Today Current Affairs: 22nd February 2022 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc
Table of Contents
UNEP Frontiers Report:
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recently released its latest annual Frontiers report.
- This is the fourth edition of the Frontiers Report, which was first published in 2016 with an alert to the growing risk of zoonotic diseases, four years before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Report identifies and offers solutions to three environmental issues that merit attention and action from governments and the public at large.
Highlights of the report:
- Urban noise pollution, wildfires and phenological shifts – the three topics of this Frontiers report – are issues that highlight the urgent need to address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.
- Wildfires are predicted to worsen in the coming years and decades.
- The trends towards more dangerous fire-weather conditions are likely to increase due to rising concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases and the attendant escalation of wildfire risk factors.
- There has been a rapid expansion of cities towards forest areas in many regions in recent decades.
- This wild land-urban interface is the area where wildfire risks are most pronounced. For example, rising fires in California, United States.
- With rising forest fires, the world is very likely to see more frequent incidences of lightning.
- Fire-induced thunderstorms are a new danger posed by rising wildfires. These thunderstorms contribute to more dangerous conditions for fires on the ground.
- Noise pollution in cities is a growing hazard to public health: Unwanted, prolonged and high-level sounds from road traffic, railways, or leisure activities impair human health and well-being.
- Phenological shifts occur when species shift the timing of life cycle stages in response to changing environmental conditions altered by climate change. The concern is that interacting species in an ecosystem do not always shift the timing in the same direction or at the same rate.
- These phenological shifts are increasingly disturbed by climate change, pushing plants and animals out of synch with their natural rhythms and leading to mismatches, such as when plants shift life cycle stages faster than herbivores.
Guidelines On Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) On Plastic Packaging:
The government has notified the Guidelines on Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) on plastic packaging under Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. The guidelines will come into effect from 1st July 2022.
Overview of the new guidelines:
Four categories of plastic packaging specified:
- Category one will include rigid plastic packaging.
- Category two will include flexible plastic packaging of single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic), plastic sheets and covers made of plastic sheet, carry bags, plastic sachet or pouches.
- Category three will include multi-layered plastic packaging (at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of material other than plastic).
- Category four includes plastic sheet or like used for packaging as well as carry bags made of compostable plastics.
The guidelines also include:
- Specifications for reuse, recycling, use of recycled plastic content, and end-of-life disposal of non-recyclable plastic packaging.
- setting up a centralised online portal by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for the registration as well as filing of annual returns by producers, importers and brand-owners, plastic waste processors of plastic packaging waste by March 31.
- Producers of plastic packaging will have to manage 35% of the ‘Q1’ waste in metric tonnes in 2021-22. Q1 is calculated by adding the last two years’ average weights of plastic packaging material sold and pre-consumer plastic packaging waste, and subtracting the annual quantity of plastic packaging supplied to brand owners.
- The EPR target will be increased to 70% in 2022-23 and 100% from 2023-24 onwards.
- The recycling obligation for producers will be 50% for rigid plastics in 2024-25, 60% in 2025-26, 70% in 2026-27, and 80% from 2027-28 onwards.
- Environmental compensation shall be levied based upon polluter pays principle, with respect to non-fulfilment of EPR targets by producers, importers and brand owners, for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the environment and preventing, controlling and abating environment pollution.
- For the first time, the guidelines allow for the sale and purchase of surplus extended producer responsibility certificates. Thus setting up a market mechanism for plastic waste management.
MoEFCC notified the Plastic Waste Management Rules on March 18, 2016, and the Solid Waste Management Rules on April 8 the same year.
- As plastic waste is part of solid waste, therefore, both the rules apply to managing plastic waste in the country.
- The Plastic Waste Management Rules mandate minimising the generation of plastic waste, avoiding littering, ensuring segregated storage of the waste at source, and handing it over.
- The rules also mandate the responsibilities of local bodies, gram panchayats, waste generators, retailers, and street vendors to manage plastic waste.
- The rules cast EPR on producers, importers, and brand-owners.
- Extended Producer Responsibility shall be applicable to both pre-consumer and post-consumer plastic packaging waste.
Munich Security Conference In Germany:
External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar held a series of one-to-one meetings with Ministers from Europe, Asia and other parts of the world on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in Germany.
- The Munich Security Conference is an annual conference on international security policy that has been held in Munich, Bavaria, Germany since 1963.
- Over the past four decades the Munich Security Conference has become the most important independent forum for the exchange of views by international security policy decision-makers.
- Each year it brings together about 350 senior figures from more than 70 countries around the world to engage in an intensive debate on current and future security challenges.
- The list of attendees includes heads of states, governments and international organizations, ministers, members of parliament, high-ranking representatives of armed forces, science, civil society, as well as business and media.
- The conference is held annually in February.
- The venue is the Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.
Vigyan Sarvatra Pujyate:
As part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, The Government of India is holding a week-long commemoration titled Vigyan Sarvatra Pujyate from February 22 to 28 simultaneously in 75 locations across the length and breadth of the country.
- As a feather in the cap, a science & technology mega expo, National Science Book Fair are being held in New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru stadium .
- This event is jointly organised by Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology, CSIR, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Space, Indian Council of Medical Research, AICTE and DRDO under the leadership of the office of the Principal Scientific Officer to the Government of India and the Ministry of Culture.
- Vigyan Prasar, an autonomous organization of DST with a mandate to promote science communication in the country, is the coordinating agency.
- The programmes have been grouped under four themes.
- The first theme is `from the annals of the history of S&T’.
- The second theme is, ‘Milestones of Modern S&T’.
- The third theme is `Swadeshi Paramparik Inventions and Innovations’.
- The fourth theme is `transforming India’.
Non-Banking Financial Companies:
The Reserve Bank of India extended the timeline by six months for Non-Banking Financial Companies to adhere to the new NPA recognition norms.
- Earlier the regulator had set March 31 deadline for non-bank lenders to upgrade NPAs only after all arrears and principal dues are paid. It said that NBFCs will have time till September 30 to put in place the necessary systems to implement this provision.
- The RBI also clarified that loans classified as NPA will be upgraded to standard category only if all dues are paid.
- In case of borrowers having more than one credit facility from a lending institution, loan accounts shall be upgraded from NPA to standard asset category only upon repayment of entire arrears of interest and principal pertaining to all the credit facilities.
- The new RBI rules require NBFCs to treat such accounts as NPA until the borrower updates the account by paying all the EMIs due.
12th Presidential Fleet Review: Indian Navy
President Ram Nath Kovind will take part in the Indian Navy’s 12th Presidential Fleet Review.
- President’s Fleet Review is the country’s President taking stock of the Navy’s capability.
- It takes place once under every President, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces.
- The President is taken on one of the Naval ships, which is called the President’s Yacht, to look at all the ships docked on one of the Naval ports.
- The President’s Yacht this year “is an indigenously built Naval Offshore Patrol Vessel, INS Sumitra, which will lead the Presidential Column.
- The yacht will be distinguished by the Ashoka Emblem on her side and will fly the President’s Standard on the Mast”.
- The idea is to showcase not all the Navy’s ships, but every type of ship — and the kind of capabilities it has at that time. The review also includes merchant ships.
- In the current fleet review, which will take place in Vishakhapatnam, Kovind will review over 60 ships and submarines, and 55 aircraft, from the Navy and the Coast Guard.
- There have been 11 President’s Fleet Reviews since Independence.
- The first was conducted in 1953, under Dr Rajendra Prasad. The next one was done not by the President but by the then Defence Minister, Y B Chavan, in 1964.
- Since then, it has been the President reviewing the fleet.
- The last one was done in 2016, under President Pranab Mukherjee.
- The reviews in 2001 and 2016 were International Fleet Reviews, in which some vessels from other countries also participated.
Lakshya Zero Dumpsite:
The Centre has approved legacy waste remediation proposals in Andhra Pradesh as a part of the initiative to do away with legacy solid waste dump yards in cities.
- The housing and urban affairs ministry will provide assistance of Rs 77.7 crore for the Rs 235 crore proposal submitted by the state government under “Lakshya Zero Dumpsite”.
- So far over 260 cities across five states and UTs have submitted their action plan for legacy waste remediation as a part of the vision of garbage free cities.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 1 had announced the plan to make Indian cities garbage free under the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0 and one of the major objectives under the mission is ‘Lakshya Zero’ Dumpsite to remediate 16 crore tonnes of legacy waste dumpsites occupying nearly 15,000 acres of city land parcels.
- Legacy dumpsites pose major threats to the environment and contribute to air pollution and water pollution.
- Clearing these mountains of years-old waste is critical to not just transforming the urban landscape of the country, but also addressing the issue of public health and environmental concerns.
Tonga Volcanic Eruption:
NASA scientists say the Tonga volcano eruption shot out the highest ash plume satellites have ever captured.
- The eruption on January 15 shot a plume of ash into the mesosphere, where shooting stars form.
- The 36-mile-high plume makes this the largest volcanic eruption satellites have ever captured.
- Last month, a volcano erupted in the southern Pacific Island of Tonga, which triggered Tsunami waves around the Pacific.
- It is an Undersea Volcanic Eruption consisting of two small uninhabited islands, Hunga-Ha’apai and Hunga-Tonga.
- The Tonga Islands occur along the Ring of Fire — a perimeter of heightened volcanic and seismic activity that encircles the Pacific Ocean basin.
Nabin Chandra Sen Birth Anniversary:
The nation is remembering revolutionary Bengali poet and writer Nabin Chandra Sen on his 175th birth anniversary.
- He described the battle of Plassey and the arrival of British rule in India as “A Night of Eternal Gloom”.
- Nabin Chandra Sen’s novel-in-verse Bhanumati and memoir of his travels ‘Prabaser Patra’ brought him fame.
- His five-volume autobiography, Aamar Jiban-My Life is an important document chronicling the politics and social aspirations of the Bengali literati in the late nineteenth century.