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21st November Current Affairs

COP27 ends; loss and damage fund, other agendas adopted

(GS-III: Environment (Conservation-related issues))

In News:

All agendas, including the loss and damage fund and the Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Plan, were adopted during the UNFCCC COP27 closing ceremony in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

Background:

Delegates from 197 countries (all are of the Paris Climate Accord) gathered at the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27).

They came together to find a solution to prevent global temperatures from reaching 2 degrees Celsius above the long-term average temperature between 1951 and 1980.

What was on the agenda of COP27?

Mitigation:

The goal of mitigation is to keep global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius.

However, despite making big commitments such as the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), progress since COP26 has been severely inadequate (Emissions Gap Report 2022).

Adaptation: According to the Global Climate Risk Index, developing and poor countries (Mozambique, South Sudan, India, etc.) were the countries most affected by extreme weather events in 2019.

Over $350 million and $600 million were pledged to the Adaptation Fund and the Least Developed Countries Fund, at COP26.

These efforts, however, must be backed up by political will.

Finance: At the 2009 COP15 meeting, developed countries agreed to pledge $100 billion per year by 2020 (extended until 2025 during COP21) to assist developing countries in dealing with climate change. However, this has not occurred.

Collaboration: There is the need to call upon governments, public society and the private sector to collaborate to change the way humans interact with the world.

Outcomes of the COP27 on these agendas:

The Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan: It emphasised that a global transition to a low-carbon economy will require at least $4-6 trillion in annual spending.

Mitigation work programme: This would begin this year and last until 2030. Governments were requested –

To revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their national climate plans by the end of 2023.

To accelerate efforts to phase down unabated coal power and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.

To reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) in applicable sectors through increased renewable and low-emission energy.

Loss and damage (L&D): COP27 adopted the basic demand of a fund to acknowledge assistance needed for particularly vulnerable developing countries. However, there is no agreement yet on how finance should be provided and where it should come from.

Fossil fuels: India wanted to include a commitment to phase down all fossil fuels (and not just coal). But the resolution failed.

Other outcomes:

The New Collective Quantified Goal on Climate finance and the Global Goal on Adaptation, which is equivalent to the global goal on mitigation of limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The CMA (countries who have signed and ratified the Paris Agreement) also adopted Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which allows countries to voluntarily cooperate with each other to achieve emission reduction targets set out in their NDCs.

World Bank Reforms: recapitalisation of the development banks to allow them to provide far more assistance to the developing world

Challenges ahead:

No contributions have been pledged to the L&D fund.

Extra burden on the developing countries. They have been asked to revise their climate action plans (NDCs), with progressively stronger actions every year.

Developed countries have failed to meet their commitment. For example, mobilising a relatively small sum of USD 100 billion per year.

Way ahead:

To provide funding for mitigation and adaptation, the financial system and its structures and processes will need to be transformed, involving governments, central banks, commercial banks, institutional investors and other financial actors.

Tonga volcanic eruption reshaped Pacific seafloor

In News:

Tonga Eruption Seabed Mapping Project (TESMaP) has said that the eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano on 15 January 2022 was the largest recorded since the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 (Indonesia).

Impact:

Atmosphere: It sent ash and water vapour halfway to space, and generated tsunami waves across the globe.

On the seafloor: It is scoured and sculpted by violent debris flows out to a distance of over 80km.

Pyroclastic density currents: Hot lava when comes in contact with cold water of the ocean creates water vapour at very high temperatures. This creates a frictionless steam cushion on which lawa could flow at very high speed and to a very far distance.

Four ways water is displaced due to underwater volcano (thus causing tsunami):

By the density flows pushing the water out of the way

Through the explosive force of the eruption also pushes on the water

As a result of the dramatic collapse of the caldera floor (it dropped by 700m in the case of Tonga Volcano)

By pressure waves from the atmospheric blast acting on the sea surface.

World Children’s Day (20th November)

In News:

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights ( NCPCR)  launched the “Training Modules for the Child Welfare Committees (CWCs), Protocols for Restoration and Repatriation of Children” along with the GHAR – GO Home and Re-Unite (Portal for Restoration and Repatriation of Child) on the occasion of World Children’s Day ( 20th November).

Details:

Theme for the World Child Rights Day is “Inclusion of Children”

Other initiatives for Children:

  • MASI Portal of NCPCR
  • Baal Swaraj Portals of NCPCR
  • Amendments brought in the Juvenile Justice Act to make it more child friendly
  • PM CARES for Children Scheme around 4345 children were identified who had lost both of their parents(s) during the COVID pandemic.

Children constitute 40 per cent of our population but they are 100 per cent in terms of making the future of our nation.

Right to choose the life partner of his/her choice

In News:

The Madhya Pradesh HC restrained the state government from prosecuting (under the MPFRA) adult citizens who solemnise marriage on their own will, in a decision that provided relief to interfaith couples seeking to marry.

Background:

In 2020, the state government announced its intention to curb religious conversions carried out solely for the purpose of marriage.

The new law prohibits unlawful conversion from one religion to another by use of any fraudulent means, allurement or promise of marriage

Cases under the Act are cognisable (which means an arrest can be made without a warrant) and non-bailable and violators face between 1-5 years of imprisonment.

Verdicts of different HCs:

  • MP: Section 10 of the MPFRA, which requires those planning to convert and the priest who will perform the conversion to notify the district magistrate 60 days in advance, appears to be unconstitutional
  • Gujarat: Such regulations interfere with the intricacies of marriage, including an individual’s right to choose, and thereby violate Article 21 of the Indian Constitution

Article 25 says “all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health.

Exemption for ISRO

In News:

Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has exempted the national space organisation (ISRO) from the “operation of all provisions of the explosives rules, 2008, for manufacturing, storage, use and transportation of Solid Propellant for Space Rockets falling under UN Class 1 (Explosives)

Need for exemption:

  • ISRO has all the expertise to handle explosive material. Hence, it was felt that they need not be subject to PESO inspections and approvals multiple times.
  • ISRO also had such an exemption prior to 2008. So, it was decided to restore the same

Impact: the latest exemption means that Isro will not need approvals and inspection from the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisations (PESO) on solid propellant usage and manufacture.

PESO, earlier known as the Department of Explosives, regulates the safety of hazardous substances including explosives, compressed gases and petroleum in the country. It was established in the 1890s and has its HQ in Nagpur (MH).