In the dock: Kerala’s proposed Silver Line semi-high speed rail project has attracted criticism over the potential ecological damage along its planned route | Photo: The News Minute

Proposed Kerala semi-high speed railway line a threat to environment?

A semi-high speed railway line, which aims to connect the north and south of Kerala, is on environmentalists’ radar for the potential damage it could cause to the biodiversity through which the project cuts across. The Rs63,941-crore Silver Line project is proposed to be built on 1,383 hectares of land. This patch of land includes wetlands, residential areas, forest land, rice fields and backwater areas. Environmentalists said the project could lead to large-scale displacement. They have also pointed out there were no scientific, technical, social and environmental impact studies for the project. 

India, South Africa on climate fund’s radar for $2 billion coal transition pilot scheme

An international climate fund is looking to recruit two to three coal-dependent economies for their pilot project that aims to facilitate the shift to cleaner industries using private finance. The Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) is looking at India, South Africa and Indonesia as potential candidates for the pilot project. The fund was allocated $2 billion this year by G7 countries to help the world become coal-free and limit warming to 1.5°C as part of the Paris Agreement. 

European Parliament gives nod to law that makes GHG emission targets legally binding

The European Parliament approved a law that makes the EU’S greenhouse gas emissions’ targets legally binding. The targets include reducing net EU emissions by 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels and ending net emissions by 2050. According to experts, this law will set the tone and guide climate regulations that the EU will undertake in the coming decades. 

COP26 headed for trouble?

Organisers of the all-imported UN summit, COP26, to be held in Glasgow in November this year, are worried about its success. Their major concern is that governments (especially the rich ones like the G7) haven’t done enough to ensure their key goals are met. Chief among them is the $100 billion a year commitment to ensure developing nations meet their Paris goals. 

Their reluctance to commit to this amount was apparent at the recently held G7 summit, where even though Canada and Germany were willing to raise their contribution towards the $100 billion, Italy could only manage $100 million. Another red flag was the US’ decision to backtrack at the last minute on a G7 pledge to end domestic coal use, even though Japan–which is heavily coal dependent–was willing to agree to it.   

Climate spending scaled down as Biden seeks Republican approval for jobs plan  

In a bid to get Republican approval, US President Joe Biden is having to water down his $2 trillion American jobs plan. Chief among the incentives that got the axe are those related to clean energy and electric vehicles. As a result, Biden’s own Democratic party senators, including Bernie Sanders, Ed Markey and Sheldon Whitehouse, are threatening to protest. The bipartisan package is worth $1.2 trillion of which $579 billion is to be spent on new incentives. According to experts, only $400 trillion of the $579 trillion can be categorised as “green”.    

Meanwhile, US interior secretary Deb Haaland said she does not believe the Biden administration is planning a permanent ban on new oil and gas leases on public lands. A complete ban was one of Biden’s campaign pledges. 

Use of poor scientific evidence major obstacle in climate lawsuits: Study

A study by Oxford University found that recently developed instruments of science could be key to winning climate-related lawsuits. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that poor use of scientific evidence was a major obstacle in climate lawsuits. The study assessed 73 lawsuits across 14 jurisdictions and found a majority of them did not “quantify the extent to which climate change was responsible for the climate-related events causing the impacts affecting plaintiffs, an important line of evidence since not all events occur due to climate change”. 

The study also found 73% of cases did not refer to peer-reviewed evidence, and 26 claimed that weather events occurred due to climate change, without providing any evidence. It cited cases such as as Native Village of Kivalina v. ExxonMobil Corp, which was dismissed in the US Court of Appeals, to prove that strong evidence to prove causation was critical in winning such matters. 

Gabon first African country to receive payment for protecting its rainforests

Gabon became the first African country to receive a payment for reducing its carbon emissions by protecting its rainforests. The country was given $17 million–as part of a $150 million deal–by the UN-backed Central African Forest Initiative. The payment comes after Gabon managed to reduce deforestation and lower its carbon emissions between 2016 and 2017. A majority of the country (90%) is made up of forests. These rainforests help Gabon capture more carbon than it emits.