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[ Day 35 – Synopsis ] 75 Days Mains Revision Plan 2023 – Environment & Ethics

 

Environment


 

Q1. Mention the key outcomes of recently concluded United Nations Water conference. Deliberate on the impediments and steps needed to meet the sustainable development goals related to water. (15M)

Introduction

The UN 2023 Water Conference, which took place from 22-24 March at the United Nations in New York City, has generated more than 700 commitments aimed at driving transformation towards a water-secure world. The conference was mainly organised to urgently scale up action to address the water and sanitation crisis and ensure equitable access to water and sanitation for all.

Body:

Outcomes at the 2023 UN water conference:

  • Water action agenda: The agenda represents the global community’s bold resolve to address the water challenges through a more coordinated and results-driven approach.
    • A number of other follow-up steps are also under consideration – including the appointment of a Special Envoy on Water.
  • Follow-up of the outcome: The conference outcomes will also receive concrete follow-up in three key upcoming Summits:
    • the SDG Summit during the UN General Assembly in September 2023, the Summit of the Future in 2024, the World Social Summit in 2025, and through the annual High- level political forum on sustainable development, Conference of Parties and other United Nations processes, as well as the Dushanbe Water Process.
  • Commitments: one of the major outcome of this conference was various countries (like USA, Japan, Switzerland), private organisations, multilateral banks and NGOs made different commitments for a water-secure world.

Impediments to meet the sustainable development goals related to water:

  • Water Scarcity:
    • SDG 6: Water scarcity hinders access to clean water for drinking, sanitation, and hygiene purposes. It affects the availability of safe and reliable water sources, particularly in arid and drought-prone regions, leading to increased waterborne diseases and inadequate sanitation practices.
    • SDG 2: Limited water availability reduces the capacity for irrigation, impacting crop production and livestock rearing thereby threatening food insecurity.
    • SDG 11: It hampers the provision of water for sanitation, cleaning, and firefighting, and poses challenges for sustainable urban development.
  • Water Pollution:
    • SDG 6 & 3: Water pollution, caused by industrial discharges, agricultural runoff, and improper waste management, contaminates water sources, making them unsafe for human consumption. This poses health risks and requires additional treatment efforts to ensure water quality.
    • SDG 11: It undermines efforts to create sustainable and resilient cities with clean and accessible water resources.
  • Inadequate Water Management Systems:
    • SDG 3: Inadequate water management, including inadequate water supply and sanitation facilities, undermines proper hygiene practices thereby impacting health and wellbeing.
    • SDG 6: Inefficient water management systems, such as aging infrastructure, leakages, and lack of proper maintenance, lead to water losses and reduced access to clean water. It undermines efforts to provide reliable and sustainable water services to communities.
    • SDG 11: Inefficient water management systems in cities, including inadequate sewage treatment and storm-water management, contribute to water pollution, flooding, and environmental degradation. They hinder the achievement of sustainable and liveable urban environments.

Steps needed to meet the sustainable development goals related to water:

  • Investing in water infrastructure: Governments and international organizations should prioritize investments in water infrastructure, including the development of piped water supply systems, water treatment plants, and sanitation facilities. E.g. Jalshakti scheme
  • Integrated water resource management: Adopting integrated approaches that consider the entire water cycle, from source to tap, can help manage water resources more sustainably.
    • This involves balancing water demands for agriculture, industry, and domestic use while ensuring environmental conservation.
  • Water-efficient practices: Encouraging water-efficient practices, such as drip irrigation, rainwater harvesting, and recycling and reuse of water, can help optimize water use and reduce wastage. E.g. Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh etc.
  • Strengthening regulations: Governments need to enforce strict regulations on industrial and agricultural practices to prevent pollution of water bodies.
    • Effluent treatment and proper waste management systems should be implemented and monitored effectively.
    • g. Mangalore municipal waste treatment initiatives.
  • Public awareness and education: Raising awareness about clean water, pollution prevention, and responsible water use is crucial.
    • Education campaigns can empower individuals to take actions that contribute to water quality improvement.
  • Climate-resilient water management: Incorporating climate change projections and adaptation strategies into water management plans is essential. This may involve investing in climate-resilient infrastructure, diversifying water sources, and promoting water conservation practices.
    • g. Jal Shakti Abhiyan for areas prone to climate variability and extreme weather events.

Conclusion

The existing and future challenges in the field of water require innovative and transformative ideas and a “beyond business as usual” approach. By working together, we can ensure that water is managed sustainably and that future generations have access to this vital resource.

 

 

Q2. How would you define the term “Just Energy Transition”. Mention its key principles. Do you believe that India becoming a signatory of the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) would be in its best interest? Why or why not? (15M)

 

Introduction

The term “Just Energy Transition” refers to the process of shifting from a fossil fuel-based energy system to a sustainable, low-carbon, and socially equitable energy system. It recognizes that transitioning to clean energy sources and addressing climate change should go hand in hand with addressing social and economic inequalities. 

Recently, at COP 26 in Glasgow Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) was launched by the rich nations to accelerate phasing out of coal and reducing emissions.

Body:

Key principles of Just Energy Transition:

  • Be fair and uphold the rights, needs and values of everyone no single group should be privileged over others and the upfront costs must not fall on those with the least responsibility for climate change or ability to bear them.
  • Be sustainable, ambitious and consistent with wider, holistic strategies that contribute to the energy transition needed to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C, or well under 2°C.
  • Be comprehensive, transparent and inclusive which requires that just transition strategies developed at the national level to be co-designed and implemented at the local level.
  • Ensure clearly-defined, robust and meaningful stakeholder engagement and social dialogue, including a specific focus on social protection and gender equality policies to promote equitable access to benefits.
  • Be centered on climate justice so that the burdens of climate change, as well as the costs of avoiding it, are shared fairly; both internationally and inter-generationally.
    • Implementation of the transition must support jobs, local communities and improve human wellbeing in the developing world.
  • Recognize energy access as essential for social well-being, economic growth, and sustainable development.
  • Ensure access to justice, decision making and information: Ensure meaningful participation in energy transition decision-making for all stakeholders, acknowledging and compensating for differences in resources and capacity to engage.
  • Be guided by science and understand the urgency to reduce emissions in line with the goals set out by the Paris Agreement.

 

India becoming a signatory of the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) would be in its best interest in following ways:

  • Climate Change Mitigation: Joining the JETP would demonstrate India’s commitment to addressing climate change and transitioning to a low-carbon economy, aligning with its international climate goals.
  • Clean Energy Opportunities: Engaging in a Just Energy Transition through partnerships like JETP could attract investment, technology transfers, and knowledge sharing, enabling India to tap into its renewable energy potential and drive economic growth.
  • Social and Economic Benefits: By becoming a signatory of JETP, India can access resources and expertise to foster inclusive economic growth and ensure a fair transition for affected workers and communities.
  • Global Leadership: Joining JETP would enhance India’s global standing as a leader in sustainable development and climate action.
    • It would provide opportunities for collaboration, policy exchange, and learning from international best practices, ultimately strengthening India’s position in global climate negotiations.

 

India becoming a signatory of the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) would be not in its best interest:

  • Dependence on fossils: Coal use will peak in India between 2030 and 2035. At least five Indian states depend heavily on the country’s coal economy.
    • International funding rests on India committing to a timeline to phase out coal, which is not viable for the country.
  • Weak renewable energy storage capacity: With renewable energy storage capacity currently weak and expensive, India will phase out coal only when it is sure the transition won’t cause power disruptions.
  • Budget constraints: To meet its renewable energy targets, India will have to invest an average of $27.9 billion annually up to 2029, but its budget allocations aren’t sufficient.
  • Exacerbate existing economic inequities: Energy transitions could give rise to intra-generational, intergenerational, and spatial equity concerns.
    • Transitions affect near-term fossil-dependent jobs, disrupt forms of future energy access, shrink state’s capacity to spend on welfare programmes, and thus exacerbate existing economic inequities between coal and other regions.
  • National Priorities: India has its unique set of priorities and challenges related to energy transition.
    • Joining JETP may require aligning policies and strategies with the partnership’s objectives, which may not fully reflect India’s specific circumstances and development goals.

Conclusion

India’s transition efforts need to be mindful of people’s energy aspirations and alternate livelihood for workers. Even if we cannot cut down on coal, we have to prepare for a phase-down. India may be able to use its position as G20 leader this year to steer discussions on a deal toward just transition while scaling renewable capacity and investments in new technologies.

 

Value addition:

Initiatives by India to shift to renewable energy:

  • National Solar Mission (NSM): The 100 GW solar ambition at the heart of the world’s largest renewable energy expansion programme
  • The Wind Energy Revolution: Leveraging India’s robust wind energy sector to boost clean energy manufacturing and the rural economy
  • National Biofuels Policy and SATAT: Building value chains to reduce fuel imports, increase clean energy, manage waste, and create jobs
  • Small Hydro Power (SHP): Harnessing the power of water to integrate remote communities into the economic mainstream.
  • National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHEM): Exploring the commercial viability of a versatile clean fuel
  • Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme: Integrating India into the global clean energy value chains
  • National Biofuels Policy and SAYAY: Building value chains to reduce fuel imports, increase clean energy, manage waste and create jobs.

 


Ethics


 

Syllabus: “Ethical issues in international relations and funding Corporate governance”

Q3. What ethical obligations do developed nations have in assisting less developed countries to achieve sustainable economic development and poverty reduction; particularly in the context of rising climate change? Discuss.

Introduction:

The global community faces significant challenges, including climate change and extreme poverty. Developed nations, with their economic and technological advantages, have ethical responsibilities to address these issues and assist in achieving sustainable development and poverty reduction.

Body:

Ethical obligations of developed countries include:

Sustainable economic development:

ObligationThings to do
StewardshipInvestment in Green Infrastructure such as renewable energy, public transportation, and sustainable urban planning
Environmental Responsibility

 

Promotion of Circular Economy:

where resources are reused, recycled, and repurposed promotes environmental responsibility.

 

Social ResponsibilityHistorical Responsibility: developed countries are accountable for their carbon emissions and should commit to reducing them while assisting less developed countries in adapting to the consequences of climate change.

 

EquityCommon but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR): demonstrate a commitment to equity by providing financial and technological support to less developed countries, which have contributed less to the problem but are disproportionately affected.

 

Knowledge Sharing

 

Technology Transfer: Developed nations should act with beneficence by transferring climate-friendly technologies to less developed countries.
Ethical Obligation Things to do
JusticeClimate-Resilient Infrastructure in Vulnerable Areas- provide financial assistance and technological know-how to help less developed countries withstand the impacts of climate change.

 

Long-Term OrientationEnhancing Agricultural Sustainability – by promoting sustainable farming techniques.
Universal AccessClean energy– assist less developed countries in transitioning to clean energy sources, reducing energy poverty, and improving livelihoods
Human DignityClimate-Responsive Social Safety Nets- for instance the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Climate Action Adaptation and Resilience (CARE) Program.
EmpowermentEducation and Capacity Building– support initiatives that enhance skills, knowledge, and opportunities for less developed countries’ populations, enabling them to break the cycle of poverty and adapt to climate change challenges.

 

Conclusion:

As Martin Luther King Jr said, “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice that produces beggars needs restructuring”.  Thus, there is a need for developed nations to take ethical responsibility in assisting less developed countries.

 


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