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Will Lewis Pugh's Epic Hudson Swim Inspire River Ganga Conservation?

Recreated by Sanjaya K. Mishra

15th September 2023 YouTube Twitter LinkedIn Blogger


In a stunning display of endurance and unwavering environmental commitment, Lewis Pugh, the official Patron of the Oceans for the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), has achieved the extraordinary feat of swimming 517 kilometers down the Hudson River, culminating at the iconic tip of Manhattan. This remarkable endeavor serves as a powerful clarion call, drawing global attention to the pressing imperative of safeguarding our planet's invaluable waterways. Timed perfectly ahead of the UN's momentous High Seas Treaty and Climate Ambition Summit, this aquatic odyssey carries profound implications for the future of our oceans.


Lewis Pugh embarked on this epic aquatic odyssey 32 days ago, commencing his remarkable journey in a serene lake near Lake Placid. This British-South African athlete undertook a daunting challenge, traversing the entire length of the river, at times conquering distances that exceeded 20 kilometers in a single day. His unwavering determination was encapsulated by the iconic UNEP swim cap, symbolizing his allegiance to the cause. Emerging triumphant from the waters near the World Trade Center in New York Harbor, Pugh was greeted by an outpouring of support from a diverse crowd of onlookers and intrigued passersby.


What sets this endeavor apart is not only its sheer physicality but also Pugh's profound connection with the Hudson River's rich biodiversity. His awe-inspiring encounters with majestic bald eagles, soaring vultures, diligent beavers, and elusive black bears bear testament to the vitality of this thriving ecosystem. More than an athlete, Pugh emerges as a fervent advocate for imperiled marine environments worldwide.


The deliberate choice of the Hudson River symbolizes the undeniable progress made in the rejuvenation of once-threatened waterways. Pugh's mission was explicitly designed to spark inspiration, urging nations worldwide to replicate the transformation, breathing life back into polluted rivers and revitalizing their essence. He passionately underscored the irreplaceable role of rivers as the lifeblood of our planet, emphasizing their intricate connection with the well-being of our oceans.


The Hudson River's storied history encapsulates a poignant narrative of transformation; evolving from one of the world's most fertile ecosystems into a beleaguered waterway, besieged by relentless industrialization, toxic chemical discharges, overzealous fishing, and habitat fragmentation. Yet, it is also a story of resilience, where five decades of tireless effort, fortified by initiatives like the Clean Water Act, bans on commercial fishing, and extensive riverbed sediment dredging, stand as a testament to nature's power to rebound.


Lewis Pugh, resplendent in his role as a UN representative, emanates pride and a zealous dedication to global synergy in surmounting environmental challenges. His resounding affirmation of the High Seas Treaty's profound significance illuminates the treaty's role in protecting the last bastion of our imperiled planet.


This historic accord will erect an international legal framework, meticulously evaluating the cumulative repercussions of climate change in regions extending beyond national maritime boundaries. It will serve as a bastion of cooperation for the mutual benefit of all Member States and the flourishing of global ecosystems. The treaty extends an invitation for signatures at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, with the commencement date set for 20th September 2023, spanning a two-year duration. Its enforcement hinges on ratification by 60 States.


In the wake of Lewis Pugh's extraordinary aquatic achievement, a poignant reminder reverberates—our collective responsibility to safeguard the life-giving arteries of our world's waterways and oceans. His indomitable spirit beckons the global community to unite, resolute in their pursuit of environmental conservation endeavors.


However, even as Pugh's feat inspires, it's imperative to scrutinize our own endeavors closer to home, particularly concerning the Ganga River. Despite emphasizing the vital role of local communities, challenges persist. Why do we not witness substantial changes despite community involvement in initiatives introduced by Namami Gange? What are the hurdles and hardships that India confronts in their unwavering dedication to the conservation of the Ganga?


Furthermore, a critical examination of the success of Namami Gange and an in-depth exploration of the biodiversity and overall ecosystem health of the Ganga River is warranted. 

India Incorporates Green Bonds into Its Climate Finance Strategy

Recreated by Sunita Mishra (Website version only)

23rd June 2023 YouTube Twitter LinkedIn Blogger



The World Bank newsletter has incorporated a blog titled "India Incorporates Green Bonds into Its Climate Finance Strategy," highlighting India's efforts to combat climate change and promote sustainable development. The blog, written by Farah Imrana Hussain and Helena Dill, sheds light on India's commitment to addressing the impacts of climate change and reducing its carbon intensity.


The blog begins by emphasizing the increasing frequency of extreme weather events in India, attributing them to climate change. It highlights that India, as the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG), plays a significant role in global emissions. The country's commitment to environmental protection and conservation is deeply ingrained in its Constitution, and it has undertaken various initiatives to mitigate climate change's adverse effects.


India's National Action Plan on Climate Change, launched in 2008, encompasses eight national missions aimed at reducing emission intensity, enhancing energy efficiency, expanding forest cover, and fostering sustainable habitats. To finance these initiatives, India requires an estimated $170 billion annually. However, current climate finance flows fall short of this target, averaging only $44 billion per year.

Recognizing the need to bolster financial support for climate-related endeavors, India called for increased financial flows to emerging countries during the 27th United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) in Egypt. Subsequently, the Government of India took significant steps to mobilize private sector capital to meet its own needs.


On February 1st, 2022, Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, announced the issuance of sovereign green bonds to mobilize resources for green infrastructure projects. The proceeds from these bonds are earmarked for public sector projects that contribute to reducing the carbon intensity of the economy. In January and February 2023, India issued its first two tranches of sovereign green bonds worth a total of INR 160 billion ($1.95 billion).


These sovereign green bonds underscore India's commitment to expanding renewable energy production and reducing carbon intensity. They will support investments in renewable energy technologies such as solar power, wind power, and small hydro projects, as well as research and development of new technologies. By allocating bond proceeds to renewable energy, India aims to facilitate its energy transition journey, considering that coal currently accounts for 55% of the country's energy needs.


Apart from renewable energy, the sovereign green bonds also support various other project categories, including sustainable water and waste management, energy efficiency, green buildings, climate change adaptation, and biodiversity conservation. Importantly, the funds raised through the green bonds will not be used to finance fossil fuel-related activities.


The World Bank has played a crucial role in supporting India's sovereign green bond program through its Sustainable Finance and ESG Advisory Services. The partnership between the World Bank and India aims to mobilize private capital for sustainable development and bridge the financing gaps. Notable projects supported by the World Bank include the Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Power Project in Madhya Pradesh, which combines infrastructure loans, funding from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and advisory services to attract private investments.


India's green bond market has witnessed significant growth, with total issuances reaching $21 billion as of February 2023. The private sector has been the primary contributor, accounting for 84% of the total. Leading issuers like Greenko Group have used green bond proceeds to fund hydro, solar, and wind power projects across multiple states. Notably, Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam became the first Indian local government to issue a green bond worth $20 million in 2021, followed by Indore Municipal Corporation's issuance of $87 million in green bonds in 2023.


With the Government of India's entry into the green bond market, experts anticipate increased investments in environmentally friendly projects and activities. These initiatives will play a pivotal role in India's transition towards a green, resilient, and inclusive development path.


As India incorporates green bonds into its climate finance strategy, it sets a positive example for other nations, demonstrating the importance of mobilizing resources for sustainable projects and fostering a greener future.

Infosys BRSR FY 21-22 shows NOx emissions up ~22%, 0.008 Ton of Radioactive wastes

Published in our Printed Version on 31st May 2023

YouTube Twitter LinkedIn Blogger

On the 10th of May 2021, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) mandated the Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR) disclosures from listed entities. These disclosures focus on the performance of the entities against the nine principles of the 'National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct' (NGBRCs), with reporting under each principle divided into essential and leadership categories. For the fiscal year 2021-22, the disclosures were voluntary, but they will become mandatory from the fiscal year 2022-23.  To read more subscribe to Enviro Annotations

Climate Change Threatens Species with Abrupt Tipping Points, Warns Study

20th May 2023 

A groundbreaking study led by a researcher from UCL reveals that climate change could trigger sudden tipping points for species as their geographic ranges encounter unprecedented temperatures. The study, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, provides crucial insights into when and where climate change is likely to expose species worldwide to potentially dangerous thermal conditions.

The research team, composed of scientists from UCL, University of Cape Town, University of Connecticut, and University at Buffalo, undertook an extensive analysis of data from over 35,000 animal species, including mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, corals, fish, whales, plankton, and seagrasses. Their analysis encompassed every continent and ocean basin and incorporated climate projections up until 2100.

The researchers focused on identifying the moment when areas within each species' geographical range would surpass a threshold of thermal exposure. This threshold was defined as the first five consecutive years during which temperatures consistently exceeded the species' most extreme monthly temperature recorded between 1850 and 2014.

While surpassing the thermal exposure threshold does not immediately lead to extinction, the study highlights that there is no evidence of species' ability to survive in higher temperatures. Consequently, many species face the risk of abrupt habitat loss due to future climate change.

The study reveals a consistent trend: for numerous animal species, the thermal exposure threshold will be crossed within the same decade across a significant portion of their geographic range. Dr. Alex Pigot, the lead author from UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research, explains that climate change is unlikely to gradually render environments more challenging for animals. Instead, large sections of their geographical range are expected to become unfamiliarly hot within a short period.

Dr. Pigot emphasizes the urgent need to identify species at risk in the coming decades, stating, "Once we observe a species suffering under unfamiliar conditions, there may be little time before its range becomes inhospitable. It is vital that we proactively identify these species in advance."

The study also highlights the substantial impact of global warming. If the planet warms by 1.5°C, the study projects that 15% of the studied species will face unfamiliarly hot temperatures across at least 30% of their existing geographic range within a single decade. This risk doubles to 30% of species at 2.5°C of warming.

According to Dr. Pigot, urgent action is required to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the harmful effects of climate change on animals and plants, averting a catastrophic extinction crisis.

The researchers anticipate that their study will assist in targeting conservation efforts. Their data serves as an early warning system, identifying specific times and locations when particular animals are likely to face risks. Dr. Christopher Trisos, a co-author from the African Climate and Development Initiative at the University of Cape Town, compares the data presentation to a movie, allowing changes to be observed unfolding over time. This animated approach aims to direct conservation efforts and highlight the potentially catastrophic consequences of unchecked climate change.

The researchers also suggest that the pattern of abrupt exposure may be an inevitable characteristic of living on a spherical planet. Due to the Earth's shape, species have more available area in environments closer to the hotter end of what they are accustomed to, such as low-lying areas or regions near the equator.

Earlier research by the same lead authors indicated that even if climate change is halted and global temperatures peak and decline, biodiversity risks could persist for decades. Additionally, the authors found that many species facing unfamiliar temperatures will coexist with other animals experiencing similar temperature shocks, posing significant threats to local ecosystem functioning.

The study received support from prominent institutions, including the Royal Society, the Natural Environment Research Council, the National Science Foundation (US), the African Academy of Sciences.

Unveiling the Fury of Cyclone Mocha: Climate Change Amplifies Cyclonic Intensity

13th May 2023, by Sunita Mishra

In a concerning development, the first cyclonic storm of the season, Cyclone Mocha, has formed over the Southeast Bay of Bengal. Experts predict that atmospheric conditions are highly favorable for the intensification of Cyclone Mocha in the coming days. The India Meteorology Department, the country's nodal agency, has forecasted that the storm is expected to make landfall between Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, and Kyaukpyu, Myanmar, as a very severe cyclonic storm by noon on May 14, 2023.


The occurrence of this cyclone in May, the peak month for cyclogenesis in the Indian Ocean, is not surprising. However, the alarming trend of rapid intensification observed in recent cyclonic storms raises concerns among researchers and scientists. They attribute these changes to the increasing global mean temperature, particularly in the Indian Ocean.

According to a study titled 'Changing status of tropical cyclones over the north Indian Ocean,' researchers have noted a decrease in the translation speed of cyclones in the Arabian Sea, indicating slower movement. The intensification of cyclonic activity in the Arabian Sea is closely linked to rising ocean temperatures and increased moisture availability resulting from global warming. The study spanning from 1982 to 2019 shows a significant upward trend in the intensity, frequency, and duration of cyclonic storms and very severe cyclonic storms over the Arabian Sea. While there has been an 8% decrease in cyclone frequency in the Bay of Bengal, there has been a staggering 52% increase in the Arabian Sea during the recent epoch from 2001 to 2019.


Climate scientists have emphasized the impact of warming oceans on cyclone behavior. Dr. Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and Lead IPCC Author, warns that models often fail to capture the rapid intensification of cyclones due to inadequate inclusion of ocean conditions. Cyclones nowadays can retain their energy for an extended period, as seen in the case of Cyclone Amphan, which caused significant devastation even while traveling over land. Dr. Koll emphasizes that as long as oceans remain warm and winds remain favorable, cyclones will maintain their intensity for a longer duration.


The Bay of Bengal, riding on the wave of global warming in recent decades, has witnessed increased temperatures ranging between 30-32 degrees Celsius. These elevated temperatures play a crucial role in the intensification of cyclonic storms by enhancing convection. Dr. Koll highlights that this rapid intensification has become more frequent in both the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.


The impacts of climate change on cyclogenesis, especially in the Indian Ocean region, have become a cause for concern due to its high population density along the coastlines. According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences Report, climate models project an increase in tropical cyclone intensity and precipitation intensity in the North Indian Ocean basin. A comparison of pre-1950 and post-1950 periods reveals a rise in severe cyclonic storms by 49% in the Bay of Bengal region and 52% in the Arabian Sea region on an annual scale. Observations further indicate an increase in the frequency of extremely severe cyclonic storms over the Arabian Sea during the post-monsoon seasons of 1998-2018, with medium confidence attributing this rise to human-induced sea surface temperature (SST) warming.

The changing climate, primarily driven by increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, has resulted in an energy imbalance in the climate system. Approximately 92% of the energy goes into the ocean, leading to increased Ocean Heat Content (OHC). The IPCC's Special Report on Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) highlights the rise in global mean surface temperature, sea level, and Ocean Heat Content as primary indicators of climate change. Since the 1950s, the Indian Ocean has experienced the fastest surface warming, with the Ocean Heat Content increasing significantly.


According to the SROCC, future projections indicate a warmer and wetter world over oceans, providing more energy for evaporation and facilitating increased tropical cyclone (TC) activity and rainfall. While there may be fewer cyclones overall, the storms that do form are expected to be more intense, with a higher likelihood of Category 4 or 5 storms. Changes in atmospheric stability and the concentration of energy in a few large storms contribute to this intensification.


Experts highlight the role of the barrier layer, a layer between the top and bottom layers of the ocean, in cyclone behavior. As Ocean Heat Content strengthens, heat penetration to the ocean's bottom layer decreases. Cyclones tend to track where the Ocean Heat Content is higher, and recent observations indicate that cyclones can maintain their strength even when near the coast. This poses a serious threat to the coastal areas of India.


To better understand and predict cyclone behavior, scientists emphasize the importance of incorporating the thermal structure of the upper ocean, rather than relying solely on sea surface temperature (SST), which represents only the skin layer of the ocean. Ocean Heat Content acts as a critical predictor for cyclones, affecting their life cycle, pressure drop, track change, intensity, and storm surge height. Therefore, it is necessary to develop improved parameterization of SST that accounts for Ocean Heat Content, ultimately enhancing cyclone modeling and forecasting accuracy.


In conclusion, the formation and intensification of cyclonic storms like Cyclone Mocha are intrinsically linked to climate change. Rising global temperatures and increasing Ocean Heat Content contribute to the intensification of cyclones in the Indian Ocean region. As climate change continues, the need for robust modeling techniques and accurate forecasting becomes crucial in mitigating the impacts of these severe weather events on vulnerable coastal communities.


Disclaimer: The article is based on information provided by Climate Trends, a research-based consulting and capacity building initiative specializing in environment, climate change, and sustainable development.