Still unfinished: Despite the urgent need to lower emissions and source cleaner energy, several Indian states are yet to submit their climate policies | Image: AutoIndia

India needs to move on plan for SDGs to meet 2030 target: CAG report

Four years after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced at the G20 summit that India’s development goals were aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be met by 2030, a CAG report has pointed to significant gaps in the country’s efforts to reach the desired targets. The report says a “roadmap with defined milestones aligned with United Nations SDG targets for 2020, 2025, 2030 was yet to be prepared,” which could potentially lead to India falling behind.

As of May 2019, Niti Ayog, which is in charge of the mammoth task of coordinating between states and union territories for the country’s SDG plan, has said the vision document will be finalised by March 2020, but reaching this deadline seems difficult. According to the CAG report, several states are yet to prepare policy documents.

₹2,880 MW hydel power project in Arunachal Pradesh gets govt nod, activists oppose move

In a major development boost to India’s largely neglected northeast region, the 2,880 megawatts (MW) Dibang hydropower project in Arunachal Pradesh was given the go-ahead by the government. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved a ₹1,600 crore pre-investment and clearance expenditure for the ₹28,080.35 crore strategic project.

Anti-dam activists, however, are opposed to the project. Their main bone of contention is the 278-metre dam to be constructed as part of the project. The activists argued that water released from other power projects in the region have led to flooding in north and eastern Assam districts, a problem that is likely to be exacerbated with increasing frequency of extreme rain events. Additional water from the new dam is likely to wipe out Dibru Saikhowa national park and several towns and villages in upper Assam, the activists pointed out.

New EU chief vows to make climate change ‘top priority’

Ursula von der Leyen was confirmed as the first woman president of the European Commission this fortnight. However, there was quite some drama before the nomination was put to vote with Europe’s liberal, socialist and green blocs all demanding Leyen strengthen her position on climate change for their vote. After intense negotiations for a fortnight, Leyen seem to agree to increase the EU’s emission reduction targets to 55% by 2030, but diluted this commitment to “50% if not 55%” just before the vote. Leyen ended up clinching the position with the narrowest of margins, bagging 52% of the votes in the European Parliament.

In a speech just before the election, Leyen vowed to make climate and environment the top priorities in all EU policy areas. She is also set to announce a ‘Green Deal for Europe’ in her first 100 days in office.   

Big companies failing to take climate, environment concerns seriously: Reports

Two new reports have put the spotlight on big firms’ failure to align with climate-change related goals. A study funded by investors found only one in eight of the world’s most polluting companies is on its way to reducing emissions in line with global temperature goals. The study, which tracked 274 publicly traded, high-emitting companies, found that climate risk did not find a mention in almost half of the companies’ operational decision-making.

Another report, this time by charity CDP, came down heavily on big companies, stating that most of them don’t report on the damage caused by their operations to the forest. According to the charity, 70% of 1,500 large companies fail to provide data on their impact on forests in response to its queries last year.

Asset managers vow to assess investment climate risks; COFCO signs up for $2.1 billion sustainability-linked loan

Now for some good news from the business world. After a nudge from French president Emmanuel Macron, eight asset managers – Blackrock, Goldman Sachs, BNP Paribas, HSBC, Natixis, Amundi, State Street and Northern Trust – collectively worth $15 trillion, have vowed to assess climate risks before committing to investments. Meanwhile, European funds managing $2 trillion in assets have urged cement companies to pull their socks up as far as their greenhouse gas emissions are concerned to avoid putting their business models at risk.

Chinese firm COFCO International said this week that it has signed up for a $2.1 billion sustainability-linked loan with a consortium of 20 banks. This is the largest such loan for a commodity trader, the company said. Norway’s Yara, meanwhile, has signed a $1.1 billion, five-year credit facility, which links the interest to be paid to the company’s progress in reducing CO2 emissions.

Germany: Experts want govt to set CO2 price for cars, buildings

The German government was presented with a report last week, which said the country’s transport and building sectors must be given set carbon prices as penalties in a bid to cut down CO2 emissions. The report by the German council of economic experts suggested two alternatives — integrating the two sectors into the EU emissions trading (ETS) by setting up a separate CO2 price for them or imposing CO2 taxes on them. Germany, in any case, will not meet its 2030 target to cut down greenhouse gas emissions by 55%.  

Make coal-blocks contracts public under RTI: Chhattisgarh panel

The Mining Development and Operations Contract (MDO) for coal blocks signed by the state power company should be made public – that was the ruling of the Chhattisgarh State Information Commission. The order comes after the company refused to share a copy, asked for by an activist under RTI, of the contract and government records pertaining to the formulation and acceptance of the MDO agreement it had signed with Adani Enterprises Limited and its subsidiary Gare Pelma III Collieries Limited for development, operation and mining of coal from the 232 MT Gare Pelma Sector III coal block.

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