International Update Volume all, Issue 14
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<p><span><span><span><span>The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued Brazilian mining company Vale for allegedly “making false and misleading claims about the safety of its dams” leading up to the January 2019 collapse of the Brumadinho dam (<a href="https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2022-72">SEC</a&gt;).

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<p style="text-align: left;" align="center">On May 12, Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies passed a bill to expedite infrastructure, mining, and agricultural projects by relaxing existing environmental regulations associated with the permitting process.

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<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;">On May 3, the Australian government announced the creation of a $190 million fund to develop hydrogen technology.

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<p>On May 16, Mexico's education ministry cancelled schools in the capital and surrounding areas due to elevated levels of air pollution. Weather conditions combined with dozens of brushfires burning in and around the city have produced a blanket of smoky haze, triggering city authorities to declare an environmental emergency earlier in the week. On May 16, the Environment Department announced that firefighters are combating an average of 100 fires a day in brush, scrub, agricultural, and forest land through the country.

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<p>On May 13, Gabon's president vowed to find and punish the people responsible for the disappearance of over 350 containers of protected kevazingo wood. Authorities had uncovered and seized illegally felled kevazingo wood in Owendo in late February and early March, but much of the wood disappeared in April. The stolen kevazingo is estimated to have a market value of at least $241 million. Forestry is a major industry for Gabon, but the kevazingo tree, which can take 500 years to grow to its full height, is protected by law.

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<p>On May 17, court hearings began on halting dolphin hunting in the western Japanese town of Taiji. Taiji has long maintained that the hunts, which involve driving hundreds of dolphins into coves and clubbing then to death, are a traditional part of its livelihood as the town has hunted dolphins and whales for thousands of years. An animal welfare group, a marine activist, and a man who grew up in Taiji filed suit, arguing that dolphins are protected under Japanese animal welfare laws, but are subjected to "extreme acts of cruelty" in these hunts.

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<p>Following a vote by the European Parliament to ban palm oil in European biofuels, British supermarket chain Iceland Foods decided to exclude palm oil from its store brand products. While some applauded this action and considered it a bold stance against deforestation and land grabbing, some scientists and conservationists expressed concern about the decision's environmental impacts.

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<p>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.

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<p>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.

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<p>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.

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<p>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.

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<p>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.

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<p>After China closed the world’s biggest recycling market earlier this year, Europe has struggled to manage its plastic waste. Half of the plastic waste Europe previously shipped to China now goes to other parts of Asia; the remainder has been temporarily stored, awaiting new markets to emerge and accept the excess. The main alternatives are to either bury or burn it. Due to limited landfill space, the favored option is to burn waste to produce electricity and heat.

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<p>Chinese and EU officials have agreed to meet in June to talk about trade protectionism and action on climate change. The intention of the meeting is to advance their support for the Paris Agreement in hopes of convincing the Trump Administration not to withdraw from the climate deal. In addition, China is hoping to have the European Union take on a leadership role on climate change. For the full story, see http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-eu-china-idUKKBN1871M4.&nbsp;</p&gt;

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<p>Increased sales of hybrid vehicles and improvements in vehicle efficiency are already cutting the demand for gasoline. But China and India are going further, taking radical measures in their efforts to reduce carbon emissions from their transportation sectors. China wants 7 million alternative fuel vehicles sold in the country every year by 2025; India is promoting having all vehicles on the road electrified by 2032. Currently electric vehicles comprise 2% of the “global car fleet,” but these two regulations will help increase their market share.

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<p>The Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry wants to extend by two years a moratorium on granting permits to use primary forest and peatland. The moratorium, passed in 2011, was initially instituted in order to reduce carbon emissions from forest fires caused by deforestation. The government has been under pressure to address the rampant deforestation and forest fires in the country, as these lands are still being used by farmers (despite an extant moratorium) and are being drained for use as palm oil plantations.

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<p>The Brazilian Ministry, the Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oils Industry, Brazil's National Association of Grain Exporters, the Soy Working Group, and Greenpeace signed an indefinite moratorium on rainforest clearing for soybean production. A 2006 agreement, prompted by a Greenpeace campaign, banned rainforest clearing for soybean production but required renewing annually.

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<p>The Malaysian palm oil giant IOI Group has filed a lawsuit against the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. RSPO suspended IOI Group’s sustainability certificate in March for causing suspected environmental harm in Indonesia. IOI can no longer sell the RSPO-brand “Certified Sustainable Palm Oil”—a brand preferred by certain companies. IOI Group says that it has been “unfairly affected” by the suspension of its certificate. Large companies such as Unilever, Kellogg, and Nestlé canceled contracts with IOI.

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<p>The Malaysian palm oil giant IOI Group has filed a lawsuit against the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. RSPO suspended IOI Group’s sustainability certificate in March for causing suspected environmental harm in Indonesia. IOI can no longer sell the RSPO-brand “Certified Sustainable Palm Oil”—a brand preferred by certain companies. IOI Group says that it has been “unfairly affected” by the suspension of its certificate. Large companies such as Unilever, Kellogg, and Nestlé canceled contracts with IOI.

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<p>The European Commission is taking Poland to the European Court of Justice for breaking European environmental law by illegally exploring for shale gas. EU environmental law requires impact assessments for drilling to a depth of more than 1,000 meters, whereas in Poland, impact assessments are only necessary for drilling deeper than 5,000 meters.

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<p>The European Commission is taking Poland to the European Court of Justice for breaking European environmental law by illegally exploring for shale gas. EU environmental law requires impact assessments for drilling to a depth of more than 1,000 meters, whereas in Poland, impact assessments are only necessary for drilling deeper than 5,000 meters.

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<p>The United Kingdom's Environment Agency is predicting a decrease in the number of English beaches where water quality will obtain the highest rating of "excellent" following the tightening of European Union (EU) regulations. The agency estimates that 25, or 7%, of England's beaches will be classified as "poor." Only 1% failed the test last year. The number would set a record under EU regulations. The new standards, which went into effect this year, cut acceptable bacteria levels by half relative to the old regulations.

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<p>Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang issued a joint statement on May 15 pledging that the two countries will work together to develop plans to reduce carbon emissions in a lead up to global negotiations in December. Though no new targets were set, the leaders committed the countries to collaborate on clean energy and energy efficiency technology.

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<p>Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang issued a joint statement on May 15 pledging that the two countries will work together to develop plans to reduce carbon emissions in a lead up to global negotiations in December. Though no new targets were set, the leaders committed the countries to collaborate on clean energy and energy efficiency technology.

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<p>Plans to reopen a Spanish mine near Seville were put on hold by a judicial investigation following claims of corruption in the bidding process. A rival company filed a complaint against Grupo Mexico-Minorbis alleging the consortium practiced illegal negotiations, bribery, peddling of influence, and perversion of justice during the bidding process.

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<p>On May 9, the Tasmanian government reversed a ban on the controversial sodium fluoroacetate product called "1080" that was due to come into effect next year. Many Tasmanians have fought against use of the pesticide, commonly used by farmers to manage animal pests, as it kill animals indiscriminately; according to Greens leader Kim Booth, farmers should instead turn to fencing or targeted removal of the pests. Primary industries minister Jeremy Rockliff, however, argued that the ban was premature.

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<p>Peru's government announced that it is trying to limit companies' ability to avoid fines by lodging years-long judicial appeals. The move comes from a proposal by <span>President Ollanta Humala to require firms to pay a deposit equal to the fine before asking the courts to suspend it, and is part of a push to crack down on polluters in the nation's mining and energy industries.

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<p>The European Union is planning to impose duties as high as 67.9% on Chinese solar panels to punish manufacturers for selling units below cost. The European Commission plans to introduce the levies by June 6, according to an anonymous commerce official. The duties will average 47.6% and will affect more than 100 Chinese companies. The move is the preliminary outcome of a dumping inquiry that will end in December.

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<p>The European Union is planning to impose duties as high as 67.9% on Chinese solar panels to punish manufacturers for selling units below cost. The European Commission plans to introduce the levies by June 6, according to an anonymous commerce official. The duties will average 47.6% and will affect more than 100 Chinese companies. The move is the preliminary outcome of a dumping inquiry that will end in December.

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<p>Swedish companies have sold about 200 tons of Baltic salmon containing illegal levels of dioxin in the European Union, breaching a ban on fatty fish from the Baltic Sea. The ban does not apply to fish sold directly to consumers in Sweden, Finland, and Latvia, but a 2002 EU ban restricts the sale of salmon from the heavily polluted sea due to dioxin's link to cancer and reproductive damage.

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<p>Swedish companies have sold about 200 tons of Baltic salmon containing illegal levels of dioxin in the European Union, breaching a ban on fatty fish from the Baltic Sea. The ban does not apply to fish sold directly to consumers in Sweden, Finland, and Latvia, but a 2002 EU ban restricts the sale of salmon from the heavily polluted sea due to dioxin's link to cancer and reproductive damage.

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<p>Swedish companies have sold about 200 tons of Baltic salmon containing illegal levels of dioxin in the European Union, breaching a ban on fatty fish from the Baltic Sea. The ban does not apply to fish sold directly to consumers in Sweden, Finland, and Latvia, but a 2002 EU ban restricts the sale of salmon from the heavily polluted sea due to dioxin's link to cancer and reproductive damage.

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<p>European Union climate chief Connie Hedegaard said that plans to delay some carbon auctions are a short-term tool to tackle oversupply and will be followed by further talks. The measures are meant to boost emissions prices after they sank to a record low last month. Hedegaard called the market "over-flooded" and said that she would aim for a decision by member states on the proposal to review the auction rules by the end of the year.

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<p>European Union climate chief Connie Hedegaard said that plans to delay some carbon auctions are a short-term tool to tackle oversupply and will be followed by further talks. The measures are meant to boost emissions prices after they sank to a record low last month. Hedegaard called the market "over-flooded" and said that she would aim for a decision by member states on the proposal to review the auction rules by the end of the year.

<p>Prime Minister David Cameron's government announced plans to make nuclear more profitable in the United Kingdom, reviving the industry months after a German utility scrapped a project because it would take too long for the investment to pay off. The proposed measures include long-term contracts that give guarantees to producers to help attract as much as $97 billion in investment. Energy Secretary Ed Davey faces criticism that energy plans are driving up bills; U.K.

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<p>The World Bank urged countries to place monetary value on natural ecosystems as part of their economic development in a report released last week. "At current rates, we are in danger of undermining the basis on which growth has been achieved in the last decades. We do not believe that current growth patterns are sustainable," said Rachel Kyte, vice president for sustainable development at the bank.

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<p><span>A recent study indicated that China's demand for resources and greenhouse gas output may peak by midcentury. The report, authored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Berkeley Lab, indicated that the nation will be saturated with road and rail, in addition to consumer appliances, by around 2030 to 2035. This saturation will result in a decrease in demand for raw materials and new power plants.

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<p>Indonesia and the European Union have reached a voluntary partnership agreement aimed at stopping trade in illegal timber, said Agus Sarsito, Director for International Cooperation at the Indonesia Ministry of Forestry. The agreement is expected to be signed by both sides in October. The pact, designed to protect the third largest tropical forest nation in the world, will likely make Indonesian timber more competitive in other markets, such as the United States, that have adopted illegal timber curbing policies, according to the EU.

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<p>Indonesia and the European Union have reached a voluntary partnership agreement aimed at stopping trade in illegal timber, said Agus Sarsito, Director for International Cooperation at the Indonesia Ministry of Forestry. The agreement is expected to be signed by both sides in October. The pact, designed to protect the third largest tropical forest nation in the world, will likely make Indonesian timber more competitive in other markets, such as the United States, that have adopted illegal timber curbing policies, according to the EU.

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<p>Seven people were burned alive at a stone crushing plant in the Bandaguda village in Orissa state during a pollution protest last week in India. The plant, which crushes stones for use in cement and concrete, has been criticized for heavy air pollution. The bodies were identified as the plant's three owners, a security guard, and three other employees. Authorities suspect villagers set the fire after locking the seven in a break room.

<p>In a report released May 8, the House of Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee (EAC) urged the UK government to instate legislation that would expedite shale gas industry development.

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<p>A recent World Health Organization study found that New Delhi has the worst air pollution of any city in the world. According to the report, New Delhi’s average fine particulate matter reading comes in at 153 micrograms per cubic meter, nearly three times Beijing’s 56 micrograms. Gufran Beig of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology contested the study’s findings, saying that, at least during the summer and monsoon season, New Delhi’s air quality is better than Beijing’s.