<p>Following Beijing's announcement that it plans to implement harsher emissions standards for vehicles, China's environment minister said that emissions of four major pollutants fell last year and should fall by similar levels this year. However, he admitted that the country faced difficulties ending chronic pollution. Despite the winter's severe pollution, <span>emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, chemical oxygen, and ammonia nitrogen all recorded decreases of two percent in 2012 and are likely to drop an additional two percent in 2013.
<p>Brazil appears to be suffering from an increase in deforestation after decades of decline, according to data compiled by researchers. Imazon, a research institute that tracks deforestation by satellite imagery, said that destruction in the Amazon increased for the fourth consecutive month in December as <span><span class="focusParagraph">farmers, loggers, miners, and builders moved into previously untouched woodland.
<p>Australia must take swift action to protect the Great Barrier Reef, according to environmental groups. UNESCO issued a warning last June over development on the reef, and the United Nations said that the reef will be listed as "in danger" if there is no progress by February 1. The reef is worth approximately $6.26 billion in tourism to the economy annually.