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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 30th September, 2016

  • September 30, 2016
  • 11
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Sep 2016, International, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 30th September, 2016

 

ENVIRONMENT/NATIONAL

 

TOPIC:

General Studies 3

  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

 

Ratifying the climate change pact: Is it too early?

India announced to ratify the Paris agreement on October 2 to show its support for need to contain the rising global warming and the challenges emerging thereafter. However, until G20 in early September 2016, India was not expected to ratify the climate change agreement. Is sudden such change a hasty decision?

  • India has agreed to ratify the Paris Agreement—which aims to contain the increase in earth’s temperature to 2 degrees Celsius, and if possible 1.5 degrees Celsius, above pre-industrial levels.
  • Paris agreement materialized at the 21st Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It requires 55 countries accounting for at least 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions to ratify it in order for it to come into force.

Why sudden announcement?

  • India was so far slow in committing to the Paris agreement.
  • But, it realised that the ratification threshold is likely to be achieved in October without India’s support where it ranks third in global emissions.
  • Thus, there could arise a possibility thereafter that India be casted as an obstructionist and hence it understandably changed the track.

But, is it early?

India has to be wary at the negotiating table as —

  1. Too much focus on incremental pollution by developing countries shifts the public attention away from the historical damage done by the developed countries during their years of rapid economic growth.
  2. The per capita carbon footprint of India is still very low by global standards.
  3. India needs coal as part of its energy mix right now, until new technologies emerge.

No doubt, by retaining the “common but differentiated responsibilities” clause in the Paris Agreement, the world has acknowledged Indian concerns.

However, this is not enough.

  • Doing away with the distinction between developing and developed nations dilutes the differentiation principle which had put the onus on developed countries to take greater responsibility for reducing emissions.
  • But, undue pressure is already being exerted on India as one of the largest polluters of the world.
  • Though third in terms of total emissions, it ranks 140th globally in terms of per capita emissions.

India and climate change

  • The large coastline of India is susceptible to rising sea levels.
  • The population is also suffering from the visible consequences of climate change, such as heat waves, pollution and failed monsoons.
  • Hence, India could not argue for its right to development beyond a point.
  • Therefore, in a calculated move, it embraced the cause of climate change but with a caveat—the availability of global finance and performance of other nations.
  • This decision puts onus now on developed countries to fund and transfer technology to developing nations, besides making efforts to meet their domestic commitments.

 

India and INDC

India’s strategy for combating climate change and achieving INDC targets is a multi-pronged one.

  • It aims at modifying the energy mix to a more sustainable, efficient and renewable one.
  • Its plan to expand solar capacity to 100 GW by 2022 from 8 GW in 2016 is expected to make up almost 48% of the renewable energy capacity.
  • The International Solar Alliance and the recently unveiled plan to subsidize domestic manufacturers will help but can only be sustained by a higher inflow of funds for solar projects.
  • The rest of the renewable energy capacity would be developed through a mixture of wind power, hydropower, biomass, waste to energy and nuclear power.
  • Nuclear energy will form less than 4% of these clean energy commitments. Though it is unlikely that India’s non-membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group will significantly affect its plans, the membership could have enhanced it.
  • However, the issue of renewable energy being less competitive still persists.
  • A significant challenge to these plans are fall in oil prices, which increases the opportunity cost of expansion of alternative energy sources. India uses Piguovian taxes as against cap and trade system proposed by countries such as China, to limit emissions.
  • India is also making efforts to bring down current greenhouse gas levels through the development of carbon sinks. But this is a difficult task considering the land-scarcity problem.

Conclusion

  • The 14th Finance Commission made forest cover one of the criteria for devolution of funds from the Centre to incentivize states to engage in afforestation activities. This is expected to increase in carbon sinks
  • A 33-35% reduction in emission targets is not an unattainable one. But it requires persistent efforts from both the global community and the Indian government.
  • The Paris agreement will become operational post 2020 after the retirement of Kyoto protocol. Till then, India can use the intervening years to frame the rules and create the institutions that will govern the Paris Agreement.

Connecting the dots:

  • What is Paris agreement on climate change? How can India contribute in mitigating climate change effect without compromising on its development prospects?

 

Related articles:

Anthropogenic Climate Change @ Bonn

Walking into an ecological wilderness

Paris climate agreement

SOCIAL ISSUE/INTERNATIONAL TREATY

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

 

Marrakesh Treaty and Accessible Books Consortium

Summary of the Marrakesh Treaty

  • The Marrakesh Treaty was adopted on June 27, 2013 in Marrakesh and it forms part of the body of international copyright treaties administered by WIPO.
  • It has a clear humanitarian and social development dimension and its main goal is to create a set of mandatory limitations and exceptions for the benefit of the blind, visually impaired, and otherwise print disabled (VIPs).

Today is an important day for blind and other print-disabled people across the globe, as it marks the entry of Marrakesh Treaty come into force.

Objectives of Marrakesh Treaty or so-called ‘Books for Blind’ treaty:

  1. The main goal of Marrakesh Treaty is to create a set of mandatory limitations and exceptions for the benefit of the blind, visually impaired and otherwise print disabled (VIPs).
  2. It addresses the “book famine” by requiring its contracting parties to adopt national law provisions that permit the reproduction, distribution and making available of published works in accessible formats – such as Braille – to VIPs and to permit exchange of these works across borders by organizations that serve those beneficiaries.
  3. According to the World Health Organisation, some 285 million people worldwide live with visual impairments. Meanwhile, the World Blind Union estimates that children who are blind have a less than 10 per cent chance of going to school — a situation that could be improved if schools had ready access to texts adapted for use by visually impaired children.
  4. It will facilitate access to published works for the millions of blind, visually impaired and otherwise print disabled persons in India.
  5. It would go a long way in establishing equal rights and opportunities for education and employment for them.

 

India and Marrakesh Treaty

  • India became the first country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled on 30th June, 2014.
  • As mentioned above, the Treaty will facilitate import of accessible format copies from the member states by the Indian authorized entities such as educational institutions, libraries and other such institutions working for the benefit of visually impaired persons.
  • This will also facilitate translation of imported accessible format copies and export of accessible format copies in Indian languages.
  • The Indian Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012 is in harmony with the Marrakesh Treaty.

With access to information and educational materials, blindness need no longer be a barrier to learning, employment and full participation in society.

India has not delayed in readying itself to ensure the Marrakesh Treaty benefits its people.

  • For example, the ‘Accessible India Campaign’ has provided a nationwide flagship campaign for universal access for people with disabilities.
  • And India has begun implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty through a multi-stakeholder approach, which includes collaboration among key players such as government ministries, local champions like the DAISY Forum of India, and the private sector.
  • This led to the launch in August of India’s largest collection of online accessible books called “Sugamya Pustakalaya”, which counts 2,00,000 volumes.

 

Accessible Books Consortium (ABC)

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a United Nations organisation based in Geneva, administers the Marrakesh Treaty and leads an alliance of private and public partners known as the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), which was established in June 2014 to support the goals of the treaty.

  • The ABC has established a centralised electronic multilingual catalogue of accessible books produced by libraries for the blind around the world. Through the ABC Book Service, which is free, organisations serving the print-disabled can supplement their collections of accessible books from their counterparts in other countries.
  • The ABC Book Service can assist in preventing the same book from being produced in accessible formats by more than one library, thereby avoiding duplication.

It is hoped that Sugamya Pustakalaya will soon become a member of the ABC Book Service, thereby joining an international library-to-library service managed by WIPO in Geneva.

ABC is continuing to establish projects in India, including by training publishers, libraries and NGOs in the production of accessible books, as well as providing funding to produce educational materials in accessible formats. Without these materials, students either cannot access their curriculum or are dependent on books being read aloud to them.

  • ABC has also established training and technical assistance projects in Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
  • ABC plans to extend its capacity-building programmes to Africa and Latin America, helping ensure that these transformative uses of technology can boost access to books for people who are blind or print-disabled around the world.

Conclusion:

Today, as the Marrakesh Treaty takes effect in India and elsewhere, India’s multi-stakeholder approach provides an excellent model for other countries to follow.

So far, 22 countries have joined the Marrakesh Treaty, but many more are needed: each new nation that joins brings along not only a population in need, but a wealth of printed matter that can more easily be made accessible in other countries.

WIPO looks forward to many more countries implementing the Marrakesh Treaty so that print-disabled people around the world can benefit from the new avenues to access now available to Indians.

Connecting the dots:

  • Discuss the significance and objectives of the Marrakesh VIP Treaty. Examine why India’s role in its implementation is hailed as model for other countries to follow.
  • List the salient features of Marrakesh treaty for visually challenged. Examine the role of Accessible Books Consortium (ABC).

 

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