International Update Volume all, Issue 2
Country:

<p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>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) (<a href="https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2022-01/who-epa-mou-2022.pdf…;).

Country:

<p>President Emmanuel Macron has been vocal this week in his opposition to the impending trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and the Mercosur trade bloc, made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The French President has refused to sign the agreement on the grounds that, if ratified, it would increase soy trade between the EU and Brazil, leading to increased deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest, as land is cleared for commercial agricultural use.

Country:

<p>Widespread bushfires across New South Wales and Kangaroo Island in Southeast Australia have scorched over 25.5 million acres of land, equal to the size of South Korea (<a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-australia-bushfires/australia-calls-f…;).The fires have claimed 27 deaths and destroyed over 2,000 homes, with conditions expected to worsen the weekend of January 10 (<a href="

Country:

<p>On January 10, China's top planning agency announced plans to launch a series of subsidy-free wind and solar projects this year to address an $18 billion payment backlog. The projects will generate renewable power for sale at the same prices as non-subsidized coal-fired power plants and will not be required to comply with capacity quota restrictions. According to the National Development and Reform Commission, the new policy will further boost income from solar projects by cutting land costs and promoting new market mechanisms like green certificate trading.

Country:

<p>The European Union's executive body has approved the slaughtering of some 200,000 wild boars in Poland to protect livestock from the deadly African swine fever. A spokeswoman for the European Commission said that shooting wild boars, which spread the virus, if done properly is one way of stopping the disease. Poland is not the first country to take this approach—Germany killed over 800,000 wild boars last year as a precaution. Massive board hunts are planned for remaining weekends this month.

Country:

<p>On January 9, Italy's industry ministry announced plans to halt the issuance of roughly 36 oil and gas exploration permits, including three permits already issued in the Ionian Sea. The proposal is part of the country's long-term plans to cut its carbon footprint, which include phasing out coal power production by 2025 and phasing out fossil fuels by 2050. The ministry has said the proposal will be discussed in parliament in the coming days.

Country:

<p>Scientists have found a new species of dwarf lemur in southeastern Madagascar. The Grove's Dwarf lemur was discovered in two of Madagascar’s national parks, Ranomafana and Andringitra, two World Heritage sites. The new lemur is nocturnal and smaller than a squirrel. The fur on its back, limbs, and head are a reddish-brown in color, and there are brownish-black rings around its large eyes. An analysis of DNA samples taken from a number of animals was used to confirm that Grove’s Dwarf lemur is in fact a new, distinct species.

Country:

<p>Beijing issued its first major smog alert of the winter, which triggers strict measures to reduce industrial output. The falling temperatures, and the increased demand they cause, triggered an orange alert, the second-highest on China’s four-level system. The Ministry of Environmental Protection warned in a statement that heavy air pollution would envelop Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and the surrounding area from Friday until Jan. 17. A list of companies in the capital affected by the orange alert numbers more than 700 enterprises.

Country:

<p>Poland's new Environmental Minister stated that the country will comply with an EU court order to stop cutting trees in Bialowieza forest except where public safety has to be ensured. Environmentalists see the public safety exemption as pretextual. The World Heritage site is one of Europe’s last primeval forests and home to its largest herd of European bison as well as unique birds and insects. In 2016, the former Minister approved a tripling of the quota of wood that can be harvested to stop a beetle outbreak.

Country:

<p>China has already begun to make good on a promise from November 2016 in which the government committed to shut down or delay at least 150 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired energy by 2020 and to cap coal power generation at 1,100 GW. To put this in perspective, as of February 2016, China had just over 1,000 GW of thermal-powered energy, most of which consists of coal-fired capacity. Earlier this month, the Chinese energy regulator halted more than 100 coal-fired projects, which have a combined capacity exceeding 100 GW.

Country:

<p>In the Philippines, progress is also being made on political promises. Last year, the Environment and Natural Resources Secretary stated her interest in shutting down the country’s mining industry as it causes significant environmental damage, an initiative supported even by the country’s President Duterte, who said the country could “survive without a mining industry.” Last week, the Philippines cancelled the environmental permit for four mining projects, for nickel, gold, coal, and iron and copper.

Country:

<p>Civil society groups in Indonesia have gone to court to request information from the government on the oil palm industry operating in the country. These green groups have requested maps of lands where oil palm companies have been licensed to operate, including the names of the companies; they want to monitor for illegal activity, as the industry is infamous for operating outside of where it is licensed. The Ministry of Land and Spatial Planning maintains that disclosing the permit holder’s name, in addition to the spatial information, would be a violation of the company’s privacy.

Country:

<p>On December 14, 2016, the European Parliament delayed a vote on limits to car pollution. The proposal is supported by automakers whereas environmentalists are pushing for the enactment of tougher rules. Parliament members disagreed over whether to seek tougher pollution limits even if that would result in a delay in the vote. The limits, as currently set, would permit cars to continue emitting more than twice the official limits on nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, which can cause respiratory illness and premature death.

Country:

<p><span>Four months ago, Indonesia’s Supreme Court ordered a palm oil grower to pay $26 million for damages to the forest in Aceh, but last week, a different palm oil company was acquitted of a similar crime in a district court. PT Bumi Mekar Hijau was on trial for $574 million in fines for failing to prevent or intentionally lighting hundreds of fires across 20,000 hectares of land. The lawsuit is expected to reach the Supreme Court. Critics of the acquittal wanted to see more emphasis placed on the human aspect of the fires, which are suspected to have killed 19 people.

Country:

<p>On January 13, 2016, Brazil’s police force charged the CEO of Samarco, Ricardo Vescovi De Aragao, with causing Brazil’s largest environmental disaster in violation of the nation's Environmental Crimes Law. On November 5, 2015, a Samarco dam burst, which caused an avalanche of 2.2 billion cubic feet of waste and mud. Both the Samarco and Vale mining companies were indicted, in addition to VogBR Recursos Hidricos e Geotecnica, the company responsible for declaring that the dam was stable earlier in 2015.

<p>The United Kingdom's Parliament passed several amendments to its current infrastructure bill to regulate hydraulic fracturing, including imposing a legal duty on companies to disclose chemicals used in the injection process. The amendments were among a dozen proposed by the Labour party, which also included measures aimed at protecting groundwater resources. Industry has been dismissive of the regulations, claiming it is already voluntarily taking the measures now required by law.

Country:

<p>European politicians are expected this week to back by a narrow majority early action to bolster prices on the EU carbon market. Thursday's vote, one of several legislative stages, will be closely watched by traders. The European Commission, the EU executive, last year proposed putting hundreds of millions of&nbsp;<span>Emissions Trading System </span> allowances in a Market Stability Reserve (MSR) starting from 2021.

Country:

<p>China's Supreme People's Court, the country's highest tribunal, recently announced new rules aimed at helping environmental organizations bring illegal polluters to court. The rules grant special status to NGOs and government backed social groups, reduce court fees, and allow organizations to sue polluters across China, regardless of where the plaintiff organization is based.

Country:

<p>In a ruling handed down last Wednesday, an Indonesian court found palm oil company Kallista Alam guilty of illegally clearing an area of protected peat forest that is home to endangered orangutans. The judge ordered the company to pay $30 (US) million in fines—$9.4 million in compensation and $20.6 million to restore damaged land in the protected Tripa peat swamp.

Country:

<p>Colombia has ordered Drummond Co.—the country’s second biggest producer of coal—to stop loading coal in Colombian ports until the company complies with a new environmental law. In an effort to prevent spills, the new rules prohibit coal exporters from using barges and cranes to load ships and instead require them to institute a conveyor belt system. While other coal companies, including BHP and Glencore Xstrata PLC, met the rules' January 1 deadline, Drummond estimates that its new loading system should be in place by March.

Country:

<p>According to a new report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Australia releases more greenhouse emissions to achieve its economic growth than almost any other major economy. The report ranks economies on their ability to grow without escalating carbon emissions, and found that Australia—with its reliance on coal-fired energy—is second only to Estonia in terms of carbon emissions per unit of GDP.

Country:

<p>Black carbon plays a much larger role in climate change than previously thought, according to a study published last week in the <em>Journal of Geophysical Research</em>. Soot, long known to be atmospherically destructive, is second only to carbon dioxide as the largest cause of climate change, and its heat trapping power is about twice the estimate made by&nbsp; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007. Rising from sources as varied as tailpipes and forest fires, the effect of soot on the atmosphere is broad and strong.

Country:

<p>China possessed the bulk of projects designed to protect natural watersheds, according to a recent report, <em>State of Watershed Payments 2012</em>, that stated that water insecurity is likely "the single biggest risk to the country's continued economic growth." Global investment to protect areas providing drinking water and supplies totaled over $8 billion on 205 projects in 2011, accounting for more than 12 percent of the $66 billion spent since 1973 and marking a "pleasant surprise against a backdrop of an economic downturn in many parts of the w

Country:

<p>Africa is falling behind in getting necessary funds for renewable energy because development banks are not assuming the political risk of working there, United Nations officials said. Banks must provide more guarantees that investors' projects won't suffer due to political or legal changes in the continent's poorest countries, according to Mohamed El-Ashry, a senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation. "Public private partnerships are not working because of too much risk on the private investors," he said at the World Future Energy Summit.

Country:

<p>China's state planning agency ordered seven provinces and cities to set caps on greenhouse gas emissions last Friday as part of a plan to cut carbon intensity by 17% over the 2011-2015 period. China requested the cities of&nbsp;Beijing,&nbsp;Chongqing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and&nbsp;Tianjin, and the provinces of Hubei and Guangdong,&nbsp;to set targets and submit proposals for target allocation.

Country:

<p>World clean energy investment hit $260 billion last year, in spite of a weak global economy, as nations ramped up investment to meet climate and energy targets. The United States, with $56 billion of investment, passed China to become the world's largest clean energy investor, a position it lost to China in 2009. "Despite financial crisis, and even though carbon pricing schemes haven't developed quite the way they were expected to . . . investment keeps growing," said Bloomberg New Energy Finance's lead clean energy analyst in Australia.

Country:

<p>Federal and state officials announced an agreement to save 428,000 hectares of public forests, a move that follows more than 18 months of discussions between conservationist and industry groups. Green organizations criticized the deal, which leaves 2,000 hectares of high conservation value forests open to logging. "I would suggest if people are not happy with 99.5% of the original ask, then they are very hard to please," said Tasmania's Forests Minister, Bryan Green, though a map of areas available to loggers goes deep into wilderness forests.

Country:

<p>The South African Cabinet is expected to give a directive on action in response to acid mine spillage from Gauteng. Unexpected flooding has raised the levels of the toxic water in the province's mines, overwhelming the pumps designed to remove hazardous water out from underground. Mine foreman Derrick Souden said that the pumping should be four times its current rate, and that gold in mines will shortly be unreachable when the pumps themselves become flooded.

Country:

<p>Energy and Mines Minister Youcef Yousfi announced last week that Algeria has adopted new goals that six percent of energy will come from renewable sources by 2015 and 40 percent by 2020.

Country:

<p>The EU Commission will re-open carbon offset spot trading step-by-step as each registry proves its security, EU officials said, after a possibly concerted theft of carbon permits worth up to 30 million euros led to a week-long freeze last Wednesday. The theft, focusing on markets in the Czech Republic and Austria, led to an investigation that declared 14 of the EU's 27 registries "<span>not up to scratch</span>," according to the European <span>Commission's climate action spokeswoman Maria Kokkonen</span>.