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[ Day 33 – Synopsis ] 75 Days Mains Revision Plan 2022 – Environment & Ethics

 

 

NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


Environment


Q1.Explain the purpose of the Carbon Tax. Critically analyze its effectiveness in helping countries such as India in limiting CO2 emissions and reach net-zero targets. 10M

Introduction

A carbon tax is a fee that a government imposes on any company that burns fossil fuels. When the carbon-rich fossil fuels like coal, oil, gasoline, and natural gas are burned, they produce greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, that create global warming by heating the atmosphere. The resultant climate disruption causes extreme weather such as heat waves, flooding, blizzards, and droughts.

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Purpose of the carbon tax:

  • To reflect the true cost of burning carbon: The costs are borne by those who suffer from the effects, such as homeowners, farmers, and ultimately the government. Carbon taxes make sure companies and consumers pay for the external costs they impose on society.
    • It is a Pigouvian tax since it returns the cost of global warming to their producers.
  • To help fight climate change : The goal of a carbon tax is to create incentives for individuals and businesses to reduce their amount of carbon emissions to help curb the effects of climate change.
  • Ensure sustainable development: as energy is an essential part of human life, complete abolition of usage of fuels that emit Greenhouse gases responsible for climate change is impossible as human beings require energy security to live in today’s world.
    • Carbon tax acts as a sustainable method to utilize the fuels at an optimum rate thus enabling human development at the same time and ensuring a greener globe.
  • Adoption of market model of carbon emission reduction: this model acts as a tangible solution to fight the carbon emissions across the globe that punishes the emitters which has an effect on flora and fauna.

Effectiveness of carbon taxation in a country like India in limiting the CO2 emissions and achieving net zero targets:

Pros of carbon tax:

  • Market determination: Carbon taxes are a direct step in saving the planet. It is generally agreed upon by economists that carbon taxes are an effective and efficient way to lower carbon emissions because it allows the market to determine the most efficient way to reduce emissions and gives renewable energy sources a more competitive edge.
  • Innovative ways to support the environment: Carbon taxes support innovation that helps the environment.
    • These taxes bolster renewable energy industries by giving facilities and individuals who use energy incentives to opt for renewable sources, offering them a bigger market share of buyers.
  • Tangible and definite target: Putting a price on carbon is something that can be implemented fairly quickly without overhauling an entire system. Taxes are something that individuals and industry are used to, and is something that is perennially accounted for.
    • Thus, adding a carbon tax is not a strenuous reinvention of the system, which means it can be applied quickly and efficiently.
  • Reduction of carbon footprint: Carbon taxes encourage both industry and individuals to reduce their carbon footprint in order to save money in addition to saving the planet.
  • Evidence of success: Countries which have implemented carbon taxes have seen encouraging results – resulting in lower carbon emissions than would otherwise have occured, and in many cases substantial falls in CO2 emissions.
    • For example, Sweden introduced a carbon tax of €33 per tonne in 1991. Over time, the tax was increased to €120 per tonne.
    • The one exception is Australia, which repealed its carbon tax after two years in 2014 by their then centre-right government.

Cons of carbon tax:

  • Regressive Tax : Implemented on their own, carbon taxes can be harmful to lower-income families with 40% of India’s population consisting of middle and lower income families.
    • These households tend to use a higher percentage of their income on high-emission activities, such as heating homes and transportation, than those with higher income. This makes carbon tax a regressive tax.
  • Ineffective to control the super-rich: Money might not be a big enough incentive for those who have money. It has been proposed that those with more money can afford to pay more and thus may not effectively reduce their burning of fossil fuels.
    • One would hope that the effects of burning these fuels on the environment would be enough to deter certain practices, but there is no guarantee that understanding of the climate crisis is universal.
  • Profit is still the prime motive of carbon tax and not climate change: Carbon taxes have been criticised as a scheme that continues to operate under a for-profit system.
    • This system is seen by many as the underlying cause of climate change, whereby the system itself must be fixed. Carbon taxes do not alter the system but rather operate within it, which leaves some sceptical of the long-term change that it may affect.
  • It is difficult to evaluate the level of external cost and how much the tax should be.
  • Possibility of tax evasion: Higher taxes may encourage firms to hide carbon emissions.
  • Increased production costs: it will lead to an increase in production/manufacturing costs for local industries which will be reflected in the price of the final products.
    • This will reduce the demand for such products in the national and global market and will make Indian products less competitive.

Conclusion

The carbon tax is an important step in the fight against climate change, but it shouldn’t and won’t exist in a vacuum. It will operate alongside tax rebates and continued innovation in clean energy so that we can transition into a biobased economy.

 

Q2.What are the causes and consequences of coastal erosion?  Analyze its impact on marine habitats and the Indian coasts. Examine the role of green belts and artificial reefs in the mitigation of coastal erosion. 15M

Introduction

Coastal erosion is the temporary or permanent loss of land owing to the action of waves, currents, tides, wind-driven water, waterborne ice, or other effects of storms. It can also be the long-term removal of soil and rocks along the shoreline.  Global climate change coupled with local attributes is eroding the world’s coasts in alarming proportions.

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Causes

  • Hydraulic action, abrasion, corrosion by wind and water, and other forces, natural or manmade, can all contribute to coastal erosion.
  • Natural reasons
    • Wave energy is considered to be the primary reason for coastal erosion.
    • Natural hazards like cyclones, thermal expansion of seawater, storm surges, tsunami etc due to the melting of continental glaciers and ice sheets hamper the natural rhythm and precipitate erosion.
    • El Niño and climate change effects (e.g., sea level rise) are also contributing factors.
  • Man-made reasons
    • Mining activities such as sand and Coral mining have contributed to coastal erosion causing sediment deficit.
    • Coastal erosion has been sparked by fishing harbours and dams constructed in the catchment area of rivers and ports reducing the flow of sediments from river estuaries.

Consequences

  • Economic impact: Fishing industries that are dependent on coastal habitats can suffer great economic impacts from changes caused by coastal erosion, and the loss of tourism can result in similar repercussions.
  • Environmental impacts from erosion include the destruction of animal habitats and esthetic losses.
  • Disaster vulnerability: Coastal features like dunes and mangroves provide a natural defense against several hazards, including tsunamis and storm surges, so their loss due to erosion may signal an increase in vulnerability from these hazards.
    • Major disasters can damage or destroy natural buffers, or simply speed up the rate of ongoing erosion equating to years of non-disaster-related losses in a single event.
  • Livelihood impact: Coastal Erosion-triggered displacement of people and results in the resettlement of villages.
    • Example: Satabhaya village in Kendrapara district where six villages were completely submerged into the sea and the villagers were later shifted to other areas.

Impact on marine habitats and Indian coasts

  • According to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) 40% of India’s coastline is subjected to high, medium or low coastal erosion.
  • The regional extent of the problem in India
    • About 34% is under varying degrees of erosion, while 26% of the coastline are of an accreting nature, and the remaining 40% is in a stable state.
    • In terms of percentage, West Bengal, suffered 5% erosion over the period from 1990 to 2018, followed by Kerala which faces 46.4% erosion, Tamil Nadu (42.7%), Gujarat 27.06%, etc.
  • Impact on Coastal ecology: Coastal erosion and disturbances from increased storm activity are expected to diminish coastal ecosystems available to nesting species by removing habitat and inundating nests during incubation.
    • Seabirds may be the most vulnerable of all bird species because of their use of marine and terrestrial habitats and existence at the ecotone of the atmosphere and the ocean

Role of green belts and artificial reefs in mitigation of coastal erosion

  • Green belts are a series of trees in a number of rows to protect the coast from the onslaught of waves. Examples are found in Picchavaram in Tamil Nadu.
  • Artificial reefs: the recreation of the coral reefs colonies to dissipate wave energy by wave breaking and protect coasts. They also augment the amount of sea life such as fish, algae, barnacles, corals, and oysters, and cause shorelines to accrete.
    • One process within artificial reefs is Biorock Process ( method of mineral accretion that grows coral reefs ). It is applied to fish and shellfish mariculture, as well as to growing limestone breakwaters to protect islands and coastal areas from erosion and rising levels.
    • Artificial reefs can block wave energy, and withstand hurricane forces, and it makes an attractive habitat for fish and other sea creatures that are important to people’s livelihoods.
  • Coastal habitats such as Mangroves, Coral Reefs, and lagoons are recognized as the best defense against sea storms and erosion, deflecting and absorbing much of the energy of sea storms. Therefore, it is important to maintain these natural habitats for shore protection as well as for environmental conservation.
    • The role of mangroves in coastal risk reduction: Wind and swell waves are rapidly reduced as they pass through mangroves, lessening wave damage during storms.
    • Wide mangrove belts can be effective in reducing the flooding impacts of storm surges occurring during major storms (also called cyclones, typhoons or hurricanes). This can significantly reduce flood extent in low-lying areas. The dense roots of mangroves help to bind and build soils. The above-ground roots slow down water flows, encourage deposition of sediments and reduce erosion.
  • Using Geosynthetic tubes that are being used along the coast in Odisha.

Conclusion

Coastal erosion is a natural process; however, it becomes a problem when exacerbated by human activities or natural disasters.

The Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change has issued the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) 2019 notification with a view to conserve and protect the unique environment of the coastal stretches and marine areas, besides livelihood security to the fisher communities and other local communities in the coastal areas. The new constructions in coastal areas are being governed by this notification.

 


Ethics:


Q3. “Diplomacy is the art of purposeful ambiguity so that both sides can claim victory”. In this context, how can diplomats engage in foreign relations ethically? Discuss

Introduction

A policy of deliberate ambiguity is the practice by a government of being intentionally vague on certain aspects of its foreign policy. It may be useful if the country has contrary foreign and domestic policy goals. Such a policy can be very risky as it may cause misinterpretation of the intentions of a state, leading to actions that contradict that state’s wishes. For example, Nuclear Ambiguity of Israel, China’s deliberate ambiguity regarding the government of the country of ‘China’

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  • Proactive Ethical role of diplomats engaging in foreign relations:
    • They can adopt values such as objectivity, impartiality and rational decision making while promoting national interest in international relations
    • They can promote Rights and Responsibilities: There have been many attempts at forging general agreement on the composition of human rights.
      • Ex: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations Charter, Geneva Conventions, and Refugee Convention.
    • They can support Pluralism in unilateral world order
      • Ex: China’s expansionist and imperialist attitude in South China Sea
    • They can promote Peace and Harmony while participating in international organizations, declarations & forums which can lead to “Peaceful World”, “Respect for All” & “Equality”
      • Ex: SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) to boost cooperation and coordination for combating regional security challenges
    • They can support Solidarity a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good.
    • They can commit themselves to fairness which is impartial and just treatment or behaviour without favoritism or discrimination while dealing with other diplomats
    • Ethical behavior helps to avoid the “Ego Clash” & “Ideological Clash”
      • Ex: Mahabharata’s Golden rule: “One should never do something to others that one would regard as an injury to his own self”.
    • Ethical standards of diplomats can only maintain peace and provide solutions to deep-rooted problems

Conclusion:

Upanishads gave the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam to India and to the world. Ethical role of diplomats helps to avoid undue wars, conflicts and provide an ecosystem where there is mutual trust, goodwill, and confidence among all the Countries and helps to foster International Relations.