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Current Affairs – 28 October 2021

Climate vulnerability index

Indian Express

GS 3: Environment and Conservation

Context:

  • Environmental think tank Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) has carried a first-of-its-kind district-level climate vulnerability assessment, or Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI).
  • In this index,CEEW has analysed 640 districts in India to assess their vulnerability to extreme weather events such as cyclones, floods, heatwaves, droughts, etc.

About:

  • The CVI maps exposure (that is whether the district is prone to extreme weather events), sensitivity (the likelihood of an impact on the district by the weather event), and adaptive capacity (what the response or coping mechanism of the district is).
  • It helps map critical vulnerabilities and plan strategies to enhance resilience and adapt by climate-proofing communities, economies, and infrastructure.
  • Instead of looking at climate extremes in isolation, the study looks at the combined risk of hydro-met disasters, which is floods, cyclones and droughts, and their impact.
  • The study does not take into consideration other natural disasters such as earthquakes.

Why does India need a climate vulnerability index?

  • According to Germanwatch’s 2020 findings, India is the seventh-most vulnerable country with respect to climate extremes.
  • Extreme weather events have been increasing in the country such as supercyclone Amphanin the Bay of Bengal, which is now the strongest cyclone to be recorded in the country.
  • Recent events such as the landslides and floods in Uttarakhand and Kerala, have also increased in the past decade.
  • Another CEEW study has found that three out of four districts in India are extreme event hotspots, with 40% of the districts exhibiting a swapping trend, that is – traditionally flood-prone areas are witnessing more frequent and intense droughts and vice-versa.
  • Further, the IPCC states that every degree rise in temperature will lead to a three per cent increase in precipitation, causing increased intensification of cyclones and floods.

Findings of the CVI:

  • According to CVI, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Bihar are most vulnerable to extreme climate events such as floods, droughts and cyclones in India.
  • While 27 Indian states and union territories are vulnerable to extreme climate events, 463 districts out of 640 are vulnerable to extreme weather events.
  • Dhemaji and Nagaon in Assam, Khammam in Telangana, Gajapati in Odisha, Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh, Sangli in Maharashtra, and Chennai in Tamil Nadu are among India’s most climate vulnerable districts.
  • More than 80% Indians live in districts vulnerable to climate risks – that is 17 of 20 people in India are vulnerable to climate risks, out of which every five Indians live in areas that are extremely vulnerable.
  • More than 45% of these districts have undergone “unsustainable landscape and infrastructure changes.
  • 183 hotspot districts are highly vulnerable to more than one extreme climate events
  • 60% of Indian districts have medium to low adaptive capacity in handing extreme weather events – these districts don’t have robust plans in place to mitigate impact
  • North-eastern states are more vulnerable to floods
  • South and central are most vulnerable to extreme droughts
  • 59 and 41% of the total districts in the eastern and western states, respectively, are highly vulnerable to extreme cyclones.

Which are the best performing states and why?

  • The CVI has ranked 20 states out of which Assam and Andhra Pradesh are the most vulnerable to extreme weather events, and Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal are the least vulnerable.
  • The study points out that the difference in the vulnerability of states ranked is marginal, making all states vulnerable.
  • But Kerala and est Bengal have performed well comparatively, despite both being coastal states and dealing with the threat of cyclones and floods annually.
  • The reason why these states have performed better is because they have stepped up their climate action plans as well as preparedness to handle an extreme weather event.
  • The Index takes into account certain indicators when assessing the preparedness of a state or district.
  • These include availability of critical infrastructure like cyclone and flood shelters, government mechanisms in place including updating of disaster management plans, mitigation strategies, standard operating procedures before, during and after an extreme weather event such as how people and livestock are being evacuated or how food is being mobilised and how the administration prevents loss of lives and livelihoods.

What has compounded the impact of weather events?

  • Apart from the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events which have increased in the country, the report finds that “land disruptions’’ have increased the impact of these events.
  • Land disruptions primarily point to anthropogenic activity including change of land use, increased construction, reclaiming of land for development – resulting in the disappearance of forests, wetlands, mangroves, and other such habitats.
  • These ecosystems have traditionally acted as natural buffers against such extreme weather, reducing the impact.
  • With their disappearance, the impact of the weather events have increased and are being felt more across the country.

Recommendations:

  • Develop a high-resolution Climate Risk Atlas (CRA) to map critical vulnerabilities at the district level and better identify, assess, and project chronic and acute risks such as extreme climate events, heat and water stress, crop loss, vector-borne diseases and biodiversity collapse.
  • A CRA can also support coastal monitoring and forecasting, which are indispensable given the rapid intensification of cyclones and other extreme events.
  • Establish a centralised climate-risk commission to coordinate the environmental de-risking mission.
  • Undertake climate-sensitivity-led landscape restoration focused on rehabilitating, restoring, and reintegrating natural ecosystems as part of the developmental process.
  • Integrate climate risk profiling with infrastructure planning to increase adaptive capacity.
  • Provide for climate risk-interlinked adaptation financing by creating innovative CVI-based financing instruments that integrate climate risks for an effective risk transfer mechanism.

 

Losthuman capital due to air pollution

Down to Earth

GS 3: Environment

Context:

  • Recently, The Changing Wealth of Nations 2021report is published by the World Bank.

Findings:

  • South Asia suffers the most among all regions of the world in terms of loss of human capital due to air pollution.
  • Air pollution was seemingly taking a toll on this significant wealth generator. South Asia as a region was the most severely affected by the estimated loss of human capital due to air pollution.
  • The report did not quantify such a loss in human capital due to air pollution for any other region.
  • South Asia has increased its wealth since 1995. But still, its per capita wealth is among the lowest in the world, comparable to sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Due to population growth in the same time period, per capita wealth remains among the lowest in the world.
  • Over 80% of the region’s wealth was attributed to men, indicating a huge gender disparity in human capital and its contribution to national wealth.
  • Globally, wealth had increased during the two decades. In fact, middle-income countries were catching up fast with high-income ones in wealth generation.
  • However, growing prosperity has been accompanied by unsustainable management of some natural assets.
  • Low- and middle-income countries saw their forest wealth per capita decline 8% from 1995 to 2018, reflecting significant deforestation.
  • This wealth creation, arguably the best in recent decades, has not been equal. Low-income countries’ share in global wealth is below 1%, a level which has remained the same for decades. These countries account for 8% of the world’s population.
  • The survey found that countries that depended more on natural resources were also reporting a decline in wealth due to the degradation of resources.
  • Over a third of low-income countries saw declining wealth per capita. Countries with declining wealth also tend to be degrading their base of renewable natural assets.
  • For low-income countries, appropriately managing renewable natural capital, which accounts for 23% of their wealth, remains crucial.

About:

  • The latest edition of this periodic report has measured wealth creation and distribution in 146 countries covering a 20-year period from 1995-2018.
  • The World Bank included gross domestic product, human-produced capital, human capital and natural capital like renewable and non-renewable natural resources in its measurement of wealth. The Bank defines human capital as “earnings over a person’s lifetime.”
  • Human capital was “the largest source of worldwide wealth, comprising 64% of total global wealth in 2018.
  • Middle-income countries increased their investment in human capital and in turn, saw significant increases in their share of global human capital wealth.
  • Human capital in south Asia accounts for 50% of the region’s wealth. This did not change during the survey period —1995-2018. It shows the importance of a healthy workforce.

 

Vaccine loans from ADB, AIIB

The Hindu

GS 2: International bodies

Context:

  • The Government of India has applied for loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to procure as many as 667 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

About:

  • The Manila-based ADB, in which the USA and Japan are the biggest shareholders, and the Beijing-based AIIB, where China and India are the biggest shareholders, are in the process of considering the loans.
  • The ADB is expected to lend $1.5 billion and the AIIB around $500 million for the vaccine purchase by the Government of India, which has been made under the ADB’s Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) initiative.
  • Launched in December 2020, APVAX offers “rapid and equitable support to its developing member countries as they procure and deliver effective and safe COVID-19 vaccines”.
  • The 667 million doses willhave to be vaccines qualified by the WHO.
  • Covishield is among those vaccines, but Covaxin is still awaiting the green light with a final assessment scheduled for November 3.
  • According to the ADB, for a vaccine to be eligible for financing, it must “be procured via COVAX [the global vaccine access initiative], prequalified by WHO, or authorised by a Stringent Regulatory Authority”, which, according to the WHO, does not include India’s health authorities.
  • The Beijing-headquartered AIIB will co-finance the vaccine procurement. A number of loans were being considered for projects in India, including another loan for the next phase of the Chennai Metro rail system.
  • Earlier this month, the AIIB had already approved a $356.7 million loan to the Government of India for the construction of a new corridor as part of Chennai Metro’s phase two.
  • So far, the AIIB has approved loans for 28 projects in India amounting to $6.7 billion, more than for any other member of the multilateral bank, which was launched in Beijing in 2015.
  • India is the second-largest shareholder after China in the bank, which does not count the U.S. and Japan among its members.