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Ray of hope as ozone layer recovery on track, world safer than in 1980s

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Ozone layer depletion

Read this: “The world is falling apart. The future of humanity is hanging on a cliff, on the edge of catastrophe. But there still is hope and a window of opportunity to take action.” That sounds like a stereotypical UN moralising rhetoric on climate change or loss of biodiversity.

Now read this: “We have successfully overcome the challenge on the long-term basis, but we have now to build on that success and stay put to gain more benefits.” This sounds like a private sector CEO’s statement at a shareholder’s meeting. But that’s exactly what happened at a UN meeting on November 5. A rare declaration coming from any UN meeting.

A press note on that day said: “The findings of a new UN-backed report released today revealed the ongoing healing of the ozone layer are being hailed as a demonstration of what global environmental agreements can achieve, and an inspiration for more ambitious climate action to halt a catastrophic rise in world temperatures.” The report warned that a full recovery of the ozone layer demands continued efforts by all countries to comply with the Montreal Protocol.

The ozone layer, a thin shield 15-45 km above the earth, protects life on earth. It was put on the path of recovery due to the globally-agreed actions that did not remain on paper as in case of climate change but were implemented as per the agreed schedule under the historic Multilateral Environmental Agreement called the Montreal Protocol.

The agreement was carved out over 30 years ago in response to the revelation that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting substances — used in aerosols, cooling and refrigeration systems, and many other items — were piercing a hole in the ozone layer and allowing life threatening ultraviolet (UV) radiation to flood through on the earth. The consequences of such high-energy UV rays included higher incidences of skin cancers, cataracts, loss of immune systems and lower production of food on land and fish in the oceans.

Good news came from a place nearer the stratosphere, 10,000 feet above sea-level in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. A quadrennial scientific assessment jointly done by United Nations Environment (UNE) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) emphatically reported the continued healing of the ozone hole.

Satellite and ground-level observations by NASA, the NOAA, the European Space Agency and scores of the weather stations around the globe have clearly divulged that the world is now safer than what it was in 1980s — at least from a deadly attack of the UV rays. Recovery of the ozone layer has been up to three per cent per decade since the start of the 21st century.

Indeed, this good news amidst global turmoil in environmental degradation is more than simply encouraging. It is the singularly successful outcome of the unique international agreement, that may inspire to take action on climate change. The global community has worked collectively to achieve this result. Actions under the Montreal Protocol over last more than 30 years have led to sustainable decreases in the atmospheric abundance of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) like CFCs.

In the inspiring words of Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment: “The Montreal Protocol is one of the most successful multilateral agreements in history for a reason i.e. the careful mix of authoritative science and collaborative action that has defined the Protocol for more than 30 years, was set to heal our ozone layer.” That said it all.

At projected rates, the Northern Hemisphere and mid-latitude ozone layer is scheduled to
completely heal by the 2030s followed by the Southern Hemisphere in the 2050s and polar regions by 2060.

The CFCs and other phased-out ODS are now part of the history book. The principles deployed in implementation of the Montreal Protocol are now part of the guidelines for future sustainability.

On January 1, 2019, riding on the white-horse of success, the Montreal Protocol will enter in the arena of climate change. Called the Kigali Amendment of 2016 to the Montreal Protocol, it would now engage itself in the efforts to phase-out of HFCs, powerful global warming/greenhouse gases (GHGs), introduced to implement the “successful” Protocol.

In a way, the Montreal Protocol transformed itself from being an ozone-specific treaty to a climate treaty. Even there too, it is slated to contribute immensely to the Paris Climate Agreement of 2016.

Full compliance to the Kigali Amendment would reduce future global warming due to HFCs by about 50 per cent between now and 2050 compared to a scenario without any HFC controls.

This is critically important when the world is struggling from the shock with a stark warning from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which found that just 12 years (which coincides with 2030 — an end point for SDGs) remain to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius beyond which the impact of a further rise in global temperatures will begin to have an increasingly extreme impact on human society and ecosystems.

The IPCC report offered the clearest evidence to date of the drastic difference between the 1.5 degrees Celsius and 2 degrees Celsius scenarios. The Montreal Protocol may as well turn out to be master saviour of the world from climate change.

The recovery of the ozone layer heralds a message that collective action to discharge the common but differentiated responsibilities could successfully face the climate challenge.

(Rajendra Shende is Chairman, TERRE Policy Centre and a former UNEP Director. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at [email protected])

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National Milk Day: Know history, significance of this day; Interesting facts about milk here

National Milk Day was established in 2014 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation to commemorate Dr. Verghese Kurien, who is considered the father of India’s White Revolution.

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Amul Milk Production

Every year, National Milk Day is celebrated on November 26 across India. The largest milk producing country celebrates this day to demonstrate the importance of milk in everyone’s life. It is worth noting that National Milk Day and World Milk Day are two different events, observed on different dates with different significance.

National Milk Day was established in 2014 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation to commemorate Dr. Verghese Kurien, who is considered the father of India’s White Revolution.

Why is National Milk Day Celebrated?

National Milk Day is celebrated on November 26 all over India, and it was established by the Food and Agricultural Organisation in 2014.

The day is dedicated to honouring Dr. Verghese Kurien, who is considered to be the father of India’s White Revolution. November 26 is also his birth anniversary, which is why this day is even more important as it also highlights his contribution to the country’s dairy farming and production.

First National Milk Day:

The Indian Dairy Association (IDA) in 2014, took the initiative to celebrate this day for the first time. The first National Milk Day was marked on November 26, 2014, in which various milk producers from 22 states participated.

Kerala-born, Dr Verghese Kurien is known as the ‘Milkman of India’ and the father of the 1970s White Revolution. He came with the one billion litre idea of turning a milk-guzzling country into world’s top dairy producer.

National Milk Day: Interesting facts about milk here

Milk is one of the best sources of calcium and the only drink in the world that contains such a large amount of natural nutrients.

Dr Verghese worked towards enabling the country to have its own production centres of milk. His support was crucial in making the Amul girl ad campaign-which is one of the longest-running campaigns for decades.

His accolades include Ramon Magsaysay Award, World Food Prize, Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Wateler Peace Prize.

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Global availability of Covid vaccine for public only by mid-2021: Moody’s

The report said mass vaccination that significantly reduces individual and public health concerns would lift sentiment and present a significant upside to global growth.

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Covid 19 Vaccine

New Delhi: While recent news about the high effectiveness of two coronavirus vaccines is a promising sign in the effort to combat the pandemic, a vaccine for Covid-19 will not be widely distributed before mid-2021, Moodys Investors Service said on Tuesday.

“However, these developments do not change the assumption underpinning our economic forecasts that widespread, global availability of the vaccine to the general public is only likely by around mid-2021,” Moody’s said in a report.

It added that the recent positive news about the effectiveness of vaccines under development will do little to ease the immediate concern that the current rise in coronavirus cases across the US and Europe will dampen sentiments and economic momentum in these regions this quarter and the next.

“Our baseline economic forecasts balance the downside risks of increasing infections and new lockdowns in the next two months, against the potential for widespread vaccinations over the next 12 months. If lockdowns are more severe than we expect, the negative effect on GDP could be offset if a coronavirus vaccine is available quicker and uptake is wider than we had expected,” it added.

Although successful Phase 3 trials of vaccines are a big step, there are numerous hurdles ahead, including satisfying approval requirements by regulators in individual countries, production of the billions of doses required for mass vaccination, ensuring proper storage and building distribution networks.

Distribution will likely occur in phases once regulators approve a vaccine, with health officials prioritizing access for healthcare workers and those in other high-risk professions, as well as for people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, such as older people and individuals in care homes.

Moody’s said two important variables in overall success of vaccines in curbing the pandemic will be the public’s willingness to get vaccinated and what percentage of the population will need to be vaccinated in order for the spread of the virus to be brought under control. Vaccine availability likely will vary across countries, with cost and access major hurdles in particular for less-developed economies.

Many advanced and a handful of middle-income emerging market countries have already secured contracts for hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccines. Residents of these countries will be among the first to get the vaccinations, with their economies benefiting from the associated easing of the public health crisis. The earlier the health crisis in a country subsides, the stronger the country’s economic recovery will be, it added.

The report said mass vaccination that significantly reduces individual and public health concerns would lift sentiment and present a significant upside to global growth.

As long as the coronavirus remains a health risk, social distancing restrictions and the reluctance of consumers to engage in high contact social and economic activity will mar the recovery of services sectors. As vaccines become broadly available, health fears and concerns about an uncertain economic and financial outlook should recede, allowing for a quicker resumption of activity in high contact sectors such as hotels, restaurants, theaters, mass transit, airlines and travel and tourism.

Moody’s said the pandemic has already inflicted enormous damage on the hardest-hit sectors and will continue to undermine their financial condition and prospects, with repeated virus outbreaks and lockdown measures suppressing demand. The risk of business failure increases exponentially the longer the pandemic prevents a return to some semblance of normal activity.

A vaccine will help accelerate the recovery. But for many of these businesses, survival will remain challenging until the virus is no longer viewed as a significant public health threat. It is difficult to know how many businesses will survive several more months of below-normal revenue, it added.

Small and midsized businesses across advanced and emerging market countries are at risk and more of them will undoubtedly close on account of the prolonged cash flow shock. And those that do survive will have the long and arduous task of rebuilding their balance sheets while also, in many cases, facing significant changes in consumer behavior and demand patterns. “Therefore, even if economic activity returns to healthy levels once a vaccine is widely available, the detrimental economic impact and transformed operating environment will be felt for years to come”, Moody’s said.

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Guru Tegh Bahadur Martyrdom Day: J-K Lt Governor Pays Tribute To Sikh Guru

Manoj Sinha noted that the pious day is a reminder to respect and uphold the ‘faith, belief and rights of people’.

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Manoj Sinha

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha paid rich tributes to Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh guru, on his martyrdom day on Tuesday.

“The teachings and martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur underline one of the most fundamental principles of human existence, which is ensuring the right of everyone to breathe free and live unshackled,” Sinha said.

Guru Teg Bahadur’s sacrifice is an important reminder for the future generations to be committed towards upholding the faith, belief and rights of people, he added.

On this pious day, everyone must resolve to dedicate themselves to selfless service of others, the LG said.

“Peaceful co-existence, mutual respect for each other’s religious beliefs go a long way in uplifting individual lives and achieving harmony and compassion in the society,” he added.

Guru Tegh Bahadur was born on April 1, 1621. He resisted forced conversions of Hindus, Sikhs, Kashmiri Pandits and non-Muslims to Islam and was killed on this day in 1675 on the orders of the then Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi.

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