International Update Volume all, Issue 16

<p>Last Wednesday, the U.K. government announced its final approval of a plan proposed by Shell to develop a new gas field in the North Sea. The Jackdaw field, located east of Aberdeen, has the potential to produce 6.5% of Britain's gas output. Production is expected to begin at the field in the second half of 2025 (<a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-61666693">BBC</a…;).</p>

<p>On June 3, the Bank of England (BoE)’s Governor, Andrew Bailey, stated the bank would seek to cut greenhouse gas emissions associated with running its physical offices and printing banknotes to net zero by 2050 “at the latest.” The decision is in line with a larger push by the United Kingdom to improve its climate action agenda ahead of the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), to be hosted by the country in Glasgow later this year (<a href="

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<p>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.

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<p>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.

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<p>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.

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<p>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.

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<p>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.

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<p>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.

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<p>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.

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<p>On June 4, Argentina's Supreme Court upheld an environmental law that bans mining on and around the country's glaciers to protect water supplies. A Canadian mining company argued that the law could affect its projects near glacial areas in Argentina and sought to have it declared unconstitutional, but the court found no proof that the ban caused any damage to the company. For the full story, see https://www.apnews.com/4a4dadcc832048258147d9aa5ad80a55.</p&gt;

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<p>The Scottish government is proposing to establish four new marine protected areas (MPAs) to provide special protections for minke whales and basking sharks in feeding grounds around Scotland. The proposed areas are located at the southern trench in the outer Moray Firth, north-east Lewis, the Sea of the Hebrides, and Shiant East Bank, and would cover 5,000 square miles of sea. The government aims to complete Scotland's MPA network by the end of 2020.

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<p>On June 5, Myanmar announced two new policies—the National Environmental Policy and the Myanmar Climate Change Policy—for addressing the country's environmental management and climate change strategies. The two policies, which explicitly recognize the rising threat of extreme weather and other impacts of climate change to the country's economic and social development, aim to transform Myanmar into a climate-resilient, low-carbon society.

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<p>On May 22, a Madagascar appeals court announced its decision to uphold the conviction of a farmer turned environmental activist who was convicted on criminal charges after questioning a mining company about its permits. The case began last September, when the farmer, who goes by the name Raleva, confronted representatives from Mac Lai Sima Gianna, a Chinese-Malagasy gold mining company, during a meeting in his village of Vohilava. Raleva asked to see the company’s permits, which had not in fact been granted.

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<p>Indonesia’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries submitted to parliament a bill of amendments aimed at strengthening the 2009 Fisheries Act through more stringent provisions, reported Mongabay. Among other things, the amendments include bans on foreign fishing vessels and crews, the transshipment of fish catches between vessels at sea, and foreign investment in the capture fisheries sector.

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<p>At the end of May, five transnational grain trading companies, along with dozens of their supplying farmers, were issued fines totaling 105.7 million Brazilian reais (US $29 million) by IBAMA, the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources. The fines are part of “Operation Soy Sauce” carried out since April by IBAMA and federal prosecutors in the Matopiba region in Brazil’s Cerrado savannah.

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<p>Norway's sovereign wealth fund will ask the banks in which it has invested to disclose how their lending contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. The fund has in the past measured the carbon footprint of its investments in equities and bonds, and now is pushing companies to disclose both their carbon emissions and their plans to handle the risk of climate change. The fund does not plan to change how it decides to invest in the U.S., which accounted for nearly 40% of its investments in 2016.

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<p>China has stepped up its efforts to keep the Paris agreement in place following the U.S. withdrawal. The EU and China issued a joint statement underscoring their commitments to the Paris accord to combat climate change. China pledged to bring its carbon emissions to a peak by 2030 or earlier as part of a joint pledge made with the U.S. ahead of the 2015 Paris talks. A U.S. withdrawal puts less pressure on China to bring its emissions peak earlier, but in recent years China has sought to dominate the clean energy market.

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<p>Electric fences have been used to prevent human/elephant confrontation as development encroaches on traditional elephant habitats. But elephants are intelligent and soon discover that their tusks do not conduct electricity, allowing them to escape. Alexander Vipond of the&nbsp;Knysna Elephant Park&nbsp;in South Africa invented a simple device, nicknamed “tusk braces,” to discourage elephants from cutting fence wires. The tusk brace is basically a wire fit onto the length of the top of the tusk that turns the tusk into a conductor.

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<p>An appeals court in Chile ordered Sernapesca, the government's fisheries body, to disclose antibiotic use among salmon producers. Chile is the world's second-largest producer of salmon, and farmers use record levels of antibiotics to treat salmon bacteria. The waters surrounding Chile are filled with SRS, a bacteria that kills fish and causes them lesions and hemorrhaging. Antibiotic use among Chilean salmon farmers has risen by 25% since 2013, as farmers are unable to develop an effective vaccine. In 2014, the salmon industry used 1.2 million pounds of antibiotics.

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<p>On June 1, 2016, Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to the framework for a deal with state premiers on renewable energy law reforms in Germany. The proposed agreement is intended to reduce costs and control the speed of providing green power sources in the future. It would expand onshore wind by an increase of 2.8 gigawatts per year--approximately 1,000 wind turbines. Green subsidies in Germany have led to an expansion of renewable energy, accounting for one-third of Germany's electricity in 2015, particularly wind and solar.

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<p>Resolute Forest Products, a Quebec-based company, filed a lawsuit against Greenpeace and others for Greenpeace's campaign ("Resolute: Forest Destroyer") that criticized Resolute's forestry practices. Resolute's complaint included defamation, tortious interference, trademark, and racketeering claims. Greenpeace criticized Resolute for destroying Canada's Boreal forest and woodland caribou habitat. Resolute is one of the largest producers of newsprint in North America.

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<p>The Bolivian government ratified a new law permitting oil and gas exploration and extraction in protected areas. The government claims the law will bring needed economic development to the areas, and that requirements to use the latest technology and protect "fragile ecosystems" will prevent environmental harm.

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<p>On June 5, 2015,&nbsp;Norway's legislative body formally approved a plan for the nation's sovereign wealth fund to divest from coal investments, following an announcement from the fund in February. The move will affect 122 companies and sell up to $10 billion worth of investments in coal-related industries. Political compromise led to the approval, with Conservative party politicians focusing on the economic risk of coal-related investments with global climate change agreements in the works.

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<p>In partnership with ocean-focused nongovernmental organizations, the Sri Lankan government announced that it will grant full protection to all of the country's mangrove forests, making it the first country to implement such comprehensive conservation practices for the coastal ecosystems. The program will protect nearly 9,000 hectares of forests and restore 3,800 hectares that have been destroyed. It will also provide job training and microloans to women in communities near the protected areas, as well as funding for rangers to enforce the laws.

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<p>Last Wednesday, the EU struck a compromise on genetically modified (GM) crops that will make it easier for them to win approval from some member states while allowing other countries to ban them. The deal was widely supported by EU member states; the UK farming and environment minister was hopeful that the compromise would “unblock the dysfunctional EU process for approving GM crops,” while France, which recently upheld a domestic ban on GM maize, was reassured that their opposition to such crops would be respected.

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<p>In an effort to step up the war on smog, Beijing announced last week that it will boost funding for local governments that do well in reducing air pollution. According to regulations released last Tuesday, China’s cabinet will assign local governments to one of four categories, ranging from “substandard” to “excellent.” Those that do well in reining in emissions will receive more funds, while those that do poorly will get less and potentially face disciplinary action. The cabinet will also impose harsher penalties on officials who fake environmental data.

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<p>Mining company Barrick Gold has reached a preliminary agreement with local indigenous peoples in Chile that may help clear the way to reactivating the Pascua-Lama mine in the Andes. The local Diaguita communities had long opposed the mine, saying it threatened their water supply and polluted nearby glaciers, and in May 2013 the Chilean environment minister blocked work on the project on the grounds that Barrick had violated its work permit.

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<p>The European Union agreed last week to end overfishing and rebuild stocks by 2020, the latest step in efforts to reform the Common Fisheries Policy. Officials said a deal to follow scientific advice when setting quotas could increase fish stocks by up to 16.5 million tons by the end of the decade, and the deal will end annual fights over catch quotas in Brussels.

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<p>The world's largest REDD+ project has been approved by the Indonesian government, establishing a 64,000 hectare protected forest area in the nation's central province. The project is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 119 million tons over the course of its 30-year lifespan by preventing peatland drainage for conversion to oil palm plantations. According to the auditor who verified the project's carbon accounting, it reduced emissions by 2.1 million tons from 2009 to 2010, resulting in the highest number of credits ever verified in a single year.

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<p>The Kenyan parliament approved emergency measures to crack down on poachers last week, just as Kenya's Wildlife Service began pursuing a gang of poachers that slaughtered four rhinos. "Kenya's elephants declined from 160,000 in 1960s to 16,000 in 1989 due to poaching. Today Kenya is home to only 38,500 elephants and 1,025 rhinos," said Member of Parliament (MP) for North Horr Chachu Ganya.

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<p>France and Spain banned bluefin tuna fishing for the rest of the season after the industry exhausted its quota more quickly than anticipated. Vessels that use sonar to locate the fish have become so efficient that they can fill a season's quota in just 10 days, and the limit was reached within the first two weeks of this year's season. Small-scale fishing for the tuna, using hooks, nets, and traps, will be allowed to continue for the moment.

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<p>France and Spain banned bluefin tuna fishing for the rest of the season after the industry exhausted its quota more quickly than anticipated. Vessels that use sonar to locate the fish have become so efficient that they can fill a season's quota in just 10 days, and the limit was reached within the first two weeks of this year's season. Small-scale fishing for the tuna, using hooks, nets, and traps, will be allowed to continue for the moment.

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<p>France and Spain banned bluefin tuna fishing for the rest of the season after the industry exhausted its quota more quickly than anticipated. Vessels that use sonar to locate the fish have become so efficient that they can fill a season's quota in just 10 days, and the limit was reached within the first two weeks of this year's season. Small-scale fishing for the tuna, using hooks, nets, and traps, will be allowed to continue for the moment.

<p>A UK court of appeals dismissed a suit against the government alleging that it acted illegally by failing to reduce air pollution. In the appeal by Client Earth, three judges accepted the charity's argument that the UK government was in breach of its duties to ensure nitrogen dioxide pollution met legal standards. However, the court agreed with a previous decision that it was up to the European Commission, not Britain, to decide whether the government's intention to delay compliance was admissible.

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<p>The captain and navigator of a cargo ship that ran aground were each sentenced to seven months in jail on Friday for their involvement in what authorities have called New Zealand's worst maritime disaster. The two had already pled guilty to operating the ship dangerously and to altering documents, and a preliminary report by transportation investigators found that they had taken shortcuts to reach the port by deadline, eventually causing the ship to run aground on the Astrolabe reef.

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<p><span>A Chinese official called the Three Gorges Dam a "failure," saying that the project had failed to consider its impact on the environment and has contributed to lower water levels in bodies downstream. </span>While parts of central and southern China are suffering from severe droughts as water levels continue to fall across the country and fish stocks dwindle, a devastating drought in the north and the pollution of the Yellow River--so thick that the river can no longer serve as a drinking supply--has threatened the nation's farmland.

<p>Britain's National Ecosystems Assessment released a report last week suggesting that natural resources and a healthy environment were worth billions of pounds to Britain. The report stated that emphasis should be shifted away from producing more food and goods. "Humans rely on the way ecosystems services control our climate--pollution, water quality, pollination--and we're finding out that many of these regulating services are degrading," said Bob Watson, chief scientific adviser to the Department for Environment.

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<p>There will not be a full climate deal this year, but officials are hopeful that nations can solidify voluntary agreements. A deadlock ensued as developing countries wanted the Kyoto Protocol to be extended until 2012, as Japan, Russia, and China argued for a wider deal. In addition, the United States has argued for a "legal symmetry," placing more <span>in a new deal under which climate targets for China would have equal force to any commitments by the rich.

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<p>There will not be a full climate deal this year, but officials are hopeful that nations can solidify voluntary agreements. A deadlock ensued as developing countries wanted the Kyoto Protocol to be extended until 2012, as Japan, Russia, and China argued for a wider deal. In addition, the United States has argued for a "legal symmetry," placing more <span>in a new deal under which climate targets for China would have equal force to any commitments by the rich.

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<p>There will not be a full climate deal this year, but officials are hopeful that nations can solidify voluntary agreements. A deadlock ensued as developing countries wanted the Kyoto Protocol to be extended until 2012, as Japan, Russia, and China argued for a wider deal. In addition, the United States has argued for a "legal symmetry," placing more <span>in a new deal under which climate targets for China would have equal force to any commitments by the rich.