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This close to leaving: The US government officially began the process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on November 4 after the mandatory 3-year waiting period elapsed | Photo: ClimateAnalytics.org

US notifies UN of its decision to leave Paris accord, but may not lose its seat at climate talks

While the US has officially begun the process of pulling out of the Paris Agreement by notifying the UN of its intention to leave, the country will continue to retain its seat at UN climate talks. According to present and former diplomats, the US will be officially designated as ‘observers’ at Paris accord discussions, and will always make their presence felt unless the country itself stops sending delegations to climate change talks.

The Trump administration’s apathy to climate change continued to be on display with the government announcing its decision to auction of nearly 4 million acres of land in Arctic Alaska for oil development next month.

G20 countries way off mark on climate action; NDCs too weak: Climate Analytics Report

The Climate Analytics report titled ‘Brown to Green’, released earlier this week, revealed that CO2 emissions by G20 nations rose by 1.8% in 2018 rather than decline. The findings are worrisome as the increase is higher than the 1.4% average registered between 2005 and 2016, and reflect a second consecutive year of CO2 emission growth. Analysis of the planned actions by G20 nations in the report shows that none of the world’s 20 largest economies, responsible for 75% of global GHG emissions, are on an emissions pathway compatible with the 1.5-degree Celsius objective of the Paris Agreement. According to the report, staying below 1.5-degree Celsius would require G20 countries to cut emissions by at least 45% – from 2010 levels – by 2030.

While half of the countries were on their way to meeting their NDC’s, the report underlines that this is insufficient since NDCs are too weak. India, whose emissions grew by 28% in 2018 on the back of higher energy demand and growth in transport emissions, is one of the countries making good progress on its NDCs. India still has per capita emissions that are a fourth of the G20 average however the report points out that continued reliance on coal for power is a matter of concern. South  Korea,  Canada  and  Australia  were found to be furthest off track to implement their NDCs while Argentina, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, and the US may also miss their NDC targets without additional action.

Last chance to notify ban on RO, NGT warns India’s environment ministry

India’s environment ministry was given the ‘last opportunity’ by the country’s National Green Tribunal (NGT) to issue a notification that banned Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems, which lead to wastage of at least 80% of water. The court said a delay in issuing the notification, as per the NGT’s previous order, was causing harm to public health and environment. The court has given the ministry until December 31, 2019, to comply with its directions. If it fails to do so, the concerned official would not be entitled to draw a salary, the court ruled.

The NGT has passed its previous order after an expert committee report said that if Total Dissolved Solids is less than 500 milligrams per litre in the water, an RO system will not be useful but will result in removing important minerals as well as cause undue wastage of water.

After Chile backs out, UN confirms Spain will host COP25

After Chile backed out of hosting this year’s COP25 a little more than a month before the scheduled event because of riots in the country, Spain has stepped in and will host the talks, the UN confirmed. COP25 will now be held in Madrid on the same dates as planned (December 2-13).

UN’s biodiversity chief quits amidst allegations of misconduct

The UN’s biodiversity chief resigned this past fortnight. Cristiana Pașca Palmer, a former Romanian environment minister, was facing allegations of discrimination against African staff and intervention in the renewal of her contract before she quit. The move is significant as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), where she has been executive secretary since March 2017, is in the midst of planning its 15th major conference in October 2020 where countries are expected to set new targets to preserve biodiversity over the next 10 years.

New Zealand passes law for zero carbon emissions by 2050

This fortnight, New Zealand passed a law that aims for net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The bill, however, is a bit lax on methane emitted from animals as it aims to cut 10% of biological methane by 2030 and up to 47% by 2050. This is because agriculture is key to the country’s economy. The New Zealand government has also promised to plant a billion trees over 10 years and ensure the electricity grid runs entirely from renewable energy by 2035. A Climate Change Commission will guide the government on how to reach the targets.