Shades of green: Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has encouraged farmers to grow plantations which add to India's afforestation efforts while swathes of natural forests are diverted for development projects | Photo: Delhi Greens

India’s environment minister asks farmers to grow plantations on their land

Grow trees on your land which can be sold when ready, India’s Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar told farmers this past fortnight. The minister made some encouraging comments regarding afforestation in the country during a meeting with forest ministers of all states and Union Territories (UTs). He asked states to use the Compensatory Afforestation Fund to take up water and fodder augmentation projects in at least one forest in each state.

In some discouraging news, however, a research paper by Delhi-based environmental law firm, Legal Initiative for Forests and Environment, found that a total of 481.56 hectares (ha) of forest land in protected areas — which includes wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and conservation reserves — was diverted for developmental projects by the National Board for Wildlife (NBW) last year.

Parliamentary panel starts discussion on draft EIA despite objections from BJP-NDA members

There was a new twist in the controversial draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) 2020 notification saga this past fortnight. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change began discussing the draft, much to the annoyance of some BJP-NDA members, who had hoped the notification would be discussed after the final draft had been released. These members had also pointed out that the Hindi version of the draft notification was still not available. Chairman of the committee, Jairam Ramesh, however, initiated the discussion saying the committee was not going to give recommendations immediately.

The Karnataka high court, meanwhile, stayed the publication of the draft notification till the next hearing on September 7. The court was hearing a PIL filed by United Conservation Movement Charitable and Welfare Trust (UCMCWT), which sought the notification be translated in all 22 regional languages and the deadline for receiving public comments be pushed to December 31.

Numaligarh Refinery Limited gets green nod for expansion project

Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) in Assam claimed to have received environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change for its Refinery Expansion Project in July this year. The company stated it will focus on the Refining Capacity Expansion Project, Indo-Bangladesh Friendship pipeline (IBFPL) and Bio Refinery Project.

Climate change a factor when granting water licenses to coal plants, rules SA’s water tribunal

In a major victory for climate campaigners, South Africa’s water tribunal upheld a plea by environmentalists to scrap water licenses for the 600MW Khansiya coal plant on the grounds that the developer did not take into consideration the climate change risks. This is a significant ruling considering South Africa produces 90% of its electricity through coal. Activists hailed the decision and said this was the ‘first time’ climate change was acknowledged as a ‘relevant factor’ while considering applications for water licenses.

 EU considers sustainable fuel quotas to reduce airlines’ carbon footprint

In some more proof that the EU is at the forefront of the climate fight, the European Commission said it is considering sustainable fuel quotas for airlines in a bid to reduce the aviation sector’s massive carbon footprint. The plan is to push airlines to use low-carbon fuels, which will include liquid advanced biofuels and fuels produced with use of electricity, as opposed to fossil kerosene.

Britain to have legally binding environmental targets, new green watchdog

Britain is set to introduce legally binding targets in the four areas of air quality, waste reduction, biodiversity and cleaner water to fight climate change and “build back greener” from pandemic. The binding targets will be part of the environment bill, introduced last year and will have to be passed through parliament.

The country will have a new environmental watchdog, the Office for Environmental Protection, which will report annually on the government’s progress against the targets and oversee the country’s move towards its 2050 net-zero emissions target. Britain will host the United Nations’ climate summit in November 2021 after it was delayed from 2020 by the pandemic. It was the first G7 country to commit to a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target for 2050.

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