Daily Current Affairs for 14th Sept 2021

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World’s largest plant capturing carbon dioxide from air

Why in News

The world’s largest plant capturing carbon dioxide directly from the air has been setup in Iceland which will be able to suck up to 4,000 tons of CO2 per year.

Key Points

  • The amount of carbon captured by the plant will be equal to the annual emissions from about 790 cars.
  • Swiss start-up Climeworks AG, which specializes in capturing carbon dioxide directly from the air, partnered with Icelandic carbon storage firm ‘Carbfix’.
  • Climeworks, which has recently signed a 10-year carbon removal purchase agreement with a major insurance firm, also offers a subscription service allowing consumers to pay for the carbon removal through monthly payments.

Significance of plant

  • The plant in Iceland will be able to suck out up to 4,000 tons of Carbon dioxide per year.
  • The amount of carbon captured by the plant will be equal to the annual emissions from about 790 cars.
  • As per the International Energy Agency, in 2020, the global CO2 emissions totalled 31.5 billion tonnes.

Working mechanism of plant

  • The Orca plant which is a reference to the Icelandic work of energy consists of eight large containers that are similar in looks to those that are used in the shipping industry
  • The plant will employ high-tech filters and fans to extract carbon dioxide directly from the air.
  • The isolated carbon will be then mixed with water and will be pumped deep underground, where it will slowly turn into rock.
  • Both the technologies will be powered by renewable energy sourced from a nearby geothermal plant.

Direct air capture technology

  • It is one of the few technologies that extract carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere. The technology is viewed by scientists as vital to limit global warming which is blamed for causing wildfires, heatwaves, rising sea levels, and floods.
  • Direct air capture is still a costly technology; however, the developers hope to drive down the prices by scaling up as more consumers and companies are looking to reduce their carbon print.
  • As per the International Agency, currently, there are 15 direct air capture plants that have been operating worldwide, capturing more than 9,000 tonnes of Carbon dioxide per year.


SVAMITVA Scheme: A Stepping-Stone Towards Upliftment of Rural Economy

Why in News

Union Minister of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj inaugurated the National Meet on SVAMITVA Scheme: A Stepping-Stone Towards Upliftment of Rural Economy and deliver his key note address.

Key Points

  • Ministers of State for Panchayati Raj and Rural Development will share their insightful views and remarks with the gathering during the inaugural session.
  • The National Meet on SVAMITVA Scheme assumes significance as it is being held after Prime Minister launched the National roll-out of SVAMITVA Scheme on the occasion of National Panchayati Raj Day on 24th April 2021 after successful completion of pilot-phase of the Scheme.
  • The National Meet will offer a perfect platform for different stake-holders to interact and share the learning and experience gained from the implementation process of the Scheme in pilot phase.
  • The conference would provide cross-learning platform for States in respect of processes of SVAMITVA Scheme, best-practices that have emerged, technological interventions for timely implementation and other considerations like bankability of property cards, Sixth Schedule areas among others.

SVAMITVA (Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas) Scheme

  • SVAMITVA (Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas) Scheme was launched by the Prime Minister on National Panchayati Raj Day, 24th April 2020 with a resolve to enable economic progress of Rural India by providing “Record of Rights” to every rural household owner.
  • Aiming to demarcate inhabited (Abadi) land in rural areas through the latest surveying drone-technology, SVAMITVA Scheme is a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, State Revenue Departments, State Panchayati Raj Departments and Survey of India.
  • The scheme covers multifarious aspects viz. facilitating monetisation of properties and enabling bank loan; reducing property related disputes; comprehensive village level planning, would be the stepping-stone towards achieving Gram Swaraj in true sense and making rural India Atmanirbhar (self-reliant).
  • Phase I – Pilot Scheme (April 2020 – March 2021) covers States of Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and establishment of Continuous Operating Reference Systems (CORS) in the States of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan.
  • Phase II (April 2021 – March 2025) – Complete survey of remaining villages and CORS network coverage across the Country by 2022.
  • Prime Minister launched physical distribution of Property Cards to about 1.25 lakh residents of 763 villages in States of Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh on 11th October 2020.
  • Further, on the occasion of National Panchayati Raj Day on 24th April 2021, Prime Minister launched the National roll-out of SVAMITVA Scheme and more than 4 lakh beneficiaries across 5,000 villages received the property cards/ ownership cards.

National Panchayati Day

  • 24th April, 1993 marked as the day of historic moment, when the power was decentralized to the grassroots with the establishment of Panchayati Raj System.
  • On that day 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 was implemented.
  • This occasion provides an opportunity to Panchayat representatives to direct connect with the Centre from all over the country.
  • This day also recognize achievements of Panchayat to empower and motivate them further.
  • It was first celebrated on 2010 and since then it celebrated every year on 24th April.
  • Every year the best performing Panchayats/States/UTs across the country has been awarding by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj for their good work for improving delivery of services and public goods.

Salient features of 73rd Constitutional Amendments

  • It was introduced under Part IX of the Indian Constitution titled “The Panchayats”.
  • It consists provisions from Article 243-243 O.
  • Under this, 11th Schedule was also instituted in the Constitution which contain 29 functional items of the Panchayats. It deals with the 243-G.
  • It provides for a 3-tier Panchayat system, which would be constituted in every state at the village level, intermediate level and district level.
  • It consists provisions for reservation of seats for SCs and STs at every level of Panchayat.
  • State Election Commission have the power to supervise, direct and control the elections to the Panchayats and also prepare the electoral rolls.


Study of The Lancet

Why in news

An expert review published in medical journal The Lancet has recommended that booster doses for the general population are not appropriate at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, weighing in on the global debate that calls for caution in administering booster doses.

Key Points

  • An international group of scientists, including those at the World Health Organisation and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration agency, concluded that even for the Delta variant, vaccine efficacy against severe COVID is so high at this stage that boosters would not be appropriate, and not required.
  • The review summarises the currently available evidence from studies published in peer-reviewed journals and pre-print servers.
  • The message that boosting might soon be needed, if not justified by robust data and analysis, could adversely affect confidence in vaccines and undermine messaging about the value of primary vaccination.
  • Further, it goes on to explain: there could be risks if boosters are widely introduced too soon, or too frequently, especially with vaccines that can have immune-mediated side-effects. If unnecessary boosting causes significant adverse reactions, there could be implications for vaccine acceptance that go beyond COVID-19 vaccines.
  • A consistent finding from the observational studies is that vaccines remain highly effective against severe disease, including that from all the main viral variants, a release states. Averaging the results reported from the observational studies, vaccination had 95% efficacy against severe disease both from the Delta variant and from the Alpha variant, and over 80% efficacy at protecting against any infection from these variants, the release adds.
  • The authors note that even if antibody levels in vaccinated individuals wane, it did not necessarily mean reduction in the efficacy of vaccines against severe disease. This could be because protection against severe disease is mediated not only by antibody responses, but also by long-lived memory responses and cell-mediated immunity.

Variant-specific boosters

  • The ability of vaccines to elicit an antibody response against current variants indicates that these variants have not yet evolved to the point at which they are likely to escape the memory immune response induced by the vaccines.
  • Even if new variants that can escape the current vaccines do evolve, they are most likely to do so from strains that have already become widely prevalent, and it makes sense to use boosters that have been specifically made to attack potential new variants.
  • The limited supply of these vaccines will save the most lives if made available to people who are at appreciable risk of serious disease and have not yet received any vaccine.
  • Even if some gain can ultimately be obtained from boosting, it will not outweigh the benefits of providing initial protection to the unvaccinated.
  • If vaccines are deployed where they would do the most good, they could hasten the end of the pandemic by inhibiting further evolution of variants,” says lead author Ana-Maria Henao-Restrepo of the WHO.
  • Although the idea of further reducing the number of COVID-19 cases by enhancing immunity in vaccinated people is appealing, any decision to do so should be evidence-based and consider the benefits and risks for individuals and society.


Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue (CAFMD) of Agenda 2030 Partnership

Why in News

India and the United States jointly launched the Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue (CAFMD) of Agenda 2030 Partnership.

Significance of Climate Action and Financial Mobilisation

  • The Climate Action and Finance Mobilization Dialogue (CAFMD) of Agenda 2030 Partnership will provide both India and the United States an opportunity to renew the collaborations on climate change while also addressing the financial aspects.
  • It will deliver climate finance primarily as grants and concessional finance, as envisaged under the Paris Agreement for strengthening the climate action.

About US-India Agenda 2030 Partnership

  • The US-India Agenda 2030 Partnership was announced at the Leaders’ Summit on Climate in April 2021.
  • As per the officials, the dialogue will not only strengthen the India-US bilateral cooperation on climate and environment but will also help in demonstrating how the world can align swift climate action with resilient and inclusive economic development.

India-US Climate partnership

  • The India-US Climate and Clean Energy Partnership will help to mobilize the investments and enable green collaborations.
  • While congratulating and applauding India for making significant progress in climate targets, the US envoy stated that 450 gigawatts renewable energy goals will also be reached by India.
  • The US special envoy visit to India will bolster the US bilateral and multilateral climate efforts before the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Conventions on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • It will take place from October 31 to November 12, 2021, in Glasgow, in the United Kingdom.


India-US on Green Energy

Why in News

The United States is to collaborate with India to work towards installing 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030.

Key Points

  • The US is looking forward to partnering with India in bringing finance, technology and other elements needed to achieve it.
  • Currently, India’s installed power capacity is projected to be 476 GW by 2021-22, and is expected to rise to at least 817 GW by 2030.
  • The US special envoy visit to India from September 12-14, and is meeting Ministers and industrialists to “raise global climate ambition and speed India’s clean energy transition.”
  • One would be a “climate action pillar” which would have joint proposals looking at ways in emissions could be reduced in the next decade. The second pillar would be setting out a roadmap to achieving the 450GW in transportation, buildings and industry. The final pillar, or the ”Finance Pillar” would involve collaborating on attracting finance to deploy 450 GW of renewable energy and demonstrate at scale clean energy technologies. Six banks in the U.S., Mr. Kerry said, have already committed to “investing” $4.5 trillion in the next decade towards clean energy.
  • A key mission of Mr. Kerry is to build global support for ‘Net Zero’, or carbon neutrality, which is when more carbon is sucked out from the atmosphere or prevented from being emitted than what a country emits and is critical to ensuring that the planet doesn’t heat up an additional half a degree by 2100.

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