1. Navy chiefs of Quad in Japan ahead of Malabar Exercise
The meeting on the naval exercise, which was started in 1992 between India and the U.S., will go on till November 9; this comes at a time when a Chinese research vessel Yuan Wang-6 has entered the Indian Ocean Region via the Sunda Strait
The Navy chiefs of India, Australia, Japan and the U.S., which comprise the Quadrilateral (Quad) grouping, met in Japan on Saturday and exchanged views on “further enhancing interoperability” in future editions of the Malabar multilateral naval exercise. Meanwhile, a Chinese research vessel, Yuan Wang-6, has entered the Indian Ocean via the Sunda Strait.
The meeting in Tokyo comes ahead of a series of multilateral engagements in the next couple of weeks to be hosted by Japan. This year marks 30 years of the Malabar Exercise, which began as a bilateral exercise between India and the U.S. in 1992.
While the course of the Chinese vessel is not known, official sources said the Indian Navy is keeping a close tab on its movements. This comes just three months after a major diplomatic showdown between India and Sri Lanka over the docking of a similar vessel from China at the Hambantota Port in the island nation in August.
Earlier in the day, the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral R. Hari Kumar, arrived in Japan on an official visit from November 5 to 9, where he will witness the International Fleet Review (IFR) conducted by the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force at Yokosuka on November 6 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of its formation, the Indian Navy said in a statement.
“During the visit, as one of the Observer Navies in the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS), the CNS will attend the 18th WPNS on November 7-8 at Yokohama, being hosted by Japan, as the current Chair of WPNS,” the Navy stated.
Further, Admiral Kumar will also attend the inauguration of the Malabar Exercise being held at Yokosuka, and interact with his counterparts and other heads of delegations from close to 30 countries participating in the IFR, WPNS and the Malabar Exercise, according to the Navy.
Indian naval ships Shivalik and Kamorta arrived at Yokosuka on November 2 to participate in the IFR and the Malabar Exercise. “The presence of these indigenously built ships of the Indian Navy at these multi-national events will be an opportunity to showcase the shipbuilding capabilities of Indian shipyards during a large international gathering,” the Navy added.
Chinese research vessel
The timing of the entry of Yuan Wang-6 coincides with a planned long-range missile test by India next week. According to the open-source intelligence handle on Twitter @detresfa, India has issued a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen), for a no-fly zone over the Bay of Bengal between November 10 and 11 for a maximum distance of 2,200 km. Given the range, the test is likely to be related to an Agni series of Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile.
According to the maritime vessel tracking portal marinetraffic.com, Yuan Wang-6 departed from Jiangyin in China on October 21, and as on the morning of November 4, was located near Indonesia and heading in the southwest direction. While research activities are allowed in international waters as per international regulations, the data generated has a dual nature, including military, and many times, the motive of Chinese vessels seems doubtful, Defence officials have said.
Just a few days ago, the Japanese Defence Ministry said that a Chinese survey vessel had entered Japan’s territorial waters in the early hours of November 2. This, according to an article in The Diplomat by Takahashi Kosuke with the Janes Defence Weekly, was the fourth time that a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessel had intruded into Japan’s waters this year, a record high.
In the past, Chinese naval vessels had been observed in the vicinity while the Malabar Exercise was under way. As reported by The Hindu earlier, there has been a steady rise in the deployment of Chinese research vessels in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), and the general area of deployment observed to be around the ninety-degree east ridge and southwest Indian ridge. Research or survey vessels have powerful equipment for snooping and gathering a range of data.
Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean began in 2008 under the garb of anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.
As friendly countries participate in joint military exercises, it leads to positive operational interactions and improves the capabilities of the armed forces in a variety of different warfighting areas. The latest tactical and technological methods, procedures, etc., are exchanged during such joint military exercises.
Although this is a continuous process, appropriate action is occasionally made to involve friendly countries and broaden the scope of exercises based on the idea of mutual benefit and the participating country’s strategic needs.
Military Exercises of India
Indian armed forces are represented by various units/battalions in such joint military exercises which are decided based on the nature and requirement of specific exercises. The amount spent varies depending on the extent of our involvement and the resources used in such exercises. Indian armed forces participate in domestic exercises, bilateral exercises and multilateral exercises.
Category of Indian Military Exercises
The Military Exercises of India can be divided into three categories:
- Domestic Exercise: The purpose of the domestic military exercise is to improve internal engagements and intra-service and inter-service among all the forces.
- Bilateral Exercise: These military exercises are held between two countries.
- Multilateral Exercise: These military exercises involve the militaries of more than two countries.
List of Joint Military Exercises of India
There are four major domestic military exercises of India namely Gandiv Vijay, Paschim Lehar, Vayu Shakti and Vijay Prahar.
The following table provides you with a List of Multilateral Military Exercises:
|Exercise Name||Participating Countries|
|RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific Exercise, 26 Countries)||Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, United Kingdom, United States|
|MALABAR (3 Countries)||India, United States, Japan|
|Samvedna||South Asian Region Nations|
|MILAN (Incepted by Indian Navy)||40 Countries sending their high-level delegations and warships|
Recent List of Military Exercises of India 2022
Here is the Recent List of Joint Military Exercises of India with other countries.
|Name of Exercise||Participating Countries||Location|
|Vostok 2022||India and Russia||Eastern Military District, Russia|
|Gagan Strike||Indian Army and Indian Air Force||Punjab|
|JIMEX 2022||India and Japan||Bay of Bengal Region|
|Joint Maritime Exercise (Nigeria’s first joint operation deployment)||India and Nigeria||Gulf of Guinea|
|Abhyas-01/22||Coast Guard of India & United States||The coast of Chennai, Tamil Nadu|
|Parvat Prahar||Conducted by the One Strike Corps of the Indian Army||Ladakh|
|Vajra Prahar 2022||India and USA||Bakloh, Himachal Pradesh|
|VINBAX 2022||Vietnam and India||Chandimandir, Haryana|
|Pitch Black 2022||India and Australia||Australia’s Darwin|
|Yudh Abhyas 2022||India and the USA||Uttarakhand’s Auli|
|Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022||26 Countries including India||Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii (United States military base)|
|Maritime Partnership Exercise (MPX)||Japan and India||Andaman Sea|
(38th coordinated patrol exercise)
|India and Indonesia||The Andaman Sea and Malacca Strait|
|Khaan Quest 2022 (multinational exercise)||Mongolia and India||Mongolia|
|Sampriti-X||India and Bangladesh||Jashore Military Station, Bangladesh|
|North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Exercise • Defender Europe 2022 (DE22)|
• Swift Response 2022 (SR22)
|Between Allies and Partners of the United States (US) and NATO||Eastern Europe, the Arctic High North, the Baltics, and the Balkans|
|Bongosagar 2022 (Naval Exercise)||India and Bangladesh||Port Mongla, Bangladesh|
|Coordinated Patrol (CORPAT)||India and Bangladesh||Northern Bay of Bengal, Indian Navy-Bangladesh Navy (IN-BN)|
|Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) Maritime Exercise/ IMEX-22||Navies of Bangladesh, France, India and Iran||Goa in the Arabian sea|
|LAMITIYE 2022 (Joint Training Exercise)||India and Seychelles||Seychelles Defense Academy|
|VARUNA 2022 (Naval Exercise)||India and France||Arabian Sea|
|Exercise Khanjar 2022 (Joint Special Forces)||India and Kyrgyzstan||Special Forces Training School, Bakloh, Himachal Pradesh|
|KRIPAN SHAKTI (Integrated Fire Power Exercise)||Conducted by Trishakti Corps of the Indian Army||Teesta Field Firing Ranges (TFFR), near Siliguri, West Bengal|
|Dharma Guardian 2022||India and Japan||Foreign Training Node, Belagavi (Belgaum, Karnataka)|
|Cold Response 2022 (Multilateral Military Exercise)||Conducted by NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation)||Norway|
|Prasthan (Offshore Security Exercise)||Conducted by Western Naval Command of India||Offshore Development Area of ONGC, Mumbai|
|SLINEX 21||Sri Lanka and India||Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh|
|Suraksha Kavach 2||Conducted by Indian Army’s “Agnibaaz Division” with Maharashtra Police||Lulla Nagar, Pune|
|Exercise Dustlik (ExDustlik) 2022||India and Uzbekistan||Yangiarik, Uzbekistan|
|Eastern Bridge-VI (Air Force Exercise)||Indian and Oman||Jodhpur Air Force Station, Rajasthan|
|Sainya Ranakshetram –2021||Indian Army||Indore|
|MILAN 2022 (Biennial Multilateral Naval Exercise)||Conducted by the Eastern Naval Command (Indian Navy). Theme: ‘Camaraderie – Cohesion –Collaboration’||Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh (Indian Ocean Region)|
|Exercise Sea Dragon 22 (Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW))||Conducted by the USA|
Participating Countries: USA, Australia, Canada, India, Japan and South
|Andersen Air Force Base, Guam Island|
|XPL 22 (also called Paschim Lehar 2022)||Conducted by the Indian Navy||Arabian Sea|
2. Over 64,000 people in India die of snakebites each year
A vast majority of snakebite deaths globally — up to 64,100 of the 78,600 deaths — occur in India with Uttar Pradesh reporting the highest number of deaths followed by Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan
That snakebite (a neglected tropical disease) is a public health problem in India and many other low- and middle-income countries has been long known. But a global estimate of deaths due to snakebite was not known till recently.
A study that our group, along with researchers from 21 other countries, published in Nature Communications recently estimated that a vast majority of snakebite deaths globally — up to 64,100 of the 78,600 deaths — occur in India. The study also suggests that the global target of halving the number of deaths and injuries from snakebite by 2030 is unlikely to be met.
80% of global deaths
The study used data from verbal autopsy and vital statistics (civil registration) to estimate snakebite deaths from the Global Burden of Disease 2019 study. The global estimate of deaths due to snakebite comes 14 years after the previous one in 2008 and provides a more robust estimate. Before the current study, it was known that India is responsible for up to half of the global deaths due to snakebite. But the current study shows snakebite deaths in India are much higher at almost 80% of the global deaths.
Within India, Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of deaths, estimated to be up to 16,100, followed by Madhya Pradesh (up to 5,790 deaths), and Rajasthan (up to 5,230 deaths).
The study estimated that the age-standardised death rate (which accounts for different age-structures in different countries, thus allowing comparison between countries) in India, at 4.0 per 1,00,000, is also among the highest globally, and many times over than the global figure of 0.8 deaths per 1,00,000.
Only Somalia has a higher age-standardised death rate than India at 4.5 per 1,00,000. This indicates a failing health system in India and Somalia leading to high deaths in those who are bitten by venomous snakes. Within India, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan have even higher age-standardised death rates, at 6.5, 6.0, and 5.8 per 1,00,000, respectively.
Despite such high number of deaths each year, there is no national strategy to address the burden of snakebite in India. Recently, there is some recognition of snakebite as a public health problem with the Indian Council of Medical Research launching a national survey to estimate the burden. While this will help know the burden better, the absence of a specific national strategy to address snakebite implies there is no programme by the government to either prevent snakebite or in preventing deaths or disability in those who are bitten by venomous snakebite.
With such a high number of deaths due to snakebites, there is a need for a strategy focusing on snakebite prevention and strengthening of health system. Preventing snakebite needs more than simple awareness programmes. This is so because snakebite at its core is due to snake-human-environment conflict tied to many socio-cultural-religious aspects. As such, understanding the conflict and code signing community-based programmes for prevention of snakebites which are tested through community randomised cluster trials are required. To bring down deaths, strengthening of primary healthcare in India is also required.
Focus on healthcare
Traditionally, there has been a lot of focus on snake antivenom availability. An analysis of system capacity for snakebite care revealed that there is a need for comprehensive strengthening of primary healthcare systems focusing on both access and quality of care across all health systems blocks, instead of a sole focus on snake antivenom availability; we presented the results this month in the 21st World Congress of the International Society on Toxinology. Improving primary health care is important for snakebite because it is an acute medical emergency – the care needs to be closest to people bitten by snakes.
With snakebite deaths globally being predominantly in India, the global target to halve snakebite deaths by 2030, cannot be attained without action in India. With the new global estimates available, it might be expected that global health funders and philanthropists would invest for research and programmes on snakebite in India, such that the global target can be made.
Having a national strategy to address snakebite would mean that investments are towards the need of the country in health system strengthening and community-based programmes, instead of costly drugs and diagnostics whose intellectual property is held outside India or leading to vertical programmes instead of integrated strengthening. Because snakebite affects the rural poor, a national strategy for snakebite brings in an equity focus which will bring cross benefits for other neglected tropical diseases, which happen in the same communities.
3. Vaccine trial soon amid fear of Ebola virus spread
The Ebola virus outbreak that began in Uganda on September 20 after one case was confirmed in Mubende district the previous day has spread to at least 130 people (lab confirmed) and caused 43 deaths as on November 2. The increase in fatalities has in turn increased the case fatality rate among lab-confirmed cases to 33% (43/130); the case fatality rate was 26.5% (34/128) as on October 29.
zIt is not the increase in case fatality rate alone that is causing concern — the deadly virus has now reached the capital city Kampala; the virus was restricted to the rural areas of Uganda since the outbreak began in September.
Difficulty in tracing
Compared with rural regions, the presence of the virus in the Kampala city increases the risk of the virus easily spreading to a large number of people and the increased difficulty of tracing all contacts. Thus, there is an enhanced possibility of the outbreak becoming bigger, particularly as the virus has already spread to school children — six school children from three schools tested positive for the virus and one child died as on October 28. Also, there is a risk of the virus spreading across borders, as the virus is now present in the capital city.
Unlike the large Ebola outbreak of 2014-2016 caused by the Zaire strain that started in Guinea and spread to two other Western African countries — Sierra Leone and Liberia — by July 2014, the outbreak in Uganda is caused by rarer Sudan strain. Uganda is facing a Sudan Ebola virus outbreak after a decade.
The Ebola outbreak of 2014-2016 which spread to over 28,000 people and killed 11,000 people allowed the testing of Merck’s vaccine through a ring vaccination strategy.
Currently there are no vaccines available for the Sudan strain of the Ebola virus. The silver lining is that Merck has developed a vaccine specifically against the Sudan strain in 2015 and 2016 after the success with the vaccine against the Zaire strain.
Testing on monkeys
However, since there was no outbreak of Ebola caused by the Sudan strain till September this year, the large stock of vaccines against the Sudan strain now spreading in Uganda was never tested on people. But the virus was tested on monkeys and was found to be effective in protecting against the virus. Jon Cohen of Science recently reported that Merck had, in 2021, destroyed the candidate vaccine that it had in vials as the vaccines had expired. However, the vaccine stored in bulk was found to be viable despite more than six years after they were produced.
Besides Merck’s vaccine for the Sudan strain, two other vaccines by Sabin Vaccine Institute and the University of Oxford are in the process of being produced for clinical testing. While the Merck’s vaccine uses the VSV (vesicular stomatitis virus) platform, both Sabin Vaccine Institute and University of Oxford use the chimpanzee adenoviruses to carry the virus protein into humans, much like the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
Clinical trials using the ring vaccination strategy of administering the vaccine among the contacts might begin by mid-November. On October 26, Uganda Media Centre (the country’s official centre for public communications) tweeted that all three candidate vaccines would be evaluated.
Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero said the initial plan is to test the vaccine on 3,000 contacts of 150 lab-confirmed cases within 29 days of contact. “The trial preparation has been concluded and we estimate that we may begin the trial in two weeks’ time,” she said on October 26 in a tweet.
4. A third of world heritage glaciers under threat, warns UNESCO
A third of the glaciers on the UNESCO World Heritage list are under threat, regardless of efforts to limit temperature increases, a study conducted by the UN body has found.
However, the study said it was still possible to save the other two-thirds if the rise in global temperature did not exceed 1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era. The UNESCO said that this would be a major challenge for the delegates at the upcoming COP27.
The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held from November 6-18 this year in Egypt.
“COP27 will have a crucial role to help find solutions to this issue. UNESCO is determined to support states in pursuing this goal,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said.
In addition to drastically reduced carbon emissions, the UNESCO is advocating for the creation of a new international fund for glacier monitoring and preservation.
Such a fund would support comprehensive research, promote exchange networks between all stakeholders and implement early warning and disaster risk reduction measures, the study said.
Half of humanity depends directly or indirectly on glaciers as their water source for domestic use, agriculture, and power. Glaciers are also pillars of biodiversity, feeding many ecosystems, it said.
“When glaciers melt rapidly, millions of people face water scarcity and the increased risk of natural disasters such as flooding, and millions more may be displaced by the resulting rise in sea levels,” IUCN Director General Dr. Bruno Oberle said.
“This study highlights the urgent need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and invest in nature-based solutions, which can help mitigate climate change,” he added.
As many as 50 UNESCO World Heritage sites are home to glaciers, representing almost 10% of the Earth’s total glacierised area.
The UNESCO study, in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), showed that these glaciers have been retreating at an accelerated rate since 2000 due to CO2 emissions, which are warming temperatures.
They are currently losing 58 billion tonne of ice every year — equivalent to the combined annual water use of France and Spain — and are responsible for nearly 5% of observed global sea level rise.
5. How is India planning to end child marriage?
What are the interventions being carried out by the state? Are they helping? What more needs to be done socially, culturally, politically and economically, for the welfare of the girl child? Which are the best and worst performing States and why?
The story so far:
The steering committee of a global programme to end child marriage is on a visit to India to witness state interventions which have helped reduce the prevalence of child marriage. The visit by the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage team is in view of an estimated increase in number of child brides due to the pandemic. The UNFPA-UNICEF estimates that 10 million children could become child brides as a result of the pandemic globally. In India, child marriage reduced from 47.4% in 2005-06 to 26.8% in 2015-16, registering a decline of 21% points during the decade. In the last five years, it declined by 3.5% points to reach 23.3% in 2020-21, according to the latest National Family Health Survey-5 data.
What is the situation in the world?
According to data from UNICEF, the total number of girls married in childhood stands at 12 million per year, and progress must be significantly accelerated in order to end the practice by 2030 — the target set out in the Sustainable Development Goals. Without further acceleration, more than 150 million additional girls will marry before they turn 18 by 2030. While it is encouraging that in the past decade great progress has been made in South Asia, where a girl’s risk of marrying before she is 18 has dropped by more than a third, from nearly 50% to below 30%, it is not enough, and progress has been uneven. Rights activists and health experts say the consequences of child marriage are dire, not only because it violates children’s rights, but also because it results in more infant and maternal deaths. Children born to adolescent mothers have a greater possibility of seeing stunted growth as they have low weight at birth. According to NFHS-5, prevalence of child stunting is 35.5% in 2019-21.
Where does India stand?
There is a growing trend for decline in the overall prevalence of child marriage, but 23.3% is still a disturbingly high percentage in a country with a population of 141.2 crore. Eight States have a higher prevalence of child marriage than the national average — West Bengal, Bihar and Tripura top the list with more than 40% of women aged 20-24 years married below 18, according to NFHS data. Rights workers and welfare officials say a lot more needs to be done on factors closely linked to child marriage, including eradication of poverty, better education and public infrastructure facilities for children, raising social awareness on health, nutrition, regressive social norms and inequalities. They stress on an all-pronged approach to end the practice; strong laws, strict enforcement, preparing an ideal situation on the ground to ensure that the girl child — girls with either or below primary level education have experienced higher levels of child marriage as data show — gets an education and preferably vocational training as well so that she can be financially independent.
How are the States placed?
Data shows that child marriage is a key determinant of high fertility, poor maternal and child health, and lower social status of women. Among the bigger States, West Bengal and Bihar have the highest prevalence of girl child marriage. States with a large population of tribal poor have a higher prevalence of child marriage. In Jharkhand, 32.2% of women in the age bracket 20-24 got married before 18, according to NFHS-5; infant mortality stood at 37.9%, and 65.8% of women in the 15-19 age bracket are anaemic. Assam too has a high prevalence of child marriage (31.8% in 2019-20 from 30.8% in 2015-16). Some States have shown a reduction in child marriages, like Madhya Pradesh (23.1% in 2020-21 from 32.4% in 2015-16), Rajasthan (25.4% from 35.4%) and Haryana. Several States are pegged just below the national average: In Odisha, 20.5% of women were married off before 18 in 2020-21 from 21.3% in 2015-16. States with high literacy levels and better health and social indices have fared much better on this score. In Kerala, women who got married before the age of 18 stood at 6.3% in 2019-20, from 7.6% in 2015-16. Tamil Nadu too has shown improved figures with 12.8% of women in the age group 20-24 years getting married before 18 compared to 16.3% in 2015-16.
What are the laws and policy interventions?
There are several laws including the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, which aim at protecting children from violation of human and other rights. A parliamentary standing committee is weighing the pros and cons of raising the age of marriage for women to 21, which has been cleared by the Union Cabinet. With various personal laws governing marriages in India, the government wants to amend the law, a reform that activists and agencies have said will not be enough to stop the practice of child marriage. Besides centralised schemes like the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, which need better implementation on the ground, States have launched many initiatives to improve the factors linked to child marriage, from education to health care and awareness programmes. For instance, West Bengal’s Kanyashree scheme offers financial aid to girls wanting to pursue higher studies, though women’s activists have pointed out that another scheme Rupashree, which provides a one-time payment of ₹25,000 to poor families at the time of a daughter’s marriage, may be counter-productive. Bihar and other States have been implementing a cycle scheme to ensure girls reach safely to school; and U.P. has a scheme to encourage girls to go back to school.
What needs to be done?
According to Sandeep Chachra, executive director, ActionAid Association India, which has been working with UNICEF and UNFPA in over 60 high prevalence districts and the governments of Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Rajasthan, the solution lies in empowering girls, creating proper public infrastructure and addressing societal norms. “It’s a long process, but we are getting down to the gram panchayat level, ensuring that Child Protection Committees and Child Marriage Prohibition officers are doing the job and activating community support groups. Such efforts can lead to Child Marriage Free Villages like in Odisha which now has over 12,000 such villages.” A series of such interventions — and recommendations of the Shivraj Patil Committee report in 2011 — have helped bring down the percentage of child marriages in Karnataka (from 42% in 2005-06 to 21.3% in 2019-20). Uma Mahadevan-Dasgupta, who serves in the IAS, says several thousand child marriage prohibition officers have been notified in Karnataka and 90,000 local gram panchayat members have been oriented to spread awareness on child marriage, not only that it is illegal to get a child married off before 18, but also the dangers to the child’s health and her offspring. There has been a rise in child marriages during the pandemic, but many have been prevented as well.
6. Climate networking
COP-27Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh will host over 45,000 registered participants, including government leaders, to discuss ways to curtail carbon emissions
From Monday, the sea-side, port city of Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, will host over 45,000 registered participants as part of the 27th edition of the UN-Conference of Parties (UN-COP). The participants include representatives of the 195 member-countries of the UN-COP, business persons, scientists, and members of indigenous and local communities and activists.
The UN-COPs, over the decades, have burgeoned into a colossal networking event where, under the umbrella of a simmering climate crisis, various interest-groups come away after protracted negotiations with little more than a promise to meet the following year at a new venue. The two-week long jamboree has multiple sub-events, protests and theme-pavilions that begin with a bang, such as with a World Leader’s summit.
The event sees several heads of state deliver statements on the need to ensure that carbon emissions don’t heat the globe beyond its sustainable limits. Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the 26th edition of the COP in Glasgow, Scotland, committed to India becoming net-zero, or in effect carbon neutral, by 2070. It is unclear if he will be at Sharm-El-Sheikh but U.S. President Joe Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak are expected to be present.
From here on, the summit — on the surface — is muted but is buzzing with activity underneath when various negotiating teams, representing countries, business groups and think tanks congregate into smaller groups, lay out draft text agreements and wage semantic wars. The main founding document is the 2015 Paris Agreement that commits countries to keep temperatures from rising over 2°C by the end of the century and as far as possible below 1.5°C.
This guiding principle results in an annual agreement, the latest being the Glasgow Climate Pact — an assemblage of various Articles and sub-articles — that outlines the responsibilities of every country and how they propose to take action on doing their bit to curtail carbon emissions. As has now become a pattern in most COPs, the negotiations build to a crescendo where concerns are aired about an impasse and then, the President of the COP — this time, Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs — will push the deadline by a few hours and then a document, flush with incremental gains, is conjured up when the gavel comes down.
The latest COP, Mr. Shoukry has said, will be an ‘Implementation COP’. “This means the full and faithful implementation of all the provisions of the Paris Agreement, along with pursuing even more ambitious NDCs if we are to keep the temperature goal within reach and avert further negative impacts,” he said in a press statement. NDCs, or Nationally Determined Contributions, are a country’s intent — but not binding or mandatory — towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.
India has updated its NDC of 2015 by committing to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 45% by 2030, from the 2005 level, achieving 50% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources and creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 by adding forest and tree cover by 2030. However, unlike in the 2015 version, the latest NDC also underlines India’s commitment to “..mobilise domestic and new & additional funds from developed countries..” to, primarily, access and implement clean energy technology.
Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav, who will be leading the Indian delegation to COP-27, has said India will continue to press developed countries into making good their unfulfilled commitment to deliver $100 billion a year of climate finance by 2020 and every year thereafter till 2025. There is yet no definition on what constitutes ‘climate finance’ and whether it includes both loans and grants and India, he said, would press for more transparency as well as institutional mechanisms to make these funds available to developing countries as well as those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.