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The report finds India is moving slowly away from coal at a national level, however considerable progress is being made at the state level.

India alone is home to 7 per cent (21GW) of the global coal project pipeline, which is 56 per cent of South Asia's total, a study showed on Tuesday, with the country moving slowly away from coal at a national level, however considerable progress is being made at the state level. Four countries in South Asia -- Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka -- have previously considered or are currently considering coal. Together, they account for 13 per cent of the global pre-construction pipeline (37.4GW), said a new report by climate change think tank E3G that assessed the global pipeline of new coal projects.

It finds there has been a 76 per cent reduction in proposed coal power since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, bringing the end of new coal construction into sight. The report says Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan are showing leadership in cancelling projects and making political statements that they will no longer pursue new coal power. In India, significant socio-economic headwinds to new coal have led to state-level commitments to no new coal, opening a pathway for national-level progress. Having considered new coal-fired power projects for a number of years, Sri Lanka is now leading the way in South Asia.

Aerial Cableway, Maramarua Open Cast Coal Mine, 1966 India's pre-construction pipeline of 21GW is the second largest in the world. | Wikimedia

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Photo by Kouji Tsuru on Unsplash

New data from the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) on Wednesday underscored the health threat of a world without policy action.

The same clean air policies that can reduce fossil fuel emissions and help reign in climate change can also add up to five years onto people's lives in the most polluted regions while globally adding more than two years onto lives on average. Over the last year, Covid-19 lockdowns brought blue skies to the most polluted regions of the globe, while wildfires exacerbated by a drier and hotter climate sent smoke to the normally clean skies of cities thousands of miles away. The conflicting events offer two visions of the future. The difference between those futures lies in policies to reduce fossil fuels.

New data from the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) on Wednesday underscored the health threat of a world without policy action. Unless global particulate air pollution is reduced to meet the World Health Organisation's (WHO) guideline, the average person is set to lose 2.2 years off their lives. Residents of the most polluted areas of the world could see their lives cut short by five years or more. Working unseen inside the human body, particulate pollution has a more devastating impact on life expectancy than communicable diseases like tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, behavioural killers like cigarette smoking, and even war.

"During a truly unprecedented year where some people accustomed to breathing dirty air experienced clean air, and others accustomed to clean air saw their air dirty, it became acutely apparent the important role policy has played and could play in reducing fossil fuels that contribute both to local air pollution and climate change," says Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and creator of the AQLI along with colleagues at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC). "The AQLI demonstrates the benefits these policies could bring to improve our health and lengthen our lives."

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Photo by Benjamin Combs on Unsplash

Over the course of the pandemic, interest in gardening has surged as people look for new ways to get outside to nature while being stuck at home.

Over the course of the pandemic, interest in gardening has surged as people look for new ways to get outside to nature while being stuck at home.

As residents in Sydney entered into their precious days of spring and the 11th week of lockdown, old green thumbs and novices talked about the important role gardening has played during the pandemic, reports Xinhua news agency.

Wendy Stanford who lives in the Greater Sydney region is just one of the thousands of Australians who have taken to their gardens in new ways during the pandemic.

She told the news agency that during the most recent Sydney lockdown, gardening has become an important part of her life and has given her and her partner something to focus on each day.

"When lockdowns first started, we planted some purple bulbs. We have enjoyed watching them grow every day. Now with spring here we get to see them bloom."

When the local nurseries have been closed, Stanford said she had to adapt by using more local seeds.

"Because we haven't been able to buy new seeds, we have been walking around and finding native trees that drop their seeds, and then experimenting with growing them into plants."

As gardening supply stores have shut down due to health restrictions, Sydneysiders have to come up with new ways to source their seeds.

Sandy, a representative from Happy Valley Seeds, said the seed companies' recent uptick in online sales has been twofold.

"We have seen an uptick at the start of each lockdown. On top of this, all-seed sellers across Australia have increased interest in Spring," he told Xinhua.

Diana Barnes, who runs a website and podcast called Growing Vegetables Down Under, said the benefits of gardening and its role in people's lives have grown especially during the pandemic.

She said during a time when supply chains are stretched, and visiting a supermarket could pose a health risk, gardening has provided an alternative source of fresh food, she said.

"People who were stockpiling seeds were worried we may be cut off from food sources. People also saw a benefit in becoming self-sufficient in some areas," Barnes said.

In her own work, she had noticed an increase in followers asking for guidance for growing edible plants, and a number of seed supply companies have struggled to keep up with the increased demand for seeds.

Besides food security, Barnes thought getting into gardening and doing something in nature will help people maintain good mental health and draw them away from devices.

"It takes you outdoors in the sun and fresh air and this also improves your mood and outlook. It is a great education to pass on to children and everyone is keen to get them outdoors to play in the dirt."

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Image by Suket Dedhia from Pixabay

Ladakh has attracted bikers from all across India and the world.

Two years after it was separated from the parent state of Jammu and Kashmir and granted the Union Territory status, Ladakh is on crossroads over choosing between sustainable tourism and saving the fragile trans-Himalayan ecology.
Tourism has been steadily increasing in Ladakh over the last few decades and with every passing year, created an unviable strain on the local natural resources. While on the one hand, people want more tourists to come; on the other, environmental experts are wary of the negative impact it will have on the local environment.
A few days ago, when a video of a reckless tourist's four-wheeler stuck in the sludge at the shore of the serene Pangong Tso lake went viral on social media, there was a lot of hue and cry from all strata of people from Ladakh, in person, in media and also on the social media.

Monastry in Ladakh With its nature's bounty, Ladakh attracts a large number of tourists and the numbers have been increasing by the year. Photo by Steven Lasry on Unsplash

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