World
Historic climate pact on greenhouse gases approved
Over 150 countries struck a landmark deal on Saturday to reduce the emissions of powerful greenhouse gases, in a move that could prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of this century.
 
The amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer endorsed in Kigali is the single largest contribution the world has made towards keeping the global temperature rise "well below" 2 degrees Celsius, a target agreed at the Paris climate conference in 2015.
 
"Last year in Paris, we promised to keep the world safe from the worst effects of climate change. Today, we are following through on that promise," said UN Environment chief Erik Solheim.
 
"This is about much more than the ozone layer and HFCs. It is a clear statement by all world leaders that the green transformation... is irreversible and unstoppable. It shows the best investments... in clean, efficient technologies," Solheim said.
 
Commonly used in refrigeration and air-conditioning as substitutes for ozone-depleting substances, HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) are currently the world's fastest growing greenhouse gases.
 
HFCs emissions are increasing by up to 10 per cent each year. They are also one of the most powerful gases, trapping thousands of times more heat in the earth's atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2).
 
"The faster we act, the lower the financial costs will be, and the lighter the environmental burden on our children," said President of Rwanda Paul Kagame.
 
"That begins with a clear signal that change is coming and it is coming soon. In due course, new innovations and products will allow us to phase out HFCs even faster, and at lower cost," Kagame said.
 
The rapid growth of HFCs in recent years has been driven by a growing demand for cooling, particularly in developing countries with a fast-expanding middle class and hot climates.
 
The amendment, named the Kigali Amendment, provides for exemptions for countries with high ambient temperatures to phase out HFCs at a slower pace.
 
"It is not often you get a chance to have a 0.5 degrees Celsius reduction by taking one single step together as countries -- each doing different things perhaps at different times, but getting the job done," said US Secretary of State John Kerry.
 
"If we continue to remember the high stakes for every country on earth, the global transition to a clean energy economy is going to accelerate," Kerry said.
 
Following seven years of negotiations, the 197 Montreal Protocol parties reached a compromise, under which developed countries will start to phase down HFCs by 2019.
 
As per the amendment, the A2 (developed) countries have agreed to a baseline of 2011-2013 with cuts in HFCs beginning in 2019. In fact, the US, the European Union and other countries have already started.
 
Whereas A5 (developing) countries have agreed to two sub-groups with two different baselines.
 
A5 Group 2 includes India, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq -- with a baseline of 2024 -2026 and a freeze date of 2028 (two years earlier than India had originally proposed).
 
China, Brazil, South Africa, Argentina and more than 100 other developing countries committed to freeze their HFC production and use by 2024.
 
The baseline year determines the level at which the HFC consumption in countries are capped.
 
By the late 2040s, all countries are expected to consume no more than 15-20 per cent of their respective baselines, says the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
 
At the four-day long 28th meeting of the Parties to the 1989 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer that ended Saturday, the countries also agreed to provide adequate financing for HFCs reduction, the cost of which is estimated at billions of dollars globally.
 
The exact amount of additional funding will be agreed at the next Meeting of the Parties in Montreal in 2017, said the UNEP.
 
Grants for research and development of affordable alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons will be the most immediate priority.
 
"In the original proposal we have no freeze year (for HFCs) but on October 14 we clarified that we can have freeze at 2030," India's lead negotiator, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forests Manoj Kumar Singh told IANS.
 
In the second round of talks between Indian Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave and Kerry on Friday, the freezing year was advanced to 2028 with a condition that there would be a review of technology somewhere around 2023 or 2024, Singh said.
 
"If India finds that the refrigeration sector is growing at much faster rate and it cannot accommodate within the available refrigerant, then India would be free to go to 2030 as freeze year," he added.
 
Singh said the review would be done by the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel under the Montreal Protocol.
 
"But it will be mutually agreed upon by India and other parties. Without India, no one can unilaterally decide what is the growth rate which will trigger that mechanism," he said.
 
For smooth transition to developing new technologies indigenously, there is a huge financial burden on India -- both for the industry and the consumers.
 
Alternatives to HFCs currently being explored include substances that do not deplete the ozone layer and have a smaller impact on the climate, such as ammonia or carbon dioxide.
 
Super-efficient, cost-effective cooling technologies are also being developed, which can help protect the climate both through reducing HFCs emissions and by using less energy.
 
The Kigali Amendment comes only days after two other climate action milestones: sealing the international deal to curb emissions from aviation and achieving the critical mass of ratifications for the Paris climate accord to enter into force.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  

 

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No buyer for Twitter as Salesforce quits race
In a bad news for Twitter, its last potential buyer Salesforce has decided not to make a bid to buy the struggling micro-blogging website.
 
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff told the Financial Times that he has "walked away" from making a bid to buy Twitter.
 
Earlier, Google, Apple and Walt Disney also decided not to bid for the website.
 
Twitter stocks fell significantly this week after Google and Walt Disney reportedly ruled out to acquire the struggling micro-blogging platform.
 
Twitter is expected to announce its next quarterly earnings on October 27.
 
The acquisition of Twitter -- struggling to add new users amid stalled growth -- may cost over $20 billion.
 
It currently has 313 million monthly active users.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  

 

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A Passion for Education and Igniting Minds
In the summer of 1967, Shiva Balak Misra, a graduate student at Newfoundland’s Memorial University discovered some rare fossils at a place called Mistaken Point near Cape Rock. He prepared a geological map of the region to classify the fossil assemblage which formed a part of his Masters’ thesis. The discovery was reported in Nature in 1968 and in another paper that Mr Misra published in 1969. The 565-million-years-old fossil, Fractofusus misrai, was named after him, in 2007. 
 
This article is not about the rare and spectacular fossil, but about the amazing human being behind it. Dr Misra, a well-known scientist and geologist, started life in a poor family at a village near Lucknow. He walked 12km to reach the only school in the area, determined to succeed. It was important for him to do well in school to get a scholarship and not have to pay fees. He was a topper throughout and completed his Masters’ degree staying at an ashram and teaching other children to earn money. A scholarship to study at the Memorial University in Canada was a turning point. It was there, as a geologist, that he made his famous fossil discovery and earned well-deserved recognition in his field. 
 
But, three years later, when India was reeling from a severe drought in 1966-67, he chose to return home. Having seen great hardship as a child, it was always his dream to start a school in his village near Kunaura. In 1971, soon after his marriage to Nirmala, the couple started Bharatiya Gramin Vidyalaya (BGV) with his savings. It was an area untouched for decades by education, development and prosperity and had no electricity or proper roads. 
 
Prof Misra’s dream was to ensure that more professionals and scientists emerge from this school. When his savings, which were fully invested in the school, ran out, he went back to teaching at Lucknow while Nirmala Misra (who had never lived in a village before marriage) continued to run the school. But help did come from various quarters and, over the years, BGV has transformed thousands of lives not only through education but also through socio-economic welfare programmes like training courses for unemployed youth, courses for young widows, entrepreneurship programme for women, forestation drives, tailoring courses, etc. 
 
There is a lot that still needs to be done and resources are needed, to make it happen. Mr Mishra’s son, Shailesh, a software engineer, tells us, “While the organisation has brought about enormous change to the lives of people in the area, the task is half done. Even today, many children have to walk over 5km to school. They either drop out or show poor attendance. Physically challenged children cannot study.” 
 
He goes on to say, “We see BGV becoming a powerhouse of energy, creating more people who can be successful in what they do in the village or in cities. When we brought in computers to the school two years back, children adapted and, now, we have had two batches of children who have graduated, everyone getting distinction in Class XII and confidently writing computer programs. Some people doubted that they will be able to do it and they were proven wrong. Today, after Class XII, girls have a challenge since they don’t have a college nearby and parents are not comfortable sending them over 12km away. We also want to focus on education for the physically challenged children who cannot come to school. We want to provide free transport facility to such children. The school would like to run voluntary courses which can enable children to become self-sufficient. The school would like to run free training for focused professions including civil services and medicine. The school would also like to develop the villages nearby to become Internet-enabled, and to adopt the latest farming and horticulture techniques. We would also like to work on forming farmers’ groups.” Prof Misra, who is 78, and his wife continue to serve the school even today.
 
Readers can contribute to BGV. It is registered under the Societies Registration Act 1960 and is a not-for-profit organisation; donations are eligible for tax exemptions under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act. 
 
Bharatiya Gramin Vidyalaya
Village Kunaura, Post Mahona, 
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
Mobile: 9810292288

 

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COMMENTS

Rajendra Ganatra

9 months ago

Thanks for the superb article. I am going to Lucknow next month and would visit BGV to learn and adopt.

REPLY

Shailesh Misra

In Reply to Rajendra Ganatra 9 months ago

Dear Rajendra, I will be happy to connect you with the organization when you visit.

Yograj Patel

In Reply to Shailesh Misra 9 months ago

Dear Shailesh, I am co-founder Gyankriti School, Indore. We have done lot of research work in teaching pre-school children and lot of it has been uploaded in a free and open source online course. You can refer to 100s of activities for kindergarten students through this link gyankriti.com/moodle
- Click on 'Education Reserach & Training 2016-17' course link
- On the login page click on 'login as a guest' and enter the guest password
If you need any assistance you can reach me on [email protected]

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