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Hottest April In Northwest, Central India In 122 Years

NEW DELHI, April 30: Northwest and central India experienced their hottest April in 122 years with average maximum temperatures reaching 35.9 and 37.78 degrees Celsius respectively, the weather office said on Saturday.

Addressing a press conference, India Meteorological Department Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said northwest and west central parts of the country - Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana - will continue to experience above normal temperatures in May as well.

Nights would be warmer in May in most parts of the country, except some regions of south peninsular India, Mohapatra said.

The average temperatures observed pan-India for April was 35.05 degrees, which was the fourth highest in 122 years, he said.

"The average rainfall in May 2022 over the country is most likely to be above normal," Mohapatra said.

However, parts of northwest and northeast India as well as the extreme southeast Peninsula are expected to get below normal rainfall in May, he said.

The high temperatures in March and April were attributed to "continuously scanty rainfall activity", he said.

In March, northwest India recorded a deficit in rainfall of around 89 per cent, while the deficit was nearly 83 per cent in April, mainly on account of feeble and dry western disturbances, Mohapatra said.

North India witnessed six western disturbances but they were mostly feeble and moved across the higher parts of the Himalayas, he said, adding the last three western disturbances caused strong winds in parts of Delhi and duststorms over Rajasthan in April.

India, pareticualrtly northwaest and westersn parts of the country, has been reeling under intense heatwave conditions for the past few weeks.

Delhi's Hottest April Day In 12 Years, Gurgaon Above 45 Degrees

NEW DELHI, April 28: Amid a punishing heatwave building up in northwest India, Delhi recorded a maximum temperature of 43.5 degrees, the highest in April in 12 years. Neighbouring Gurgaon crossed 45 degrees, the highest ever temperature in April.

Delhi had registered a maximum temperature of 43.7 degrees Celsius on April 18, 2010. Delhi's all-time high temperature for April was 45.6 degrees Celsius recorded on April 29, 1941.

The high temperatures in Gurgaon come on a day when the weather department has warned that five states will witness their "hottest summer ever".

A heat wave warning has been announced for Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, UP and Odisha.

"Rise by about 2 degrees Celsius in maximum temperatures very likely over most parts of Northwest India during next three days and fall by about 2 degrees Celsius thereafter," the Indian Metereological Department said.

The IMD also said the heatwave could lead to "moderate" health concerns for vulnerable people -- infants, the elderly, people with chronic diseases -- in affected areas.

Northwest India has been recording higher than normal temperatures since March last week, with weather experts attributing it to the absence of active western disturbances over north India and any major system over south India.

The region had got some respite last week owing to cloudy weather due to the influence of a western disturbance over Afghanistan.

A yellow alert warning has been issued for a heatwave spell in the national capital starting April 28.

With the temperature shooting up, the power demand in the national capital and surrounding areas has also gone up significantly. On Thursday, the power demand in Delhi crossed 6,000 MW mark for the first time in the month of April.

Rajasthan has scheduled four hours of power cuts for factories, making it at least the third state after Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh to disrupt industrial activity to manage surging power demand amid an intense heat wave.

Planet's Breakneck Warming Likely to Pass 1.5 Degrees, UN Scientists Warn

PARIS, April 4: The international goal to limit global heating to 1.5 Degrees Celsius (2.7 Degrees Fahrenheit) is officially on life support. A United Nations-backed panel of climate scientists warned in a new report released Monday that the world may be on track to warm by more than 3 Degrees Celsius - twice the Paris Agreement target -in a change that would painfully remake societies and life on the planet.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change comes after years of net-zero pledges by national governments, cities, businesses and investors, and it sounds a stark warning on the still-unchecked emissions of greenhouse gas emissions pushing to record levels.

The focus of this report, the third released since August 2021, is on humanity's vast arsenal of technology, know-how and wealth that remain insufficiently deployed in efforts to ensure a livable climate in the future.

Time to limit warming is perilously short. Greenhouse gas pollution must peak "at the latest before 2025" to keep targets alive, the IPCC scientists write.

Based on national pledges made before last November's Glasgow climate negotiations, emissions in 2030 "would make it likely that warming will exceed 1.5 Degrees Celsius during the 21st century," the authors conclude. That puts the loss of the first goal of the Paris Agreement within the lifetimes of many people now alive.

"This is not fiction or exaggeration," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a statement. "It is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies."

As bad as that sounds, scientists in recent years have reduced the likelihood of much higher increases, and the report makes clear that solutions are available or foreseeable in virtually every sector:

There are cost-effective carbon-cutting opportunities that together could meet half the 2030 emissions target. Global GDP would be "a few percent lower" in 2050 than on the current trajectory, not accounting for the benefits of climate damage avoided.

At least 18 countries have proven that it's possible to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions for a decade running - in some cases up to 4% a year and potentially in line with a 2 Degrees Celsius temperature rise.

Solar and wind costs fell 85% and 55% between 2010 and 2019, making them now cheaper than fossil-fuel-powered electricity generation in many places.

Carbon-free and low carbon technologies, including nuclear and hydroelectric power, made up 37% of the electricity generated globally in 2019.

Transportation, which caused 23% of CO2 emissions from energy in 2019 (16% from road vehicles alone) is poised for change, with battery prices dropping 85% the last decade. Low-emitting alternatives to the production of industrial materials are only in pilot or early-commercial stages.

The report heralds "digitalization" - robotics, AI, the internet of things - as a powerful way to increase energy efficiency and manage renewable power.

The report's parade of numbers shows just how far away countries are from adequately addressing climate change. Greenhouse-gas emissions in 2019 peaked at a new high of 59 billion metric tons. Carbon emissions from 2010 to 2019 are equivalent to about 80% of all the remaining room in the 1.5 Degrees Celsius "carbon budget," an accounting that scientists use to estimate how much more pollution the atmosphere can stand without heating up past the Paris Agreement's limits of 1.5 Degrees Celsius or 2 Degrees Celsius. The intensity of emissions, or the energy use per GDP, fell 2% in the last decade, but that gain was overwhelmed by increased GHG pollution.

Emissions from existing fossil-fuel infrastructure alone would push the climate beyond the Paris Agreement's lower bar, compounding effects already plain with 1.1 Degrees Celsius of warming above the pre-industrial average. Avoiding that fate, the scientists conclude, means stranding trillions of dollars in plans and infrastructure too dangerous to continue operating, unless technology emerges to capture and dispense with their emissions.

A peak in global emissions before 2025 would require more upfront investment and a faster pace of change than a later peak "but bring long-term gains for the economy," on top of the benefits of climate damage that was avoided, the authors wrote. As it stands, financing for strategies to prevent climate change must grow three to six times above its current level to keep the 1.5 Degrees Celsius goal in play.

Policy is not helping as much as it could. Only 53% of emissions fall under climate laws, and just 20% fall under carbon pricing regimes of some kind - approaches that "have been insufficient to achieve deep reductions," the report states.

In its landmark 2018 special report on 1.5 Degrees Celsius of heating, the IPCC found that to have an even chance of staying below the target, the world needed to halve 2010 emission levels by 2030 and eliminate them by 2050. This prompted the "net-zero by 2050" pledges now common among governments, companies and investors. The new report updates those figures, saying that all greenhouse gasses, not just CO2, must fall 43% below their 2019 levels by 2030 and 84% by 2050. For a two-thirds probability of meeting the Paris Agreement's higher limit of 2 Degrees Celsius, all gases would have to be cut 27% below 2019 levels by 2030 and 63% by 2050.

Methane, the second most influential gas after CO2, has to fall substantially and soon. While it's difficult to eradicate from agriculture, relatively low-cost fixes to leaky fossil-fuel infrastructure - itself 6% of global emissions - could wipe out a substantial portion of pollution from those sources.

The 1.5 Degrees Celsius or even 2 Degrees Celsius limits will be increasingly challenging without what scientists call "overshoot," or surpassing the temperature limit and then clawing back down through a combination of forest regrowth and restoration, and emerging carbon-removal (CDR) technologies that are "unavoidable" for a path to net-zero. To fall back below the 1.5 Degrees Celsius target by 2100, the IPCC wrote, practices and policies - many of them still embryonic - would have to draw down almost a decade of CO2 emissions, according to scenarios that "are subject to increased feasibility concerns," they said.

Differences between the preliminary Summary for Policymakers and the report reveal how negotiations among diplomats change scientists' underlying conclusions. "The interaction between politics, economics and power relationships is central to explaining why broad commitments do not always translate to urgent action," the scientists write in their Technical Summary.

The report's wording of fossil fuel use is in many places heavily caveated by language suggesting technologies that capture CO2 pollution and store it underground, under the ocean or in manufactured goods can allow otherwise polluting infrastructure to continue to exist. Coal, oil and gas use without carbon capture and storage must fall 100%, 60% and 70% below 2019 levels by 2050. "Depending on its availability, CCS could allow fossil fuels to be used for longer, reducing stranded assets" that could otherwise total up to $4 trillion in a 2 Degrees Celsius scenario.

In their Technical Summary, scientists cite a study estimating nearly $12 trillion in stranded fossil-fuel assets by 2050, with another decade of delayed mitigation adding almost $8 trillion. They write elsewhere that since their last report it's become clear that "small-scale technologies (e.g., solar, batteries) tend to improve faster and be adopted more quickly than large-scale technologies," such as nuclear power or CCS.

The report is the third of four installments that make up the largely volunteer scientific group's sixth global reckoning since 1990. Focused on prevention - or "mitigation" in the jargon - the report is the IPCC's most elaborate description yet of how aggressive systemic change must be to transform how civilization powers, moves, feeds and houses itself.

The report highlights the many ways that cutting emissions would also help improve development prospects for billions of people. A new chapter explores how much progress can be made from lowering demand for carbon-heavy lifestyles. The 10% of households responsible for the most carbon output are responsible for about 40% of the world's total. The bottom 50% of emitters put out only 14% of the total. Emissions track wealth very closely, which is why, for example, the least developed countries put out just 0.4% of historical emissions from fossil-fuel use and 41% of the world's population emit less than 3 tons of CO2-equivalent a year, or roughly half the global average.

Falling demand - including technology and behavioral changes and cultural change - can cut all emissions in key sectors by 40% to 70% by 2050, compared with national policies and commitments made through 2020. These approaches "are consistent with improving basic wellbeing for all." Many of the steps taken to cut emissions will also reduce air pollution, improve access to water and redistribute wealth. The route to a less warm world is also the creation of a generally better one.

UN chief warns against ‘sleepwalking to climate catastrophe’

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, March 21: The goal to limit future warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, highlighted in the Paris Agreement on climate change, and driven home in last November’s COP26, gathering in Glasgow, is now on “life support” and “in intensive care,” the UN chief told the Economist Sustainability Summit on Monday.

Speaking via video link, Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted some of the progress made at COP 26 last year but pointing to “the enormous emissions gap” conceded that “the main problem was not solved – it was not even properly addressed.”

“Keeping 1.5 alive requires a 45 per cent reduction in global emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by mid-century”, he said, highlighting how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatened to become a huge setback for the concerted effort to speed up climate action.

According to current national commitments however, global emissions are set to increase by almost 14 per cent during the rest of the decade. 

Last year alone, global energy-related CO2 emissions grew by six per cent “to their highest levels in history,” Guterres said, as coal emissions surged “to record highs.” 

With the planet warming by as much as 1.2 degrees, and where climate disasters have forced 30 million to flee their homes, Guterres warned: “We are sleepwalking to climate catastrophe.”

“In our globally connected world, no country and no corporation, can insulate itself from these levels of chaos.” 

If we do not want to “kiss 1.5 goodbye…we need to go to the source – the G20” (group of leading industrialized nations), the UN chief said. 

Noting that developed and emerging G20 economies account for 80 per cent of all global emissions, he drew attention to a high dependence on coal but underscored that “our planet can’t afford a climate blame game.”

Developed countries must not put the onus on emerging economies to accelerate their transition nor must emerging economies responding by saying, “you exported carbon-intensive heavy industrial activities to us in return for cheaper goods”.

“We can’t point fingers while the planet burns,” said the Organization head.

The Secretary-General pointed to “a cauldron of challenges” such as “scandalously uneven” COVID recovery, record inflation, and the fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine, which risks upending global food and energy markets, “with major implications for the global climate agenda”. 

As major economies pursue a so-called “all-of-the-above” strategy to replace Russian fossil fuels, short-term measures might create long-term fossil fuel dependence and close the 1.5 degrees window, he warned. 

“Countries could become so consumed by the immediate fossil fuel supply gap that they neglect or knee-cap policies to cut fossil fuel use,” Guterres insisted. “This is madness.”

As fossil fuels reliance continues to put the global economy and energy security at the mercy of geopolitical shocks and crises, “the timeline to cut emissions by 45 per cent is extremely tight.” 

From high capital costs to technical challenges and inadequate finance, helping emerging economies to transition from coal to renewable energy has hit many roadblocks, he said. 

“Developed countries, multilateral development banks, private financial institutions and companies with the technical know-how – all need to join forces…to deliver support at scale and with speed to coal-intensive economies”, he added.

Although a “major challenge,” developed and emerging economies must cooperate with each other for all G20 countries to deliver emission reductions.

And while all G20 nations have agreed to stop funding coal abroad, they must now dismantle their own coal infrastructure. 

The Secretary-General said that “even the most ambitious action” cannot erase the fact that “the situation is already bad” and in some places irreversible.

“Adaptation and mitigation must be pursued with equal force and urgency… adaptation investments need to be dramatically scaled up to keep pace with accelerating impacts,” he said, calling on all donors and technical partners to work with the UN and vulnerable governments to identify and fund projects and programmes. 

The top UN official also pressed for new, simplified eligibility systems and increased adaptation and resilience investment.

Beginning with public finance, wealthier countries must make good on their 2022 climate financial commitment of $100 billion to developing countries – with international financial institutions making it a priority. 

Secondly, he said blended finance requires those institutions to partner with the private sector for joint investments, and innovation, to unlock trillions for the transition. 

Finally, private finance must invest “far more” in net-zero and climate-resilient transitions for emerging economies. 

“It is the right thing to do – and the profitable thing to do,” he argued. 

Instead of “hitting the brakes” on decarbonizing the global economy, the Secretary-General urged everyone to “put the pedal to the metal towards a renewable energy future.”  

He concluded by laying out steps to meet the 1.5 degree goal, beginning with accelerating the phase-out of coal and fossil fuels; implementing a just and sustainable energy transition; and strengthening national climate plans.

Also imperative is to help emerging economies urgently phase out coal; increase climate finance to unlock needed trillions; decarbonize major sectors - such as shipping, aviation, steel and cement - and protect the most vulnerable by ensuring an equal focus on adaptation.

63 Indian Cities In 100 Most Polluted Places On Earth: Report

NEW DELHI, March 22: India's air pollution worsened in 2021, according to the World Air Quality Report released by IQAir, a Swiss firm. This ends a three-year trend of improving air quality.

The average air pollution, measured in the lethal and microscopic PM2.5 pollutant, is 58.1 micrograms per cubic meter, which is more than 10 times the World Health Organisation's (WHO) air quality guidelines. No city in India met the WHO standard.

North India is worse. Delhi is the world's most polluted capital for the fourth consecutive year, with pollution rising almost 15 per cent over the previous year. Air pollution levels here were almost 20 times above the WHO's safety limits, with PM2.5 clocking in at 96.4 micrograms per cubic meter for the annual average. The safe limit is 5.

While Delhi's air pollution ranks at No. 4 globally, the world's most polluted place is Rajasthan's Bhiwadi, followed by Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad on Delhi's eastern border. Ten of the top 15 most polluted cities are in India and mostly around the national capital.

Air pollution levels in Delhi were almost 20 times above the WHO's safety limits, IQAir said

With 63, Indian cities dominate the list of 100 most polluted places. More than half are in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. An air quality 'life index' developed by the University of Chicago shows that residents in Delhi and Lucknow, for instance, could add about a decade to their life expectancy if air quality levels met the WHO's standards.

The major sources of air pollution include vehicular emissions, coal-fired power plants, industrial waste, biomass combustion for cooking and the construction sector. In fact, in November last year, several large power plants around Delhi as well as many industries were shut down for the first time because of severe levels of air pollution.

The economic cost of the crisis to India is estimated at over $150 billion annually. The health impact is far worse with an estimated three deaths every minute linked to air pollution in addition to heart and lung diseases and many other severe health effects.

All six metro cities except Chennai saw a rise in air pollution levels last year.

Interestingly, government data for 2021 also shows that air quality in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai worsened. A recent note in parliament showed that 'poor' to 'severe' air quality days numbered 168 in Delhi last year, up from 139 or a steep 21 per cent jump in one year; Kolkata had 83 such days vs 74 and Mumbai 39 vs 20 in the previous year.

However, when asked about India's poor showing in an earlier edition of the World Air Quality Report in 2020, the centre had dismissed such ranking, saying it was mainly based on satellite and other secondary data not validated by "proper ground truthing."

IQAir says its data is based "exclusively" on ground sensors and almost half globally were operated by governmental agencies.

The report makes a special mention about smoke from crop-burning after the rice harvest, a politically sensitive issue with parties usually reticent about taking action against farmers. This smoke is responsible for up to 45 per cent of pollution in Delhi, especially in the rice farms near Delhi in winter months, according to the report. Farmers do this because of a short window between the harvest and sowing of the next crop to get rid of the stubble.

What has changed, however, is that for the first time since 2014-15, when WHO reported Delhi was the most polluted city in the world, both Punjab and Delhi are governed by the same political party, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Punjab is where most of the crop-burning happens and now the focus will be what the AAP does to reduce air pollution this year onwards.

After the AAP's recent win in Punjab, party leader and Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia told NDTV that farmers should be treated as asset and not liability.

The IQAir report notes that air quality in China continued to improve in 2021. In fact, its capital Beijing continued a five-year trend of improved air quality, which the report says is driven by emission control and reduction of coal power plant activity and other high-emission industries.

Incidentally, the cleanest air measured in India is in Ariyalur, Tamil Nadu. But even that is three times WHO's safe levels.



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