06 Dec 2023: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

06 December 2023 CNA
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TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
C. GS 3 Related
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. Understanding how the Global Positioning System (GPS) works
ENVIRONMENT
1. The journey towards a plastic-free world
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
SOCIAL JUSTICE
1. The Ambedkar touch in rethinking social justice policies
F. Prelims Facts
1. Global Stocktake draft calls for phasing out fossil fuels
G. Tidbits
1. Glaciers shrank 1 m a year in a decade: WMO
2. India provides $250 mn Line of Credit to Kenya
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
FIP Magazine

Category: ENVIRONMENT

1. The journey towards a plastic-free world

Syllabus: Conservation, Environmental pollution and degradation and Environmental impact assessment.

Mains: Negotiations and challenges for ending plastic pollution.

Context:

The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) faced challenges in developing a global plastics treaty during its third round (INC-3), including disagreements on core obligations, financial mechanisms, and trade restrictions.

Introduction

  • The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) convened in Nairobi for its third round of negotiations to develop a global plastics treaty by 2025, as mandated by the UN Environment Assembly Resolution 5/14.
  • The make-or-break opportunity, known as INC-3, faced challenges despite progress over INC-2. The focus shifted from procedural debates to substantive discussions on the ‘zero draft’ text.

Zero Draft Negotiations

  • The ‘zero draft’ of the binding plastic pollution treaty started strong but faced dilution of key obligations in primary polymer production, chemicals, and trade during negotiations. 
  • Disagreements arose over the treaty’s objective, with certain countries advocating for the inclusion of economic development goals alongside environmental objectives.

Controversy Over Reducing Polymer Production

  • The proposal to reduce primary polymer production, crucial for addressing plastic pollution, stirred controversy as lobbyists from the fossil fuels and chemicals sector exerted influence. 
  • Some states contended that discussing such reduction exceeded the UNEA Resolution 5/14 mandate.

Debate on Plastic Lifecycle and Provisions

  • Countries disagreed on the starting point of the plastic lifecycle, with some saying it begins at raw material sourcing and others at product design.
  • Objections from a group of countries led to resistance against provisions targeting compounds and polymers of concern, emphasising a ‘null option.’

Financial Mechanisms

  • Financial mechanisms, integral to the treaty’s implementation, faced divergence. Proposed options, like a plastic pollution fee on polymer producers or reducing financial flows into high-carbon footprint projects, were demanded to be deleted by the same group of like-minded countries.
  • The inclusion of these provisions could necessitate cuts in fossil fuel subsidies and investments in environmentally unfavourable technologies.

Trade Restrictions and Misconstrued Opposition

  • A bloc of countries opposed restrictions on the trade of polymers, chemicals, and plastic waste, claiming it impinged on national freedom.
  • However, WTO rules allow sufficient scope for trade restrictions when necessary for health or environmental protection.

Resistance to Upstream Measures and Rules of Procedure

  • The like-minded countries resisted upstream measures and diluted midstream measures, emphasising “national circumstances and capabilities.”
  • The unsettled rules of procedure, carried over from INC-2, hindered progress in INC-3, with no final determination, passing the matter to INC-4.

Role of African Group and SIDS

  • The African group and Small-Island Developing States (SIDS) advocated for strong binding provisions, prioritising human rights and public health perspectives.
  • Despite their efforts, the draft text expanded, reflecting diverse member-state interests.

Nut Graf: INC-3 negotiations for a global plastics treaty encountered hurdles, with compromises on critical aspects. Industry influence, disagreements on financial mechanisms, and trade restrictions marked setbacks in the quest to address plastic pollution comprehensively.

F. Prelims Facts

1. Global Stocktake draft calls for phasing out fossil fuels

Syllabus: GS 3 – Environment

Prelims: About Global Stocktake draft

Introduction

  • The COP-28’s Global Stocktake draft introduces a groundbreaking clause, calling for a worldwide phase-out of all fossil fuels, reflecting a shift in climate talks towards urgent emissions reduction to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Key Developments in the Draft Text

  1. Fossil Fuel Phase-Out Commitment
  • The draft calls for an “orderly and just phase-out of fossil fuels,” marking the first time such language has appeared in this context.
  • The summit’s location in the United Arab Emirates, a major oil producer, and the influence of COP leadership tied to the oil industry have played a role in shaping the language.
  1. Global Stocktake Overview
  • The GST, the first since 2015, aims to evaluate the Paris Agreement’s implementation, assess progress towards temperature goals, and guide countries in updating emission reduction commitments.
  • It covers various negotiation tracks, with separate drafts expected for finance and adaptation.
  1. Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Goals
  • The draft includes a commitment to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030 compared to 2022 levels (to 11,000 GW) and double the annual rate of energy efficiency improvement to 4.1% by 2030.
  • These goals were initially proposed during the G-20 leaders summit in Delhi but now include a specific focus on enhancing energy efficiency.
  1. Transition to Sustainable Lifestyles
  • The draft emphasises the importance of transitioning to sustainable lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production to address climate change.
  • Echoes the sentiments of India’s ‘Mission Life’ movement, championed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Challenges and Critics’ Perspectives

  • The draft, with 193 separate points over 24 pages, contains numerous options, leading to potential points of contention.
  • Critics express disappointment, citing the lack of a clear roadmap for implementing the GST and highlighting the vague language regarding reporting progress and goals.

G. Tidbits

1. Glaciers shrank 1 m a year in a decade: WMO

  • The 2011-2020 decade, despite being the warmest recorded, witnessed the lowest number of deaths from extreme events, according to a report from the World Meteorological Organization.
  • The WMO credits the improvement in early warning systems driven by advancements in forecasting and better disaster management for the decline in deaths.
  • The report notes that the decade was the first since 1950 without a single short-term event causing 10,000 deaths or more.
  • India saw improvements in cyclone forecasting, enabling better preparedness and evacuation measures.
  • The report also highlights the visible recovery of the depleted ozone hole during the decade.
  • Glaciers worldwide thinned by approximately 1 metre per year on average from 2011 to 2020.
  • Greenland and Antarctica lost 38% more ice during the period compared to 2001-2010.
  • The report emphasises the increased risks from extreme heat events due to human-caused climate change.
  • Heatwaves led to the highest number of human casualties, while tropical cyclones caused the most economic damage.
  • Public and private climate finance nearly doubled during the decade, but further increases are needed to meet climate objectives.

2. India provides $250 mn Line of Credit to Kenya

  • India extended a $250 million Line of Credit for the modernization of agriculture in Kenya.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the initiative, emphasising joint military exercises and collaboration on counter-terrorism projects between India and Kenya.
  • President William Samoei Ruto welcomed the Indian initiatives and described the Indian community in Kenya as a “bridge” between the two countries.
  • Ruto noted that Indians residing in Kenya consider the country as their “first country.”
  • The agriculture Line of Credit is intended for projects that will be taken up subsequently.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Consider the following statements, with reference to the United Nations 
Environment Programme (UNEP):
  1. It is the leading environmental authority in the United Nations system.
  2. UNEP’s mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment.
  3. It has six areas of concentration, including climate change, post-conflict, and disaster management, and ecosystem management.

How many of the statements given above are incorrect?

  1. Only one
  2. Only two
  3. All three
  4. None
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: d

Explanation: All three statements are correct. UNEP is a leading environmental authority, with a mission to provide leadership, and it focuses on six areas, including climate change and ecosystem management.

Q2. With reference to Lake Victoria, which of the following statements 
is/are correct?
  1. Lake Victoria is the world’s largest freshwater lake and the second-largest tropical lake.
  2. Lake Victoria touches the Equator on its northern side.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation: Lake Victoria is the world’s largest tropical lake and the second-largest freshwater lake, touching the Equator on its northern side.

Q3. Consider the following statements, with reference to Article 342 of the 
Constitution of India:
  1. The President, after consultation with the Governor, can specify tribes or tribal communities as Scheduled Tribes for a State or Union Territory.
  2. The State Legislature can modify the list of Scheduled Tribes specified by the President through a subsequent notification.
  3. The criteria for specifying a community as a Scheduled Tribe is mentioned in the Constitution.

How many of the statements given above are correct?

  1. Only one
  2. Only two
  3. All three
  4. None
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: a

Explanation: Statements 2 & 3 are incorrect. The President specifies tribes as Scheduled Tribes; the Parliament can modify the list, and the criteria are not mentioned in the Constitution.

Q4. The ‘Global Stocktake (GST)’ recently in the news, is related to 
the affairs of-
  1. Assessment of global economic growth projections 
  2. Review of countries’ climate change commitments  
  3. Annual reporting on sustainable development goals
  4. Analysis of global agricultural production  
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: b

Explanation: The Global Stocktake (GST) is a periodic assessment of collective progress made by countries towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and preventing dangerous climate change. 

Q5. With reference to the World Meteorological Organisation's report on the 
Global Climate 2011-2020, which of the following statements is/are incorrect? 
  1. The 2011-2020 decade, despite being the warmest recorded, had the lowest number of deaths from extreme events.
  2. It highlights the recovery of the depleted ozone hole and increased ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica during this decade.

Select the correct answer using the code given below: 

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2 
  4. Neither 1 nor 2
CHECK ANSWERS:-

Answer: d

Explanation: Both statements are correct. The report says during the period depleted ozone hole visibly showed recovery, and Greenland and Antarctica lost 38% more ice as compared to the 2001-2010 period.

I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Neo-liberalism and free market economy can’t be an excuse to neglect social justice in society. Do you agree? Elaborate. (GS II, Social Justice) (250 words, 15 marks)
  2. How is the Government of India tackling the use of plastics across the nation? (GS III, Environment) (250 words, 15 marks)

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