To grant or not to: Industry or projects that had started operating without procuring the green clearance can now be allowed to continue in exceptional cases | Photo: Pixabay

Supreme Court allows ex post facto green clearance in exceptional cases

Ex post facto environmental clearances can be granted in exceptional circumstances even after taking into account all environmental impacts, the Supreme Court observed. This allows functioning of an industry or project that had started operating without procuring the green clearance and disclosing the probable environmental impacts of the project. The defaulter industry may be penalised and environmental restoration cost may be recovered from it while also assessing its contribution to economy and employment. Lawyers said that this move nullifies the fundamental basis of environmental law, which is a precautionary principle and will open the floodgates for misuse.

Private sector, not govt, will drive India’s carbon transition: Moodys

Ratings agency Moodys predicted that India’s economic development needs will hinder the amount of financial support the government can extend towards the country’s carbon transition. This will make way for the private sector to step in and drive emissions reduction, the agency predicted. This prediction is in line with the way things are currently going in India. The net-zero goals announced by the private sector are more advanced than those made by government-linked companies.  

India plans massive plantation at 13 river basins to meet climate goals

India intends to grow plantations over 4,68,222 sqkm in 13 major river basins by 2027 to meet India’s international commitment to sequester carbon emissions, as per an overview report  released on March 14. Environment minister Bhupender Yadav released the 13 project reports for Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej, Yamuna, Brahmaputra, Luni, Narmada, Godavari, Mahanadi, Krishna and Cauvery.

These plantations will include riverfront development programmes, afforestation, and agroforestry schemes. The proposed rejuvenation of major rivers through forestry interventions is expected to sequester 50.21 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 10 years and 74.76 million tonnes by 20 years. The report also estimated that the project reports of the 13 river basins will likely increase the country’s cumulative forest cover by 80.85 sqkm to 1,813.52 sqkm. The government is yet to prepare similar plans for the Ganga and Brahmaputra basins. However, experts warned that the planned plantations could infringe on existing habitation, rights of local people and ownership of land.

Indian finance sector unprepared for climate challenge, bankers and insurers rank poorly: Studies

Indian insurance companies are among the worst performers in the world when it comes to climate-linked losses, according to a recent analysis by Climate Trends. About 70% of total claims worth Rs2,559 crore made under various catastrophes in India in 2020-21 remain unpaid. Insurance companies from Colombia, India, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were among the worst performers, scoring below 10% for the quality of their disclosures. India also has the lowest rate of insurance penetration across Asia. 

India’s banking sector is also grossly unprepared for the financial impact of climate change, according to a recent analysis. The report ranked the 34 biggest banks in the country, based on market capitalisation, to find that most banks have not even begun to factor climate change into their business strategies. YES Bank, IndusInd Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank were the top-ranking banks overall and have started to consider the climate issue, while SBI landed in sixth place. 

Centre’s Arctic policy aims at energy security, climate change and mineral wealth

India’s Arctic policy, released by the Centre, aims to strengthen national capabilities and competencies in science and exploration, climate and environmental protection, use of mineral wealth and maritime and economic cooperation with the Arctic region. The policy will also help in better analysis, prediction, and coordinated policymaking on the implications of ice melting in the Arctic on India’s economic, military and strategic interests related to global shipping routes, energy security, and exploitation of mineral wealth.

India is among the 13 nations that are observers in the Arctic Council, which include France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, China, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. This council is a high-level intergovernmental forum to address issues faced by the Arctic governments and the indigenous people of the region.

Green Climate Fund may reject emission cutting projects owing to US’ unpaid debt

The UN’s flagship climate fund, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) warned that it may have to cut some climate mitigation projects, because of lack of funding from donors. Campaigners said if the GCF is compelled to limit its operations in the near future due to lack of funding, it would be hard to find any single country more at fault than the US. The country owes the GCF $2 billion. In 2014, then president Barack Obama promised the fund $3 billion, but granted only $1 billion before the end of his term. His successor Donald Trump did not give any money to the GCF and, so far, neither has Joe Biden. Last month, the US Congress approved a 2022 spending bill with a mere $1 billion for international climate finance and no money for the GCF. Biden had requested Congress to approve $1.25 billion for the fund, but negotiations brought the amount down to zero.

Brazil updates it NDC, still not aligned with the Paris Agreement

The Brazilian government updated its nationally determined contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement earlier this month. The update discloses up to a 37% reduction in the country’s greenhouse gas reduction by 2025 and a 50% reduction by 2030 compared to 2005, in addition to also including “a long-term objective to achieve neutrality”. The new submission, however, does not increase the country’s climate ambition in relation to the contribution previously submitted in 2016, notes an analysis produced by Talanoa Institute and the ‘Política por Inteiro’ project. The update rather allows more emissions relative to its 2016 commitment—314 million tonnes of CO2eq extra for 2025; and 81 million tonnes of CO2eq for 2030. Further, the 2022 NDC does not internalise the commitments made by Brazil at COP26 in relation to zero deforestation by 2030 and reducing methane emissions by 30% by 2030.

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