Right direction: This move by the World Bank is an important victory for Barbados PM Mia Mottley and her Bridgetown agenda, which aims to reform the disbursement of climate finance. Photo: World Bank

World Bank to offer suspension of loan repayments to disaster-hit countries

In a significant breakthrough, the World Bank will offer the option to pause loan repayments to vulnerable countries when they are impacted by catastrophic events, including climate-related disasters. World Bank chief Ajay Banga announced the new measure at the recent Paris summit. Banga said this measure will allow leaders of such countries to focus on rehabilitation rather than worry about its cost. This move is an important victory for Barbados prime minister Mia Mottley and her Bridgetown agenda, which aims to reform the disbursement of climate finance. 

India joins Mineral Security Partnership; identifies 30 critical minerals

In a fresh push to bolster its position in the supply chains of minerals recognised as vital to the emergence of a clean energy economy, the Indian government in the past week officially identified 30 minerals as “Critical Minerals of India”. The list includes lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite, tin and copper, all of which are important for clean energy technologies. The list also identifies minerals important for a few other sectors such as fertilizers and chemicals. Incidentally 12 of the 30 minerals (including lithium) are reported as not available or not currently in production in India. The list comes close on the heels of India’s formal entry into the coveted critical minerals club — the Mineral Security Partnership (MSP). The announcement of India’s joining the US-led group came in a joint statement issued during Indian PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the US. The group contains 12 other members, mainly developed countries, and has been envisioned as an alternative to the domination of China in supply chains linked to the expansion of clean technologies.

MPs, trade experts raise concerns about transparency of India’s free trade agreements

More than 130 trade experts, Parliamentarians, organisations and civil society leaders wrote an open letter to the central government expressing their concern at the lack of transparency of India’s free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with countries such as the UK, EU, USA, Canada and Israel. The letter also raised a red flag over the lack of inclusiveness in consultation processes. It has been written amidst the fifth round of negotiations between India and the EU on proposed trade and investment agreements. 

Ecologists say new changes to wildlife law will impact research

Concerns have been raised about a new amendment to the Wildlife Protection Act, which makes it tougher to collect specimens of species for ecological and genetic research. Biologists and ecologists pointed out that Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection (Amendment) Act, 2022 has proposed only two main levels of animal protection—Schedule I, which includes animal species requiring the highest level of protection and Schedule II, which includes species that need a lower level of protection. 

The original law had more divisions for species such as Schedule I was for animals with highest priority, especially endangered species, Schedule II was for animals requiring relatively less protection and Schedule III was for non-endangered animal species.  This new system, according to biologists, does not prioritise animal species according to their ecological importance. The new amendment also requires scientists to secure two levels of permission—one from the state and another from the Centre—to collect specimens. Collection of these specimens is very important in order to understand many crucial issues such as the impact of warming on endangered species, the reasons for birds’ shifting migration patterns, and the transfer of pathogens from animals to humans. 

Nicobar Port project likely to be greenlit by NGT-appointed review panel

The ₹41,000-crore Nicobar Port project is likely to go ahead despite concerns raised by locals and environmentalists. The environmental clearance (EC) for the project had been stayed for two months by the NGT, which appointed a high-powered committee to evaluate“unanswered deficiencies” in the EC. But the Business Standard is now reporting that the panel is likely to give the proposed project an all-clear, citing multiple senior officials. The EC had been stayed because the NGT found it had failed to look into environmental and regulatory concerns regarding the project. 

No love lost between developed and developing nations at Bonn Conference 

The Bonn conference ended on a disappointing note as the stalemate between developed and developing countries continued throughout the meet. Crucial issues such as the Global Stock Take, the hosts for the Santiago Network for the Loss and Damage, adaptation and mitigation goals saw very little progress ahead of COP28. The agenda for the conference was agreed upon only on the penultimate day. 

It was adopted without the controversial Mitigation Work Programme (MWP), which was introduced by the EU. Developing countries argued that the MWP had no mandate from COP27 and the EU’s introduction of it at Bonn was “premature”. They believe that the MWP puts pressure on developing countries to reduce their GHGs without mentioning any means of implementation.