CAO Daily Editorial analysis for UPSC IAS 08-November, 2017

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08 November, 2017

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Spirit of Paris: on the climate change meet in Bonn {Environment}

(The Hindu)


Context

This article deals with the Paris Climate accord

Why in news?

The 23rd conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change under way in Bonn faces the challenge of raising the ambition of the world’s leaders, and giving practical form to the provisions of the Paris Agreement.

Objective of the meeting

Image result for paris climate accord

The meeting will primarily concentrate on various aspects associated with the implementation of the Paris Agreement (PA), which was negotiated at COP-21 and entered into force, or became legally binding.

Accord’s current status

Although 169 countries have ratified the accord, and there is tremendous support for greener, low-risk pathways to growth worldwide, the Trump administration in the U.S., one of the top emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs), has announced it will withdraw from the pact.

There is steady progress in the growth of renewable energy sources as they become cheaper and the efficiency of solar, wind and energy storage technologies improves.

Risk of climatic changes

Major risks from climate change, such as extreme weather phenomena, loss of agriculture, water stress and harm to human health, pose a threat to millions around the world.

Warming target

At the Paris COP, countries agreed to try and limit global warming to 1.5°C but since previous discussions had centred on the Lakshman rekha of 2°C, this required renewed understanding of the policies and actions required to stay within a lower target.

Paris Climatic accord

  • The deal unites all the world’s nations in a single agreement on tackling climate change for the first time in history.
  • In November and December 2015, the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC COP21) took place in Paris
  • Coming to a consensus among nearly 200 countries on the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions is regarded by many observers as an achievement in itself and has been hailed as “historic”.

Key elements

  • To keep global temperatures “well below” 2.0C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times and “endeavour to limit” them even more, to 1.5C
  • To limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100
  • To review each country’s contribution to cutting emissions every five years so they scale up to the challenge
  • For rich countries to help poorer nations by providing “climate finance” to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy.

Remonetise {Economic Policy}

(Indian Express)


Context

The National Democratic Alliance government is celebrating November 8, the anniversary of demonetisation, as Anti-Black Money Day.

Objectives

  • Curbing Black Money – about 5 Lakh Crore of Money out of 15.4 Lakh Crore Demonetized was expected to be curbed through this move.
  • A check on terrorist. The idea was to leave the terrorists cashless and try to curb the terror attacks.
  • A check on Naxalites.
  • To get make the stacked money rotate in the market.
  • Achieve lower rates of interest and thus, higher growth rate.
  • Few other ancillary and incidental objectives.

Gains from demonetization

  • Less cash in the economy,
  • Higher tax compliance — 1.26 crore new taxpayers were added to the tax base
  • Initial spurt in digital payments which after the early momentum has seen a dip
  • Any amount spent by the government has a greater impact on the economy (as per the multiplier theory). Thus, this 1.4 Lakh Crores earned by the government, if used well, can have a far greater impact on the economy as a whole than it would had if it was spent by ordinary people. The fruits of this deferred impact will be directly proportional to the excellence with which the amount is used.
  • Hundreds of Naxalites surrendered post demonetization as they were left with no money to buy weapons, food and other necessities. A record highest number of naxalites surrendered in November post demonetization.
  • Terrorist activities in Jammu & Kashmir reduced by over 60% and hawala operations have taken a huge hit.

In the days after more than 80% of the cash in circulation was removed via demonetisation a year ago, chiefly in the quest to stifle the black economy, the discourse turned so extreme and divisive

Some contradictions

  • The agenda itself is fraught with contradictions. For weeks now, the rules requiring purchase of gold and diamonds (for Rs. 2 lakh or less) to be linked to PAN (Permanent Account Number) are in suspension.
  •  Conversion of black money into gold and diamonds has gone on unencumbered.
  • Most of the money has been deposited back into the banks which is a failure of the policy on it’ own. Even though the Income Tax can still crack down on the black money deposited, as of now, we can say that the primary objective has not been achieved upto satisfactory levels.
  • Only black money stored in cash in India was targeted. Swiss bank accounts still remain untouched. Properties held in India and abroad purchased with the help of black money remained untouched.
  • The foreign as well as Indian Investors lacked faith in the Indian Market after demonetization. The Indian Stock markets saw a free fall after the historic decision. However, the markets have now started climbing again, indicating the increase in inflow of funds post demonetization.
  • Demonetization has largely affected the small scale industries which work on cash basis. The loss cannot be measured in numbers as the duration of this effect is unknown. Even 1 month post demonetization, businesses are still not stable.

Conclusion

  • Demonetization’s immediate effect was the severe cash crunch and the after effect is – a sharp fall in the growth rate.
  • Demonetization had a severe impact on private consumption.
  • As the cash crunch eases, consumption will probably revive. But the risk to the recovery is from the credit crunch that demonetization worsened.
  • Overall, if the dependency on monsoon does not get dismantled and privates sector revives, then the economy will definitely witness green spots.

Choking on air {Environment}

(Indian Express)


Context

Smog over Delhi is yet another reminder of government failure to act before an emergency.

In newsRelated image

Three weeks ago, with a ban against firecrackers and a graded response action plan (GRAP) in place, Delhi’s authorities seemed better equipped than in the past two years to combat the unhealthy haze that engulfs the city after Diwali.

Pollution levels did surge after the festivities but the fact that they were lower compared to the past two years

Diwali smog never receded and on Tuesday, the city registered “severe” on the Air Quality Index (AQI).

What steps Delhi government has taken to reduce Air pollution?

  • SC banned sale of firecracker in Delhi during Diwali
  • The Delhi government implemented the odd-even policy last year only after the Delhi High Court asked it to submit a time-bound plan.

Basics

Air quality index (AQI)Related image

  • The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you.
  • The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. EPA calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide.
  • For each of these pollutants, EPA has established national air quality standards to protect public health .Ground-level ozone and airborne particles are the two pollutants that pose the greatest threat to human health in this country.

How Does the AQI Work?

Think of the AQI as a yardstick that runs from 0 to 500. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern. For example, an AQI value of 50 represents good air quality with little potential to affect public health, while an AQI value over 300 represents hazardous air quality.

An AQI value of 100 generally corresponds to the national air quality standard for the pollutant, which is the level EPA has set to protect public health. AQI values below 100 are generally thought of as satisfactory. When AQI values are above 100, air quality is considered to be unhealthy-at first for certain sensitive groups of people, then for everyone as AQI values get higher.

Understanding the AQI

The purpose of the AQI is to help you understand what local air quality means to your health. To make it easier to understand, the AQI is divided into six categories:

The intervals and the terms describing the AQI air quality levels are as follows

From 0 to 50………………..good

From 51 to 100………………moderate

From 101 to 150……………..unhealthy for sensitive groups

From 151 to 200……………..unhealthy

From 201 to 300……………..very unhealthy

From 300……………………hazardous

 

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