to local media. According to the report, Musk said that ‘it’s good to see electric vehicles make progress in China. All cars will be electric in the future.’”

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