India Relaxes Environment Rules For Coal Mines, Citing Heatwave

An auto rickshaw driver drinks water as he takes a break on a hot summer day in New Delhi on May 9, 2022. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP)

 

 

 

India has relaxed environmental compliance rules for coal mines seeking to ramp up production as power outages exacerbate a sweltering heatwave, a government notice showed.

Coal makes up more than two-thirds of India’s energy needs, even as unseasonably hot weather illustrates the threat from climate change caused by burning fossil fuels.

Soaring temperatures have prompted higher energy demand in recent weeks and left India facing a 25-million-tonne shortfall at a time when coal spot prices have skyrocketed since the start of the year.

In a letter dated May 7 seen by AFP, the Environment Ministry said it has allowed a “special dispensation” to the Ministry of Coal to relax certain requirements — like public consultations — so mines could operate at increased capacities.

The relaxation comes after it received a request from the Ministry of Coal “stating that there is huge pressure on domestic coal supply in the country and all efforts are being made to meet the demand of coal for all sectors”.

Coal mining projects previously cleared to operate at 40-percent capacity may now increase capacity to 50 percent without undertaking fresh environment impact studies, the authority said.

The letter coincided with the government launching a new scheme last week to lease abandoned state-owned coal pits to private mining companies, assuring them of fast-track environment approvals.

“The Ministry of Environment and Forests understands that they need to cut out the red tape,” coal ministry official Anil Kumar Jain said at the launch event Friday.

The government hopes to woo private mining giants — like Vedanta and Adani — to revive more than 100 dormant coal mines previously deemed too expensive to operate, using new technology and fresh capital.

– Coal needs set to double -India needs a billion tonnes of coal annually to meet its current domestic demand.

Most of its needs are met by domestic producers, with a record 777 million tonnes mined in the fiscal year to the end of March.

The shortfall is imported from countries like Indonesia, Australia and South Africa.

The government says it plans to increase domestic coal production to 1.2 billion tonnes in the next two years to support a post-pandemic economic recovery.

Despite a commitment to increase its renewable energy capacity to 175 gigawatts by 2022 and 500 gigawatts by 2030, Coal and Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi said Friday that India’s coal needs are set to double by 2040.

A renewed focus on accelerating coal production risks India missing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s COP26 commitment to meet 50 percent of energy demand through renewable energy by 2030, according to experts.

The world’s third-biggest carbon emitter, already home to 1.4 billion people, is projected by the UN to become the planet’s most populous nation by the middle of the decade.

2021 Among Seven Hottest Years On Record – UN

wildfires

 

The past seven years have been the hottest on record, the United Nations confirmed Wednesday, adding that 2021 temperatures remained high despite the cooling effect of the La Nina weather phenomenon.

“The warmest seven years have all been since 2015,” the UN’s World Meteorological Organization said in a statement.

And despite the fact that two consecutive La Nina events captured global attention for large portions of the year, 2021 still ranked among the seven warmest years on record, the WMO said.

“Back-to-back La Nina events mean that 2021 warming was relatively less pronounced compared to recent years. Even so, 2021 was still warmer than previous years influenced by La Nina,” WMO chief Petteri Taalas said in the statement.

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This, he said, shows that “the overall long-term warming as a result of greenhouse gas increases is now far larger than the year-to-year variability in global average temperatures caused by naturally occurring climate drivers.”

La Nina refers to the large-scale cooling of surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, with widespread impacts on weather around the world.

The phenomenon, which typically has the opposite impacts as the warming El Nino phenomenon, usually occurs every two to seven years, but has now hit twice since 2020.

WMO reached its conclusions by consolidating six leading international datasets, including the European Union’s Copernicus climate monitor (C3S) and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which announced similar findings last week.

The datasets showed that the average global temperature in 2021 was around 1.11 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial levels measured between 1850 and 1900.

‘Record-Shattering Temperature’

Last year also marked the seventh consecutive year that global temperatures were more than 1C above pre-industrial levels, the datasets showed.

“The global average temperature in 2021 is already approaching the lower limit of temperature increase the Paris Agreement seeks to avert,” the WMO warned.

The 2015 Paris Agreement saw countries agree to cap global warming at “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels, and 1.5C if possible.

The WMO stressed that the unbroken warm streak over the past seven years was part of a longer-term trend towards higher global temperatures.

“Since the 1980s, each decade has been warmer than the previous one,” it said.

“This is expected to continue.”

The datasets varied slightly in their assessment of where 2021 ranked among the seven warmest years, with C3S ranking it fifth, NOAA ranking it sixth, and others saying it was seventh.

“The small differences among these datasets indicate the margin of error for calculating the average global temperature,” the WMO said.

But while 2021 was among the coolest of the top-seven hottest years, it was still marked by a range of record temperatures and extreme weather events linked to global warming.

Taalas pointed to the “record-shattering temperature of nearly 50C in Canada, comparable to the values reported in the hot Saharan Desert of Algeria, exceptional rainfall, and deadly flooding in Asia and Europe as well as drought in parts of Africa and South America.”

“Climate change impacts and weather-related hazards had life-changing and devastating impacts on communities on every single continent.”

Global Warming: World’s Oceans Heating Up At Increased Rate – Study

 

The world’s oceans are heating up at an accelerating pace as global warming threatens a diverse range of marine life and a major food supply for the planet, researchers said.

The findings in the US journal Science, led by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, debunk previous reports that suggested a so-called pause in global warming in recent years.

The latest technology shows no such hiatus ever existed, raising new concerns about the pace of climate change and its effect on the planet’s main buffer – the oceans.

“Ocean heating is a very important indicator of climate change, and we have robust evidence that it is warming more rapidly than we thought,” said co-author Zeke Hausfather, a graduate student in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley.

About 93 per cent of excess heat — trapped around the Earth by greenhouse gases that come from the burning of fossil fuels — accumulates in the world’s oceans.

The latest report relied on four studies, published between 2014 and 2017, that gave more precise estimates of past trends in ocean heat, allowing scientists to update past research and hone predictions for the future.

Floating robots

A key factor in the more accurate numbers is an ocean monitoring fleet called Argo, which includes nearly 4,000 floating robots that “drift throughout the world’s oceans, every few days diving to a depth of 2,000 meters (yards) and measuring the ocean’s temperature, pH, salinity and other bits of information as they rise back up,” said the report.

Argo “has provided consistent and widespread data on ocean heat content since the mid-2000s,” it said.

The new analysis shows warming in the oceans is on pace with measurements of rising air temperature.

And if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gases, “models predict that the temperature of the top 2,000 meters of the world’s oceans will rise 0.78 degrees Celsius by the end of the century,” it said.

The thermal expansion — water swelling as it warms — would raise sea level 12 inches (30 centimetres), above any sea level rise from melting glaciers and ice sheets.

“While 2018 will be the fourth warmest year on record on the surface, it will most certainly be the warmest year on record in the oceans, as was 2017 and 2016 before that,” Hausfather said.

“The global warming signal is a lot easier to detect if it is changing in the oceans than on the surface.”

“If the ocean wasn’t absorbing as much heat, the surface of the land would heat up much faster than it is right now,” Malin Pinsky, an associate professor in the department of ecology, evolution and natural resources at Rutgers University, told The New York Times. “In fact, the ocean is saving us from massive warming right now.”

Laure Zanna, an associate professor of climate physics at the University of Oxford and who was not involved in the study, told the Times the new research was “a very nice summary of what we know of the ocean and how far the new estimates have come together.”

“We are warming the planet but the ocean is not warming evenly, so different places warm more than others,” Zanna said, according to the paper. “And so the first consequence will be that sea level will be different in different places depending on the warming.”

Heat Could Make 2020 Olympic Marathon ‘Deadly’ – Japan Doctors

file photo of Olympic Tokyo 2020

 

A group of Japanese doctors on Wednesday urged Olympic organizers to start the Tokyo 2020 marathon as early as 5:30 am, saying failure to do so could “lead to deaths” from heatstroke.

The warning is the latest in a chorus of concern about how extreme heat could affect several sporting events at the Olympic games, particularly after Tokyo sweltered through a record heatwave this year.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 organizers have acknowledged the concerns and already moved the marathon start time up 30 minutes to 7:00 am, with competitive walking starting even earlier.

But the Japan Medical Association and the Tokyo Medical Association said that was insufficient because most of the course would still be run in heat levels that were dangerous, and under which physical activity should be halted.

“We are seriously concerned about it,” Kimiyuki Nagashima, a senior official with the Japan Medical Association told reporters on Wednesday.

“If the risk of heatstroke is high for not only athletes but also staff members and the audience, there will be a rising demand for emergency services, which will have a serious impact on medical institutions and regular patients.”

The associations are calling for the start time to be moved to 5:30 am, and the presidents of both groups met earlier this week with the head of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee to press the issue.

“We wouldn’t have visited the organizing committee if we’d thought it was only slightly worrying… we fear the current plan could lead to deaths,” Haruo Ozaki, president of the Tokyo Medical Association, told AFP.

Heat stroke kills hundreds of people each year across Japan, and this year record temperatures caused a spike in fatalities and hospital visits.

Masa Takaya, a spokesman for the 2020 organizers, said the doctors had presented “a serious opinion based on expert knowledge.”

“We’ll share it with working groups of the IOC and IPC (International Paralympic Committee)” that are discussing issues of heat, he told AFP.

The IOC has backed calls for Japan to adopt daylight savings during the Games to ease the heat situation, but there is little support among Japanese lawmakers or the public for the proposal, which is viewed as too disruptive.

When Japan last hosted the Olympics, in 1964, the Games were held in October to avoid the country’s stifling summer humidity and heat.

AFP

Amosun, Wife Advocate Hygienic Environment In Ogun

Amosun-Environment-OgunThe Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, and his wife, Olufunso have led an awareness campaign on the need for a greener environment.

The campaign was part of measures to safe humanity from the current scourge of the effects of depletion of the ozone layer, which has resulted in the excessive heat being experienced across Nigeria.

Addressing market men and women, as well as people of the state during the walk on Friday, Mrs Amosun asked residents to be more responsible and responsive to the environment in order to ensure a healthy life for all.

The awareness campaign was taken round major markets and streets in Abeokuta the state capital.

The Ogun State Commissioner for Information, Dayo Adeneye, also joined the league where residents were enlightened on the need to maintain good personal hygiene to reduce outbreak of diseases.