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Current Affairs – 12 October 2021

Carbon Policy for Agriculture

Indian Express

GS 3: Environment and Conservation

Context:

  • The UK is set to host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (CoP26) in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12 to accelerate action towards the Paris Agreement’s goals.
  • India said that the focus should be on climate finance and transfer of green technologies at low cost.

 Emissions in India:

  • As per the World Air Quality Report 2020, 22 of the 30 most polluted cities in the world are in India and Delhi is the world’s most polluted capital.
  • According to the Global Carbon Atlas, India ranks third in total greenhouse gas emissions by emitting annually around 2.6 billion tonnes (Bt) CO2eq.
  • India’s per capita emission is just 1.8 tonnes, significantly lower than the world average of 4.4 tonnes per capita.
  • India ranked seventh on the list of countries most affected due to extreme weather events, incurring losses of $69 billion (in PPP) in 2019 (Germanwatch, 2021).
  • In India, energy sector contributes highest emission (44 %), followed by manufacturing and construction sector (18 %), agriculture, forestry, and land use sectors (14 %), with remaining being shared by transport, industrial processes and waste sectors.
  • Share of agriculture in total emissions has gradually declined from 28% (1994) to 14% (2016).
  • But in absolute terms, emissions from agriculture have increased to about 650 Mt CO2 in 2018, which is similar to China’s emissions from agriculture.
  • Agricultural emissions in India are primarily from livestock sector (54.6 %), use of nitrogenous fertilisers (19 %), rice cultivation (17.5 %), livestock management (6.9 %) and burning of crop residues (2.1 %).

Significance:

  • carbon policy for agriculture is needed not only to reduce its emissions but also to reward farmers through globally tradable carbon credits.
  •  India needs to clearly spell out in its policy how it would adjust carbon credits when it sells to polluting industries abroad so that emission reductions are not double counted in India and the country buying carbon credits.
  • With the world’s largest livestock population (537 million), India needs better feeding practices with smaller numbers of cattle by raising their productivity.
  • Direct seeded rice and alternative wet and dry practices can reduce the carbon footprint in rice fields
  • Switching areas from rice to maize or other less water-guzzling crops can reduce the emissions from agriculture.
  • Opening up corn for ethanol can help not only reduce our huge dependence on crude oil imports but also reduce the carbon footprint.
  • Agricultural soils are the largest single source of N2O emissions in India where fertigation and soluble fertilisers can promote fertiliser use efficiency.
  • The government should incentivise and give subsidies on drips for fertigation, switching away from rice to corn or less water-intensive crops, and promoting soluble fertilisers at the same rate of subsidy as granular urea.

 

Questions Arising from QES data

The Hindu

GS 3: Economy

Context:

  • Recently, the Labour Bureau has released the results of the All-India Quarterly Establishment-based Employment Survey (QES) for the first quarter of 2021 (April to June). The Sixth Economic Census serves as the basis of the QES survey.

About Survey:

  • The objective of the QES is to enable the government to frame a “sound national policy on employment”.
  • It covers establishments employing 10 or more workers in the organised segment in 9 sectors – manufacturing, construction, trade, transport, education, health, accommodation and restaurants, IT/BPO, and financial services.
  • These sectors account for 85% of the total employment in establishments employing 10 or more workers as per Sixth Economic Census.
  • The QES has reported a simple growth rate of 29% in employment in FQ2021 over 2013-14.

Findings:

  • Excluding health and financial services, around 24-35% of the establishments were operational from March 25 to June 30, 2020.
  • 66-86% of estimated employees received full wages including in the construction, trade and hospitality industries.
  • The report concedes a decline in the share of female workers from 31% in the Sixth EC to 29% in FQ2021.
  • Nearly 75% of the estimated establishments employing less than 40 workers.
  • 87.5% of the estimated workers were regular workers and just about 2.1% (12.5% in construction) were casual workers.

Other surveys regarding employment:

  • While the QES provides a demand side picture, Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) gives the supply side picture of the labour market.
  • The release of the PLFS results in 2019 showed the highest-ever unemployment rate of 6.1%.
  • CMIE data has been projecting a distressed labour market scenario especially during the pandemic.

What more could have been done for the report?

  • At any rate, the F12021 QES must be considered as a starting point of the new data set rather than as a continuum of the Sixth EC as the Seventh EC would enable sensible comparisons.
  • Like the Sixth EC, it could have collected data on social aspects like caste and religion as the pandemic would have had differential impacts on the social statuses of workers.
  • Instead of five segmented employment surveys (QEP’s), the Labour Bureau can put in place a high-frequency labour market information database like most advanced economies.

 

India’s Dhole Population

Down to Earth

Prelims Fact

Context:

  • A recent study has identified 114 priority talukas / tehsils where habitats can be consolidated to enhance population connectivity for the dhole or Asiatic Wild Dog (Cuon alpinus), a Schedule II species under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

About:

  • The dhole or Asiatic Wild Dog (Cuon alpinus) is found in three clusters across India namely the Western and Eastern Ghats, central Indian landscape and North East India.
  • The Western and Eastern Ghats is a stronghold region for dholes. It harbours a large number of source populations with a large proportion of land under protection.
  • The dhole can also be found in dense forest steppes, and the thick jungles of the plains as well as the hills. They are never found in the open plains and deserts.
  • The dhole’s gestation period is 60-62 days. The mother usually gives birth to eight pups at a time.
  • The dhole eats wild berries, insects, and lizards. Packs of dholes feast on mammals ranging from rodents to deer. Some of the dhole’s favorites include wild pigs, hares, wild goats, sheep, and occasionally a monkey.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

  • Dholes have become an indirect food source for the residents of the jungles.
  • Dholes do not attack human beings, and they usually retreat at the sight of a person.
  • Human residents of the jungle follow dholes when they are hunting.
  • When the dhole completes its kill, the human hunters scare it away and steal its kill.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

  • Although this occurs on rare occasions, dholes can attack livestock at the cost of the owner.

 

Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment a Universal Right

Down to Earth

GS 3: Conservation related issues

Context:

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council recently unanimously voted for recognising a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a universal right in Geneva, Switzerland.

About:

  • If recognised by all, the right would the first of its kind in more than 70 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948.
  • The right to a clean environment was rooted in the 1972 Stockholm Declaration.
  • Over 13,000 civil society organisations and indigenous peoples’ groups, more than 90,000 children worldwide, the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions and private sector stakeholders had campaigned relentlessly for the right.
  • The resolution emphasises “the rights to life, liberty and security of human rights defenders working in environmental matters, referred to as environmental human rights defenders.”
  • The decision comes weeks before the crucial UN climate change summit, COP26, happening in early November in Glasgow.
  • According to World Health Organization (WHO), 24% of all global deaths, roughly 13.7 million deaths a year, are linked to the environment, due to risks such as air pollution and chemical exposure.

 

First Pilot Plant to Convert High Ash Coal to Methanol

Outlook

Prelims Fact

Context:

  • India has developed an indigenous technology to convert high ash Indian coal to methanol and established its first pilot plant in Hyderabad.

About:

  • This technology will help the country move towards the adoption of clean technology and promote the use of methanol as a transportation fuel (blending with petrol), thus reducing crude oil imports.
  • The broad process of converting coal into methanol consists of conversion of coal to synthesis (syngas) gas, syngas cleaning and conditioning, syngas to methanol conversion, and methanol purification. Coal to methanol plants in most countries are operated with low ash coals.
  • Handling of high ash and heat required to melt this high amount of ash is a challenge in the case of Indian coal, which generally has high ask content.
  • Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has developed the fluidized bed gasification technology suitable for high ash Indian coals to produce syngas and then convert syngas to methanol with 99% purity.
  • This pilot-scale project with a methanol generation capacity of 0.25 metric tons per day has been initiated by NITI Aayog and funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under Clean Energy Research Initiative.