June 2018: Monthly Environmental News Roundup

River Rafting
River Rafting

1)  HC ban on water sports in Uttarakhand: If you are planning a vacation to Uttarakhand any time soon, you might want to wait for some time before booking those tickets. Reason: The Uttarakhand high court has ordered a ban on all water sports until the state government formulates a policy to regulate these activities. The court directed the Uttarakhand government to draft a policy in an order dated June 18. The move is likely to hit the state’s proliferate tourism sector. The court was listening to a PIL alleging that private entrepreneurs were constructing temporary structures on the Ganga’s banks thereby harming river beds and polluting the river (Read more here).

2) TN leads among states in wind power usage: Tamil Nadu’s state-owned electricity supplier TANGEDCO harnessed 13,000 million units of wind energy in 2017-18, the highest among all Indian states. Moreover, the state also harnessed 2.905 million units of solar energy during the period. With the increased use of clean energy, the distribution company was able to bring down its purchase expenditure thereby compensating for previous losses. Thanks to the lower purchase tariff, TANGEDCO was able to bring down its loss to Rs 2,975 crore in 2017-18. The government plans to increase its expenditure on green energy in the forthcoming months.

3) New study shows lizards survived the ‘die off’: The discovery of a 250-year-old fossil in the Dolomites, in  Italian Alps, shows that squamate reptiles like lizards and snakes might  have evolved before the Permo-Triassic extinction event, often dubbed as the ‘The Great Dying’ wherein 96% of the marine species and 70% of the vertebrates became extinct. Experts estimate that the mass extinction event might have been triggered by an asteroid strike or a massive volcanic eruption. However, the discovery of the new fossil suggests that details of the wrists, braincase and collarbone are strikingly similar to those found in lizards indicating the presence of these reptiles before the die-off.

4) Germany bans diesel cars on 2 roads in Hamburg: From being the country to invent diesel engine to becoming one of the few European countries to ban diesel cars on its roads, Germany has come a long way. In the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, the local administration in Hamburg has banned the entry of vehicles without the Euro-6 technology on the Max Brauer-Allee road stretch in Altona area. The two streets were chosen because a large part of the port city’s traffic accumulates here mainly due to lesser open space compared to the remaining Hamburg (Read more about Electric Vehicles here).

5) New Delhi railway station lauded for green initiatives: The New Delhi railway station was recently awarded a ‘silver’ rating by the Indian Green Building Council for its environment-friendly initiatives in June. It was also declared a ‘green station’ by the council, making it the only such station within the jurisdiction of the Northern Railway. The railway station managed a score of 64 on 200 at the back of initiatives like installation of LED lights, solar panels, solar geysers, water management and water conservation. As part of its survey, the council awards a certification if a building gets a score between 50 and 60, a ‘silver’ rating for a score between 60 and 70, a ‘gold’ rating for a score between 70 and 80 and a ‘platinum’ rating for anything above 80.

6) Rare bird hatches at the Smithsonian: The Guam Kingfisher, a rare bird which is no longer found in the wild, became the first of its species to have hatched in over four years at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia’s Front Royal. The bird is known for its distinct loud call and an aggressive attitude when it comes to protecting her nests. Smithsonian officials said there are currently just 150 Guam kingfishers currently in the world, all of which are currently in captivity. The bird derives its name from Guam, where it comes from. Talking about the bird, Smithsonian officials said the bird hatched after they artificially incubated an egg.

7) Greenko Group acquires Orange Renewable in $1-billion deal: Greenko Group’s operational capacity of renewable energy rose to 4.2GW, the second largest in the country after ReNew Power Ventures, post its acquisition of Orange Renewable from Singapore-based AT Capital Group in a $1-billion deal. Greenko, which is jointly backed by GIC Holdings Pvt Ltd and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, will make an equity payout of  $300 million. After the deal is processed, Greenk’s operational capacity of renewable energy will rise to 4.2GW, up by 1GW. The Hyderabad-based company also has many clean energy projects in the pipeline.

8) Cheaper clean energy may leave fossil fuel firms in financial distress: The rapid decline in the cost of producing renewable energy and towering investment in low-carbon technologies might trigger a financial crisis for fossil fuel companies and might leave them with a glut of unused assets, says a recent study published in the Journal New Climate Change. The study also says that global investment trends favorable to low-carbon technologies and cheaper clean energy might lead to a massive drop in demand for fossil fuels by 2035. The ‘carbon bubble’ is likely to burst once there is no overvaluation of fossil fuel and firms start shifting to environmentally-friendly practices.

9) Whale dies after swallowing over 80 plastic bags: A small pilot whale died after it consumed as many as 80 plastic bags in southern Thailand. The whale was found in a critical condition in a canal near the country’s border with Malaysia by a team of Thai coastal and marine resources department. An autopsy found over 80 plastic bags weighing up to 18kg in the pilot whale’s stomach. People used a buoy to keep the whale afloat and an umbrella to protect it from the sun. The animal vomited five plastic bags during rescue efforts. Thailand is one of the largest users of plastics in the world and every year many marine animals die after ingesting mammoth amounts of plastic in its water bodies (Read more about Plastic Pollution here).

10) 50 nations trying to curb plastic pollution, says UN study: In what is being called as its biggest report so far, the United Nations in a new report said that more than 50 countries are trying to bring down plastic pollution by curbing its use of plastic. On the other hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently called for a ban on single-use plastic by 2022. The Union government is also mulling an immediate ban in the national capital New Delhi.  The UN report also states that while Galagappos will ban plastic, Sri Lanka will ban Styrofoam products and China would focus on promoting the use of biodegradable bags. However, the report also says that countries also need to ensure that such plastic waste does not flow into oceans and rivers.

11) PM calls for a ban on plastic by 2022: In an ambitious pledge which if followed effectively can carve out  a greener future for the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Centre would ban single-use plastic by 2022. The move is likely to crack down on the flow of plastic in a country with a population of over 1.3 billion people. The prime minister said that the choices the citizens make today would shape their tomorrow. The ban on single-use plastic has reaped rich dividends in countries like the UK where the move brought down their use and minister implemented a ban on the use of microbeads in personal hygiene products (Read more about Plastic Pollution here).

12) NDA’s 4-yr rule scores big on clean energy: Ever since the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance came to power in 2014, it has stressed on the use of renewable energy to create a more sustainable future for the country. Though its efforts have not resulted in a paradigm shift in the clean energy sector they certainly have shifted attention to more low-carbon options for industries. Experts are of the view that the Modi government’s initiatives are certainly a step in the right direction. As per a statement released by the Union renewable energy ministry a transparent bidding process and the facility to procure wind and solar energy tariffs through bidding were instrumental in bringing down the clean energy costs.

13) Goldstone-BYD launch new emission-free bus in India: Goldstone-BYD announced the launch of their new electric feeder bus ‘eBuzz K-16’ on the occasion of World Environment Day. The zero-emission electric bus was unveiled by Union minister Anant Geete at an event. The first five eBuzz K6 buses would be exported to Nepal. The executive director of Goldstone Infratech Naga Satyam said that the company was focusing on designing products like eBuzz k6 which catered to people living across different plains. The seven-meter air-conditioned bus can accommodate over 180 people. Its smart air suspension system ensures that passengers of the bus enjoy a smooth ride irrespective of the terrain.

14) India slips to 177 rank in Global Environment Performance Index:  In a major blow to the country’s environmental policy, India slipped to 177th rank out of 180 countries in the Global Environmental Performance Index in 2017, 39 ranks lower than last year. India with its worsening air quality and lack of government initiatives led to India scoring 57.5 on 100, much lower than what scored by other countries. Among state capitals, Lucknow performed poorly and reported to have the worst air quality during the winter season.

15) Delhi to run out of groundwater in 2 yrs: India-based think tank National Institute of Transforming India (Niti) Aayog has warned the Centre that the national capital New Delhi is likely to run out of groundwater within two years as rapid population growth and carbon emissions drain on water supply. The report also said that not only Delhi but other developing cities like Bengaluru and Hyderabad are also likely to face a similar future, affecting over 120 million residents. Niti Aayog also warned that Bengaluru also faces a ‘Day Zero’ like possibility like Cape Town in South Africa when the city runs out of all its resources unless measures are taken to reduce water shortage.

 

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