Reading Time: 8 mins Recently, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority – EPCA had declared a public health emergency in the Delhi-NCR region as the pollution levels crossed the threshold of the “severe-plus” category. The air pollution is said to reach “Severe plus” or emergency levels when PM2.5 levels cross 300 µg/m3 or PM10 levels crosses 500µg/m3. As per the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), these levels, which are about 5-times the standard, need to persist for 48 hours or more before the emergency level can be declared. This is worrisome because, according to the plan, during severe or emergency levels of air pollution, those suffering from heart diseases, asthma and other respiratory diseases may suffer the most and has a direct impact on morality. According to WHO, air pollution kills 7 million people worldwide. And the health effects of air pollution are serious – about one-third of the deaths from stroke, lung cancer, and heart disease are caused by the same. It is having an equivalent effect to that of smoking tobacco.
Reading Time: 7 mins In 2015, the UNGA adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 193 nations, including India, are committed to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It broadly involves the eradication of poverty of all forms, fighting inequality and tackling climate change through inclusiveness. India has played a significant role in past years to achieve these goals and its achievement is critical for the global community as it is consists of about 17% of the world population. As per the SDG Index released by the NITI Aayog and the UN showed the nation has scored 58 – almost more the halfway mark in meeting the target set for 2030.
Reading Time: 8 mins This year, India had hosted the United Nations Convention to Combating Desertification Conference of Parties (UNCCD COP14), in New Delhi. About 8,000 participants and delegates from across 200 countries took part in this Convention. Almost 30 decisions were agreed upon after intense deliberations. The use of the term “desertification” in the Convention to Combat Desertification gives the impression that this Convention only focuses on deserts. However, this is not true. This Convention is about the sustainable management and restoration of land – which has important positive implications for water, energy, biodiversity, and livelihoods. This year’s COP, India took over the presidency and has the opportunity to bring to the limelight this lesser-known Rio Convention. By hosting UNCCD COP14, India has become the 4th country in the world along with Argentina, Kenya, and Germany to have convened all three COPs under the Rio Convention of 1992. These include the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the UNCCD.
Reading Time: 7 mins Lok Sabha, in July this year, had passed Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in order to hasten the water disputes between the States. India occupies 2.4% of the World’s total land area and it consists of 18% of the world population with only 4% of the world’s renewable water resource. Furthermore, India’s water distribution is uneven – a situation favourable for an increase in the possibility of water-related conflicts. Due to these disputes, the local issues are prioritized of the superior issues of national importance. The sense of unity among the people of India is being jeopardized by these irksome issues. Thus, Inter-State Water Dispute (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is a need of the hour as existing Act as not addressing the issue with needed efficiency.
Reading Time: 8 mins
The 14th Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification was held in September this year. India, along with the rest of the world, is facing crisis due to land degradation and desertification. The land degradation is not only affecting India economically but is also exacerbating the climate change events in the country. This conference seeks to answer the question on how to slow down the loss of land and biodiversity that threatens the global food security and hastens the climate change. Cooperative effort to combat land degradation is essential at this juncture as it is either directly or indirectly affecting the whole of the world. Taking this into consideration, the signatories of the Paris Agreement of 2015 have requested the IPCC to study the link between the land and climate change. According to these findings by the IPCC, the land degradation and climate change are inter-linked and unified efforts must be taken by the world to resolve this issue as soon as possible.
Reading Time: 5 mins
A few years back, Beijing and Delhi were competing with each other for being some of the most polluted cities in the world. Between 2000 and 2009, Beijing was far worse than Delhi in terms of air pollution. However, in recent years, the air quality of Beijing began improving while Delhi’s pollution levels continued to increase. In 2017, the concentration of PM 2.5 (particulate matter with a size of 2.5 microns or less) in Beijing was less than half that of Delhi. The number of “very unhealthy” days in Delhi is four times more than that of Beijing. The reason behind Beijing’s successful reduction of atmospheric pollution is due to the series of stringent measures to reduce the carbon emission into the atmosphere. One among them is the focus on the automobile sector. In 2017, the quota for new vehicles was fixed at 150,000 cars of which 60,000 was allotted only to the fuel-efficient cars. In 2018, this quota was reduced to 100,000. Although an average Indian contributes only a microscopic amount of transport-related carbon dioxide emissions to the global climate change, congested streets and polluted air are common aspects seen in the Indian metropolises. It is not only discomforting on a daily basis but is also a long-term health hazard to those who are living in big cities like Delhi.
Reading Time: 5 mins Forest fire as a disaster is gaining prominence in recent years. Many international forums like G7 are undertaking several measures to address this crisis. The current crisis of the Amazon forest fire is only the tip of the iceberg. Now the Arctic region is also dealing with a similar problem in the form of a …
Reading Time: 6 mins
Whether we realise it or not, the drinking water scarcity problem that we see in different parts of India today is a direct result of climate change. India is very vulnerable to climate change — melting Himalayan glaciers will produce floods in north India; erratic monsoons will create droughts in peninsular India.
Global action against climate change is not enough even if the Paris Agreement is followed in letter and spirit which is already weakening due to nations such as the US and Brazil walking away from it. Therefore India will have to assume the worst of impacts of global warming and tailor its programmes accordingly.
With the threat of floods and droughts looming in various parts of the country, there is no option but to make the 150-year-old idea, that is, Interlinking of Rivers (ILR) happen, and fast. The NDA government has always been in favour of inter-linking of rivers and it is to be hoped that the government sees ILR in the light of climate action, rather than a developmental move.