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Indian Express

15- January-2024

1. Towards a pragmatic future

Topic: GS3 – Environment- Renewable energy, GS2- Govt policies and intervention
This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for Mains in the context of in-depth analysis, discussion of challenges, and proposes strategies related to India’s decarbonization efforts. 
Context:
  • In a recent report released at COP28, the Global Carbon Project predicted that by the end of 2023, India’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions would have surpassed 3 gigatons, an increase of 8% over the previous year.
  • Strategic decarbonisation initiatives are essential, even if India’s cumulative emissions and per capita emissions are still relatively low worldwide.
Sector-wise Emission Distribution:
  • 2019 had 3.1 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), mostly CO2, according to India’s Third National Communication (2023).
  • With its 76% share of emissions, the energy sector was followed by industrial processes at 8% and agricultural at 13%.
  • Within the energy sector, 39% of CO2 emissions were attributed to power generation, including sources that relied on coal.
Challenges in Transitioning to Renewable Energy:
  • There are obstacles in the way of attempts to lessen reliance on fossil fuels for transportation and power generation.
  • While switching to renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydropower is viable, there are obstacles to the broad adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), particularly for four-wheelers because of the lack of adequate charging infrastructure.
Limitations in Industrial Transition:
  • The shift away from fossil fuels is difficult for industries like steel and iron that need a lot of heat.
  • Industries with constant heat demands might not be able to meet their specific needs from renewable sources.
  • Additionally, aviation and heavy transport sectors find it tough to replace fossil fuels, with sustainable aviation fuel research still in fledgling stages.
Green Hydrogen as a Promising Solution:
  • Green hydrogen is becoming more and more of a viable answer for challenging industries and areas like heavy transportation.
  • However, the production of green hydrogen worldwide is still in its early stages at less than 1%.
  • India wants to produce 5 million metric tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030, but doing so will require a significant amount of water and renewable energy.
Obstacles in Green Hydrogen Production and Storage:
  • It takes a lot of green power and water to produce green hydrogen, and there are logistical issues with its storage and transit.
  • Since hydrogen pressurisation and storage problems are energy-intensive, these challenges must be resolved in order to achieve successful decarbonisation.
  • Renewable Capacity Scaling-Up as Low-Hanging Fruit:
  • Increasing the amount of renewable energy produced appears to be the most practical and quick fix for India’s decarbonisation efforts.
  • The nation’s needs are not met by the current renewable capacity, even with significant increase.
  • Effective renewable capacity promotion requires streamlining land acquisition procedures, guaranteeing prompt payments to renewable generators, and giving grid access top priority.
Policy Consistency and Prioritization:
  • Maintaining investor trust requires policy pronouncements to be consistent.
  • The government’s goal of being net-zero by 2070 means that green hydrogen projects, EV uptake, and renewable energy must be given top priority.
  • To achieve decarbonisation targets, policy direction clarity, the implementation of basic customs tariffs, and an emphasis on quick, affordable expansion in renewable capacity will be essential.
Conclusion:
  • The article highlights that boosting renewable capacity should be the sole agenda issue for the upcoming power ministers’ meeting.
  • India needs to solve policy inconsistencies, give priority to renewable energy, and create an atmosphere that encourages the quick adoption of sustainable practices if it is to meet its goals of being net-zero.
PYQ: Do you think India will meet 50 percent of its energy needs from renewable energy by 2030? Justify your answer. How will the shift of subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables help achieve the above objective? Explain. (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2022)
Practice Question: Evaluate the feasibility of achieving net-zero aspirations by 2070 and propose policy measures for effective decarbonization. Highlight the significance of scaling up renewable capacity and address the issues surrounding policy consistency in this regard. (200 words/12.5 m)

2. The pirate resurgence

Topic: GS3 – Internal Security-  
This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for Mains in the context of surge in piracy in the Western Indian Ocean. 
Context:
  • The Indian Navy responded to the recent spike in pirate incidents—best illustrated by the attempted hijacking of the MVL Lila Norfolk quickly and effectively.
  • The Navy’s operational readiness and effectiveness in saving the ship’s crew from pirates was demonstrated by the utilisation of elite marine commandos and technology assets, such as drones and helicopters.
Regional Strain and Resurgence of Piracy:
  • Despite the Indian Navy’s success, the revival of piracy offers concerns for India and other regional states.
  • Since November 2023, there have been several occurrences like the attempted hijacking of Lila Norfolk, which suggests that regional navies are finding it difficult to effectively combat piracy.
Shift in Security Dynamics and Failures in Anti-Piracy Operations:
  • According to theories, there may have been a shift in maritime presence from the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea, which resulted in a spike in piracy.
  • Anti-piracy efforts, like as NATO’s 2016 mission termination, have not been able to effectively combat the issue of piracy in Somalia.
  • The belief that piracy in Somali seas has been eliminated and is unlikely to occur again is currently being questioned.
Possible Connections with Militant Groups and Power Rivalries
  • There are rumours that pirates work with extremist organisations such as the Houthis in the Red Sea and Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
  • Reports from intelligence services allude to support for Hamas, implying possible links between piracy and larger crises in the region.
  • Another argument relates piracy to political conflicts in the Horn of Africa, with pirate attacks likely tied to recent agreements between Ethiopia and Somaliland.
Socio-economic Realities and Root Causes
  • The illegal exploitation of fish stocks by foreign vessels is one of the main reasons of pirate activity in the region, and it also exacerbates economic problems for locals.
  • Piracy is still supported by the intricate interactions of socioeconomic factors, such as poverty and a lack of job possibilities.
  • Studies show that foreign fishing vessels make matters worse by depriving coastal communities of essential supplies.
Implications for Shipping Companies and Regional Navies
  • The recent increase in piracy indicates that shipping companies and regional navies should get ready for difficult times to come.
  • Due to its complexity, piracy necessitates a thorough strategy that takes into account all of its root causes.
  • The preservation of maritime security in the Western Indian Ocean depends on regional cooperation and a renewed commitment to anti-piracy initiatives. 
Conclusion:
  • Recent events have brought to light the dynamic nature of piracy in the area, calling for a review of anti-piracy tactics and more international maritime cooperation.
  • The Indian Navy’s effective involvement shows off its capabilities, but long-term measures are needed to address the underlying issues and stop piracy from getting worse in the future. 
PYQ: In 2012, the longitudinal marking of the high-risk areas for piracy was moved from 65° East to 78° east in the Arabian Sea by International Maritime organisation. What impact does this have on India’s maritime security concerns? (200 words/12.5m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2014)
Practice Question: Discuss the recent resurgence of piracy in the Western Indian Ocean and its implications for regional security. (150 words/10 m)

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