Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) renewed its partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) through a five-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) (EPA). The WHO estimates 24% of deaths globally are related to the environment, and that low- and middle-income economies experience the greatest risk.
The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased reliance on single-use plastics, resulting in a plastics pollution crisis faced by many countries around the world. A French environmental nongovernmental organization recently released a video showing masks and gloves littering the seabed of the Mediterranean Sea.
Recent social isolation and travel restriction measures imposed by countries including China and Italy have led to a significant decline in air pollution. Lockdown measures affecting 35 million people in China began in January.
On May 7, the United States refused to sign an agreement with seven other nations—Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden—addressing challenges in the Arctic due to climate change language. The meeting of the Arctic Council in Finland was supposed to frame a two-year agenda to balance the challenge of climate change in the region with sustainable development of mineral wealth.
The U.N. General Assembly voted last week to take a first step toward establishing a Global Pact for the Environment, a decision the United States opposed. The 193-member world body approved the resolution on a vote of 143-5 with seven abstentions. The United States was joined in voting against the resolution by Russia, Turkey, Syria and the Philippines.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) voted unanimously to find cause for severe injury to U.S. solar manufacturers. The case, filed under §201 of the 1974 Trade Act, argued that cheap solar imports have made it impossible for U.S. solar companies to compete. The companies that brought the case proposed a tariff of $0.40/watt on imported solar cells and a floor price of $0.78/watt on imported modules. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEAI) condemned the proposal and is petitioning the ITC for a non-tariff solution.
One hundred and seventy countries recently passed the Kigali Amendment, a legally binding Amendment to the Montreal Protocol that will phase out hydrofluorocarbon gases (HFCs), low-cost refrigerants frequently used in air conditioners and refrigerators. HFCs are “super greenhouse gases” that are 1,000 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide; scientists estimate that they would contribute to almost a full degree Fahrenheit of atmospheric warming, despite being only a small percentage of total greenhouse gases.
After months of protests, the D.C. Circuit temporarily enjoined further construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline within 20 miles of Lake Oahe in North Dakota while it considers whether to order a longer delay. This follows a September 9 U.S. district court ruling that allowed construction of the pipeline to continue, denying a petition brought by the Standing Rock Sioux. Despite the district court's ruling, DOI, DOJ, and the U.S.
India stated on June 7 that it plans to work towards joining the 2015 Paris climate accord this year. India joins the United States and China with this commitment, providing momentum to the international push to curb climate change. U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi to the White House, highlighting the strong relationship between the leaders of the world's two largest democracies.
A growing number of pollinator species worldwide are being driven toward extinction by diverse pressures, many of them human-made, threatening millions of livelihoods and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of food supplies, according to the first global assessment by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released February 26. Bees and other pollinators face increasing risks to their survival, threatening foods such as apples, blueberries and coffee worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year.