Daily Current Affairs: 3rd November 2021

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics covered

  1. The Global Methane pledge
  2. Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS)
  3. One Sun One World One Grid group
  4. Facts for Prelims

1. The Global Methane Pledge

Context: The Global Methane Pledge was launched at the ongoing UN COP26 climate conference in Glasgow. So far, over 90 countries have signed this pledge, which is an effort led jointly by the United States and the European Union.

About Global Methane Pledge

  • The pledge was first announced in September by the US and EU, and is essentially an agreement to reduce global methane emissions.
  • One of the central aims of this agreement is to cut down methane emissions by up to 30 per cent from 2020 levels by the year 2030.


  • Methane is the second-most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, after carbon dioxide, and, therefore, pledges related to cutting down its emissions are significant.
  • According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, methane accounts for about half of the 1.0 degrees Celsius net rise in global average temperature since the pre-industrial era.
  • The Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree-Celsius target cannot be achieved at a reasonable cost without reducing methane emissions by 40-45% by 2030.
  • Rapidly reducing methane emissions is complementary to action on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and is regarded as the single most effective strategy to reduce global warming in the near term and keep the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach.

What is methane?

  • Methane is a simple gas, a single carbon atom with four arms of hydrogen atoms.
  • Methane is flammable, and is used as a fuel worldwide.
  • It is a principal component of natural gas. Burning methane in the presence of oxygen releases carbon dioxide and water vapor:
  • According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), while methane has a much shorter atmospheric lifetime (12 years as compared to centuries for CO2), it is a much more potent greenhouse gas simply because it absorbs more energy while it is in the atmosphere.
  • There are many sources of methane, so the atmospheric load is constantly being regenerated—or increased.

Sources of Methane

  • Methane is naturally occurring, or biogenic, i.e. produced during decomposition of organic matter, including from vegetated wetlands and inland water systems (lakes, ponds, rivers), land geological sources (mud volcanoes, micro-seepage), wild animals, termites, thawing terrestrial and marine permafrost and oceanic sources.
  • Less than half of global methane emissions, however, are biogenic; the rest comes from human-caused emissions.
  • Human sources of methane include landfills, oil and natural gas systems, agricultural activities, coal mining, wastewater treatment, and certain industrial processes.
  • Human-caused methane emissions largely stem from three sectors: fossil fuel production and consumption (35% of human-caused emissions), waste (20%) and agriculture (40%).
  • Methane is emitted during the extraction and production of fossil fuels including oil, gas and coal.
  • In agriculture, methane emissions can come from burning crop stubble after harvest and continuous flooding of paddy fields for rice production.
  • Decomposing organic material in waste discarded by humans also produces methane.
  • It is also a byproduct of digestion in cattle. India, with its huge cattle population, is the world’s third-largest emitter of methane.
  • NASA notes that human sources (also referred to as anthropogenic sources) of methane are responsible for 60 per cent of global methane emissions. These emissions come primarily from the burning of fossil fuels, decomposition in landfills and the agriculture sector.

Why we should worry about methane?

  • Greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide and methane trap heat in the atmosphere. They absorb energy that radiates upwards from the earth’s surface and re-emit heat to the lower atmosphere, thus warming the earth.
  • Human emissions of GHGs such as methane and carbon dioxide have increased their concentration in the atmosphere. This has caused an increased warming influence on climate since the year 1750.
  • Some GHGs can remain in the atmosphere for decades, centuries or even longer, so the corresponding effects of human emissions on climate last for a long time.
  • Methane causes the second-most radiative forcing effect, i.e. warming, after carbon dioxide, in terms of the quantum of emissions of these GHGs. The warming effect of methane itself is 28 times that of carbon dioxide, according to the Global Methane Budget 2020.
  • The interaction of gases like methane with sunlight produces tropospheric ozone, a harmful GHG which damages human health, plants and ecosystems, according to the UNEP assessment.
  • Thus, increased concentrations of methane in the atmosphere due to human-caused emissions are a precursor to tropospheric ozone pollution.
  • Tropospheric ozone pollution attributable to human emissions of methane causes approximately half a million premature deaths globally.
  • Reductions in methane emissions thus have direct and immediate benefits for public health via improved air and water quality.

Methane emission in India

  • India is the third-largest source of methane emissions.
  • Indian methane emissions have been steadily increasing due to increase in the livestock population and oil and natural gas related activities
  • The government of India has been targeting a substantial increase in coal mining and for that, it has taken several measures over the past year. But an increase in coal mining without the mitigation measures could result in an increase in India’s methane emissions as well.
  • A latest study by Global Energy Monitor, a non-profit research organisation, states that 52 proposed coal mines (of at least one million tonne capacity each) could increase its methane emissions by 45 million tonnes.

Why is dealing with methane important for climate change?

  • According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), while methane has a much shorter atmospheric lifetime (12 years as compared to centuries for CO2), it is a much more potent greenhouse gas simply because it absorbs more energy while it is in the atmosphere.
  • In its factsheet on methane, the UN notes that methane is a powerful pollutant and has a global warming potential that is 80 times greater than carbon dioxide, about 20 years after it has been released into the atmosphere. Significantly, the average methane leak rate of 2.3 per cent “erodes much of the climate advantage gas has over coal”, the UN notes.
  • The IEA has also said that more than 75 per cent of methane emissions can be mitigated with the technology that exists today, and that up to 40 per cent of this can be done at no additional costs.

How we can to reduce methane emissions–and harness a valuable energy source

  • “Methane can be captured from manure, waste and wastewater management systems and used to replace higher CO2-intensive energy sources such as wood, coal and oil.
  • Methane emissions can be effectively reduced by decreasing waste, especially food waste, as well as through increased composting of biodegradable waste.
  • Reducing methane emissions through management of livestock manure and adjusting cattle feed, and through solid waste and waste-water management, were highlighted by UNEP.
  • “Numerous cost-effective mitigation technologies and policies are readily available in the different methane-emitting sectors. In the United States, landfill [garbage dump] gas emissions declined by 40% from 1990 to 2016 through methane abatement strategies such as landfill gas collection and control systems. There is potential to spread these technologies to developing countries.”
  • In the energy sector, switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources will be the most effective way to reduce methane emissions.
  • During fossil fuel transportation, for instance, methane leaks can be reduced through routine maintenance of gas pipelines.
  • Methane released from coal mines can also be captured and used as a valuable energy source.
  • However, any measures to reduce methane emissions from the fossil fuel sector should be undertaken as part of a clear plan to ultimately phase out oil, gas and coal production and consumption.

2. Coalition for Disaster resilient Infrastructure

Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Initiative for the Resilient Island States (IRIS) for developing infrastructure of small island nations, saying that it gives a new hope, a new confidence and satisfaction of doing something for the most vulnerable countries

About Coalition for Disaster resilient Infrastructure(CDRI)

  • The Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) is a partnership of national governments, UN agencies and programmes, multilateral development banks and financing mechanisms, the private sector, and knowledge institutions that aims to promote the resilience of new and existing infrastructure systems to climate and disaster risks in support of sustainable development. 
  • CDRI promotes rapid development of resilient infrastructure to respond to the Sustainable Development Goals’ imperatives of expanding universal access to basic services, enabling prosperity and decent work.
  • CDRI was launched as a global partnership to promote resilience in all critical infrastructure anywhere in the world.
  • So far, 25 other countries, including Germany, Italy, Japan, Australia, and the United States have joined this coalition.
  • CDRI is the second international collaboration set up by India in the climate change sphere, the other being the International Solar Alliance that has now evolved to the status of a “treaty-based” intergovernmental organisation.
  • CDRI hopes to become a knowledge-network through which member countries can learn from each other and adopt best practices in the development of climate-resilient infrastructure.
  • CDRI does not itself aim to create infrastructure, or play the role of a funding agency.
  • CDRI is an attempt to bring countries together to share and learn from the experiences of one another to protect their key infrastructure — highways, railways, power stations, communication lines, water channels, even housing — against disasters

Strategic Priorities

  • The following are CDRI’s strategic priorities: 
    • Technical Support and Capacity-building: This includes disaster response and recovery support; innovation, institutional and community capacity-building assistance; and standards and certification.  
    • Research and Knowledge Management: This includes collaborative research; global flagship reports; and a global database of infrastructure and sector resilience. 
    • Advocacy and Partnerships: This includes global events and initiatives; marketplace of knowledge financing and implementation agencies; and dissemination of knowledge products.  

Need for CDRI

  • Disaster preparedness and infrastructure creation are largely national endeavours. However, modern infrastructure is also a web of networked systems, not always confined to national boundaries. There are increasing numbers of trans-national and trans-continental highways and railways; transmission lines carry electricity across countries; assets on a river are shared.
  • Damage to any one node can have cascading impacts on the entire network, resulting in loss of livelihoods and disruption in economic activity in places far away from the site of a disaster. To make entire networks resilient is the main thought behind the Indian initiative of CDRI.
  • It would also attempt to identify and estimate the risks to, and from, large infrastructure in the event of different kinds of disasters in member countries.

About IRIS

  • The IRIS initiative is a part of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient infrastructure that would focus on building capacity, having pilot projects, especially in small island developing states.
  • As One Sun One World One Grid is a specific work programme to realize the objectives of the ISA, IRIS seeks to operationalise the CDRI initiative.
  • The bulk of the work of IRIS would involve mobilising and directing financial resources towards building resilient infrastructure, retrofitting existing infrastructure, development of early warning systems, and development and sharing of best practices.
  • The new initiative is the result of cooperation between India, the U.K. and Australia and included the participation of leaders of small island nations such as Fiji, Jamaica and Mauritius.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will create a special “data window” for small island nations, generating and disseminating satellite data that will help these countries to strengthen their fences against climate disasters.

3. Green Grids Initiative — One Sun One World One Grid group

Context:  In a significant step towards harnessing and promoting solar energy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson on Tuesday launched a transnational grid initiative — One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG) — on the sidelines of the UN climate conference (COP26).

What is OSOWOG?

  • One Sun One World One Grid” will be the first international network of global interconnected solar power grid which will combine large-scale solar power stations, wind farms and grids with rooftop solar and community grids to ensure a reliable, resilient and affordable supply of clean energy for all.
  • The project is being spearheaded by the governments of India and the UK in partnership with the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the World Bank Group and will bring together a global coalition of national governments, international financial and technical organisations, legislators, power system operators and knowledge leaders to accelerate the construction of the new infrastructure needed for a world powered by clean energy.

What is the aim of the project?

  • The concept of a single global grid for solar was first outlined at the First Assembly of the ISA in late 2018 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • OSOWOG envisions building and scaling inter-regional energy grids to share solar energy across the globe, leveraging the differences of time zones, seasons, resources, and prices between countries and regions.
  • It will also help de-carbonise energy production, which is today the largest source of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Aiming to synergize its efforts and actions with other similar initiatives globally, OSOWOG had joined hands with Green Grids Initiative (GGI) to form a unified GGI-OSOWOG initiative.

When will it be completed?

  • The grid is expected to be set up over the next few years by the ISA.
  • Once operational, it will transport solar power to different countries under the Green Grid Initiative.

Which countries will the project cover?

  • The project aims to drive global interconnectivity across the Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, while leveraging African power pools.
  • According to the ISA’s concept note on OSOWOG, the global solar grid will be implemented in three phases.
  • In the first phase, the ‘Indian Grid’ will interconnect with the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia grids to share solar and other renewable energy resources for meeting electricity needs, including during peak demand.
  • It will then be interconnected with the African power pools in the second phase. The third phase would cover global interconnection of the power transmission grid to achieve the OSOWOG’s vision.

Green Grids Initiative

  • The Green Grids Initiative was first developed by the Climate Parliament, an international network of climate legislators.
  • The Green Grids Initiative Working Groups made up of national and international agencies have already been established for Africa and for the Asia-Pacific region. Their membership includes most major multilateral development banks, such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.
  • The Green Climate Fund, established to channel part of the $100 billion a year pledged by rich countries in the climate negotiations, is leading a Finance working group.
  • Research support for the Green Grids Initiative is being provided by the Climate Compatible Growth consortium of universities, which includes Cambridge, Imperial College, Oxford and University College London.

Objectives of GGI – OSOWOG

  1. Investing in solar, wind, storage and other renewable energy generation in locations endowed with renewable resources for supporting a global grid.
  2. Building long-distance cross-border transmission lines to connect renewable energy generators and demand centres across continents, underpinned by effective and mutually beneficial cross-border power trading arrangements.
  3. Developing and deploying cutting edge techniques and technologies to modernise power systems and support green grids which can integrate billions of rooftop solar panels, wind turbines and storage systems.
  4. Supporting the global transition to zero emission vehicles through incorporating the role of electric vehicles to help improve grid flexibility.
  5. Attracting investment into solar mini-grids and off-grid systems to help vulnerable communities gain access to clean, affordable, and reliable energy without grid-access in their own areas, enhancing socio-economic development and a resilient power supply for all.
  6. Developing innovative financial instruments, market structures, and facilitate financial and technical assistance to attract low-cost capital, including climate finance, for global solar grid infrastructure.

4. Facts for prelims

Public Affairs Index 2021

  • Public Affairs Index 2021 is the 6th edition of the flagship Project of the Public Affairs Centre.
  • PAI 2021 ranks the States and Union Territories on the basis of their performance in the Sub-national governance for the overarching sustainable development pillars of Equity, Growth and Sustainability.
  • There are 43 indicators that construct these 3 pillars and they aim to capture all the important human development aspects.
  • Kerala, Tamil Nadu & Telangana bagged the top three positions among 18 large states in governance performance.
  • Telangana has replaced Andhra Pradesh at the third spot as compared to 2020 ranking.
  • Karnataka dropped to the seventh rank in the Public Affairs Index 2021 with a score of 0.121. It was in the fourth position last year.
  • In the index, Sikkim, Goa and Mizoram were emerged as winners among the small states.
  • Puducherry, Jammu & Kashmir and Chandigarh emerged as toppers among the union territories.

SRGM(super rapid gun mount )

  • SRGM is the primary gun on board most Indian Navy ships.
  • The upgraded SRGM is an advanced weapon system capable of managing different kinds of ammunition to engage ‘manoeuvring and non-manoeuvring’, radio-controlled targets.
  • It has the capability to fire advanced ammunition with higher range, as well as programmable ammunition.

Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDC)

  • LMDC comprises around 25 developing countries from Asia and other regions.
  • It is a group of developing countries who organise themselves as a block of negotiators in international organizations such as the United Nations, they represent more than 50% of the world’s population.
  • The member countries of the Like Minded Group are Algeria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe

The Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT)

  • The Leadership Group for Industry Transition (LeadIT) gathers countries and companies that are committed to action to achieve the Paris Agreement.
  • It was launched by the governments of Sweden and India at the UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019 and is supported by the World Economic Forum.
  • India and Sweden together with Argentina, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, South Korea and the UK, as well as a group of companies including Dalmia Cement, DSM, Heathrow Airport, LKAB, Mahindra Group, Royal Schiphol Group, Scania, SpiceJet, SSAB, ThyssenKrupp and Vattenfall, announced a new Leadership Group for Industry Transition that will drive transformation in hard-to-decarbonize and energy-intensive sectors. 
  • LeadIT members subscribe to the notion that energy-intensive industry can and must progress on low-carbon pathways, aiming to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
  • The Management Board is made up of representatives from Sweden, India, and the World Economic Forum.

Third World Network (TWN)

  • Third World Network (TWN) is an independent non-profit international research and advocacy organisation involved in issues relating to development, developing countries and North-South affairs.
  • TWN was formed in November 1984 in Penang, Malaysia at the concluding session of an International Conference on “The Third World: Development or Crisis?” organised by the Consumers’ Association of Penang and attended by over a hundred participants from 21 countries.
  • Its mission is to bring about a greater articulation of the needs and rights of peoples in the South, a fair distribution of world resources, and forms of development which are ecologically sustainable and fulfill human needs.
  • TWN’s objectives are to deepen the understanding of the development dilemmas and challenges facing developing countries and to contribute to policy changes in pursuit of just, equitable and ecologically sustainable development.
  • TWN’s International Secretariat is in Penang (Malaysia) with offices in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and Geneva (Switzerland).

Small island developing states

  • Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are a distinct group of 38 UN Member States and 20 Non-UN Members/Associate Members of United Nations regional commissions that face unique social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities.
  • The three geographical regions in which SIDS are located are:
    • the Caribbean
    • the Pacific
    • the Atlantic, Indian Ocean and South China Sea (AIS). 
  • SIDS were recognized as a special case both for their environment and development at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 
  • The aggregate population of all the SIDS is 65 million, slightly less than 1% of the world’s population, yet this group faces unique social, economic, and environmental challenges. 
  • Small island states are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. As sea levels rise, they face a threat of being wiped off the map. According to CDRI, several small island states have lost 9 per cent of their GDPs in single disasters during the last few years. Infrastructure in these smaller countries is more critical simply because there is so little of it.

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