International Update Volume all, Issue 23
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<p>On August 8, lawmakers in the Indian parliament’s lower house approved legislation aimed at amending the 2001 Energy Conservation Act to establish a domestic carbon market and encourage India to realize its own clean energy potential (<a href="https://apnews.com/article/climate-and-environment-3dbda1ec1b10d379bcc4…;, <a href="

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<p>Last Monday, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their much-anticipated Sixth Assessment Report (<a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/#SPM">IPCC</a&gt;). The document, synthesizing the work of approximately 14,000 scientific papers and endorsed by 195 countries, confirmed that humanity can no longer prevent global warming from intensifying over the next 30 years.

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<p>On July 15, the director of the United Nations Environment Program called for urgent action to address a decaying oil tanker moored off the coast of Yemen. The FSO <em>Safer</em>, which has not been maintained for the past five years since the outbreak of Yemen’s civil war, holds 48 million gallons of oil. If spilled, the tanker would leak four times as much oil as spilled in the 1989 <em>Exxon Valdez</em> disaster.

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<p>At Thursday’s Pacific Islands Forum meeting, talks extended over 12 hours as leaders of Pacific Island nations clashed with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison over key climate policies. Morrison attempted to block a number of measures, including setting targets to limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and halting coal mining. “I said to the Australian prime minister that ‘you are concerned about your economy, I am concerned the future of my people,’” Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga recounted.

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<p>Norway and Germany have suspended their funding to the Amazon Fund, criticizing President Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policies. Ola Elvestuen, Norway´s environment minister, stated that Brazil broke an agreement with Norway and Germany by eliminating the board and the technical committee of the Fund with no plans for replacement. Created in 2008, the Amazon Fund finances projects to protect the Amazon rain forest. Norway is the largest contributor to the Fund, donating $1.2 billion to date, followed by Germany at $68 million.

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<p>Norway and Germany have suspended their funding to the Amazon Fund, criticizing President Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policies. Ola Elvestuen, Norway´s environment minister, stated that Brazil broke an agreement with Norway and Germany by eliminating the board and the technical committee of the Fund with no plans for replacement. Created in 2008, the Amazon Fund finances projects to protect the Amazon rain forest. Norway is the largest contributor to the Fund, donating $1.2 billion to date, followed by Germany at $68 million.

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<p>Norway and Germany have suspended their funding to the Amazon Fund, criticizing President Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policies. Ola Elvestuen, Norway´s environment minister, stated that Brazil broke an agreement with Norway and Germany by eliminating the board and the technical committee of the Fund with no plans for replacement. Created in 2008, the Amazon Fund finances projects to protect the Amazon rain forest. Norway is the largest contributor to the Fund, donating $1.2 billion to date, followed by Germany at $68 million.

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<p>The Indonesian government’s restrictions on imported foreign waste has upset residents in the village of Bangun, who depend on waste recycling as a key source of income. Since China banned the import of foreign garbage, Indonesia has seen a surge in the arrival of waste. Last year, Indonesia imported 283,000 tons of plastic waste, up 141% from the previous year. Bangun residents depend on the revenue to send people from the village on the Haj pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest sites in Saudi Arabia and fund schooling, livestock, and housing.

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<p>The Ontario government has introduced a bill that would revoke the Canadian province's Cap and Trade Program. The bill, referred to as the Cap and Trade Cancellation Act, would repeal the 2016 Climate Change Mitigation and Low-Carbon Economy Act, which introduced the program in an effort to mitigate climate change. The new legislation focuses on putting an end to the program, but also includes provisions concerning how the province intends to address greenhouse gas emissions and climate change in the future.

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<p>On August 3, a Brazilian court ruled that new products containing the herbicide glyphosate could not be registered in the county and that existing regulations would be suspended pending a decision by Anvisa, a health authority, on the herbicide's safety. Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi expressed concerns over the potential ban, as the herbicide is used on roughly 95% of soy, corn, and cotton harvested in the country and there is no readily available substitute for it. The Solicitor General's office intends to appeal the court's decision.

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<p>The government of New Caledonia has voted to establish marine protected areas across 28,000 square kilometers of waters surrounding the French territory. The designation of these waters as protected areas will safeguard coral reefs, marine habitats, and critical bird nesting areas in a territory known for its rich marine life. Fishing and other extractive activities are prohibited in the new protected areas, which are part of the Natural Park of the Coral Sea of New Caledonia that was created in 2014.

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<p>Brazil is expected to announce a new federal program that will give fuel distributors targets to cut emissions and gradually increase biofuels volumes. President Michel Temer is expected to announce the program by way of presidential decree, with the law going into effect next year. The policy, RenovaBio, will assist Brazilian ethanol producers who have struggled to compete with cheap gasoline. The problem was exacerbated as the Brazilian government sought to hold down gasoline prices, forcing mills to produce more sugar instead of biofuels.

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<p>After 10 North Atlantic right whales were killed in Canada's Gulf of St. Lawrence over the past two months, the Canadian government is ordering certain ships to reduce speeds to prevent more deaths. 2017 has been the deadliest year for the endangered mammal since scientists began tracking their numbers in the 1980's. Vessels that are 20 meters or longer are temporarily restricted to a maximum speed of 10 knots in the western portion of the Gulf.

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<p>The German Social Democrats Party (SPD) wants European-wide vehicle quotas to accelerate the shift towards electric cars. The SPD believes that without quotas for electric cars the European Union could miss its carbon dioxide emission targets, and that an obligatory minimum number of electric cars for Germany and Europe would give car makers incentives to develop new technologies.

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<p>Ibama, Brazil's environmental regulator, rejected an environmental license request for a proposed hydroelectric dam in the Amazon on the Tapajos River. The dam had been opposed by conservation groups and indigenous tribes. Ibama's ruling determined that the backers of the dam had not provided adequate information to prove environmental and social viability. The dam, if approved, would have been one of Brazil's biggest dams with an installed capacity of approximately 6.1 gigawatts.

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<p>The Supreme Court of India ruled on August 12 that diesel vehicles are allowed on the national capital's streets as long as they pay a 1% "green" tax. The auto industry welcomed the ruling following a series of rulings by lower courts that banned diesel vehicles, old and new. The previous rulings had raised concerns that exhaust fumes from diesel vehicles contribute to the air pollution crisis in Delhi.

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<p>The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), an Indonesian NGO, filed a lawsuit against the head of the Aceh Tamiang district, Hamdan Sati, at the Banda Aceh Administrative Court for a permit that they issued to a cement factory to operate in the nationally protected Leuser Ecoystem. The Leuser Ecosystem is among Southeast Asia's last swaths of intact rainforest. The cement company, PT Tripa Semen Aceh, has a license to develop a mine and a factory on more than 2,500 hectares of land in Kaloy Village, which is located in Aceh Tamiang's Tamiang Hulu subdistrict.

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<p>Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced a goal of cutting Australia's emissions by at least 26 percent by 2030. The prime minister stated that the pledge was an environmentally responsible move that would not sacrifice economic growth. Critics state that Australia's goal lags behind those made by the United States, European Union, Canada, Germany, and Britain, if a 2005 benchmark is applied.

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<p>Russia formally submitted to the United Nations a claim to a vast area of the Arctic Ocean, which includes the North Pole. The 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea convention states that a nation may claim an exclusive economic zone over the continental shelf abutting its shores. Russian president Vladimir Putin claims scientific evidence shows that the shelf extends 150 miles further out from Russian shores than previous estimates have shown. This claim would expand Russia's total territory on land and sea by about 463,000 square miles.

<p>The Scottish government announced that it plans to ban the commercial growing of genetically modified crops. Richard Lochhead, environment secretary of Scotland, stated that the potential risks of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to the environment and wildlife outweighed the technological benefits. A government spokesperson stated that the ban would not apply to laboratory research on GMOs. The European Union passed an amendment this year that allows member states and devolved administrations to restrict or ban GMOs within their territory.

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<p>A new cross-border air pollution bill approved by the Singapore government last week has the potential to crack down hard on polluters. The law seeks to address the problem of air pollution in Singapore that is caused by smoke from forest fires in neighboring Indonesia. The legislation provides enforcers with a relatively low threshold to prove that a country outside of Singapore has caused air pollution, and allows for fines of up to S$100,000 per day (US$79,980), with a S$2 million maximum (US$1.6 million).

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<p>China has announced plans to ban the use of coal in Beijing by 2020 in an effort to reduce dangerous levels of pollution. According to the official Xinhua News Agency, coal accounted for one-quarter of Beijing’s energy consumption in 2012 and 22% of the city’s fine particulate matter. Beijing's Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau has said that the city will begin to rely instead on electricity and natural gas for heating.

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<p>A dam failure in British Columbia may make it more difficult for new mining projects to be approved. Last week, an accident at Imperial Metals Corps’s Mount Polley copper and gold mine sent billions of gallons of waste from a tailings pond flowing into nearby creeks, rivers, and lakes, causing the local district authority to declare a state of emergency amid concerns about drinking water. The breach will likely be problematic for the mining industry, which makes up about one-fifth of Canada’s exports.

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<p>Chad has suspended all activities of a China National Petroleum Corporation subsidiary after it violated environmental standards while drilling for crude oil. Oil minister Djerassem Le Bemadjiel announced on state radio that the government had decided to suspend operations indefinitely after finding "flagrant violations" of standards at the Koudalwa field. "Not only do they not have facilities to clean spilled crude, there were also intentional spillages in order to reduce costs," the minister said. "In the oil sector you don't do this.

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<p>Chad has suspended all activities of a China National Petroleum Corporation subsidiary after it violated environmental standards while drilling for crude oil. Oil minister Djerassem Le Bemadjiel announced on state radio that the government had decided to suspend operations indefinitely after finding "flagrant violations" of standards at the Koudalwa field. "Not only do they not have facilities to clean spilled crude, there were also intentional spillages in order to reduce costs," the minister said. "In the oil sector you don't do this.

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<p>Ecuador has approved plans for oil production in untouched parts of the Yasuni National Park in the Amazon rainforest, abandoning plans to accept payment not to drill there. President Rafael Correa said the nation had no choice but to go ahead, as wealthy nations have yet to back his conservation plan.

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<p>European Union rules expected in the next few weeks may make it easier to use taxpayer money for nuclear projects, pitting nations like Germany and Austria, which oppose nuclear power, against nations like the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic, which support the technology. The European Commission said it is still open on the topic, but that it is under pressure to set a legal framework after member states sought guidance.

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<p>A Brazilian federal appeals court ordered a halt to the construction of the controversial Belo Monte dam last week until indigenous groups can be properly consulted. Up to 12,000 construction workers were due to work on the project this year, and the dam, which is expected to power 23 million homes, is a key part of Brazil's plan to rely on renewable energy rather than fossil fuels.

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<p>China's plans to expand its coal production may trigger a severe water crisis, according to a report by Greenpeace. China plans to boost coal mining and plants in Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Shaanxi, and Ningxia, with output in those areas expected to reach 56 percent of the nation's 3.9 billion tons by 2015. The country will also build 16 coal-fired plants in those provinces for a total capacity over 600 gigawatts.

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<p>Germany's economy minister called on the European Union to avoid intervening in carbon prices, highlighting controversy over EU regulators' plans to strengthen the market. The minister's comments follow a proposal last month to clarify the right of the bloc’s regulator to delay some auctions of carbon permits as of 2013 to curb oversupply. In addition, earlier this year EU politicians supported a proposal to withhold permits from the market after an overestimation of need led to a price-depressing surplus of 500 million to 1.4 billion permits.

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<p>Germany's economy minister called on the European Union to avoid intervening in carbon prices, highlighting controversy over EU regulators' plans to strengthen the market. The minister's comments follow a proposal last month to clarify the right of the bloc’s regulator to delay some auctions of carbon permits as of 2013 to curb oversupply. In addition, earlier this year EU politicians supported a proposal to withhold permits from the market after an overestimation of need led to a price-depressing surplus of 500 million to 1.4 billion permits.

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<p>The European Union (EU) followed Japan in lodging a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over subsidies that favor producers using domestic technology. Ontario's Green Energy Act allows the province's feed-in tariff program to pay above-market rates to renewable energy produced with a certain percentage of Canadian equipment. "This is in clear breach of the WTO rules that prohibit linking subsidies to the use of domestic products," said the European Commission in a statement.

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<p>Myanmar's pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi last week called for a halt to construction of China's hydropower project on the Irrawaddy, an important river threatened by logging, pollution, and the construction of at least seven dams. Suu Kyi warned that the project would destroy the environment along the 1,300 mile river, flooding the rainforest with a reservoir the size of New York and displacing 10,000 people.

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<p>The Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement has sparked new hostilities and caused one timber group to back out as some claimed that the deal was fundamentally altered in the 11th hour before Prime Minister Julia Gillard signed it August 7. The deal includes provisions for compensation to forest companies whose contracts cannot be met outside of the new 430,000 hectares of protected land; industry representatives said that they had believed they could log the forests if their contracts required it.