Time running out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions’

GS Paper III

Topic: Environment and biodiversity

Mains: Five inter-related global risks related to climate

What’s the News?

Five global risks have been identified in the ‘Future of the Earth 2020’ report jointly released by the South Asia Future Earth Regional Office, Divecha Centre for Climate Change, Indian Institute of Science.

The Future Earth Risks Perceptions Report 2020:

  • It provides the first overview of the global change science community’s perceptions on global risks.
  • The perceptions of more than 200 scientists from 52 countries were captured in a survey on global risks and are presented here.
  • The report summarizes these scientists’ perceptions on four major themes: the interconnections between global risks, the urgency of top global risks, future committed risks, and emerging risks.

Aim of the report: The report was prepared with the aim of reducing carbon footprint and halting global warming below 2 degree Celsius by 2050.

Five global risks:

  • The report lists failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation; extreme weather events; major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse; food crises; and water crises, as the five global risks.
  • Five global risks that have the potential to impact and amplify one another and cascade to create global systemic crisis.
  • The world also witnessed two major wildfires in the Amazon rainforest and Australia in 2019.

 

Interrelated factors:

  • For instance– Extreme heat waves can accelerate global warming by releasing large amounts of stored carbon from affected ecosystems, and at the same time intensify water crises and/ or food scarcity.
  • The loss of biodiversity also weakens the capacity of natural and agricultural systems to cope with climate extremes, increasing our vulnerability to food crises, they point out.

Implications:

  • Humans have now “significantly altered” 75% of our planet’s land area; about a quarter of species in assessed plant and animal groups are threatened.
  • Rising inequality and populism: Right-wing populism, a breed of politics that exploits people’s fears during times of economic decline and growing inequality, and that focuses on nationalist tendencies to clamp down on borders and reject immigrants is on the rise around the world.
  • This often leads to a denial of climate change facts or impacts.
  • Grassroots movements: The flow of information in the world is changing, as today; around half of the planet’s 7.6 billion people are online, deeply influenced by social media, search engines and e-commerce algorithms. These digital platforms tend to favour the spread of information designed to engage with emotion over reason, can cause the propagation of “fake news”, and can lead to social harms like an erosion of trust in vaccines.

Conclusion:

Reversing the trends of loss of life on this planet will require some new ways of thinking about conservation. Children in the last four years of secondary education will have a reasonable grounding to be sensitive towards the environment. Without it no government rules and policies can be helpful.


‘Puducherry entitled to more fund allocation from Centre’

GS Paper II

Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers.

Mains: Union territories are not under the ambit of Finance Commission

What’s the News?

The territorial administration was entitled to ₹2,731 crore for the current fiscal from the Centre than the actual allocation of ₹1,545 crore, according to an assessment report prepared by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), a Central government organisation.

Union territories are not under the ambit of Finance Commission:

  • Article 280 of the Constitution lays down that the Finance Commission shall make recommendations on the distribution of the net proceeds of taxes between the Union and the States (not UTs).
  • However, it is not clear whether Article 280 of the Constitution will be amended to include these new UTs under the ambit of 15th Finance Commission.
  • In the present scheme of things, UTs with legislature, like J&K and Puducherry, will have to remain outside the purview of Finance Commission.

Reasons behind:

The Union Territory was eligible to get larger share of the revenue because

  • Union Territories do not come under the purview of the Finance Commission recommendations for devolution of funds.
  • Higher revenue collection: According to the assessment report Puducherry has a higher revenue collection compared to the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). It was higher than most States. It also runs a small revenue deficit and a fiscal deficit of less than 3%.
  • The assessment noted that Central allocation to Puducherry is in the form of grants to meet gap in resources and financing the schemes.
  • Low debt to GSDP ratio: It has been around 3%. A considerable part of the deficit was met through open market borrowings. If the UT was part of the Finance Commission, the allocation would have been higher than the current allocation.
  • Taxes on par with any states: Government was entitled to a share of the financial resources as people of Puducherry had contributed to the Consolidated Fund of India through income tax, customs duty and central excise remittance.
  • Expected for a revenue shock: Puducherry’s finances were expected to experience a revenue shock post-July 2022 when the Centre stops compensating for GST loss.

The transition to GST was detrimental to Puducherry’s revenue as the region was a manufacturing State. The addition of services under GST has failed to compensate for the revenue loss.

Conclusion:

  • Therefore, the UT of Puducherry performs almost all the functions delineated in the State and concurrent lists, and also contributing to the central pool of resources.
  • The Central government through the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act has mandated the Finance Commission to treat both the newly-formed UTs as States and devolve resources to them out of the divisible pool.
  • The partisan behaviour of the Centre heaps high injustice, inequity and humiliation on Puducherry which needs to be redressed immediately.