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How some of India’s businesses are leading on plastic pollution

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Taj Exotica Resort & Spa

India is the global host of World Environment Day, and the theme of the celebrations are be an ambitious challenge: beating plastic pollution.

It’s important to say right away that neither the United Nations nor the Government of India are declaring war on plastics. Far from it. It’s a miracle material, life-saving in many medical applications and energy-saving in plenty of others.

In fact, the problem isn’t really plastic. It’s what we do with it.

Because it’s so cheap and versatile, we’ve come to abuse the material. We’ve fashioned it into products that we sometimes use for mere seconds, the problem being that the resulting waste can linger on for hundreds of years. It’s the ultimate product, and the ultimate pollutant.

The results of this reckless throwaway plastic addiction are clear for all to see. Aside from the visible waste piling up on land, many beaches are now covered in the stuff, making it barely possible to see the sand.

A plastic bag was recently found drifting deep inside the Mariana Trench, the deepest place point of our oceans, while discarded packaging has been spotted floating among the icebergs in the high latitudes.

In total, we’re throwing up to 13 million tonnes of plastic into the oceans every year. Current projections show that global plastic production will skyrocket in the next 10-15 years to almost double current quantities. Much of that will be non-recyclable, and our waste systems will not be able to keep up.

That means the next time you see scenes of plastic choking a river or burying a beach, consider double that impact in just over 10 years. It’s a grim vision of a future we must avoid.

We’re asking for three things on World Environment Day: action from citizens, governments and, above all, the private sector. With businesses, the conversations are already overwhelmingly positive, showing innovation is already taking place.

In India, the Taj Group is one such example of a company taking the lead in the vital services sector. The Taj Exotica Resort & Spa is the first luxury resort to open in the Andaman Islands, and is aiming to keep the beach destination and the unique ecosystems unspoilt. It is perhaps the world’s first single-use plastic-free luxury resort, and as such it’s a possible game-changer for the industry. Throughout the rest of its hotel network, the Taj Group is looking towards eliminating the unnecessary but ubiquitous throwaway plastic packaging that permeate the tourism sector.

It’s a step-by-step process: identifying sustainable alternatives, sourcing new products from within India and solving the problem one step at a time. This initiative could set the bar for the rest of the industry – because it’s solutions we need right now.

Infosys is another example of another Indian company raising the bar. I’ve seen first hand their campus in Hyderabad, where staff levels more than doubled over the past 10 years yet electricity consumption barely increased thanks to incredible advances in energy efficiency and green buildings. From plastics to food waste, the model is the kind of circular model we need to see more of – the kind that will bring us to carbon neutrality and less waste. All the more important, industry leaders are showing this action is not only good for the planet, it’s also good for business.

Ultimately, this is about sound business practice, and the idea that a sustainable operation will also contribute to a sustainable bottom line. This is true for every sector striving to reduce their environmental footprint.

Beating plastic pollution is just a part of this wider shift to green business practice, a change that will include opportunities on a par with the digital revolution. India’s innovators have already given a taste of what can be done, and it is high time this becomes the new normal. India, and the world, will be far richer as a result.

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Green Planet

Climate change and global challenges

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The whole world has been severely affected by climate change and the Covid-19 epidemic. The natural character of the whole world has also changed due to the rise in global temperature. Given the current situation, all the people of the world are in a state of panic about the horrors of the coronavirus. The world has been devastated by hundreds of disasters since the 1960s. More than 50 million people have become destitute. Many people have died. And most of the disasters are accompanied by constant climate change.

In 2020, 4 crore people became homeless due to deteriorating weather and climate change. At the same time, the adverse effects of the weather are becoming more extreme due to climate change from this year. This year it will break the record and stand at 5 crore. Many people have to leave their country. This number is double the current refugee population in the world. Not just any particular country or people, people all over the world are facing the harmful effects of climate change. Especially in the last 20 years, this effect has spread from Asia, Europe, Africa to the Americas.

Increasing use of fossil fuels is warming the weather, forcing more people to flee their homes due to unexpected floods or storms. Besides, factors like crop damage and drought are also making this trend more evident. Politicians in rich countries are fearful of increasing pressure on their country’s infrastructure due to the influx of environmental refugees from other countries.

Carbon emissions play the biggest role in climate change. Low-income countries are also deprived of 100 billion a year in promised compensation for carbon emissions. Asia has the highest number of people displaced due to environmental reasons. In countries such as China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, millions of people live in low-lying coastal areas or in delta-adjacent areas. More and more people are at risk of flooding due to population growth and urbanization, and the rapid rise in sea level is being added to this.

People have already witnessed extreme weather, drought or heavy rains, cyclones.  That is to say, the destructive form of climate and nature is gradually becoming manifest. Mankind is being blamed for this hostile behavior of nature. People are taking care of nature in many ways. Rivers are being occupied and the mountains are being cut indiscriminately. Houses are being built on agricultural land. In this way, oppression on nature is going on in various ways, due to which nature is becoming hostile. We are ruining all our own achievements. As a result, there has been severe inflammation.

The world’s population is constantly growing. There is no end to the discussion and criticism about population growth. It is time to take stock of what new steps can be taken or how human suffering can be reduced. With the increase in population, new problems have been added. It may seem unbelievable but it is true that every day around 25,000 people in the world die due to eating habits and malnutrition. In addition, the world is facing many adverse reactions including shortage of potable water, air toxicity, depletion of resources, housing problems and the destruction of the Ozone layer.

At the root of this is population growth. The temperature in the capital Dhaka has risen due to rapid population growth. A study has identified 25 high-risk areas in Dhaka as a result of rising temperatures. These areas have been named ‘Hit Island’. The performance of the people of this area is decreasing day by day with the increase of various diseases.

Assistance is needed to increase the capacity of CVF countries to deal with the dual threat of epidemics and disasters, especially those affected by the increased frequency of climate-related disasters. Climate-risk countries contribute the least to global greenhouse gas emissions, but they suffer the most. 2021 is a very important year for climate issues as the United States returns to the Paris Agreement. The COP-26 conference on climate change in Scotland next November is expected to yield some good results on climate change. The main goal of COP-26 is to address the impact of climate change and to educate the world about its harmful effects. Bangladesh has also participated in this climate change prevention project.

In ancient times there was a close relationship between man and nature. Ever since man came in contact with civilization, he has learned to strike at nature. Over time, man began to wreak havoc on nature. The problem of environmental pollution is increasing day by day. The trees were not spared from the victims of cruelty. As a result, fear is constantly concentrated in our habitable world. We look for different ways to get rid of it. But if we let nature be like that, we would not have to suffer this consequence in our lifetime.

Blinded by the fascination of speed, people have cut down the forest and set up houses, sometimes they have driven away the animals there. In recent times, mountains are being cut down and forests are being cleared somewhere. Deforestation is endangering the lives of many people. Even though the seasons are changing, these incidents add to our anxiety. But trees can be very resistant to prevent global warming. If the environment does not survive, the problems of the world will intensify. Animals, human beings will face loss of everything. The main reason is the indifference of the people.

 A closer look reveals that this apathy has a significant effect on the depraved market economy. Rivers, hills, soils, forests are all instruments of income growth in the eyes of that market. In order to earn income from these sources, natural resources are being destroyed, centuries-old trees are losing their lives or the source of the boundless beauty of nature is being endangered. In the past, there was a connection between man and nature, which is why in many places forests have survived because those who grew up in contact with plants can realize the contact with nature by finding ways to do the necessary work without harming the plants.

Climate change is responsible for recent disasters. We have to fight hard to save the world from increasing global warming. World leaders must take strong action, including global initiatives, to leave a sustainable future for the next generation. The international community has a special responsibility to assist countries at risk of climate change in their adaptation and mitigation efforts.

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It’s not fair to single out the five countries in the Greta Thunberg UN children-climate case

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Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg. UN Photo/Cia Pak

The Greta Thunberg UN case decision just came out today. You might remember that back in 2019, Greta and other children brought a headline case before the UN to prove that climate change affects children’s rights, and it’s a hard issue of law and rights — something that has been long resisted in the area of human rights law when it comes to the environment. The environment has always been one of those peripheral issues for human rights law and that’s why today’s decision is groundbreaking. In a historic ruling that came out today, the UN Child Rights Committee has found that a State party can be held responsible for the negative impact of its carbon emissions on the rights of children both within and outside its territory.

The countries that are bearing the international public slap in the face in this case, however, (Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, and Turkey) are not the biggest emitters and polluters. They were selected as a target of the case not for the worst climate impacts, but simply because they have ratified the additional Protocol of the UN Child Rights Convention, so a case against them can be brought; the biggest emitters haven’t. So it’s a bit like a “catch whoever you can”, and that should be born in mind in the discussion.

The countries in the UN Greta case are the classical international law countries (Europe and Latin America) who have agreed that their human rights practices can be reviewed and challenged. The biggest carbon emitters, on the other hand, haven’t agreed to accept cases.The US hasn’t even ratified the Child Rights Convention, as the only country in the world, let alone the Additional Protocol for direct cases.

The case is very important as a test case and one which develops the nexus between human rights law and climate. It develops the principles of the reasoning and the legal parameters — that’s the take-away. We should remember that the five singled out countries are not the bad guys when it comes to climate change.

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Green Planet

Global War Against Climate Change

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Climate change has affected the entire globe and the process is accelerating at a dangerous pace, while severely affecting the environment, causing glaciers to melt, ice on rivers and lakes to break. It is a fact that the number of climate-related disasters has tripled in the last 30 years. Whereas, out-of-pattern flooding is also affecting plant growth and wildlife.

Meteorologists have predicted that global warming will accompany the loss of sea ice, at the same time, sea levels will increase due to rapid and intense heatwaves across different regions; adding that if the effects of climate change could not be mitigated now, the phenomenon will continue for decades to come and make it impossible to reverse the process. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has also predicted that temperatures could rise by 2.5 to 10 percent over the next century, while this systematic change can already be observed in different regions. 

Owing to climate change, the effects of temperature have begun to affect the pattern of seasons, with hot and cold rains and floods affecting different regions. The most developed regions of the world like the US and Europe are experiencing the worst heatwaves, with record-breaking summers every year. This changing pattern of climate gives us an idea about the changes that will affect the countries where people are already facing difficulties irregular weather patterns. The lives of the citizens of poor and developing countries are in severe danger as they do not have access to alternative means of coping with climate change. 

One of the problems faced by the world due to climate change is that with low humidity and strong winds, forest fires are becoming a more common phenomenon, which is intensifying the situation and multiplying the effects of global warming and climate change.  Another side of the story is also very threatening as there has been a regular increase in cold weather across the globe since 1980, which is affecting the ecosystem as well as the agriculture sector. In extreme cold, trees stop growing and become inactive to conserve energy. While massive rainfalls and floods have also made human life more difficult, damaging infrastructure and road networks. 

Let me quote few examples which are eye-openers for everyone across the globe. Cyclones Idai and Kenneth which came in March 2019, took the lives of more than 1000 people across Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique in Southern Africa, and left millions without food or basic services. Australian wildfires which burnt more than 10 million hectares, killed at least 28 people and millions of native animals. East Africa drought in 2011, 2017, and 2019 have repeatedly wiped out crops and livestock, they have left 15 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia in need of aid. South Asia floods during last year along with landslides have displaced 12 million people from their homes in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Dry Corridor in Central America as Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua are seeing their typical three-month dry seasons extended to six months or more leaving 3.5 million people, in need of humanitarian assistance. 

The decline in groundwater level can be another problem while with increasing climate change, large amounts of hot water will vapor out and there is also a possibility of sea-level rise due to rapid showers of rain. Between 2006 to 2016, the rate of global sea-level rise was 2.5 times faster than it was for almost all of the 20th century. 

The developing countries are facing the worst food shortages while many are living in starvation due to droughts. The basic commodities of life are becoming rare for a large population which may lead the world towards a civil war-like situation. As a side effect of climate change and ensuing floods, natural disasters, water issues, drought, starvation, extreme cold, and hot weather, people would start migrating from their home towns leading to an exodus of economic migrants. 

The international community will have to join hands to cope with this global problem. Owing to modern technology, we are fully aware of the changes which are expected shortly so precautionary measures need to be taken in advance. International organizations also need to play a positive role in defeating this global threat not only to humans but to marine and wildlife as well. The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that adapting to climate change and coping with damages will cost developing countries $140-300 billion per year by 2030.

Few steps may be taken to control the effects of climate change; the irrigation system needs to be improved by introducing sprinkler and drip irrigation at a larger scale, mass-scale plantation drives, effective programs like early warning systems, preparedness, and management including response and rehabilitation to natural disasters in most affected regions, targeted media awareness campaigns highlighting the threats of climate change and its implications, capacity building of institutions working on climate change with solutions to their infrastructural issues and last but not least, affected governments to take bold decisions to prepare the nations to effectively combat the negative impacts of climate change.

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