Will agreeing to a loss and damage funding facility open a Pandora’s box of liability for the developed world?

Trying to stay afloat: Concerted pressure by civil society groups and national delegations from the Global South made sure loss and damage was in the spotlight at COP26. Photo: Reuters

While negotiations on L&D, the ‘step-child’ of COPs past, saw significant progress at COP26, there is still fear among developed countries about the legal ramifications of agreeing to a global fund to deal with present-day, climate-change-related disasters Read more

Trying to stay afloat: There is still fear among rich nations about the legal ramifications of agreeing to a global fund to deal with climate-change-related disasters. Photo: Reuters

The legal liability Pandora’s box holding back finance for loss and damage

While negotiations on L&D, the ‘step-child’ of COPs past, saw significant progress at COP26, there is still fear among developed countries about the legal ramifications of agreeing to a global fund for dealing with present-day, climate-change-related disasters

On the evening of November 10, just as the final text of the COP26 was being decided, the Group of 77, which includes India, and China submitted a proposal for the establishment of a Glasgow Loss and Damage (L&D) Facility. This facility, to be fed with funds, would support technical and financial mechanisms to address L&D. At the time of its unveiling, the proposal seemed like the logical step to follow fraught negotiations that had ensued over previous days at COP26.  

During the lead up to the COP, as well as at the event, concerted pressure by civil society groups and national delegations from the Global South made sure loss and damage was in the spotlight more than ever before. The Santiago Network for Loss and Damages, which was framed at the Madrid COP, was finally operationalised. This meant that the functions of this body were clearly defined. The next step was to decide on the funding for this body or another similar body and how it will oversee action on L&D-related issues. 

And then suddenly, as the final versions of decision texts started rolling out, the proposal from the Group of 77 and China went missing. Developed countries, led by the USA, were unwilling to have it included in the final text. 

The final Glasgow decision text stated that instead of a facility, a provision for a “Glasgow Dialogue” will be created. This dialogue, as the text states, will be, “between Parties, relevant organisations and stakeholders to discuss the arrangements for the funding of activities to avert, minimise and address loss and damage associated with the adverse impacts of climate change”. The decision text also went on to state: “Climate change has already caused and will increasingly cause loss and damage”. While it might not seem like much, this is more progress on L&D than ever before in the history of COPs or international climate negotiations. 

A brief history of loss and damage in the UNFCCC negotiations process

The need to provide finance for Loss and Damage (L&D) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was first raised by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in 1991. The AOSIS had proposed that the financial burden of L&D should be distributed in an equitable manner amongst the industrialised developed countries. Ever since then, the topic has witnessed intense debates between the developed and developing world. 

Two great progressions with regards to the issue of L&D was the establishment of the Warsaw International Mechanism on the issue in 2013 and the decision to set up a Santiago Network for L&D during COP25. Equally, some significant steps backwards on the issue have taken place, too. At the 2015 Paris negotiations, Article 8 of the agreement, which focuses on climate-change-induced L&D was rewritten to include, “(the article) does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation.” 

This brings us to the progress made at COP26. 

A fear of unending legal ramifications

Through the many decades of climate negotiations, L&D has always been viewed as a bogeyman by developed countries. The term itself, according to the veteran of many COPs, Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh, “is a euphemism for liabilities and compensation.” 

Experts say that the primary fear of developed countries is that if funds are set up explicitly for L&D, it might trigger a tsunami of liabilities and much like the ‘polluter pays’ principle, might result in a plethora of lawsuits against them. As Arpitha Kodiveri, post-doctoral research scholar at the Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice at the New York University School of Law, says, “It is interesting that the ‘polluter pays’ principle actually found a clear articulation in the Rio declaration and the principle then entered different national legislations. What is important in terms of understanding its use in the context of L&D is that, initially, the principle was used by states or civil society to hold corporations accountable for the pollution they emitted. Now, we are seeing it being used in a way where large emitting states are being identified as the polluter by vulnerable countries.” 

Kodiveri, who was an observer at COP on L&D negotiations adds, “The other side to this is that it could definitely open up a Pandora’s box of cases, creating a situation where there is a parallel gridlock to the gridlock we’ve seen in international climate negotiations. So as opposed to giving a clear remedy, the principle runs the risk of becoming a more politicised process. Having said that, I do think that it’s a move in the right direction because it is a way in which accountability can be ensured.”

Another view on this issue is offered by Tarun Gopalakrishnan, Pre-doctoral Fellow at the Climate Policy Lab, Fletcher School, Tufts University. He says, “The concepts are closely related, but there is a good reason why it is framed as ‘loss and damage’ and not ‘polluter pays’ or ‘liability and compensation’. This is because legal liability is very difficult to negotiate internationally. Framing the loss and damage issue as a ‘finance’ issue makes it somewhat easier to negotiate around.”

Regardless of legal ramifications, the inaction on L&D due to the Global North’s fear and the resultant consequences on people at the frontline of climate change is all too real. Harjeet Singh, senior advisor to the Climate Action Network International told CarbonCopy, and one of the most vocal advocates for L&D in the global civil society space, says, “They [Global North] should also understand that any transfer of money on climate change should be seen as compensation or reparation. If you are giving money for adaptation, you are saying we are responsible, please take this money to deal with that. In this case, too, people are affected and we are asking for funds to repair the harm. But because of the paranoia that some have with regards to L&D, it has led to little progress on the issue of loss and damage finance. The result is that the injustice inflicted on those already suffering the impacts of climate change is further compounded.”

The way forward for a loss and damage fund

The principle of solidarity, which was repeatedly stressed at the COP and by various parties, both governmental and otherwise, from all parts of the world, is seen as the most tangible way forward to make significant progress when it comes to working on L&D-related issues. The Stockholm Environment Institute had released a paper titled, Designing a fair and feasible loss and damage finance mechanism, just before COP26. 

Zoha Shawoo, the lead author of the paper, says, “Practical, pragmatic solutions exist for loss and damage finance that don’t politicise the issue and instead focus on the needs of vulnerable countries and communities.” 

Shawoo, who is an associate scientist at SEI US, adds, “Providing finance on the basis of solidarity and in line with already established principles of historical responsibility underpinning the Paris Agreement enables us to make real concrete progress right away.” The SEI as well as other interested parties say that providing L&D finance in this manner will also fall in line with the key tenet of climate negotiations, which is, “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities”. 

Attribution science’s impact on loss and damage negotiations

Progress on the issue can also learn lessons from outside the international climate negotiations. A case in point is the litigation being pursued by the Peruvian farmer and mountain guide Saúl Luciano Lliuya against the German utility RWE at the Regional Court in Essen, Germany, popularly known as the Huaraz case, named so after the affected region. This case is probably one of the first few times that a company responsible for climate change faces legal charges in Europe: The litigant’s claim is that the energy company’s immense emissions threaten his family, his property as well as a large part of his home city of Huaraz. While the case is still in the evidentiary phase, the very fact that the German court recognises that a private company could potentially be held liable for climate change-related damages of its emissions marks a significant development.

As Kodiveri says, “While the case was initially dismissed, developments in attribution science helped achieve causality in the Huaraz case. A certain amount of emissions from RWE was held to be responsible for the disappearing farmland in Peruvian Andes. This is a fascinating case, which is now in the evidentiary stage and we will have to see what the outcome will be.” 

Other similar cases such as the 2008 case of the Native Village of Kivalina v. ExxonMobil Corp., in which Native Alaskans sued ExxonMobil and 23 other energy giants for damages associated with coastal erosion, could also potentially be revived with recent developments in attribution science. Back then, the plaintiffs had said the erosion had been exacerbated by climate change. But the US Court of Appeals dismissed the villagers’ case, citing a dearth of causal evidence. 

Within the COP process itself, the next step for the developing countries is to make use of the Santiago Network’s functions being clearly defined and get funds to support L&D issues. As Singh says, “The next COP in Africa is going to be a COP for vulnerable people. We can’t go to Africa and come back empty handed. We have to make sure there will be progress and concrete steps to help people.”

Sibi Arasu is an independent journalist based in Bengaluru. He tweets @sibi123. 

Fuelling flames: Almost two billion tonnes of carbon was emitted by wildfires globally in 2021. Photo: Yahoo news

Wildfires emitted more than double Germany’s carbon emissions this year

This year has seen several deadly wildfires that have produced a record amount of carbon emissions in parts of Siberia, the United States and Turkey. According to the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, 1.76 billion tonnes of carbon was emitted globally in 2021—more than double Germany’s annual emissions and half of the EU’s total annual emissions. The report highlighted the twin impacts of wildfires—re-emitting stored carbon back into the atmosphere and destroying flora that aids the capture of greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, a forest fire destroyed more than 100 homes in the town of Castro, Chile this past fortnight.  

La Niña to trigger more extreme events, intense cold waves, lesser snowfall in India

For the second consecutive winter, La Niña is set to make its presence felt and experts are blaming climate change for it. Experts believe La Niña has an impact primarily on winter rain over North India. The region should expect less rainfall this winter, say meteorologists. Other effects include less snowfall over Western Himalayas, a drop in winter temperatures along with an extended season, and more rain in the second half of the Northeast Monsoon. 

This will be the second winter in a row with La Niña. Last year, La Niña developed in August

and dissipated in April 2021. North India had a particularly harsh winter last year and a lot of winter precipitation such as freezing rain, snow or sleet.

Corals found in western Indian Ocean are vulnerable to collapse, says study

Corals in the western Indian Ocean are “vulnerable to collapse”, a new study stated. These reefs make up 5% of the global total. The study, published in the journal Nature Sustainability, observed 11 nested ecoregions along the eastern coastline of Africa and around Madagascar and found that the reefs found on the continental coast and northern Seychelles were likely to collapse due to overfishing. The reefs found near islands are likely to be critically endangered because of future warming, the study warned. Possible solutions to avoid such a collapse include ecosystem-based management of reefs and adjacent systems combined with mitigating and adapting to climate change, according to the study. 

Earth to get a Black Box to record its climate change journey
A “black box” that will record every conversation and step taken globally towards climate change is being built in Australia. The box, developed by Clemenger BBDO along with researchers from the University of Tasmania, will have a storage capacity of 50 years. It will be made of 3-inch thick steel and will be covered with solar panels. The reason to build such a box is for future generations to know the world’s journey towards a climate crisis and to push for immediate action.

Taking a stand: Opposition members asked the government why states were not consulted before the net-zero-by-2070 commitment was made. Photo: The Hindu

Climate crisis takes centre stage in Parliament; Oppn slams govt over 2070 net zero target

In a rare occurrence, India’s Lok Sabha (Lower House of the Parliament) had a heated discussion over the climate crisis this past fortnight. Opposition leaders questioned the government’s recent announcements at COP26 committing to net zero by 2070. The Opposition also asked why states were not consulted before such a commitment was made. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi told Parliament that in order to transition to net zero, India needed 5,630 GW of total installed solar energy. She questioned how this could be achieved considering the country currently only has 46.25 GW of grid connected solar power. Other issues related to the vulnerability of coastal areas, air pollution in north India and India’s poor performance on the environmental performance index 2020. 

Centre provides updates in Parliament on India’s environmental issues

In the Rajya Sabha, the Centre gave updates on the environmental issues in India. Ashwini Kumar Choubey, minister of state in the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) stated emissions from forest fires in India contribute only 1-1.5% to global warming as opposed to the huge emissions from forest fires across the world. The minister also highlighted measures the government had taken to address the issues of air pollution and the impact of climate change on human health. 

Cabinet finally gives nod to Ken-Betwa river-linking project

India’s first river-linking project—connecting Ken river in Madhya Pradesh with Betwa in Uttar Pradesh— finally got the go-ahead 40 years after it was first mooted. While concerns have been raised over the years about the environmental damage that the Rs44,605 crore project is likely to cause, it will also resolve the water scarcity issue that plagues the two states. Congress MP and former environment minister Jairam Ramesh had tweeted previously this year that the project will “destroy the Panna Tiger Reserve in MP”.

The Cabinet’s green signal for the project comes two months ahead of the UP Assembly elections. The project has been deemed a “national project”, therefore 90% of the cost will be borne by the Centre, while the remaining 10% will be paid by the two states. The project is expected to be completed in eight years.  

Russia, backed by India, blocks UN resolution seeking to acknowledge climate change as a security threat
A UN resolution, which would have for the first time acknowledged that climate change is a threat to peace, was blocked by Russia and India this past fortnight. The resolution, which had been under negotiations for months, would have given the United Nations Security Council more scope to intervene in armed conflicts. It was introduced by Ireland and Niger, and received support from 12 of the 15 members of the UN body. Russia, which has veto powers, along with India were opposed to the proposal, while China abstained from voting.

Desperate times: The Air Quality Management (CAQM) has been asked to invite proposals from the general public and experts for a permanent solution to Delhi-NCR's air pollution woes. Photo: Citizen Matters

Delhi-NCR air pollution: SC seeks ‘permanent solution’, Centre decriminalises stubble burning

The Supreme Court has asked the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) to invite proposals from the general public and experts for a permanent solution to air pollution woes in the Delhi-NCR region. The government also informed the Top Court that companies making life-saving equipment are allowed to use diesel generators and dairy and medical manufacturing are also allowed. Thermal power plants, which were shut down, continue to be so, but more will not be shut. All hospital constructions are permitted, but for the rest only interior works are allowed.

Meanwhile,  environment minister Bhupendra Yadav told Parliament that stubble burning has been decriminalised under the Air Quality Commission Act and the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have been allowed lands for decomposition. The minister also said that a proposal to use the crop residue as bio feel has also been sent to thermal power companies such as the National Thermal Power Corporation.

Air quality panel orders closure of errant industry over violating clean fuel norms

Air quality in the National Capital Region (NCR) remains in the “very poor” category. The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) last week ordered immediate closure of all industries that have not switched over to cleaner fuels in industrial areas despite their availability. Meanwhile, the Delhi government said the ban on entry of trucks, barring CNG and e-trucks and those carrying essential commodities, will continue until further orders. 

The CAQM said preventive measures are needed as a matter of extreme emergency. “Flying Squads of CAQM will launch special drives and inspect sites to ensure compliance,” it said. The state government will have to strictly enforce the commission’s directions and closely monitor the situation, CAQM said. 

Indoor air pollution in Delhi homes 20 times higher than WHO levels: Study

Air pollution in Delhi homes is 20 times more than the WHO levels, revealed a study by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC India). The levels of PM 2.5 (particulate matter of diameter less than 2.5 micrometres) was significantly higher than the levels reported by the nearest outdoor government monitors, the study said. 

The study said that while high-income households were 13 times more likely to own air purifiers as compared to low-income households, its impact on indoor air pollution was only around 10%, HT reported. The lead author of the study, Kennet Lee, said when you do not know about the pollution levels inside your homes, you do not worry about it, and hence you are less likely to take corrective actions. 

Bihar air quality deteriorates to “very poor” with fall in temperatures

Air quality in the state of Bihar turned to “very poor” with the fall in temperatures. According to Central Pollution Control Board, the average air quality index (AQI) of Patna based on six air monitoring stations stood at 313, which was categorised as ‘very poor’. Danapur, Samanpura and Rajbansi Nagar inched closed to ‘severe’ air pollution where AQI levels fluctuated between 350 to 380. Muradpur-based apparatus recorded ‘poor’ and Shikapur ‘moderate’ AQI.

Apart from Patna, which recorded ‘very poor’ AQI five times in 15 days this onth, Muzaffarpur also recorded ‘very poor’ air quality with an index value of 346. Gaya recorded ‘poor’ air quality with an index value of 233.

Maharashtra’s Parli coal plant to use biomass in one of its three units
Maharashtra’s power generation company (Mahagenco) will use “biomass briquettes bio coal”, which the industry calls “green coal”, for the boiler of one of the three units of the Parli thermal power plant having individual generation capacity of 250 MW. It will be the first in Maharashtra to use “green coal” on a trial basis. The fuel will have crop residue as the base material. The use of bio fuel is expected to provide supplementary income to the farmers. The industry also plans to use bamboo as raw material to make “green coal”. TOI has quoted a local leader saying a single farmer can cultivate around 50 tonnes of bamboo per acre and earn Rs5,000 per tonne.

Zeroing in: The power ministry and the ministry of new and renewable energy will draw up a detailed action plan for the 2030 renewables goal. Photo: NYT

India to set up ‘Mission 500 GW’ panel to realise its 2030 target

With just 101 GW of renewable energy capacity in place, the government plans to set up ‘Mission 500 GW’ to achieve its declared target of 500 GW by 2030, ET reported. The newspaper said the power ministry and the ministry of new and renewable energy will draw up a detailed action plan for the 2030 goal that will include assessments of technologies to be used, storage requirements, transmission issues and the energy mix for 500GW. The joint ministerial panel will also focus on framing regulation to increase the capacity and schemes to attract  foreign investment. 

The Central Electricity Authority Report on Optimal Generation Capacity Mix for 2029-30 had stated that for the earlier 450GW by 2030 target, 280 GW would be solar power, 140GW wind power and the remaining were hybrid sources which the newspaper said could include the proposed mixed of hydrogen and biofuel. 

Centre clarifies it does not authorise vendors to install rooftop solar

Centre has clarified that it has not authorised vendors for installation of rooftop solar that is the job of state discoms, who empanel vendors through bidding process. The government also said the consumers should pay rates decided by discoms. The Grid Connected Rooftop Solar Scheme Phase II provides 40% subsidy for the first 3KW and 20% subsidy beyond 3KW to upto 10 KW. The Ministry of New and Renewable energy said some vendors were making false claims that they have been authorised by the ministry to install rooftop solar. 

The Ministry warned that some vendors are charging more price than the rates decided by discoms from domestic consumers, which is incorrect, it noted.

Adani Green Energy signs world’s largest Green PPA with SECI

Adani Green Energy, the world’s largest solar developer, has signed the world’s largest Power Purchase Agreement to supply 4667 MW of green power. The agreement with Solar Enegy Corporation of India (SECI) is part of a manufacturing-linked solar tender of 8,000 MW, the largest solar tender ever awarded. Adani Green, so far, has signed PPAs with SECI for total generation capacity of around 6,000 MW of the 8,000 MW awarded since 2020. The company expects to close the balance 2,000 MW PPA in the next two to three months.

International Solar Alliance gets observer status at the UN

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has granted Observer Status to International Solar Alliance (ISA). India said in 6 years, the ISA has become an example of positive global climate action through partnerships to benefit global energy growth and development. Total of 108 countries participated in the Assembly, including 74 Member Countries and 34 Observer and Prospective Countries, 23 Partner Organizations and 33 Special Invitee Organisations.

The ISA was launched jointly by India and France in November 2015, at the 21st session of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Paris, France.

India can economically meet power demand through renewables by 2030: US study

India could economically meet its electricity demand through renewables by 2030, says the latest study by the US department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resource.  The study, published by the Lawrence Berkeley national Laboratory (LBNL), said that the power demand of India will double by 2030, which the country will be able to meet through RE and “complimentary flexible resources” such as agriculture load shifting, storage and hydropower and optimally utilising its existing thermal power assets. 

The study found that dramatic cost reductions in solar energy over the past decade and energy storage make it affordable for India to meet its growing power demand over the next decade, and at the same time reduce power costs by 8-10% and emissions intensity of power supply by 43-50% from 2020 levels. This study said 23GW of net additions of coal capacity will be needed as battery storage costs continue to fall and financing is secured. 

Build sturdier solar equipment to withstand extreme weather, save billions: Study

New research has warned that quality standards and testing is not able to keep up to speed with photovoltaics advancing technologies as manufacturers aim for higher energy yields and lower costs are making modules larger and thinner. Experts say damage from extreme weather including storms, hail, heatwaves and snow could cost utility firms billions of dollars. 

Most modules have warranties that last 25–35 years, yet they face reliability challenges in more diverse settings. New cell designs, materials, packaging and racking technologies are advancing to market within months. Durability testing needs to keep up. Some components that passed quality tests a decade ago have since turned out to be defective, the report stated.

Disadvantage, India: Most of the country’s li-ion batteries are imported from China. Photo: Scroll

Parliamentary committee recommends targeting self-sufficiency in li-ion batteries in India

A special parliamentary committee in India recommended that the nation target self-sufficiency in manufacturing li-ion batteries, since most of the country’s li-ion batteries are imported from China. Furthermore, other critical components that are necessary for an EV’s power electronics, such as transistors, diodes, capacitors, PCBs (printed circuit boards) etc. are also sourced mostly from Taiwan, China and South Korea, which the committee’s report implied placed the country at a disadvantage. It also recommended that India must secure lithium supplies as it was a strategic mineral, and one of the options was to obtain the metal from mines in Chile or Bolivia. 

Hero Electric emerges as India’s largest e2W retailer, EESL to put up EV chargers on highways 

Hero Electric emerged as India’s largest electric two-wheelers brand as it now holds 36% of the market share, a new report by JMK Analytics found. The manufacturer sold 65,000 units in 2021 and it plans to expand its capacity to manufacturing 1 million EVs by 2025 on the back of rising demand. It is also seeking to raise $200-$300 million in funding for its operations. The report further revealed that Okinawa Autotech is India’s second largest e2W manufacturer at 17% of the market share, and it currently has seven models on retail and 500 dealers across the country, compared to 700 for Hero Electric. 

Meanwhile, EESL and its subsidiary, CESL (Convergence Energy Services Ltd.) will set up EV charging stations along 16 of India’s national highways/expressways, and space for them will be provided by NHAI at its toll plazas. The work is expected to be completed by March 2024 and a total of 142 such sites will be tendered out.

US utilities to install EV fast chargers from coast to coast 

50 US utilities signed up to install EV fast chargers from coast to coast as part of a coalition spearheaded by the Edison Electric Institute, and the chargers will be installed across major US travel routes corridors before 2024. The number of chargers to be installed has not been decided, but the coalition intends to take away any hindrance to the adoption of EVs in the US, especially as it expects their sales to jump from 2 million units in 2020 to 20 million by 2030. Also, EVs in the light passenger vehicle category are reported to have crossed 20% in the US’s new vehicle sales this year and the infrastructure expansion plans — including $75,000 for each high voltage fast charger — are part of the Biden administration’s $7.5billion funding plan to boost EV sales in the country. 

Toyota commits to 100% CO2 reduction in Western Europe by 2035

Toyota Motor Europe (TME), the European branch of Toyota Motors, announced that it would aim to reduce 100% of CO2 emissions from its new vehicles in Western Europe by 2035, as it aims to achieve carbon neutrality “as quickly as possible”. However, the announcement only specifies western Europe as Toyota’s strategy will depend heavily on the share of zero-emissions energy available to its vehicles in different markets. The announcement comes amidst its CEO announcing that the world’s largest automaker would invest $70.4billion in capital investment in zero emission vehicles by 2030 — half of which would be funneled into battery EVs — to try and shake off its image of a laggard when it comes to electric vehicles. 

The automaker will, however, continue to pursue hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and its overall goal is to sell 3.5 million zero emission vehicles globally by 2030, which is up from its previous target of 2 million units. 

Still standing: Fears over the federal government overstepping its authority with the states is likely to keep their coal plants standing even as the US supports coal phasedown worldwide | Photo: Axios

US to immediately stop financing high-carbon overseas projects

The Biden government issued an order to all government agencies to immediately stop financing overseas coal, oil and gas projects that are deemed to be carbon intensive. The order will apply to all projects that have an emissions intensity of 250 gm of CO2/kWh or above, and will include even projects that only partially capture their emissions. The directive thus set is expected to pivot any new financing to renewables, unless where fossil fuel projects are deemed to be necessary for security reasons, or must be used for vulnerable areas. 

At the same time, special presidential envoy for climate, John Kerry, stated that the federal government would not order a complete shutdown of coal plants within the US, as it may cause legal issues by the government overstepping on individual states’ own policies. However, the US remained committed to fully phasing out carbon from its power sector by 2035, he said.

Australia: Rising solar and wind power could force coal plants to retire three times faster 

The latest report by the Australian energy market operator found that the country’s power grid may go completely coal-free by 2043 and its coal plants may retire three times faster than anticipated. This is expected to happen because of the rapidly growing share of solar and wind power, especially in Victoria and NSW (New South Wales). The Integrated System Plan 2022 in fact reported that the share of renewables peaked to as high as 61% in September 2021, and predicts that it may reach stints of 100% by as early as 2025. 

Gas-fired power, which serves around 80% of all Australians, has also fallen to its lowest share in 15 years, and rooftop solar is expected to add 30% of the country’s new renewable power capacity, apart from a tripling of energy storage capacity by 2050. 

High Court stays Parsa coal block land acquisition in India

The High Court in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh stayed the acquisition of land in the Parsa coal block, which falls within the 187,960 hectares wide Hasdeo Aranya region, over submissions that the land being acquired would benefit a private firm. The firm in question is Adani Power, and the land is being acquired by Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (RRUVNL). The Parsa coal block is reported to be home to 5179.35 million tonnes of coal, but Hasdeo Aranya is at the same time India’s largest contiguous patch of unfragmented forest and an important ecological tract that is home to elephants and tigers, besides being home to several tribal populations. The Parsa coal block was given stage II clearance by the union government for mining on Oct 21 this year even though the Hasdeo Aranya patch was declared a “no-go” area in 2010 by the coal and environment ministries.  

New Zealand comes out sharply against fossil fuel subsidies 

The New Zealand government came out strongly against global fossil fuel subsidies in its latest Joint Ministerial Statement, saying that the subsidies were acting “against our efforts to address climate change by artificially lowering the cost of fossil fuels, and encouraging their on-going use”. It said that global fossil fuel subsidies amount to around $500billion every year and the sharply-worded statement categorically pointed out New Zealand’s disappointment with the results of COP26. 

The country has previously also called for an immediate decrease in fossil fuel use, and banned any new offshore oil and gas drilling licenses earlier in 2021 as it attempts to comply with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 deg C target. 

South Africa: Locals protest against Shell’s plans of offshore seismic testing 

Several climate activists and local communities protested strongly against Royal Dutch Shell’s plans to conduct 3D seismic testing in 6,000 sq km off of Wild Coast in eastern South Africa, as they claimed that they were never consulted about the exploration, and that the seismic waves could pose danger to local aquatic life. The exploration is to be carried out from December 2021 to spring 2022 and the protestors include members of the Xhosa people, who have resided in the region for centuries and who fear that oil and gas projects may disturb their livelihoods and the region’s ecology in general. 

Shell, however, responded by saying that the measures it had undertaken in its environmental management program (EMPr) “sufficiently provide for the avoidance and mitigation of potential environmental impacts.”