- Seven Chemicals under Stockholm Convention
- Cabinet approves ‘Natural Gas Marketing Reforms’
- Brand and Logo for Indian Cotton: World Cotton Day
- Chairman of the XV-FC addressing Commonwealth Ministers
SEVEN CHEMICAL SUNDER STOCKHOLM CONVENTION
Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology
Why in news?
- The Union Cabinet has approved the Ratification of seven (7) chemicals listed under Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).
- The Cabinet further delegated its powers to ratify chemicals under the Stockholm Convention to Union Ministers of External Affairs (MEA) and Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MEFCC) in respect of POPs already regulated under the domestic regulations thereby streamlining the procedure.
- The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), under the provisions of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, has prohibited the manufacture, trade, use, import and export seven chemicals.
- The ratification process would enable India to access Global Environment Facility (GEF) financial resources in updating the National Implementation Plan (NIP).
- Exposure to POPs can lead to cancer, damage to central & peripheral nervous systems, diseases of immune system, reproductive disorders and interference with normal infant and child development. POPs are listed in various Annexes to the Stockholm Convention after thorough scientific research, deliberations and negotiations among member countries.
The Seven Chemicals (POPs)
- Hexabromodiphenyl ether and Heptabromodiphenylether (Commercial octa-BDE)
- Tetrabromodiphenyl ether and Pentabromodiphenyl ether (Commercial penta-BDE)
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
- Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is an international environmental treaty, signed in 2001 and effective from May 2004, that aims to eliminate or restrict the production and use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
- The convention came into force in 2004 and Co-signatories agree to outlaw nine of the dirty dozen chemicals, limit the use of DDT to malaria control, and curtail inadvertent production of dioxins and furans.
- Parties to the convention have agreed to a process by which persistent toxic compounds can be reviewed and added to the convention, if they meet certain criteria for persistence and transboundary threat.
- Key elements of the Convention include the requirement that developed countries provide new and additional financial resources and measures to eliminate production and use of intentionally produced POPs, eliminate unintentionally produced POPs where feasible, and manage and dispose of POPs wastes in an environmentally sound manner.
- India had ratified the Stockholm Convention in 2006 as per Article 25(4), which enabled it to keep itself in a default “opt-out” position such that amendments in various Annexes of the convention cannot be enforced on it unless an instrument of ratification/ acceptance/ approval or accession is explicitly deposited with UN depositary.
What are Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)?
- Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are chemicals of global concern due to their potential for long-range transport, persistence in the environment, ability to bio-magnify and bio-accumulate in ecosystems, as well as their significant negative effects on human health and the environment.
- Many products used in our daily lives may contain POPs, which have been added to improve product characteristics, such as as flame retardants or surfactants. As a result, POPs can be found virtually everywhere on our planet in measurable concentrations.
- The most commonly encountered POPs are organochlorine pesticides, such as DDT, industrial chemicals, most notably polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), as well as unintentional by-products of many industrial processes, especially polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDD) and dibenzofurans (PCDF), commonly known as ‘dioxins’.
- POPs bio-magnify throughout the food chain and bio-accumulate in organisms. The highest concentrations of POPs are thus found in organisms at the top of the food chain. Consequently, background levels of POPs can be found in the human body.
CABINET APPROVES ‘NATURAL GAS MARKETING REFORMS’
Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology
Why in news?
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved ‘Natural Gas Marketing Reforms’, taking another significant step to move towards gas-based economy.
Natural Gas Marketing Reforms
- The objective of the policy is to prescribe standard procedure to discover market price of gas to be sold in the market by gas producers, through a transparent and competitive process, permit Affiliates to participate in bidding process for sale of gas and allow marketing freedom to certain Field Development Plans (FDPs) where Production Sharing Contracts already provide pricing freedom.
- The policy aims to provide standard procedure for sale of natural gas in a transparent and competitive manner to discover market price by issuing guidelines for sale by contractor through e-bidding.
- This will bring uniformity in the bidding process across the various contractual regimes and policies to avoid ambiguity and contribute towards ease of doing business.
- The policy has also permitted Affiliate companies to participate in the bidding process in view of the open, transparent and electronic bidding.
- The policy will also grant marketing freedom to the Field Development Plans (FDPs) of those Blocks in which Production Sharing Contracts already provide pricing freedom.
Effect on other economic activities
- The whole eco-system of policies relating to production, infrastructure and marketing of natural gas has been made more transparent with a focus on ease of doing business.
- These reforms will prove very significant for Atmanirbhar Bharat by encouraging investments in the domestic production of natural gas and reducing import dependence.
- These reforms will prove to be another milestone in moving towards a gas-based economy by encouraging investments.
- The increased gas production consumption will help in improvement of environment.
- These reforms will also help in creating employment opportunities in the gas consuming sectors including MSMEs.
- The domestic production will further help in increasing investment in the downstream industries such as City Gas Distribution and related industries.
BRAND AND LOGO FOR INDIAN COTTON: WORLD COTTON DAY
Focus: GS-III Industry and Economy
Why in news?
Union Minister of Textiles and Women & Child Development launched the first ever Brand & Logo for Indian Cotton on 2nd World Cotton Day on 7th October, 2020.
- Now India’s premium Cotton would be known as ‘Kasturi Cotton’ in the world cotton Trade.
- The Kasturi Cotton brand will represent Whiteness, Brightness, Softness, Purity, Luster, Uniqueness and Indianness.
- Ministry of Textiles through APEDA under Ministry of Commerce and Industry has prescribed a certification system for organic Cotton which will be introduced in phases in the entire textile value chain.
- Similarly, prescribing a certification system for non-organic Cotton has also been taken up with APEDA so that usages of cotton can be suitably augmented.
World Cotton Day
- The World Cotton day is celebrated on 7 October as a global celebration of cotton and its stakeholders, from field to fabric and beyond.
- World Cotton Day will celebrate the many advantages of cotton, from its qualities as a natural fibre, to the benefits people obtain from its production, transformation, trade and consumption.
The annual event aims to:
- Give exposure and recognition to cotton and all its stakeholders in production, transformation and trade.
- Engage donors and beneficiaries and strengthen development assistance for cotton.
- Seek new collaborations with the private sector and investors for the cotton-related industries and production in developing countries.
- Promote technological advances, as well as further research and development on cotton.
CHAIRMAN OF THE XV-FC ADDRESSING COMMONWEALTH MINISTERS
Focus: GS-III Indian Economy
Highlights of the Chairman of the 15th Finance Commission’s address to the Commonwealth Finance Minister’s Meeting 2020
The fiscal architecture of any economy in the 21st century inevitably rests on three pillars:
- The pillar of fiscal rules,
- The pillar of financial management process and
- The pillar of fiscal institutions.
The first phase covered these rules by stipulating norms relating to fiscal deficit targets consistent with macroeconomic stability.
- The original fiscal responsibilities and management legislations in most countries concentrated on rules pertaining to fiscal deficits. In the second phase, we recognized that fiscal management must be guided by principles of equity, efficiency and transparency.
- These rules must be applied to all levels of government including subnational levels and budgetary institutions as well as management practices.
- The question of raising the quality and efficiency of public spending remains a continuing challenge.
- Equally, the availability of credible data across levels of government remains elusive.
- The second-generation fiscal rules currently underway have increasingly recognised the need to adopt more than one fiscal rule to balance competing options and enhance credibility.
- The need to create a fiscal anchor, the challenge of having multiple rules and the inconsistencies in seeking to monitor, verify and communicate remain problematic.
- Fiscal data on all contingent liabilities incurred by the sovereign, subnational and parastatals and a recourse to off-budget borrowing remains problematic.
- The Reinhart-Rogoff suggestion of external debt becoming a problem at around 60% of GDP and growth turning negative at 90% GDP must be interpreted in a broader context.
- The differentiated nature of various economies will need country-specific models, keeping in view the need to avoid what is typically called the ‘debt cliff’.
- Countries with significantly higher per capita income have significantly higher debt levels without compromising their long-term macroeconomic stability.
Five Broad Observations of the XV-FC Chairman
- First and foremost, that in the context of the pandemic, we need to focus not on fiscal rectitude but on fiscal forbearance. Fiscal norms designed for normal times are not appropriate in distressed times like these. The first challenge for these institutions is how to determine the norms of fiscal forbearance – Norms which are fair, appropriate and consistent (Norms which will address: the health emergency, building economic recovery, accepting the fiscal shock, addressing the nature of the fiscal shock and reforming the International Debt Architecture).
- Second, given the uncertain nature of the pandemic, this is a continuing challenge for finance ministers.
- The third issue is connected with the balance between actions of the sovereign government and the activities of the central bankers. Seeking synchronization between the policies of the sovereign and the central bankers is critical to address the ongoing pandemic.
- Fourth, while it is necessary and perhaps easier to argue in favour of fiscal forbearance—and taking recourse to escape clauses or such flexibilities which these norms prescribe—it is equally important to get back on track as soon as the pandemic has begun to wane. The path to fiscal rectitude after fiscal forbearance must be central to these norms. It is easier to exit than to re-enter. Fiscal forbearance must be followed by fiscal rectitude.
- Fifth, is regarding the concern of what kind of an international consensus could be evolved around the fiscal forbearance norms.