1. India’s missing its second dose, waiting for third
The missed deadline
• Over 12 crore people are due for their second dose of Covid vaccine in India, health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Thursday.
• Dr V K Paul, member health at Niti Aayog and a key expert in the vaccination programme had on October 20 said that the number of persons who had overshot the date for the second dose stood at 10 crore.
• Over 67% of all doses administered in India was a first dose, as per CoWin dashboard.
The booster dose question
• India will soon release its policy document on administering the third dose of Covid-19 vaccine, a key member of India's Covid-19 task force said on Thursday.
• Dr NK Arora, co-chair of INSACOG, a 28-lab consortium to monitor genomic variations in SARS-CoV-2, urged people not to take a booster dose as it won't be considered for any certification right now.
• "There will be no record of this third dose people take secretly," Arora told TOI. "The government is working on a policy now for an additional dose. We are working on it for the past three weeks, and firming up the document. It will be made public soon."
The unfair bills
• The Supreme Court, after hearing a petition filed by a Dehradun resident, who has claimed that private hospitals charged exorbitant amounts during the second wave of Covid-19 in the absence of a clear policy, gave the Centre four weeks to tell the court by when the affected families can expect a refund.
2. SC to hear plea against UAPA in Tripura
A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana Thursday agreed to hear urgent petitions against Tripura's decision to charge several people, including lawyers who were part of a fact-finding team and journalists, with UAPA, the anti-terror law, for reporting on the communal violence in the state.
• ....two Delhi-based members of a fact finding team with UAPA for sharing "fabricated and false statements/comments" on social media.
• ....102 social media accounts for sharing and posting content on the violence as they "have potential to flare up communal tension". The account holders include journalists Shyam Meera Singh, Jehangir Ali and Sartaj Alam.
• On October 26, mobs allegedly vandalised mosques, shops and homes of Muslims in Tripura during a rally organised by right-wing outfits such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, ostensibly to protest attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh.
• According to a report by the People's Union For Civil Liberties, which had sent a fact-finding team to the state, the violence erupted because of the "irresponsibility of the administration, along with extremist organisations and the vested interests of ambitious politicians.
• The Editors Guild recently said the Tripura government is charging journalists with UAPA to "deflect attention away from its own failure to control majoritarian violence". Tripura has a BJP government.
An election order: The Supreme Court Thursday directed the Tripura government to ensure that the right of a political party to participate in election is not impeded. The court was hearing a case by the Trinamool Congress alleging its leaders were being threatened while campaigning in the municipal corporation election.
3. US-China climate agreement raises hopes at COP26
The United States and China, the world's two largest carbon emitters, unveiled a deal to increase cooperation on tackling climate change, raising hopes at the Cop26 global summit that has otherwise disappointed climate activists. The summit in Glasgow ends Friday night.
• The joint declaration does not set new emission targets but said the two countries would work together to accelerate the emissions reductions required to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement.
• China also agreed to develop a national plan to reduce methane emissions. Methane, a greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide, is often overlooked. For instance, methane emitting natural gas is often projected as a cleaner alternative to CO2-emitting coal.
• Note: A molecule of methane (CH4) is more than 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than a molecule of CO2. But methane disappears in about 20 years whereas CO2 lingers in the atmosphere for hundreds of years.
• COP26 faces significant roadblocks, on climate financing, carbon tax and net zero commitments, and the agreement provides a boost.
• Climate financing would entail developed countries, the historic polluters, funding the clean goals of developing nations. Rich countries have already failed to meet a 2009 pledge to provide $100 billion a year by 2020.
• Carbon tax puts a price on carbon emissions and any resulting goods and services. The latter part means it will be costly for rich nations, which consumes products.
• Net-zero commitments have been below expectations. COP26 aimed for a common net-zero commitment by 2050. China committed net-zero by 2060; India by 2070.
• Fossil fuel phase-out commitments have been underwhelming too. For instance, India has no target to phase out coal, its main energy source. Saudi Arabia is lobbying for oil.
What now: Nations are working on a common COP26 pledge. Remember, the Paris Agreement pledged to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius. But as per Climate Action Tracker, even with new pledges announced at Glasgow, we are headed towards 2.4C of global warming this century.