18 September, 2020

  • Reject this inequitable climate proposal - Lead Article (Environment)
  • A push for Reform - Editorial (International Relations)
  • Is the QUAD rising after China's challenge at the LAC? - (International Relations)
  • US to strengthen relationship with India + U.S. keen on finalising BECA at 2+2 Dialogue – (International Relations)
  • Wetlands being identified in Rajasthan to protect Biodiversity (Environment)
  • Pak. To make Gilgit-Baltistan a full-fledged province - (International Relations)
  • Question for the Day

Prelims Quiz

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    Description

    UPSC Current Affairs:    Reject this inequitable climate proposal - Lead Article- Page 06

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains:|GS Paper III | ENVIRONMENT

    Sub Theme: Climate change and climate actions, Paris Climate Deal | UPSC

    Context: The authors have criticised UN Secretary General António Guterres’s call for India to give up coal immediately and reduce emissions by 45% by 2030 as it will amount to deindustrialization of the economy. UN Secretary General’s call is also against foundational principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that distinguish sharply between the responsibilities and commitments of developed countries vis-à-vis those of developing countries. 

    United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – UNFCCC -UPSC

    • The UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994. Preventing “dangerous” human interference with the climate system is the ultimate aim of the UNFCCC.
    • The ultimate objective of the Convention is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations "at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human induced) interference with the climate system.
    • It states that such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened, and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.
    • The idea is that, as they are the source of most past and current greenhouse gas emissions, industrialized countries (Annex-I Countries) are expected to do the most to cut emissions on home ground.
    • Industrialized nations agree under the Convention to support climate change activities in developing countries by providing financial support for action on climate change-- above and beyond any financial assistance they already provide to these countries. 
    • A system of grants and loans has been set up through the Convention and is managed by the Global Environment Facility. Industrialized countries also agree to share technology with less-advanced nations.

    Kyoto Protocol -UPSC

    • The Kyoto Protocol was adopted on 11 December 1997. Owing to a complex ratification process, it entered into force on 16 February 2005. 
    • Kyoto Protocol operationalizes the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by committing industrialized countries and economies in transition to limit and reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions in accordance with agreed individual targets.
    • The Kyoto Protocol is based on the principles and provisions of the Convention and follows its annex-based structure. It only binds developed countries, and places a heavier burden on them under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities”, because it recognizes that they are largely responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere.
    • In its Annex B, the Kyoto Protocol sets binding emission reduction targets for 37 industrialized countries and economies in transition and the European Union. Overall, these targets add up to an average 5 per cent emission reduction compared to 1990 levels over the five year period 2008–2012 (the first commitment period).

    The Paris Agreement -UPSC

    • The Paris Agreement builds upon the Convention and for the first time brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so.
    • The Paris Agreement central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
    • Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.
    • The Paris Agreement requires all Parties to put forward their best efforts through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead. This includes requirements that all Parties report regularly on their emissions and on their implementation efforts.
    • The Agreement also prescribes that Parties shall communicate their NDCs every 5 years and provide information necessary for clarity and transparency. 
    • The Paris Agreement reaffirms the obligations of developed countries to support the efforts of developing country Parties to build clean, climate-resilient futures, while for the first time encouraging voluntary contributions by other Parties.
    • The agreement also provides that the Financial Mechanism of the Convention, including the Green Climate Fund (GCF), shall serve the Agreement. 

    Views Highlighted in the Article -UPSC

    India’s Track Record

    • India is one of the few countries with at least 2° Celsius warming compliant climate action, and one of a much smaller list of those currently on track to fulfilling their Paris Agreement commitments.
    • India’s annual emissions - Despite the accelerated economic growth of recent decades India’s annual emissions, at 0.5 tonnes per capita, are well below the global average of 1.3 tonnes, and also those of China, the United States and the European Union (EU), the three leading emitters in absolute terms, whose per capita emissions are higher than this average.
    • Cumulative Emissions - In terms of cumulative emissions (which is what really counts in determining the extent of temperature increase), India’s contribution by 2017 was only 4% for a population of 1.3 billion, whereas the European Union, with a population of only 448 million, was responsible for 20%.
    • Reduction of Annual Emission by Developed Countries way too Less - The UNFCCC itself has reported that between 1990 and 2017, the developed nations (excluding Russia and east Europe) have reduced their annual emissions by only 1.3%. This amounts to practically nil, given the inevitable errors in such accounting. 
    • No timeline provided to phase out Oil and Natural Gas, both being Fossil Fuel – The Report mentions about phasing out of Coal but no timeline has been provided for phasing out oil and natural gas currently used by developed nations referred in the Article as Global North.
    • Talk of Carbon Neutrality of No Use unless Developed Nations reduce their Annual Emissions - Carbon neutrality means having a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks. Carbon sink is any system that absorbs more carbon than it emits. The main natural carbon sinks are soil, forests and oceans.  Removing carbon oxide from the atmosphere and then storing it is known as carbon sequestration. In order to achieve net zero emissions, all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions will have to be counterbalanced by carbon sequestration – The Article says that commitment on future emission norms by developed nations has already set the world on the path to become warmer by 3 degrees Celsius and talks on Carbon Neutrality by 2050 and declaring Climate Emergency is just moral talking without doing what is actually required.

    Likely Scenario if Coal Investment is Paused

    • Currently, roughly 2 GW of coal-based generation is being decommissioned per year, which implies that by 2030, India will have only 184 GW of coal-based generation. 
    • However, meeting electricity requirement till 2030 based on current growth rate will require anywhere between 650 GW to 750 GW of renewable energy. Unlike the developed nations, India cannot substitute coal substantially by oil and gas and despite some wind potential, a huge part of this growth needs to come from solar energy.
    • Renewables Energy can maximum meet residential consumption and some part of the demand from the service sector but cannot drive manufacturing industry as it will require Coal investment.
    • Further, manufacturing growth powered by fossil fuel-based energy is itself a necessity, both technological and economic, for the transition to renewables.
    • Providing 70 to 80 per cent of all generation capacity through renewable energy will depend critically on technology development including improvements in the efficiency of conversion of energy from its source into electricity.

    Accepting UN Secretary General Advice will lead to virtual de-industrialisation

    • Lacking production capacity in renewable energy technologies and their large-scale operation, deployment on this scale will expose India to increasing and severe dependence on external sources and supply chains.
    • It is also true that renewables alongside coal will generate, directly and indirectly, far more employment than renewables alone. 
    • Apart from the impossibility of India implementing a 45% reduction in emissions by 2030, the advice by the UN Secretary General, taken all together, amounts to asking for the virtual de-industrialisation of India, and stagnation in a low-development trap for the vast majority of its population.
    • India must unanimously reject the UN Secretary General’s call and reiterate its long-standing commitment to an equitable response to the challenge of global warming.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs:  A push for reform Page 07

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: International Relations |Mains: GS Paper II

    Sub Theme: UNSC reforms | veto | UPSC

     Context:

    • As the United Nations commences the 75th session of the General Assembly, the need for internal reforms to suit the 21st century could not be starker.
    • Volkan Bozkir, the Turkish diplomat and politician who is the incoming president of the UNGA, has voiced concern that the structure of the 15-member Security Council ought to be more democratic and representative. 

    Why do we need reform in the council?

    • Demands of G4
      • Action has been long overdue on the demand, especially from the so-called Group of 4 (G4) countries — Brazil, Germany, India and Japan — which advocate a permanent seat for all of them.
    • Issue of Veto
      • The veto powers that the UNSC’s five permanent members enjoy is an anachronism in this age.
      • Instrument is often wielded as a blunt weapon to shore up their geopolitical interests, regardless of the disastrous consequences for the victims of armed conflict. The push for reform gathered momentum following the unilateral declaration of war by the United States and the United Kingdom, against Iraq, in 2003. 

    The General Assembly’s 122nd plenary meeting in 2008

    • It was in this meeting that they decided to facilitate the reform process through the Inter-Governmental Negotiations framework (IGN) on equitable representation as well as expansion of the UNSC.
    • Though the General Assembly’s adoption of a 2015 resolution to allow the IGN on the basis of a framework document generated some enthusiasm, it was dampened by the U.S., Russia and China being opposed to serious reform of the Council. The G4 bemoaned earlier this year that the IGN process might have outlived its purpose given the absence of a negotiating document which alone could provide a structure to the deliberations. In any case, the exercise has been deferred in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Is the Quad rising after China’s challenge at the LAC? - Pg 7

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: International Relations |Mains: GS Paper II

    Sub Theme: Quad as a counter to China | Quads | UPSC

     Context:

    • As India faces China’s challenge over the ground situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), is a maritime coalition in the Indo-Pacific, the Quadrilateral, comprising India, the U.S., Japan and Australia, an effective counter?
    • In the past week in Parliament, the Defence Minister has said that we have not seen transgressions across the LAC with China, but that Chinese troops have been amassed along it. There is hope that the five-point agreement in Moscow last week will bring some peace along the LAC. How do you see the situation?

    Given the challenge, is U.S.-India-Japan-Australia Quadrilateral is an effective counter to China’s aggression at the LAC?

    • Quadrilateral is a coalition of the willing to try to deter China in the future, to set the rules of the road in the Indo-Pacific, and to ensure that they are maintained, but it’s not an exclusive arrangement. Did India’s presence in the Quad deter China or the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] from transgressing the boundary? The answer is ‘no’. But that is also not what one should expect from something like this, which is frankly not an alliance.
    • I think the Quad is useful in terms of what it can do. What can these countries do to enhance Indian capabilities? And what can the Quad do to shape the future balance of power, even the present balance of power, and try to restore deterrence in Asia, in the Indo-Pacific? 

    It’s possible for us to be part of multilateral groupings which might be seemingly at odds with each other. In fact, the fact that we are part of RIC [Russia-India-China] and BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] and SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organisation] provides a good rationale for more proactive engagement in the Quad setting. What we need to do is to show the requisite strategy, flexibility. China is a fact of life for us. We need to engage with China, though the nature of this engagement is going to change very significantly in the months and years to come.

    TM: India’s motivations for being part of the SCO in particular, but also RIC and BRICS, are three or four. One is to keep Russia on its side for defence but also strategic reasons. Russia continues to be important to India and these institutions and groupings are important to Russia. Second, you do not want to leave a platform to your rivals, that is China and Pakistan. I think the third thing is these are platforms to resolve or try to manage some of these contradictions with those rivals when you might not have other platforms to engage with them during a crisis 

    The Quad has a very different purpose, and you do not have any inherent disputes between those four Quad countries. In the SCO, however, you have seen that India declined to participate in this SCO military exercise and then walked out of the NSA [National Security Advisers] meeting because of the Pakistanis showing a new map. And if this becomes a venue for India-Pakistan or India-China tensions in the way SAARC has, then you have to question the SCO’s value.

    India may have multiple partnerships, but they are all not equal. This is not a hub and spoke where each of these relationships is equal. And I think the India-Russia relationship could potentially create strains with the U.S. as it has over the S-400 (anti-missile system). All anybody in the West has to do is just sit back and let these contradictions within the SCO play out themselves.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs:  US keen on finalizing BECA at 2+2 dialogue (Page 10), US to strengthen relationship with India (Page 11)

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: International Relations |Mains: GS Paper II

    Sub Theme:  Foundational Agreements | BECA, LEMOA | UPSC 

    U.S. keen on finalising BECA at 2+2 dialogue

    Context

    • The U.S. is keen that India sign the last foundational agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation (BECA), at the next India-U.S. 2+2 ministerial dialogue likely to held in October end.
    • Beginning 2016, India has signed three foundational agreements: the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) while the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) was signed a long time ago. An extension to the GSOMIA, the Industrial Security Annex (ISA), was signed at the last 2+2 dialogue.
    • Let us understand the agreements. 

    India-US foundational agreements

    • US requires its strategic partners to sign 4 foundational agreements to enable the strategic engagement including sharing of information, technology transfer, extension of logistic facilities etc.
    • The 4 foundational agreements include GSOMIA, BECA, LEMOA, COMCOSA.
    • Being a ‘Major Defence Partner’ of the US, it is imperative for India to sign the foundational pacts which allows greater interoperability between critical technologies and smooth facilitation of classified information.
    • So far, India has signed only 2 of the foundational agreements, namely, GSOMIA (in 2002) and LEMOA (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement).
    • COMCASA and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) are the two remaining pacts that are not signed yet.

    About foundational agreements

    GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement)

    • This is an agreement signed to safeguard the information that is shared during a technology transfer.
    • India signed this agreement in 2002, however so far this covered only Indian government and PSUs.
    • Now with the defence cooperation deepening and most deals signed under Strategic Partnership model which includes the private sector, it is necessary to sign the ISA annexure to GSOMIA in order to safeguard information shared to private sector during the technology transfer.

     LEMOA (signed in 2016)

    • Logistic Exchange Memorandum of Agreement
    • Modified version of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA).
    • It will enable access to each other’s military facilities for purposes of refueling and replenishment.

    COMCASA

    • Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement
    • Will safeguard information wrt communications equipments in weapons such as precision armament, air-to-air missiles, UAVs, fighter jets, space systems and navigation systems etc.
    • Signed in 2018

    BECA

    • Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Information and Services Cooperation
    • Will enable sharing of geospatial and satellite data.
    • A meeting of the Quad Foreign Ministers is scheduled to take place in Tokyo in October, the source said. Earlier, the meeting was expected to be held in New Delhi.
    • The U.S. wants BECA to be signed at the ministerial 2+2 in October.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Pak. to make Gilgit-Baltistan a full-fledged province: report Page 14

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: International Relations |Mains: GS Paper II

    Sub Theme: relations with neighbouring countries| Pakistan reporganization| UPSC

    Pak. to make Gilgit-Baltistan a full-fledged province: report

    Announcement by Pakistan 

    • Pakistan has decided to elevate Gilgit-Baltistan’s status to that of a full-fledged province. (Announcement will be done shortly).
    • Gilgit-Baltistan would be given adequate representation on all constitutional bodies, including the National Assembly and the Senate.
    • Work on the Moqpondass Special Economic Zone would begin under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

    The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Balochistan with China’s Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The CPEC is a collection of infrastructure and other projects under construction throughout Pakistan since 2013.

    India’s stand 

    • India has clearly conveyed to Pakistan that the entire union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an integral part of the country by virtue of its fully legal and irrevocable accession.
    • Government of Pakistan or its judiciary has no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it.
    • India completely rejects such actions and continued attempts to bring material changes in Pakistan occupied areas of the Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
    • Pakistan should immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: Wetlands being identified in Rajasthan to protect biodiversity Page 05

    UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy |Mains: GS Paper III

    Sub Theme: Agricultural reform in our country | MSP | UPSC 

    Context:

    • The wetlands, which have played an important role in the storage of sediment and nutrients, are being identified in Rajasthan for ensuring their utilisation, stopping encroachments on them and enabling the local authorities to maintain them.
    • While six wetlands are already identified in the State, 52 more have been earmarked for time-bound development.
    • Govt has said that strict action would be taken against those running submersible pump sets for illegal salt mining in the world-famous Sambhar Lake, where a large number of migratory birds had died last year. 

    Sambhar Lake

    • A large saline lake fed by four streams set in a shallow wetland and subject to seasonal fluctuations. It is surrounded by sand flats and dry thorn scrub and fed by seasonal rivers and streams.
    • The site is important for a variety of wintering waterbirds, including large numbers of flamingos. Human activities consist of salt production and livestock grazing.

    Flamingos

    • Flamingos usually stand on one leg while the other is tucked beneath their bodies. The reason for this behaviour is not fully understood. One theory is that standing on one leg allows the birds to conserve more body heat, given that they spend a significant amount of time wading in cold water.
    • Flamingos are capable flyers, and flamingos in captivity often require wing clipping to prevent escape. A pair of African flamingos which had not yet had their wings clipped escaped from the Wichita, Kansas zoo in 2005. One was spotted in Texas 14 years later. It had been seen previously by birders in Texas, Wisconsin and Louisiana.
    • Flamingos filter-feed on brine shrimp and blue-green algae as well as insect larvae, small insects, mollusks and crustaceans making them omnivores. Their bills are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they eat, and are uniquely used upside-down. The filtering of food items is assisted by hairy structures called lamellae, which line the mandibles, and the large, rough-surfaced tongue. The pink or reddish color of flamingos comes from carotenoids in their diet of animal and plant plankton. 
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