Current Affairs Notes: Vulnerable Houbara Bustard; U.S. & Climate Action

Houbara Bustard

Eleven members of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) royal family had arrived in January 2021 Pakistan’s Panjgur district in Balochistan to hunt the internationally protected and highly vulnerable houbara bustard under a license issued by Pakistan’s foreign ministry.

  • They’re a shy, rare bird breed, the size of a chicken – and hunting them is officially banned in Pakistan.
    Arab princes and their wealthy friends like to hunt Houbara bustards both as a sport and because the meat is considered an aphrodisiac.
  • The birds migrate in the thousands from Central Asia to Pakistan every winter – giving the Pakistani elite a chance to engage in “soft diplomacy”.
  • Despite the hunting ban, the government issues between 25 and 35 special permits annually to wealthy sheikhs, allowing them to hunt the bird in its winter habitat.
  • The houbara bustard is a large terrestrial bird found in parts of Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
  • The North African houbara (Chlamydotis undulata) and the Asian houbara (Chlamydotis macqueenii) are separate species.
  • The Asian houbara is related to the critically endangered great Indian bustard native to India.
  • After breeding in Central Asia during the spring, Asian houbara bustards migrate south to spend the winter in Pakistan, the Arabian peninsula and nearby Southwest Asia.
  • Some Asian houbara bustards live and breed in the southern part of their ranges including parts of Iran, Pakistan and Turkmenistan.
  • According to the International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC), roughly 42,000 Asian houbara bustards and over 22,000 of the North African houbara bustards remain today.

U.S. & Climate Action

Joe Biden assumed office as President of the United States on January 20, 2021, and among the first orders he signed was one to restore America’s participation in the United Nations Paris Agreement on climate change. His decision on America’s return took effect on February 19.

  • The withdrawal from the Paris Agreement meant that the U.S. was no longer bound by its national pledge made under the pact.
  • America also stopped its contribution to the UN’s Green Climate Fund, to which it had pledged $3 billion, after transferring an estimated $1 billion.
  • The U.S. accounts for 15% of global GHG emissions, but it is the biggest legacy contributor of atmosphere-warming gases.
  • Transport (28%) and power (27%) are the two biggest national sectors contributing to GHG emissions, followed by industry (22%) and agriculture (10%), according to data published by the EPA in 2020.
  • Commercial and residential emissions together make up only 13%. Significantly, 10% of U.S. emissions are methane, which has a greater warming effect than CO2, and 81% is carbon dioxide. The rest is made up of nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases.