Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 02 July 2023

India's first domestic regulated carbon market

GS Paper - 3 (Environment)

The union government, through a gazette notification, approved the formation of India’s first domestic regulated carbon market. The ‘Carbon Credit Trading Scheme, 2023’ first announced under the Energy Conservation Act, aims to set up a carbon credit trading market in the country.

More about the Scheme

  • Drafted by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, a wholly owned subsidiary of the ministry of power, the scheme would entail formation of a “National Steering Committee, a technical committee, an Accredited Carbon Verification Agency and the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) as the carbon market regulator. The Grid Controller of India will be the registry for the Indian carbon market.
  • The steering committee would be responsible for making the regulations, procedures and guidelines for the functioning of the carbon market.
  • The technical committee will be responsible for compliance of the said rules and regulations. The Bureau has entrusted the existing power exchanges for the carbon credit certificate trading.
  • Any project or entity which saves on emissions can issue carbon credit against their savings.
  • These are usually energy efficiencyrenewable energy and sustainable agriculture projects. These credits can be bought by an entity which is a carbon emitter.
  • A carbon credit allows its owner to emit that certain amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.
  • One credit is equivalent to one ton of carbon dioxide or the equivalent in other greenhouse gases.

Eligibility under the scheme

  • The notification however has not specified the activities which would be eligible under the carbon trading scheme.
  • The Ministry of Power, would recommend the notification of greenhouse gases emission intensity targets to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
  • The obligated entities shall be required to achieve greenhouse gases emission intensity in accordance with the targets.
  • The obligated entities shall also be required to meet any other targets such as use of non-fossil energy consumption or specific energy consumption as may be notified by the Ministry of Power under the Act as amended from time to time.


Centre identifies 30 critical minerals

GS Paper - 3 (Economy)

In a strategic move, the Centre has identified 30 critical minerals, including lithiumcobaltnickelgraphitetin and copper, which are essential for the country’s economic development and national security. The identification of these minerals — which form part of multiple strategic value chains, including clean technologies initiatives such as zero-emission vehicleswind turbinessolar panelsinformation and communication technologies, including semiconductors; and advanced manufacturing inputs and materials such as defence applicationspermanent magnets, ceramics — was done on the basis of a report on critical minerals prepared by an expert team constituted by the Ministry of Mines last November. The ministry will revisit the list periodically.

The exercise

  • While elements such as cobalt, nickel and lithium are required for batteries used in electric vehicles or cellphonesrare earth minerals are critical, in trace amounts, in the semiconductors and high-end electronics manufacturing.
  • Most countries of the world have identified critical minerals as per their national priorities and future requirements.
  • In India too, some efforts have been made in the past to identify the minerals that are critical for the country, including an initiative in 2011 by the Planning Commission of India (now NITI Aayog) that highlighted the need for the “assured availability of mineral resources for the country’s industrial growth”, with a clear focus on the well-planned exploration and management of already discovered resources.
  • That report analysed 11 groups of minerals under categories such as metallicnonmetallicprecious stones and metals, and strategic minerals.
  • From 2017 to 2020, a big thrust was accorded to the study of exploration and development of rare earth elements in the country.
  • The specific trigger for the latest exercise is India’s international commitments towards reducing carbon emissions, which require the country to urgently relook at its mineral requirements for energy transition and net-zero commitments.
  • In November 2022, the Ministry of Mines had constituted a seven-member Committee under the chairmanship of Joint Secretary (Policy), Ministry of Mines to identify a list of minerals critical to our country and the panel decided to have a three-stage assessment to arrive at a list of critical minerals.

Critical minerals

  • These are minerals that are essential for economic development and national security, and the lack of availability of these minerals or the concentration of extraction or processing in a few geographical locations could potentially lead to “supply chain vulnerabilities and even disruption of supplies”.
  • This is true for minerals such as lithium, graphite, cobalt, titanium, and rare earth elements, which are essential for the advancement of many sectors, including hightech electronicstelecommunicationstransport, and defence.
  • One of the definitions cited in the report characterises a mineral as critical when the risk of supply shortage and associated impact on the economy is (relatively) higher than other raw materials. This definition of a critical mineral was first adopted in the US and the subsequent legislation that resulted from the analysis, the report said.
  • The European Union also carried out a similar exercise and categorised critical minerals on the basis of two prerequisites: supply risk and economic importance.
  • Australia refers to critical minerals as: “metals, non-metals and minerals that are considered vital for the economic well-being of the world’s major and emerging economies, yet whose supply may be at risk due to geological scarcitygeopolitical issuestrade policy or other factors”.


Universe has a background ‘hum’

GS Paper - 3 (Science and Technology)

An international group of scientists has made a groundbreaking discovery that confirms the existence of gravitational waves first envisioned by Albert Einstein. The report, published, says that astrophysicists were able to “hear” low-frequency gravitational waves — changes in the fabric of the universe that are created by huge objects moving around and colliding in space.

More about the discovery

  • It’s really the first time that we have evidence of just this large-scale motion of everything in the universe, said Maura McLaughlin, co-director of NANOGrav, the research collaboration that published the results in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
  • These gravitational waves, detected at low frequencies, create a cosmic background hum that permeates the universe.
  • The research indicates that space is filled with these waves, which oscillate over extended periods, primarily originating from pairs of supermassive black holes spiraling and merging together.

Confirming Einstein’s theory

  • Einstein initially proposed the existence of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time, in 1916 as an extension of his revolutionary theory of general relativity.
  • The famous theory described gravity as the distortion of space and time caused by matter.
  • However, it wasn’t until 2016 that scientists successfully detected these waves directly, having relied on indirect evidence since the 1970s.
  • The recent research heavily relied on pulsars, which are the highly dense remnants of exploded stars spinning at extraordinary speeds.
  • Gravitational waves are generated by astronomically dense objects in our universe, typically in orbital motion around each other.
  • As these waves travel through space, they physically stretch and compress the fabric of space-time itself.
  • The data for the latest report was collected by North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) Physics Frontiers Center, comprising over 190 scientists from the United States and Canada, in the period of 15 years.


Book A Free Counseling Session