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Out in numbers: India’s adivasis and forest dwelling communities pressurised the government this fortnight to withdraw proposed amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 1927 | Photo: thewire.in

India’s tribals fight for their lands; govt withdraws proposed amendment to forest act

Forest land in India is also in danger of being lost to development. But forest dwellers and the tribal population are fighting back, even at the risk of being silenced. This was more than evident when hundreds of forest dwellers gathered in Delhi on November 21 ahead of the Supreme Court’s hearing in the Forest Rights Act, 2006, (FRA) case. During the hearing of the case, at least eight states in their affidavit have said that they did not follow the procedures laid down under FRA when rejecting claims over forest land.

The protest was a culmination of a series of protests by forest-dwellers over two weeks across the country. Their collective voice has most definitely made a difference. The government has withdrawn proposed amendments to the Indian Forest Act, 1927. But not all voices are being heard. Some are being stifled. According to reports, 10,000 adivasis have been charged with sedition for trying to protect their land. The Mizoram government also revoked the Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA) that was meant to protect the forest rights of adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers. Critics of the move allege the state government misused Article 371 (G) to revoke the act.

Deforestation in Amazon highest level in a decade

Looks like Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is making good his poll promise of developing the Amazon. Deforestation in the Amazon has officially hit its highest level in more than 10 years – nearly 10,000 sqkm lost between August 2018 and July 2019, according to satellite data from the Brazilian space agency.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s environment minister Ricardo Salles said this fortnight that the country was looking for more money to fight environmental destruction. Brazil’s plan to protect its forests, however, remain unchanged even as deforestation rises rapidly.   

ECB may consider climate change risks in future bank stress tests

If you need proof that banks are waking up to climate change, here it is. This fortnight, European Central Bank (ECB) vice-president Luis De Guindos said the institution was looking into considering climate change risks in future banking stress tests.

“It is something we are paying much more attention to, especially in terms of financial stability,” he said. A methodology to calculate the risks is yet to be fully developed and is likely to be introduced only by 2022.

German parliament gives nod to climate protection law

In a big boost to Germany’s 2030 carbon-reduction target, its lower house of parliament approved a major climate protection package. Approved after months of back and forth between the government in power and the opposition, critics still feel the package is inadequate and doesn’t address the urgent challenges of climate change.

German cabinet ministers, meanwhile, have urged the EU to take a leading role at the COP25, to be held in Madrid, Spain, next month. The country’s environment minister Svenja Schulze called on the EU to increase its climate ambition and lead by example.

GCF partners with Chilean private equity firm, defaulting Indian bank

Is this a case of blind trust or lazy due diligence? The Green Climate Fund (GCF) has agreed to partner with a private equity firm in Chile, which is in the news for unrest, and an Indian bank mired in financial instability.

The investment company in Chile, Fynsa, manages the portfolio of wealthy clients and luxury real estate as the country suffers its worst social unrest in years, sparked by wealth inequality. In India, the GCF is teaming up with a subsidiary of IL&FS, which is one of the country’s leading infrastructure finance companies, and has been mired in controversy after defaulting on payments. Some GCF board members have expressed their ‘unease’ over the decision.  

Malaysia assures its palm oil will meet EU standards by 2021

Malaysia, which is the second-largest producer of palm oil after Indonesia, has promised regulations that will ensure the country’s palm oil meets the food safety standards being considered by the European Union (EU) by 2021.The country has not exactly been welcoming of the new regulations, It had, last month, said the new EU rules could potentially harm demand of palm oil for food – it is used in bread and chocolate spread, among other products. Malaysia is also concerned about the high costs palm oil producers would have to incur in order to meet the EU regulations. The industry is already struggling to meet Malaysia’s own national green certification standard by next year.