Two weeks of negotiations at the COP25 UN climate summit finally wrapped up in Madrid this fortnight with governments failing dismally to respond to the unfolding global climate crisis.
Despite clear warnings from scientists through 2019, record levels of protests and severe climate impacts, the talks fell victim to major differences between countries which are proving hard to resolve. Ambition and action were the two words that summed up the spirit of COP25. However, even till the last draft text, the language around ambition was subpar. From the 197 parties to the Paris Agreement, only about 73 countries committed to enhancing their NDCs before Glasgow’s COP26.
Negotiators failed to reach an outcome on carbon markets under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. The entire text has been bracketed, which means any consequential decision on the fate of existing carbon credits from the Kyoto Protocol period and how carbon credits in any new regime would be accounted for in countries’ NDCs has been punted forward to the next year.
Poland notwithstanding, EU agrees on ‘Green Deal’ to become carbon-neutral by 2050
In a landmark agreement, EU countries have agreed to make the bloc carbon-neutral by 2050. The agreement came through on December 13 after 10 hours of debate in Brussels. The agreement though is not binding on all countries as Poland has been exempted for the time being considering its heavy reliance on coal. Czech Republic and Hungary were also reluctant to agree on carbon-neutrality but were ultimately persuaded following assurances that nuclear energy could be included in their energy mix. The agreement also includes an increase in ambition to halve GHG emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, up from the current ambition of cutting emissions by 40 per cent. The European ‘Green Deal’ also includes a EUR 100 bn Just Transition Mechanism to aid countries heavily dependent on fossil fuels to move to renewable energy sources.
Decline in LPG refills under Ujjwala scheme: CAG report
A recent CAG report revealed that the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana may have met 90% of its target of delivering cooking fuel to 80 million people by March 2020, but users are not changing their LPG cylinders regularly. The report also found cases with a suspiciously high usage – up to 40 a day. The average annual refill consumption of 19.3 million consumers who had completed more than one year by the end of March 2018 was only 3.66 refills, according to the report.
Possible reasons for the low refill count could be that around 50% of dealers have to travel up to 92 kilometres to deliver the cylinders and up to 17% of beneficiaries had to travel to the dealers’ warehouses for their refills. The report also revealed a mismatch between the names of 1.25 million beneficiaries and the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC-2011) data, based on which the beneficiaries were decided.
India’s railway stations must adhere to green laws: NGT
Railway stations across the country must get the necessary environmental permissions because they are polluting hotspots, the National Green Tribunal said this fortnight. The court said all railway stations come under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, and there can be no dispute about that. “The Rules framed under the said Act include solid waste, plastic waste, bio-medical waste, hazardous waste, construction, and debris waste, e-waste Rules. Several activities take place at major railway stations which may attract provisions of the Rules. The said Rules have, thus, to be complied by all the major railway stations, to the extent applicable,” the bench said.