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Indian Express

30- December-2023

1. A PATCHY CLIMATE REPORT

Topic: GS3 – Environment– Environmental pollution and degradation, Environmental impact assessment. 
This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for Mains in the context of complexities and challenges surrounding global climate commitments. 
Context:
  • There were numerous pledges made at the COP28 summit in Dubai, but India decided not to sign any legally-binding agreements and instead to support statements of intent that were centred around low-carbon hydrogen and financial accessibility.
  • But because nations are reluctant to codify these endorsements into legally enforceable agreements, questions are raised about these endorsements’ efficacy.
Global Temperature Projections:
  • Even if all of this year’s commitments are fulfilled, the UN projects a rise in temperature of 2.5 to 2.9 degrees Celsius.
  • Given that the world is expected to rise above the 1.5 degree Celsius limit set at COP21 in Paris eight years ago, this presents a serious issue.
Per Capita Emissions and Country Contributions:
  • Sharp differences can be seen when per capita emissions from the Rio Earth Summit are analysed.
  • Between 1992 and 2019, the average American produced around 700 tonnes of greenhouse gases, which is more than three times the amount produced globally.
  • China must deal with growing emissions from ongoing coal-fired power plant building, while the US must surpass its carbon reduction promises in order to reach climate targets.
Global Emission Contributions:
  • With varying degrees of commitment, the G20 countries accounted for 74% of world emissions in 2021.
  • Russia hasn’t taken any major steps to reduce emissions, but the EU, Japan, Canada, South Korea, and the UK are actively working to reduce pollution.
Unique Challenges of India, Brazil, and Indonesia:
  • With 19% of GHG emissions coming from Brazil, Indonesia, and India, these countries confront particular difficulties because of their relatively small historical contributions to global warming.
  • It is unjust to expect these nations to drastically reduce their use of fossil fuels.
  • It is recommended that strong nations set high goals and encourage others to do the same.
Economic Viability of Coal and the Role of Natural Gas:
  • The cost-competitiveness of renewable energy sources is making coal less economically viable.
  • The COP28 language, however, highlights natural gas as a vital bridge fuel while ignoring the substantial role that methane—the main ingredient in natural gas plays in the present warming trend.
  • India can contribute to the urgent need to reduce methane emissions by using technology advancements and better water management practices.
India’s Role and Achievements:
  • India has made a substantial contribution to the development of the climate discourse by highlighting issues of energy availability, equity, and climate justice.
  • The nation has met its 2030 targets ahead of schedule and has cut its emission intensity by 33 percent.
  • Aligning policy with sustainable development is still difficult, though.
Hope Amid Challenges:
  • There is optimism for the future of COP conferences in the form of global financial support, technical improvements, and national moral pressure.
  • But even these might not be enough to prevent a global climate catastrophe, which is why international leaders must work towards stronger pledges.
Conclusion:
  • In order to address the approaching climate problem, states are urged to take meaningful action rather than just symbolic gestures, as the analysis highlights the intricacies and difficulties underlying global climate obligations.
What are the Key Outcomes of COP 28 (2023)?
Global Stocktake Text:
  • The Global Stocktake (GST) is a periodic review mechanism established under the Paris Agreement in 2015.
  • The text proposes eight steps to keep the global temperature rise within the ambit of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • It calls for tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030.
  • It calls for substantially reducing non-CO2 emissions, including, in particular, methane emissions globally by 2030.
Transitioning Away from Fossil Fuels:
  • COP28 calls for transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly, and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, to achieve net zero by 2050.
Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA):
  • Global adaptation goal focuses on enhancing adaptive capabilities, and minimizing vulnerability for sustainable development.
  • At COP28, this text calls for a doubling in adaptation finance and plans for assessments and monitoring of adaptation needs in the coming years.
  • Positively, an explicit 2030 date has been integrated into the text for targets on water security, ecosystem restoration, and health.
Climate Finance:
  • The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that wealthy nations owe developing countries USD 500 billion in 2025 under the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) for climate finance.
  • The goal is to set a new collective quantified goal before 2025. The goal will start from a floor of USD 100 billion per year.
  • This includes USD 250 billion for mitigation, USD 100 billion for adaptation, and USD 150 billion for loss and damage.
Loss and Damage Fund:
  • Member countries reached an agreement to operationalize the Loss and Damage (L&D) fund aimed at compensating countries grappling with climate change impacts.
  • A specific percentage is earmarked for Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.
  • The World Bank will oversee the loss and damage fund in the beginning.
Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge:
  • The Pledge stipulates that signatories commit to work together to triple the world’s installed renewable energy generation capacity to at least 11,000 GW by 2030.
  • It also calls for collectively double the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements from around 2% to over 4% every year until 2030.
The Global Cooling Pledge for COP 28:
  • It includes 66 national government signatories committed to working together to reduce cooling-related emissions across all sectors by at least 68% globally relative to 2022 levels by 2050.
Declaration to Triple Nuclear Energy:
  • The declaration launched at COP28 aims to triple global nuclear energy capacity by 2050.
PYQ: Describe the major outcomes of the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). What are the commitments made by India in this conference? (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2021)
Practice Question: Discuss the key challenges and complexities highlighted in the context of India’s stance and global commitments at COP28. (200 words/12.5 m)

2. Press pause and process

Topic: GS3 – Science and technology
This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for Mains in the context of challenges in the age of AI
Context:
  • India’s goal to become a hub for AI was highlighted in December when Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) Summit in Delhi.
  • The Prime Minister did, however, also voice important worries about the possible dangers connected to AI, drawing attention to the difficulties that come with this technology’s rapid progress on a worldwide scale.
Positive Aspects and Concerns:
  • Prime Minister Modi acknowledged the benefits of AI but voiced concerns about its possible misuse, noting problems including data theft, cybersecurity risks, deepfakes, and terrorists’ potential use of AI tools.
  • An era where machines, led by machine learning, surpass human intelligence has been brought about by the fast expansion of artificial intelligence, big data, and robotics.
  • This has caused considerable fear.
Global Response and Skepticism:
  • Prominent global identities, like Elon Musk, have voiced doubts regarding uncontrolled AI trials and called for a brief stop to address grave concerns.
  • A discussion on AI ethics was held in the Vatican, and the outcome was the “Rome Call for AI Ethics,” which emphasised the need of responsible AI development and moral algorithms.
  • Microsoft and IBM executives echoed the demand for a human-centric strategy, highlighting the moral use of AI to support human brilliance and creativity.
G-20 Summit and Delhi Declaration:
  • The Delhi Declaration, which was unveiled at the G-20 Summit in September, emphasised the need for “Responsible Human-Centric AI” and the establishment of an international framework to stop the abuse of AI.
  • In order to safeguard mankind, Prime Minister Modi demanded swift action, urging all nations to cooperate and complete the global framework within a given time frame.
Pope Francis’s Concerns:
  • Pope Francis voiced concerns about the possible effects of AI advancements on justice, harmony, and peace in his New Year’s speech.
  • He emphasised the need to uphold core human values in the face of AI’s profound effects and posed pressing ethical considerations about the use of digital technology.
Meta Era and Ethical Foundations:
  • The article examines how religion and reason have driven human progress throughout history, with reason’s greatest obstacle coming from the development of artificial intelligence.
  • In the past, philosophical and moral frameworks followed scientific breakthroughs; in contrast, the current Meta age does not have such an intervention.
  • Global leaders are being urged to consider the ethical implications of artificial intelligence (AI) by leaders like Pope Francis and Prime Minister Modi, who emphasise the significance of “algorethics” or the ethics of AI.
Conclusion:
  • As we move towards a future in which artificial intelligence-powered machine minds play a major role, ethical issues become more important than ever.
  • Leaders in politics and religion are requesting a global commitment to responsible and human-centered development, as well as a pause to consider the ethical implications of artificial intelligence.
  • The article emphasises how urgent it is for everyone to work together to shape AI’s ethical underpinnings in order to guarantee that they are consistent with key human values.
What is GPAI?
About:
  • It had fifteen members when it was first formed in June 2020.
  • The “fruition of an idea developed within the G7” is how the Global Partnership in Artificial Intelligence is described.
  • This multi-stakeholder artificial intelligence (AI) project seeks to bridge “the gap between theory and practice on AI” by funding innovative studies and practical initiatives pertaining to AI-related issues.
  • The initiative brings together specialists from a variety of areas, including research, industry, civil society, governments, international bodies, and academia, on a single platform to facilitate international cooperation on artificial technology.
  • Members:
At present, GPAI has twenty-five member states:
  • Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union (EU).
The founding members are:
  • Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Slovenia, the UK, the US, and the EU.
PYQ: With the present state of development, Artificial Intelligence can effectively do which of the following? (2020) Bring down electricity consumption in industrial units Create meaningful short stories and songs Disease diagnosis Text-to-Speech Conversion Wireless transmission of electrical energy Select the correct answer using the code given below: (a) 1, 2, 3 and 5 only (b) 1, 3 and 4 only (c) 2, 4 and 5 only (d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Ans: (b)
Practice Question: Discuss the global concerns and ethical considerations associated with the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI). (200 words/12.5 m)

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