No mercy: The central government is not backing down on its plans to turn an elephant-dense forest area into a coal mine in Korba district, Chhattisgarh | Photo:

Govt seeks to acquire forest land for coal mining in Korba

India’s central government is looking to acquire forest land for mining coal in the Korba district of Chhattisgarh. It issued a notification announcing its intention of acquiring 712.072 hectares (ha) in Madanpur South coal block. The move is controversial because the Chhattisgarh government is mulling declaring the area an elephant reserve.    

Proposed rail tracks through Western Ghats gets nod from wildlife board 

The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) gave its nod to the Tinaighat-Castlerock-Caranzol railway doubling project, which will run through dense forest land in the protected Western Ghats. The project will involve the diversion of 10.45 ha of forest land, most of which is in Dandeli wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka. Existing railway lines in the region have led to many wildlife casualties in the past. Authorities wish to double the railway line mainly for the transport of coal, according to a site inspection report by the forest department. 

Meanwhile, Rajasthan’s proposed draft forest policy vows to control mining. It proposes the creation of a ‘secret fund’ to award whistleblowers who report illegal mining activities. Even though Rajasthan is India’s largest state, only 4.86% of it is under forest cover. The recommended minimum is 6%. With this proposed policy, the state government is aiming to increase this percentage in the next 10 years. 

Most countries miss UN deadline to submit updated climate plans 

Despite pressure from the UN, most countries missed the deadline to submit stronger 2030 climate targets — not a great start to the Paris Agreement era. Among the major emitters, only the UK, EU and Argentina submitted tougher climate targets to the UN, while China and the US failed to do so. India, Canada, Indonesia, Iran and Saudi Arabia were other major countries that didn’t submit an updated plan. 

Norway announces plans to more than triple its carbon tax

In a bid to meet its climate goals, Norway is planning to more than triple its national tax on CO2 emissions by 2030. The emissions cost will increase from 590 Norwegian krone per tonne to 2,000 Norwegian krone ($237) per tonne by 2030. The country’s oil lobby has expressed their displeasure over the move, arguing that it could weaken the country’s competitiveness in the market. 

China likely to launch its emission trade scheme mid-2021

China is set to launch its national emission trade scheme (ETS) by the middle of this year, according to an executive from the Shanghai Environment and Energy Exchange. The trading and registry platform for ETS will be set up in Wuhan. The first compliance cycle will be for January 1 to December 31, 2021 and will cover the emissions of 2019 and 2020 for 2,225 firms in the country’s power sector. 

US EPA to finalise proposed rules for airplane emissions

In some encouraging news, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was in the process of finalising its first-ever proposed standards to regulate airplanes’ greenhouse gas emissions. These new rules are likely to be applicable for new-type designs as of January 2020 and to in-production airplanes or those with amended type certificates starting 2028.