Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS | 21st October 2021

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1.  The carbon markets conundrum at COP26

UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Environment & Climate Change | GS Paper III – Environment & Climate Change
Sub Theme: Importance of Article 6 | Paris Agreement | UPSC

What does the Article Highlight?

Article 6 of the Paris Agreement introduces provisions for using international carbon markets to facilitate fulfilment of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by countries. The success of COP26 at Glasgow hinges, to a great extent, on the conclusion of carbon markets discussions. Despite several rounds of high-level meetings, it remains one of the most technical and highly contentious unresolved issues of Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP).

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)

NDCs embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Article 4, Paragraph 2 of Paris Agreement requires each Party to prepare, communicate and maintain successive nationally determined contributions (NDCs) that it intends to achieve. NDCs are submitted every five years to the UNFCCC secretariat. In order to enhance the ambition over time the Paris Agreement provide that successive NDCs will represent a progression compared to the previous NDC and reflect its highest possible ambition.

Importance of Article 6 – Paris Agreement

Article 6 of the Paris Agreement aims at promoting integrated, holistic and balanced approaches that will assist governments in implementing their NDCs through voluntary international cooperation. This cooperation mechanism, if properly designed, should make it easier to achieve reduction targets and raise ambition. In particular, Article 6 could also establish a policy foundation for an emissions trading system, which could help lead to a global price on carbon.

India’s Stance

While over 50% of the countries have communicated their intention of using market mechanisms to achieve NDC targets, India is not one of them as it aims to rely on domestic mitigation efforts to meet its NDC goals.

Critical Issues – Article 6 of Paris Agreement

Three Critical Issues that would be hotly debated in Article 6 negotiating rooms are 1. Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Transition 2. Accounting Rules and 3. Share of Proceeds to the Adaptation Fund.

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) – defined in Article 12 of the Protocol, allows a country with an emission-reduction or emission-limitation commitment under the Kyoto Protocol (Annex B Party) to implement an emission-reduction project in developing countries. Such projects can earn saleable certified emission reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2, which can be counted towards meeting Kyoto targets.
CRITICAL ISSUES WHAT HAS BEEN PROVIDED PROBLEMS & IMPACT
Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Transition Article 6 mechanism should honour the previous decisions and allow for a smooth transition of these projects and credits to ensure not only the viability of these projects but also inspire trust among the private investors in the UNFCCC decision-making process. Some countries have cast doubts on the environmental integrity of these credits.

There is greater acceptance for transition of projects/activities but the same is not the case for transition of credits.

If the decision regarding transition of CDM is not favourable, it could lead to a loss of billions of dollar’s worth of potential revenue to India alone.

Accounting Rules Article 6.4 mechanism is meant to incentivise the private sector and public entities to undertake mitigation activities for sustainable development. Under this mechanism, a country can purchase emission reductions from public and private entities of the host country and use it to meet its NDC targets. This does not automatically imply that emission reductions transferred from a host country be adjusted against its NDC targets.

Countries (such as India) can significantly gain from the market mechanism under Article 6.4 by selling emission reductions that lie outside its NDC.

Developed countries are against the mechanism in Article 6.4 as according to them such efforts will in fact be additional to what have been committed in the NDC.

Thus, there is a need for Robust Accounting Standards which must be agreed by developed and developing countries.

Share of Proceeds to the Adaptation Fund For developing countries, adaptation is a necessity. However, it remains severely underfunded compared to financing for mitigation activities.

Developing countries emphasise that the SOP must be uniformly applied to Articles 6.2 and 6.4 to fund adaptation.

Developed countries want to restrict application of Adaptation Fund use to Article 6.4.

Way Forward – Climate justice demands that developing countries get access to their fair share of global carbon space. As developing countries are nudged to take greater mitigation responsibilities, a facilitative carbon market mechanism that respects the principles enshrined in UNFCCC would greatly help accelerate their transition to low carbon development and would be a win-win solution for all countries.

2.  The outlines of a national security policy

UPSC Syllabus: GS Paper III – Security
Sub Theme: Need for New National Cyber Security Policy| UPSC

Context: Cyber Warfare has significantly reduced the deterrent value posed large countries such as USA, China or India having the benefit of geography, population and GDP as with technology at one’s disposal, it makes smaller nations equally threatening. Increasing use of technology such as Artificial Intelligence, 5G, Nano-technology, innovations in cybertechnology and software developments has changed the concept of war from mobilisation of force and weapon to use of remote controlled weapons through cybertechnology.

Move Towards Cyber Warfare

In the 21st century, the world is moving to cyber weapons-based warfare which will also immobilise current tangible advanced weapon systems in a war. Therefore, in the 21st century, after cybertechnology enters as an important variable in nations’ defence policies, the size of a country will cease to matter. Sri Lanka, or North Korea, empowered by cybertechnology, will be equal to the United States, Russia, India or China, in their capability to cause unacceptable damage.

Recent Examples of Cyber Warfare

  • Electricity blackout in Mumbai for few hours by China.
  • The EU formally blamed Russia for its involvement in the ‘Ghost-writer’ cybercampaign, which targeted the elections and political systems of several member states.
  • Chinese state-linked hackers targeted Afghan telecom provider Roshan and stole gigabytes of data from their corporate mail server over the past year.

Four Dimensions for New National Security Policy in 21st Century

  1. Objectives – define what assets are required to be defended, the identity of opponents who seek to overawe the people of a target nation, by unfamiliar moves to cause disorientation of people. Corona Virus is an example of what lies ahead in terms of cyber and biological warfare. So, the policy must address the future needs of such attacks.
  1. Priorities – In such scenarios of uncertainties about the future in the 21st century, national security priorities will require new departments for supporting several frontiers of innovation and technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells, desalination of seawater, thorium for nuclear technology, anti-computer viruses, and new immunity-creating medicines. This focus on a new priority will require compulsory science and mathematics education, especially in applications for analytical subjects. Every citizen will have to be alerted to new remote controlled military technology and be ready for it.
  1. Strategy – The strategy required for this new national security policy will be to anticipate our enemies in many dimensions and by demonstrative but limited pre-emptive strikes by developing a strategy of deterrence of the enemy. For India, it will be the China cyber capability factor which is the new threat for which it has to devise a new strategy. India needs to ensure international cooperation in cyber warfare technologies in order to tackle future threats emanating from either side of the border.
  1. Resource Mobilisation – to strengthen the economy of a country. Lack of economic resources must be met through macro-economic measures.

Way Forward – Thus, to counter the innovation taking place in cyber warfare, there is a need for National Security Policy which takes into account technological innovations and challenge posed by cyber warfare.

NATIONAL CYBER SECURITY POLICY 2013

National Cyber Security Policy is a policy framework by Department of Electronics and Information Technology to protect the public and private infrastructure from cyber-attacks. The policy also intends to safeguard “information, such as personal information (of web users), financial and banking information and sovereign data”. Ministry of Communications and Information Technology defines Cyberspace as a complex environment consisting of interactions between people, software services supported by worldwide distribution of information and communication technology.

Strategies

  • Creating a secured Ecosystem.
  • Creating an assurance framework.
  • Encouraging Open Standards.
  • Strengthening The regulatory Framework.
  • Creating mechanism for Security Threats Early Warning, Vulnerability management and response to security threat.
  • Securing E-Governance services.
  • Protection and resilience of Critical Information Infrastructure.
  • Promotion of Research and Development in cyber security.
  • Reducing supply chain risks
  • Human Resource Development (fostering education and training programs both in formal and informal sectors to support Nation’s cyber security needs and build capacity.
  • Creating cyber security awareness.
  • Developing effective Public Private Partnership.
  • To develop bilateral and multilateral relationship in the area of cyber security with other country. (Information sharing and cooperation)
  • Prioritized approach for implementation.

Salient Features 

  • National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) is the National Nodal Agency in respect of Critical Information Infrastructure Protection (Power & Energy, Telecom, Banking & Financial Services, Government, Strategic and Public Enterprises). It has been constituted under Information Technology Act.
  • Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has been designated to act as a nodal agency for responding to computer security incidents.

Issues with the policy 

  • The provisions to take care security risks emanating due to use of new technologies e.g. Cloud Computing, has not been addressed.
  • Another area which is left untouched by this policy is tackling the risks arising due to increased use of social networking sites by criminals and anti-national elements.
  • There is also a need to incorporate cyber-crime tracking, cyber forensic capacity building and creation of a platform for sharing and analysis of information between public and private sectors on continuous basis.
  • Indigenous development of cyber security solutions as enumerated in the policy is laudable but these solutions may not completely tide over the supply chain risks and would also require building testing infrastructure and facilities of global standards for evaluation.
  • The global debate on national security versus right to privacy and civil liberties is going on for long. Although, one of the objectives of this policy aims at safeguarding privacy of citizen data however, no specific strategy has been outlined to achieve this objective.

Need for Review of Cyber Security Policy 

  • It was created in the wake Surveillance scandal of the American National Security Agency leaks by Edward Snowdown back in 2013. Since then, new challenges have emerged which needs to be addressed.
  • India is among the top 10 countries facing cyber-attacks.
  • Cyber landscape has witnessed growing digitization as part of the Government’s Digital India push, as well as more sophisticated cyber threats, particularly the WannaCrypt and Petya ransomware attacks.
  • The government must also proactively address India’s ability to respond effectively to cyber threats by outlining an institutional framework ensure the country’s digital safety.
  • There is a need for outlining mechanisms for coordination between multiple agencies responsible for cyber security.
  • There is great crunch of cyber security professionals that needs to be addressed.
  • There has been little progress in the Public private partnership envisaged by the 2013 Policy.
  •  Another area of priority for a new cyber security policy must be fostering greater civil-military cooperation on cyber security.

Additions that can be made in the Cyber Security Policy

  • There must be an action plan to deal with state-sponsored attacks. In such attacks, government infrastructure, the private sector, and citizens’ personal details are hacked at once.
  • An SOS lockdown policy must be in place to completely take the nuclear grids, power grids, financial institutions, and satellite communication off the internet immediately, in case of any national security attack.
  • There must be provisions for or nationwide cybersecurity training of the common mass if the country aims to take its finance and healthcare online.
  • The security standards should not only be defined for government organizations but also be enforced on private companies with a checklist of requirements.

 

3.  Pentagon chief urges more Black Sea Security ties

UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: World Map
Sub Theme: Black Sea | Countries Surrounding Black Sea| | UPSC

Context: U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin urged more defence cooperation among Black Sea allies on Wednesday ahead of a NATO Ministers summit. The security and stability of the Black Sea are in the U.S.’s national interest and critical for the security of NATO’s eastern flank.

 

4.  Understanding Furlough

UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Polity & Governance
Sub Theme: Furlough and Parole | UPSC

Context: The Supreme Court has discussed the differences between ‘furlough’ and ‘parole’ and the principles relating to grant of them.

  • Furlough and parole envisage a short-term temporary release from custody.
  • While parole is granted for the prisoner to meet a specific exigency, furlough may be granted after a stipulated number of years have been served without any reason.
  • The grant of furlough is to break the monotony of imprisonment and to enable the convict to maintain continuity with family life and integration with society.
  • Although furlough can be claimed without a reason, the prisoner does not have an absolute legal right to claim furlough.
  • The grant of furlough must be balanced against the public interest and can be refused to certain categories of prisoners.
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