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Environment Current Affairs
Environment Current Affairs January 2nd Week 2019
Author : Admin
Category : Environment Current Affairs
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Environment Current Affairs January 2nd Week 2019

 1. Polar vortex

Weather experts are predicting an extremely cold January and February for the northeastern United States, much of northern Europe and parts of Asia. 
The reason being given is the polar vortex.
In this decade, the polar vortex has also been blamed on extremely cold weather in the United States in 2014 and the infamous ‘Beast from the East’, the blast of cold weather that blew from Siberia towards western Europe and the UK in February and March of 2018.
It is described as a whirling cone of low pressure over the poles that is strongest in the winter months due to the increased temperature contrast between the polar regions and the mid-latitudes, such as the US and Europe.
The polar vortex spins in the stratosphere, a layer of the atmosphere 10-48 km above the ground and above the troposphere, where most familiar weather patterns develop.
Usually, when the vortex is strongest, cold air is less-likely to plunge deep into North America or Europe. In other words, it forms a wall that protects the mid-latitudes from cold Arctic air.
But occasionally, the polar vortex is disrupted and weakens, due to wave energy propagating upward from the lower atmosphere. When this happens, the stratosphere warms sharply in an event known as sudden stratospheric warming, in just a few days, miles above the Earth’s surface.
The warming weakens the polar vortex, shifting its location somewhat south of the pole or, in some instances, ‘splitting’ the vortex up into ‘sister vortices’.
2. National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)
The government has announced the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). This is the first ever effort in the country to frame a national framework for air quality management with a time-bound reduction target.
The programme will not be notified under the Environment Protection Act or any other Act to create a firm mandate with a strong legal back up for cities and regions to implement NCAP in a time bound manner for effective reduction.
Achieve a national-level target of 20-30% reduction of PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by between 2017 and 2024.
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will execute this nation-wide programme in consonance with the section 162 (b) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1986.
The programme has been launched with an initial budget of ?300 crore for the first two years.
The plan includes 102 non-attainment cities, across 23 states and Union territories, which were identified by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.
Non-attainment cities are those which have been consistently showing poorer air quality than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. These include Delhi, Varanasi, Bhopal, Kolkata, Noida, Muzaffarpur, and Mumbai.
As part of the programme, the Centre also plans to scale up the air quality monitoring network across India. At least 4,000 monitors are needed across the country, instead of the existing 101 real-time air quality (AQ) monitors, according to an analysis.
The plan proposes a three-tier system, including real-time physical data collection, data archiving, and an action trigger system in all 102 cities, besides extensive plantation plans, research on clean-technologies, landscaping of major arterial roads, and stringent industrial standards.
It also proposes state-level plans of e-mobility in the two-wheeler sector, rapid augmentation of charging infrastructure, stringent implementation of BS-VI norms, boosting public transportation system, and adoption of third-party audits for polluting industries.
Various committees: The national plan has proposed setting up an apex committee under environment minister, a steering committee under-secretary (environment) and a monitoring committee under a joint secretary. There would be project monitoring committees at the state-level with scientists and trained personnel.
NCAP will also have to be more nuanced and adopt appropriate approaches for small and big cities according to their dominant pollution profile while several strategies may remain uniform.
3. Asia Competitiveness Institute’s (ACI) EDB index
Asia Competitiveness Institute’s (ACI) has released its Ease of Doing Business Index on Attractiveness to Investors, Business Friendliness and Competitive Policies (EDB Index ABC).
Performance of Indian states: Andhra Pradesh has topped the list. It is followed by Maharashtra and Delhi.
Asia Competitiveness Institute at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore was established as a research centre in 2006 with an aim to build intellectual leadership and network for understanding and developing competitiveness in the Asia region.
4. CITES — Washington Convention
India has proposed to remove rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo) from Appendix II of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals.
The species is currently part of Appendix II of CITES that has species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival. But, India doesn’t want that for rosewood.
The species grows at a very fast rate and has the capacity to become naturalised outside its native range, even it is invasive in some parts of the world. The regulation of trade in the species is not necessary to avoid it becoming eligible for inclusion in Appendix I in the near future and the harvest of specimens from the wild is not reducing the wild population to a level at which its survival might be threatened by continued harvesting or other influences.
It is an International agreement to regulate worldwide commercial trade in wild animal and plant species. It also restricts trade in items made from such plants and animals, such as food, clothing, medicine, and souvenirs
It was signed on March 3, 1973 (Hence world wildlife day is celebrated on march 3).
It is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Secretariat — Geneva (Switzerland).
CITES is legally binding on state parties to the convention, which are obliged to adopt their own domestic legislation to implement its goals.
5. Gautemala to withdraw from UN-backed anti-corruption commission
Guatemala has said it is withdrawing from a UN-backed anti-corruption commission. It has given the UN body`s staff 24 hours to leave the country. 
President Jimmy Morales accused the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, commonly known as CICIG, of polarising the country and putting its security at risk.
He said that the commission has violated human rights and is allied with criminal structures and terrorists. Morales added that his government had waited 16 months for the UN to respond to their complaints.
Guatemalan foreign minister said they have informed UN chief Antonio Guterres of their decision. The move has drawn criticism from human rights groups and constitutional lawyers.
The CICIG was formed in 2006 upon the request of the Guatemalan government to combat high rates of impunity for crimes.
6. Kim Jong Un arrives in China on 3-day visit
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has arrived in China on a three-day visit. 
There are speculations that he may attempt to coordinate his positions with Beijing ahead of his likely summit with the US President Donald Trump.
The visit comes as Pyongyang has recently expressed increasing frustration at the US approach on denuclearization talks. North Korea has threatened to resume building up its nuclear forces if the US does not ease sanctions.
7. Cyclone Pabuk
The India meteorological department (IMD) has issued an orange warning for the Andaman and Nicobar islands, which is facing a cyclonic storm. 
A home ministry official quoting from a weather bulletin said, cyclonic storm Pabuk is approaching the archipelago and currently hovering over the Andaman sea and the neighbourhood.
An orange weather warning means people should be prepared and there is an increased likelihood of bad or extreme weather, which may disrupt road and air travel and threaten life and property.
Cyclone Pabuk is now over the Andaman sea and its neighbourhood and it has moved north-northwestwards at a speed of 20 kmph in the last six hours.
The cyclonic storm is very likely to continue to move north-northwestwards and cross the Andaman islands by tonight with a wind speed of 65-75 kmph, gusting to 85 kmph.
Pabuk, a once in the three-decades weather system, originated over the Gulf of Thailand made landfall on Friday afternoon in Nakhon Si Thammarat province. 
The tropical storm has claimed four lives in southern Thailand and left hundreds of homes damaged.
8. Earthquake of 6.8 magnitude hits western Brazil
A powerful earthquake of 6.8 magnitudes shook western Brazil near its border with Peru. 
The quake affected a remote part of the Amazon rainforest. There were no immediate reports of damages.
The US Geological Survey said the quake had an epicentre 55 miles west of Tarauaca, Brazil, and 204 miles east of Pucallpa, Peru. It hit at 2:25 p.m. local time and had a depth of 575 kilometers.
A powerful 7.1-magnitude quake had hit the Peru-Brazil border in August.
9. Storm Usman wreaks havoc in Philippines
The death toll from a storm that devastated the Philippines recently has risen to 126.
The National Disaster Agency said, more than 100 people lost their lives in the mountainous Bicol region of Manila.
75 people are injured and 26 missing, with over 1 lakh 52,000 displaced due to the storm. The cause of deaths were landslides due to torrential rain.
The storm had hit central and eastern Philippine islands on the 29th of last month.



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