CURRENT AFFAIRS – 15/12/2023
COP28: Much done, but still not enough
(General Studies- Paper III)
Source : The Indian Express
COP28 delivered some significant outcomes, including a first-time acknowledgment of the need to move away from fossil fuels.
- A promise to reduce methane emissions was made, along with the operationalization and capitalization of the loss and damage fund.
- An agreement on a framework for the global goal on adaptation was achieved.
- Unfulfilled Expectations:
- Despite these achievements, COP28 fell short of expectations, particularly in galvanizing more ambitious climate action in the short term.
- The meeting was considered a critical opportunity to keep global warming within the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold.
- Global Stocktake (GST):
- The primary agenda at COP28 was the Global Stocktake (GST), a comprehensive assessment of the world’s progress in the fight against climate change.
- Mandated by the Paris Agreement, the GST is a periodic exercise, with the first one scheduled in 2023 and subsequent assessments every five years.
- COP28 took place amidst record-breaking global warming, with 2023 confirmed as the hottest year ever.
- Several months witnessed new temperature records, and over 80 days were at least 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial times.
- Despite the urgency, COP28 disappointed in stimulating more ambitious short-term climate actions, especially before 2030.
- The final agreement lacked substantial measures to address the immediate challenges posed by climate change.
- Fossil Fuel Phase-Out:
- The most contested issue was the fossil fuel phase-out, leading to a prolonged deadlock.
- The final agreement called for countries to contribute to “transitioning away” from fossil fuels with a goal of achieving net zero by 2050.
- However, no specific timelines or targets were provided.
- Some countries expressed disappointment over the absence of the term “fossil fuel phase-out.”
- Tripling of Renewable Energy:
- An expected outcome was the agreement to triple global installed capacity of renewable energy and double annual improvements in energy efficiency.
- These measures have the potential to avoid emissions of about 7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent between now and 2030.
- It remains unclear how the global target of tripling renewable energy would be implemented on an individual country basis.
- Coal Phase-Down:
- Coal, singled out for phase-down in the 2021 Glasgow conference, received separate mention in COP28.
- The proposal to require new coal-fired power plants to have carbon capture and storage was dropped due to strong resistance from India, China, South Africa, and others.
- The agreement reiterates the Glasgow language without specifying how the phase-down will be measured or the baseline for assessment.
- Methane Emission Cuts:
- The agreement emphasizes the need to “accelerate and substantially reduce” non-carbon-dioxide emissions, specifically methane, by 2030.
- The agreement does not specify targets for methane emission cuts by 2030, despite a voluntary commitment by about 100 countries in Glasgow in 2021 to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030.
- Some countries, including India, are opposed to mandates for methane emission cuts, citing sensitivity in agricultural practices, a major source of methane emissions.
- Loss and Damage Fund:
- COP28 operationalized the Loss and Damage Fund, a crucial outcome for poor and vulnerable countries.
- The fund aims to provide financial assistance to nations recovering from climate-induced disasters.
- By the end of the conference, commitments totaling about US$ 800 million had been made.
- Global Goal on Adaptation:
- A significant step for developing countries, COP28 adopted a global framework for adaptation.
- The Glasgow conference had initiated a two-year work program to define the framework, identifying common adaptation goals important for the entire world.
- Goals include reducing climate-induced water scarcity, achieving climate resilience in food production, and addressing health impacts.
- The adaptation agreement lacks financial provisions, and further work is needed to strengthen it, particularly in identifying progress indicators for each global goal.
Urgent need to control useof e-cigarettes, says WHO
(General Studies- Paper II)
Source : TH
The World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a statement emphasizing the ineffectiveness of e-cigarettes as smoking cessation tools and highlighting alarming evidence of adverse health effects at the population level.
- Urgent measures are advocated to control e-cigarettes and protect children, non-smokers, and overall public health.
- Ineffectiveness and Population Health Concerns
- The WHO stated that e-cigarettes have not proven effective for quitting tobacco use at the population level.
- Alarming evidence indicates adverse population health effects associated with e-cigarette use, prompting the need for stringent control measures.
- Children and Youth Vulnerability
- WHO Director-General expressed concern over the recruitment and addiction of children to e-cigarettes, emphasizing the risk of nicotine addiction at an early age.
- Urgent measures are recommended to prevent e-cigarette uptake, especially among children and young people, with a call for strict implementation by countries.
- Global Regulatory Landscape
- E-cigarettes have been aggressively marketed globally, and 34 countries have banned their sale.
- However, 88 countries lack a minimum age restriction for e-cigarette purchase, and 74 countries have no regulations on these products.
- In India, possession of e-cigarettes is a violation of the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarette Act (PECA) 2019, according to the Union Health Ministry.
- Impact on Youth Behavior
- Brief exposure to e-cigarette content on social media is associated with increased intention to use these products and more positive attitudes towards them.
- Studies consistently show that young e-cigarette users are almost three times more likely to use traditional cigarettes later in life.
- Health Risks and Addictiveness
- E-cigarettes with nicotine are highly addictive, posing health risks.
- Long-term effects include the generation of toxic substances, some causing cancer and increasing the risk of heart and lung disorders.
- E-cigarette use can affect brain development, leading to learning disorders in young people.
- Foetal exposure during pregnancy can adversely impact foetal development.
- E-cigarette emissions pose risks to bystanders, emphasizing the need for comprehensive tobacco control measures.
More about E-Cigarettes
- E-cigarettes, or vaping devices, involve inhaling vapor from a heated liquid.
- The liquid typically contains nicotine, the addictive substance found in tobacco, but lacks some harmful elements present in traditional cigarettes, such as tar and carbon monoxide.
- Nicotine in e-cigarettes can impact brain development, particularly in individuals under 25, and may have detrimental effects on adult brains.
- E-cigarette liquids do not contain carcinogenic tar and carbon monoxide, contributing factors to cardiovascular diseases associated with smoking.
- The vapor does contain tiny particles, with potentially toxic substances, including metals like nickel and lead, likely originating from the heating coil.
- Additives, considered safe in food, may pose risks when vaporized or lack sufficient study in the context of vaping.
- E-cigarette liquids come in various flavors, including tobacco, menthol, fruit, vanilla, candy, and cremebrulee, leading to concerns about potential appeal to youngsters.
Indira Gandhi Peace Prize 2023
(General Studies- Paper I)
Source : TH
The Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament, and Development for 2023 has been jointly awarded to Daniel Barenboim and Ali Abu Awwad for their remarkable efforts in fostering non-violent resolutions to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
- Achievements of Daniel Barenboim
- Daniel Barenboim, an Argentine-born classical pianist and conductor, renowned for his global performances, has directed leading orchestras worldwide.
- Inspired by his friendship with Palestinian scholar Edward Said, Barenboim envisioned a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict through mutual respect, discourse, and dialogue.
- Founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and the Barenboim-Said Akademie to bring together youth from Israel, Palestine, and other Arab and North-African countries, fostering unity and understanding through music.
- Barenboim has received numerous awards, including the Great Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Prince of Asturias Awards, and the Commander of the Legion of Honour.
- Contributions of Ali Abu Awwad
- Ali Abu Awwad, a Palestinian peace activist, has tirelessly worked towards a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
- Raised in a politically-active refugee family, Awwad’s realization of the power of non-violent action occurred during a hunger strike with his mother, leading to permission for a visit during their imprisonment.
- Co-founded the local Palestinian-Israeli initiative called Roots in 2014, promoting understanding, non-violence, and transformation.
- Awwad’s peace-building efforts led to the creation of Taghyeer, a Palestinian non-violence movement launched in 2016, involving over 3,000 Palestinians advocating for social development and a non-violent path to end the Occupation.
About Indira Gandhi Peace Prize for Peace, Disarmament, and Development
- The Indira Gandhi Peace Prize for Peace, Disarmament, and Development is an esteemed award presented annually by the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust in India.
- The prize aims to honour individuals and organizations for their outstanding contributions to international peace, disarmament, and development.
- The Indira Gandhi Peace Prize was established in 1986 in memory of Indira Gandhi, who served as the Prime Minister of India.
- The award is presented annually.
Logistics costs pegged at 7.8%-8.9% of GDP
(General Studies- Paper III)
Source : TH
According to a report commissioned by the Commerce and Industry Ministry and conducted by the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER), India’s logistics costs have shown a significant reduction.
- The logistics costs in India have decreased from a range of 8.6% to 9.8% of GDP in 2013-14 to a new range of 7.8% to 8.9% of GDP in the fiscal year 2021-22.
- The report relied on National Accounts Statistics, incorporating data on the output of transport services, storage, and warehousing sectors to estimate logistics costs.
- The new findings contradict earlier estimates that suggested India’s logistics costs were as high as 14% of GDP.
- Refinement and Regular Tracking:
- The report acknowledges the need for refinement in cost estimates and plans to regularly track and update the figures in the coming years.
- The government intends to improve the robustness of the estimation process by conducting a primary survey to assess actual time and costs experienced by industries.
- Framework Enhancement:
- The estimation framework for logistics costs is set to undergo further refinement.
- This will involve the integration of primary survey data, along with real-time big data sources such as E-way bill data and FASTag data.
- The goal is to enhance the accuracy and credibility of logistics cost estimates.
- The existing non-official estimates of logistics costs, ranging from 8% to 14% of GDP, lack a conclusive and scientific calculation framework.
- The refined approach seeks to overcome these challenges, providing more accurate and comprehensive insights into the logistics landscape in India.
- Task Force Formation:
- The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) took the lead by constituting a task force dedicated to the scientific calculation of logistics costs in India.
- The task force adopted a consultative approach, incorporating representatives from various sectors, includingAsian Development Bank(ADB), NCAER, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), academia, and logistics industry stakeholders.
- National Logistics Policy:
- The release of the National Logistics Policy by the government underscores its commitment to reducing logistics costs to below 10% of GDP.
- Additionally, the policy aims to elevate India’s ranking in the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index (LPI) from the current 38th position to below 25.
- The new framework is expected to reflect the advancements in India’s infrastructure, including roads and ports.
- These improvements will be essential for demonstrating progress to global ranking agencies, including the World Bank.
About National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER)
- The National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) is an autonomous, non-profit, and premier economic research institution in India.
- Established in 1956, it plays a crucial role in conducting applied economic research, policy analysis, and providing evidence-based recommendations to contribute to India’s economic development.
- NCAER covers a wide range of research areas, including:
- Macroeconomic Policy
- Agricultural Economics
- Industrial Development
- Trade and Investment
- Environment and Sustainable Development
- Social and Human Development
- Health Economics
- Infrastructure and Urban Development
- Innovation and Technology
- NCAER is governed by a Board of Governors and operates as an independent research institution with a multidisciplinary team of economists, social scientists, and researchers.
- NCAER’s headquarters is located in New Delhi, India.
The nature of the future
(General Studies- Paper III)
Source : The Indian Express
The 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded with sobering outcomes.
- Global Stocktake Findings:
- The first global stocktake, mandated by the Paris Agreement, revealed that current nationally determined contributions (NDCs) will only result in a 2% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, falling far short of the needed actions.
- The latest assessment reports from the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasize the urgency, stating that a 50% chance of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050 requires peaking emissions by 2025, with reductions of 43% by 2030 and 60% by 2035.
- The stark reality is an enormous gap between the current actions and the ambitious targets required to avert the worst impacts of climate change.
- Financial Commitments:
- Developed countries committed in 2009 to provide $100 billion per year to support climate action in developing countries.
- However, this target has never been achieved, and the claimed figures include questionable sources.
- There is a call for a clear definition of climate finance.
- Controversy over Figures:
- The $89.6 billion claimed by the OECD for 2021 has faced skepticism, with concerns raised about the diverse definitions of climate finance.
- More rigorous analyses suggest figures closer to $25 billion.
- Financial Challenges and IPCC Estimates:
- In 2024, negotiations for climate finance post-2025 will commence, with the $100 billion per year target as the baseline.
- IPCC estimates indicate a significant financial gap, with developing countries requiring $5.8-$5.9 trillion for implementing their NDCs and $215-$387 billion annually for adaptation from now until 2030.
- Loss and Damage Fund:
- COP28 established a loss and damage fund, a positive development, but it has only received $770.6 million in pledges.
- Criteria for irreversible loss and damage and potential beneficiaries are unclear.
- Reorienting Global Economy:
- COP28 is the first to acknowledge the need to transition away from the fossil fuel-based energy system, with historic language adopted in the final declaration.
- The goal is to achieve net-zero by 2050, but transitional fuels, including natural gas, are recognized.
- Credible Targets and Initiatives:
- Targets include tripling global renewable energy capacity to 11,000 GW by 2030.
- Doubling the rate of energy efficiency gains from 2% to 4% annually by 2030.
- Nuclear energy is acknowledged as a clean energy source for the first time.
- The declaration also recognizes green and blue hydrogen.
- Initiatives and Groupings:
- New alliances, including the Powering Past Coal Alliance and the Nuclear Power Group, emerged at COP28.
- India has generally followed UNFCCC consensus targets but is a participant in areas like renewable energy and nuclear power.
- The declaration calls for the “phase-down” but not the phase-out of unabated coal power, providing relief to India.
- COP28 recognizes the explicit link between climate change, adverse impacts on health and food security, and biodiversity loss.
- A move towards acknowledging climate change as part of a larger ecological challenge requiring cross-disciplinary approaches.
Delay in New Industrial Policy as Government Focuses on PLI
(General Studies- Paper III)
Source : The Indian Express
The new industrial policy, in development for over two years, has been deferred as the government emphasizes its production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme as the primary driver for manufacturing growth.
- The industrial policy, expected to replace the historic 1991 framework, aimed to address emerging challenges and stimulate private investments.
- The government prioritizes the PLI scheme, considering it a key tool to boost manufacturing and counterbalance economic disadvantages.
- PLI is viewed as essential for encouraging manufacturing activity, but doubts persist regarding its adequacy in attracting companies seeking alternatives to China amidst evolving geopolitical dynamics and persisting challenges.
- Industrial Policy Delay:
- The comprehensive industrial policy, initially expected this year, has been deferred and is not anticipated in the near term.
- Discussions on the policy have occurred, but the current focus is on leveraging free trade agreements (FTA) and the flagship PLI scheme to substantially enhance the manufacturing base.
- PLI as an Incentive:
- PLI serves as an incentive, compensating for existing economic disadvantages to stimulate manufacturing.
- The scheme aims to enhance the manufacturing share in GDP, which currently stands at a low 15%, posing challenges for employment generation.
- Limitations and Concerns:
- Despite the PLI’s positive impact, concerns remain about its adequacy in attracting companies seeking alternatives to China.
- Challenges such as high logistics costs, infrastructural bottlenecks, and financial constraints for MSMEs persist.
- Draft Industrial Policy Highlights:
- The draft policy proposed the creation of a specialized Specialised Development Finance Institution (DFI)to address financing needs, advocating the use of India’s forex reserves to provide low-cost finance to companies.
- Titled ‘Industrial Policy 2022—Make in India for the World,’ the draft emphasized global manufacturing competitiveness.
- PLI’s Role and Limitations:
- Currently, the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme is considered the de facto industrial policy, outshining the delayed comprehensive industrial policy.
- PLI encourages selective sector growth and can be extended to new sectors based on global developments.
- The scheme’s responsiveness is crucial for tracking policy objectives.
- PLI serves as a partial solution by subsidizing sectors to compensate for disadvantages.
- To be a viable alternative under the China+1 strategy, India needs to enhance its attractiveness beyond PLI incentives.
- Government Initiatives Proposed in Draft Industrial Policy:
- The draft policy proposed establishing a technology fund to support innovative companies in advanced technology.
- Addressing MSME funding challenges, the policy suggested measures to improve small businesses’ access to corporate bond markets.
- To become a compelling China+1 alternative, India must enhance overall attractiveness beyond PLI incentives.
- PLI Schemes Overview:
- The NDA government introduced PLI schemes for 14 sectors with incentives exceeding Rs 1.90 lakh crore.
- Crisil estimates the PLI scheme’s contribution at 13-15% of average annual investment spending in key industrial sectors over the next three to four years.
- National Manufacturing Policy Goals:
- The National Manufacturing Policy of 2011 aimed to raise the manufacturing share in GDP to 25% and generate 100 million jobs by 2022.
- The NDA government maintained the 25% target, despite the current manufacturing share hovering around 17% of GDP.
About Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI)
- The PLI scheme was launched in March 2020 as a strategic initiative to bolster domestic manufacturing, promote import substitution, and stimulate employment generation in India.
- Originally targeting three sectors, the scheme was subsequently expanded to include a total of 14 sectors, reflecting its broad industrial impact.
- Initial Focus:
- Mobile and allied Component Manufacturing
- Electrical Component Manufacturing
- Medical Devices
- Later Expansion:
- Mobile manufacturing
- Medical devices
- Automobiles and auto components
- Specialty steel
- Telecom & networking products
- Electronic products
- White goods (ACs and LEDs)
- Food products
- Textile products
- Solar PV modules
- Advanced chemistry cell (ACC) battery
- Drones and drone components
- Operational Mechanism:
- Companies, both domestic and foreign, receive financial rewards for engaging in manufacturing activities within India.
- The incentives are calculated based on a percentage of their revenue over a period of up to five years.
- Incentives are tied to incremental sales, encouraging companies to enhance their production and sales figures.
- The scheme places emphasis on R&D investments, ensuring that industries align with global trends and maintain competitiveness in the international market.
- PLI is a key driver for elevating India’s manufacturing capabilities and making the nation a preferred destination for industries across diverse sectors.
- The scheme aims to boost economic growth, reduce dependency on imports, and create substantial employment opportunities.
- Initial Focus: