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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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Madhya Pradesh farmers hopeful of being ‘debt-free’ as loan waiver scheme kicks-off

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Earth Climate

Bhopal, Jan 22 : A week after the launch of the loan waiver scheme in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress government claims 19.54 lakh farmers have filed their applications in the six days till Sunday.

While the opposition BJP has been calling the “Jai Kisan Rin Mukti Yojana” a trick to cheat the farmers, the question is how the farmers of the state perceive the entire exercise.

Kailash Chaudhary, a farmer from Mandsaur district’s Babulda village, said: “About two years ago, six farmers sacrificed their lives for their rights in Pipliya Mandi. This is the beginning of the victory of their fight.”

“Forms are being filled for waiver of loans up to Rs 2 lakh. We feel that the government is taking our demands seriously,” Chaudhary told IANS.

Mandsaur was the centre of farmers’ agitation in 2017 when six farmers were killed in police firing in June, 2017. After the incident, the farmers’ movement had taken over the whole state, which then spread to the whole nation.

Farmer’s leader Kedar Sirohi said: “Farmers in different parts of the state are excited about the loan waiver. They are filing applications in large numbers.”

“To ensure they don’t face any difficulty in filing applications, leaders and workers of farmer organisations are helping them. Government officials is also alert to help out the farmers. Colour coding of application forms has made it easier for farmers to fill out the applications,” he said.

According to official figures, out of the 19.54 lakh forms filed till Sunday, around 60 per cent were green forms, 35 per cent were white forms and 5 percent were pink forms. The farmers are hopeful of becoming debt-free through this exercise.

As per the scheme, the farmers of the Aadhaar seeded list will have to submit green applications and the farmers of non-Aadhar seeded list will have to submit white coloured applications. Farmers have to submit a pink application to file an objection or claim against information provided in the green or white list.

However, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had been accusing the Congress of misleading the farmers and terming the scheme a trick to cheat them.

Former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said the Congress promise of a loan waiver won’t be fulfilled by a mere announcement.

“The Chief Minister (Kamal Nath) and Congress leaders are saying they have fulfilled their promise of loan waiver to the farmers. But the promise has not yet been fulfilled. An announcement does not mean fulfillment of the promise,” he said, adding the Congress was misleading the farmers.

Congress spokesperson Syed Jaffer responded that 55 lakh farmers will get their loans waived of under the scheme, for which the due process needs to be followed.

“No matter what charges the BJP makes, the truth is that farmers are happy and they trust that the Congress is fulfilling the promise that they made to them,” he said.

“Those farmers who are in debt, neither are they now receiving notices from the banks nor is their property being seized. Under BJP rule, farmers had to go to jail and lose their property just for not paying their power bills,” Jaffer told IANS.

Calling the scheme pro-farmer, farmer leader Shiv Kumar Sharma told IANS that political parties were creating doubts about the scheme.

“Farmers were reeling under debt which had increased manifold over the last one-and-a-half decade. Now they are getting waiver of up to Rs 2 lakh. The government is new and one should wait before making adverse comments,” he said.

Kamal Nath had signed the farm loan waiver file soon after taking oath as the Chief Minister. The filing of forms for the waiver started from January 15 and will continue till February 5.

According to the government, farmers will start getting the money in their loan accounts from February 22.

The Chief Minister had said that the scheme would benefit around 55 lakh farmers by waiving their loans worth Rs 50,000 crore.

(Sundeep Pouranik can be contacted at [email protected])

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Entertainment industry is run by a glamorous mafia: Pahlaj Nihalani

Dropping another bomb, Nihalani says he suspects the hands of some big guns in sabotaging “Rangeela Raja”.

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Pahlaj Nihalani

Mumbai, Jan 22 :Govinda, “Rangeela Raja”, Pahlaj Nihalani-backed comeback vehicle for Govinda, did not open well. Nihalani says it is because his film did not get the theatres required as the entertainment industry is run by a “glamorous mafia”.

“I am being targeted for my blunt views on the workings of censor board, and because of me, my leading man Govinda is being targeted. If you ask me, Govinda and I have the maximum number of enemies in the film industry,” Nihalani said.

Lamenting the lack of theatres for “Rangeela Raja”, Nihalani says he was refused a release in places like Bihar and Jharkhand.

“These are traditional strongholds of Govinda. And not a single theatre in Patna or Ranchi agreed to play ‘Rangeela Raja’. Why? Because my film is bad? Are only quality films released in theatres? And who decides that my film is substandard? A handful of critics for whom I did not have a press show, so they are upset with me and they are taking it out on my film,” he said.

Dropping another bomb, Nihalani says he suspects the hands of some big guns in sabotaging “Rangeela Raja”.

“I know who they are. I know the people who want to finish off Govinda and me. The entertainment industry is run by a glamorous mafia. They all sit, eat, sleep and make movies together. Solo producers like me with no corporate backing are being pushed out of the film industry in the name of corporotization,” he said.

But Nihalani says he isn’t going away anywhere.

“I belong to this industry as much as those who are currently monopolising the A-list stars. I will make another film with Govinda and prove he too is an A-list star.”

Nihalani says he has always believed in introducing new talent and will continue to do so.

“I introduced Govinda and Chunky Pandey. In ‘Rangeela Raja’ I’ve introduced Mishika Chourasia. I am confident she has a very bright future. Unless the industry will punish her for being Pahlaj Nihalani’s protege.”

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BenQ launches 4K home cinema projectors in India

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w2700 cinematic color with true 4k kv

New Delhi, Jan 22 : Taiwanese electronics company BenQ on Tuesday launched two new 4K home cinema projectors — “W2700” and “W5700” — with CinematicColor technology, projector-optimised HDR-PRO support and individual factory colour calibration in India.

The new projectors, “W2700” and “W5700”, priced at Rs 2.49 lakh and Rs 2.99 lakh respectively, are the world’s first 4K home cinema projectors, the company said.

“With this new range of 4K projectors, we are extremely optimistic that these will turn any room into a world-class home theatre with video enhancing technologies,” said Rajeev Singh, Managing Director, BenQ India.

Fuelled by DCI-P3 colour space, “W2700” delivers the highest level of image accuracy while the “W5700” projector provides a 1.6X big zoom along with 2D H/V lens shift that is ideal for audio visual (AV) rooms.

The HDR-PRO supported projectors also incorporate auto colour and tone mapping techniques to offer improved brightness and contrast range along with ideal image optimization for vivid video quality.

Designed with a compact profile, the light weight projectors facilitate tailored AV personalization with versatile short throw, big zoom and lens shift for a wide range of home cinema possibilities, the company said.

The projectors would begin shipping in the first quarter of 2019.

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