International Update Volume all, Issue 11
Country:

<p><span><span><span><span>Last week, a study published in <em>Nature</em> found that the climate pledges made at COP26 last December have the potential to limit warming to just below 2</span><span>°</span><span>C (3.6</span><span>°</span><span>F) from pre-industrial levels (</span><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-022-04553-z"><span>Na

Country:

<p style="text-align: left;" align="center">On April 13, the Japanese government announced its decision to release wastewater from its infamous Fukushima nuclear facility into the Pacific Ocean. The plan would authorize the release of over 1.24 million tons of treated but still radioactive water (<a href="https://www.usnews.com/news/news/articles/2021-04-09/japan-to-announce-… News and World Report</a>).

Country:

<p style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: black;">As borders closed this past month in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, Africa’s $39 billion tourism industry and the conservation projects that rely on its revenues have come to a sudden halt.

Country:

<p style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: black;">As borders closed this past month in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, Africa’s $39 billion tourism industry and the conservation projects that rely on its revenues have come to a sudden halt.

Country:

<p>According to a study published this week, plastic pollution in the world's oceans costs society billions of dollars every year in damaged and lost resources. An estimated eight million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean every year, negatively affecting fisheries, aquaculture, recreational activities, and global well-being. The study is the first of its kind to explore the social and economic impact of marine plastic pollution, finding that plastic waste costs up to $33,000 per ton in reduced environmental value.

Country:

<p>On April 10, London's Supreme Court ruled that nearly 2,000 Zambian villagers have the right to sue a mining company for allegedly polluting their land. Vedanta, which delisted from London last year but maintains a legal base in Britain, appealed a lower court ruling that the villagers' case could be heard in England. But the London court dismissed the company's appeal and held that the villagers could pursue their case through the English courts.

Country:

<p>The Indonesian government has designated three new marine protected areas (MPAs) in the waters of eastern North Maluku province in an effort to achieve sustainable fisheries and support food security across the country. The MPAs span a combined 87 square miles within the Coral Triangle, which is home to the greatest diversity of corals and reef fishes in the world. As a result of the designations, only traditional and small-scale fishers using sustainable fishing equipment will be permitted to operate in these waters.

Country:

<p>In response to global pressures, Japan’s government aims to increase its renewable energy sources’ shares from 15% to between 22% and 24% by 2030. However, this push to expand the renewable energy sector may pose counterproductive threats to the environment. Residents near the proposed large-scale solar farm in the city of Kamogawa oppose these efforts, in part, because creating the “mega solar plant” involves developers destroying 300 hectares of forest. The irony of swapping carbon-sequestering trees for a solar plant is not lost on campaigners who oppose this plan.

Country:

<p>While Brazil’s reported CO2 emissions are compliant with UN guidelines, scientists suggest that these guidelines ignore significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions, namely carbon-emitting forestry practices. For example, the UN doesn’t require Brazil or other developing countries to count “non-anthropogenic” emission sources, which includes wildlife CO2 releases. In Brazil, however, the majority of fires are intentionally set by humans in an attempt to clear land.

Country:

<p>Australian state energy ministers agreed to move forward with a detailed National Energy Guarantee plan that includes emission cuts. The National Energy Guarantee would require the power sector to cut carbon emissions by 26% from 2005 levels by 2030. Over the past 10 years, disputes over carbon policy have disrupted fossil-fuel power needed for a stable grid and left states to individually pursue renewable energy goals. Particularly, Victoria and Queensland have pushed for much sharper carbon emission cuts and more ambitious renewable energy targets.

Country:

<p>Last week, a constitutional court in South Africa rejected the government’s appeal to retain a ban on domestic trade in rhino horns. Domestic trade is once again legal, though international trade remains illegal under CITES. Commercial rhino breeders have welcomed the decision, saying proceeds from legal trade can help pay for anti-poaching efforts. Conservationists argue otherwise, saying a legal domestic trade will increase illegal poaching and will be used as a cover for smuggling horns to the international market.

Country:

<p>Earlier this month, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a non-binding resolution for a single Certified Sustainable Palm Oil scheme. The resolution calls for greater vetting of palm and other vegetable oils to ensure that these oils are produced without causing deforestation. The vote comes in reaction to environmental groups, which have campaigned to raise attention to the harmful impacts that unsustainable palm oil can have on the environment and on climate mitigation efforts.

Country:

<p>A federal court in Brazil suspended the operating license of Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on the grounds that the government has not completed basic sanitation work in the city of Altamira before filling the dam’s reservoir. This is not the first time the Belo Monte project has been stalled for legal issues. In January 2016 a federal judge in Altamira suspended the dam’s license for failure to build a safety net for local communities, especially the indigenous communities that were to be affected by the dam.

Country:

<p>Four Zambian villages have sued Vedanta Resources, a mining company based in London, for contaminating their water sources and land since 2004 through its mining operations. The villagers, who have fallen sick and have suffered huge crop losses, are asking Vedanta Resources and its Zambian subsidiary for compensation. Although the subsidiary is responsible for the alleged violations, the villagers have petitioned the high court in London to hear the case because they claim Vedanta Resources exercises control over its subsidiary’s activities.

Country:

<p>Four Zambian villages have sued Vedanta Resources, a mining company based in London, for contaminating their water sources and land since 2004 through its mining operations. The villagers, who have fallen sick and have suffered huge crop losses, are asking Vedanta Resources and its Zambian subsidiary for compensation. Although the subsidiary is responsible for the alleged violations, the villagers have petitioned the high court in London to hear the case because they claim Vedanta Resources exercises control over its subsidiary’s activities.

Country:

<p>Four Zambian villages have sued Vedanta Resources, a mining company based in London, for contaminating their water sources and land since 2004 through its mining operations. The villagers, who have fallen sick and have suffered huge crop losses, are asking Vedanta Resources and its Zambian subsidiary for compensation. Although the subsidiary is responsible for the alleged violations, the villagers have petitioned the high court in London to hear the case because they claim Vedanta Resources exercises control over its subsidiary’s activities.

Country:

<p>The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has suspended IOI’s certification, preventing the Malaysian palm oil company from selling future palm oil as certified sustainable. The decision has come after years of documented violations of human rights and environmental destruction by IOI and will cause huge economic losses to the company. In fact, many of its 300 clients, such as Unilever and Kellogg’s, have already canceled their contract or want to cease to source palm oil from IOI.

Country:

<p>The European Union passed a new regulation to prevent misleading claims on energy efficiency for home appliances, but excluded a key product: light bulbs. Companies will no longer be able to test refrigerators, TVs, and dishwashers using a 10% margin of error between their advertised and actual energy consumption, under an amendment to the EU's ecodesign law. But due to the EU’s fear of a possible collapse of the light bulb sector, which might not be ready to face the new rule, light bulbs will be exempt from this requirement.

Country:

<p>The Kenyan National Assembly is currently debating amendments to the Public Benefits Organization Act (PBO) that critics say will stifle the activity of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the country. The Act is aimed at combating terrorism by limiting ways for terrorist organizations to receive funding from abroad. Among the proposed provisions is a 15% cap on funding to NGOs from foreign sources.

Country:

<p>The Norwegian government approved plans for a controversial mining project that will dump millions of tons of overburden and tailings from Engebø Mountain into Førde Fjord. The mine, operated by Nordic Mining, will extract rutile, a titanium mineral, over a planned 50-year lifetime of the project. Environmental groups, commercial fishing organizations, marine scientists, and political opposition have criticized the government's action, claiming the dumping will harm cod and salmon fisheries, as well as whale and porpoise habitat.

Country:

<p>A regional court in Loreto, Peru, ruled in favor of a United Cacao subsidiary in a case concerning the company clearing almost 5,000 acres of Amazonian forest in the country's northeast. The case was brought by Peru's Forestry Department, which claimed the company needed the department's approval before clearing trees for a cacao plantation. Observers point to ambiguities in Peru's environmental laws that allowed the site to be classified as agricultural despite the presence of forest.

Country:

<p>On April 11, Japan’s cabinet approved an energy policy that would incorporate nuclear power, reversing the government’s previous decision to phase out atomic energy. The plan is the first energy strategy produced by Japan since the 2011 Fukushima disaster, which called into question the country’s reliance on nuclear energy.

Country:

<p>Energy World Corporation (EWC) is planning to construct a huge liquefied gas export terminal at Abbot Point on the Queensland coast. The project, which comes just months after the Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority approved plans to dump 3,000,000 tons of dredge spoil in the area as part of a coal export expansion, could involve dredging half a million meters of seabed, further damaging the sensitive region. While the EWC states that the project was designed to minimize environmental impacts, environmentalists fear the effects the dredging could have on the ecosystem.

Country:

<p><span>New EU rules published April 9 will replace green energy subsidies with market-based schemes. The rules will address “market distortions” that may result from renewable energy subsidies such as feed-in tariffs, which have spurred investment in renewables, with competitive bidding processes. Some critics see the rules as favoring business at the expense of consumers. Certain energy-intensive industries, such as chemicals, metals, and paper, would be exempt from charges levied for the funding of renewable energy.

Country:

<p>Tokyo Electric Power, the utility that operates the Fukushima nuclear plant, rushed to build new tanks for radioactive water storage after finding contamination that may have leaked from one of its pits. The underground tanks store radioactive water used in the plant's cooling system, and if the leak is confirmed, it will be the third one discovered since April 6. "<span>There are a lot of makeshift fixes. They are walking a tightrope from one jerry-rigged fix to another," said one worker.

Country:

<p>Soil samples show remnants of heavy metals and banned pesticides, according to an official, revealing the extent of China's pollution. In addition to traces of the 666 pesticide banned in the 1980s, the soil showed remains of industrial air pollution as well as toxic metals like lead, arsenic, and cadmium dating as far back as 100 years. <span>Zhuang Guotai, head of the ecological department of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, tied the heavy pollution to an agricultural boom that has seen grain production double while the workforce shrank.

Country:

<p>Environment Canada's top official told the main Canadian oil and gas lobby group that the government needed more information about unidentified fluids involved in the hydraulic fracturing process. Paul Boothe, the former deputy minister, wrote that a voluntary industry disclosure program was a positive step toward improving environmental performance, but he also suggested that it was not enough to satisfy the environment department.

Country:

<p>While Canada's greenhouse gas emissions remained largely unchanged from 2009 to 2010, the nation will have difficulty meeting its 2020 target, according to government figures. The Conservative government said that its environmental plan "is working," hailing the fact that emissions remained stable at a 0.25% increase while the economy grew 3.2%. Canada's emission peaked in 2007, at 751 megatons, and fell to 692 in 2010.

Country:

<p>France's highest court may annul the verdict against oil company Total for a 1999 spill. The case involves the sinking of the tanker Erika, which broke apart in a storm and spilled some 20,000 tons of oil into the Bay of Biscay, damaging coastline and wildlife. The top appeals court will rule May 24 on whether to annul the guilty verdict on the grounds that the tanker did not sink in French waters. The chartered tanker was Italian-owned, flying a Maltese flag, and sitting in an Exclusive Economic Zone when it sank, which limits France's jurisdiction.

Country:

<p>A judge in Brazil denied an injunction to stop Chevron and Transocean from operating after two offshore oil leaks, a federal court said last Wednesday. Prosecutor Eduardo Santos de Oliveira sought the injunction against the companies as part of an $11 billion lawsuit for damage at the Frade field last month, in the climate of increasing scrutiny of oil production. However, judge <span>Guilherme Diefenthaeler</span> ruled that the injunction would interfere with the authority of ANP, Brazil's oil regulator, to manage the oil industry.

Country:

<p>The World Bank announced that it will seriously restrict its funding for fossil fuel projects, restricting money for coal-fired power plants to only the poorest countries, and only when they can prove alternative projects are not feasible.

Country:

<p>In the aftermath of Japan's nuclear crisis, Angela Merkel has begun a shift to move Germany away from nuclear power in efforts that will make the country much more reliant on Russian gas. Germany currently imports about 85 percent of its natural gas and is more reliant on Russia for its energy needs than the European Union as a whole. "So far the public debate in Germany has focused on the desire to exit nuclear energy with little thought being spared as to what is actually going to replace it," said Merkel.

Country:

<p>In the aftermath of Japan's nuclear crisis, Angela Merkel has begun a shift to move Germany away from nuclear power in efforts that will make the country much more reliant on Russian gas. Germany currently imports about 85 percent of its natural gas and is more reliant on Russia for its energy needs than the European Union as a whole. "So far the public debate in Germany has focused on the desire to exit nuclear energy with little thought being spared as to what is actually going to replace it," said Merkel.

Country:

<p><span>The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil</span>, an industry body promoting <span>eco-friendly palm oil</span>, has censured IOI Corp., Malaysia's second largest planter. A grievance panel investigated and found breaches of membership obligations after environmental activists accused IOI of <span>draining peatlands and engaging in land disputes with local communities</span> in Sarawak. The company has 28 days to deliver a proposal to resolve standing issues.