International Update Volume all, Issue 27
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<p>Last Tuesday, Norway’s $1.2 trillion dollar investment fund announced plans to push the companies it invests in to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The fund is one of the world’s largest investors, and owns an average of 1.3% of all listed global stocks.

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<p>The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ordered Poland to pay a $580,000 fine every day operations continue at the Turów lignite coal mine, located near the Czech Republic border.

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<p>New South Wales was rocked this week by a dispute Australian newspapers have dubbed the “koala war” (<a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/we-will-look-at-the-whether-the-coa… Morning Herald</a>).

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<p>New South Wales was rocked this week by a dispute Australian newspapers have dubbed the “koala war” (<a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/we-will-look-at-the-whether-the-coa… Morning Herald</a>).

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<p><span>On September 26, the global environmental charity ClientEarth announced it will sue PGE GiEK over excessive emissions at the Bełchatów plant in Poland. The lawsuit demands that the plant operators stop burning lignite, a highly polluting form of coal, and eliminate carbon emissions by 2035. Poland derives approximately 80% of its energy from coal, and Polish President Andrzej Duda says there are no plans to stop using the country’s coal supply. The Bełchatów plant is Europe’s largest coal plant, with annual carbon dioxide emissions equal to that of New Zealand.

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<p><span>On September 25, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report detailing the effects of climate change on oceans, ice sheets, mountain snowpack, and permafrost. Written by 100 international experts and based on over 7,000 studies, the report finds that the oceans are becoming hotter, more acidic, and less oxygen-rich. Extreme flooding that was once rare could start occurring annually this century.

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<p><span>Nine Latin American countries have set a collective target of 70% renewable energy use by 2030, far surpassing the European Union’s current target of 32%. Colombia presented the plan at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York this past week. “It’s the most ambitious goal in terms of a global region,” Colombia’s Energy Minister Maria Fernanda Suarez told reporters. Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, and Peru have agreed to the pledge. Brazil and Panama are still considering joining.

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<p>On September 19, Indonesia's President, Joko Widodo, signed a three-year moratorium on new licenses for oil palm plantations. The moratorium applies not only to new requests for licenses but also to projects that have obtained some but not all of the permits needed to begin operating. It also mandates a massive review of oil palm licenses across Indonesia. Widodo first announced plans to impose the moratorium over two years ago after the 2015 fire and haze crisis in Southeast Asia.

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<p>An Australian senate committee has proposed a national ban on the domestic trade of elephant ivory and rhino horn. The committee found weaknesses in the country's wildlife trade control framework, including its lack of regulations for the domestic market. The committee's report recommends that federal, state, and territory governments develop and implement a national ban with some exemptions, such as musical instruments containing less than 20% ivory. Australia's environment minister, Melissa Price, is considering the recommendations.

<p>The UK's secretary of state for international development, Penny Mordaunt, has pledged to contribute £2.1m to tackle the underlying causes of the illegal wildlife trade and protect critically endangered Sumatran tigers and west African chimpanzees. The funding will help create sustainable jobs and livelihoods for local communities in Africa and Southeast Asia, and provide them with a financial alternative to hunting wildlife and clearing forests that are essential to the species' long-term survival.

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<p>The Liberian government designated a new national park in August that will protect a population of endangered western chimpanzees. The rainforests of the new Grebo-Krahn National Park in southeastern Liberia are home to some 300 western chimpanzees. The 371-square-mile park requires signatures from the president and the Minister of Foreign Affairs to become officially designated. The Wild Chimpanzee Foundation is working with local communities to galvanize their support, as the government does not have the resources to pay enough guards to adequately protect the park.

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<p>Scientists discovered four new species of toads living isolated in the highlands of Sumatra. Specimens of the newly described species were collected from 2013 to 2015 in jungles over 1,000 meters above sea level. The four toads differ from one another in their skin patterns, limb shapes and voices. The toads are threatened by habitat loss and overexploitation. Indonesia is currently the largest exporter of toads for food, with 4,000 tons of the animal annually shipped overseas.

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<p>The U.S. International Trade Commission&nbsp;(ITC) voted unanimously to find cause for severe injury to U.S. solar manufacturers. The case, filed under §201 of the 1974 Trade Act, argued that cheap solar imports have made it impossible for U.S. solar companies to compete. The companies that brought the case proposed a tariff of $0.40/watt on imported solar cells and a floor price of $0.78/watt on imported modules.&nbsp;The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEAI) condemned the proposal and is petitioning the ITC for a non-tariff solution.

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<p>On Friday, European Union ministers agreed to ratify the Paris Agreement, a commitment that could help push the international agreement into effect. And India ratified the agreement over the weekend. The European Parliament will vote on the decision this week, which then needs to be endorsed by the Ministers. The Agreement will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries accounting for at least 55% of global carbon emissions have ratified the accord.

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<p>On Friday, European Union ministers agreed to ratify the Paris Agreement, a commitment that could help push the international agreement into effect. And India ratified the agreement over the weekend. The European Parliament will vote on the decision this week, which then needs to be endorsed by the Ministers. The Agreement will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries accounting for at least 55% of global carbon emissions have ratified the accord.

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<p>Member States to the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) ruled in favor of a global trade ban for pangolins. All eight species of pangolin are now listed under Appendix I of CITES, which prohibits all commercial international trade of these most endangered species. Until last week, all pangolin species has been listed under Appendix II, which controls the trade of listed species, although trade in the four Asian pangolin species had been given a zero quota, essentially banning trade of these species.

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<p>The European Union’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade Action Plan is a trade policy intended to reduce the importation of illegally logged timber and to promote sustainable, legal forest management. In 2013, after 6 years of negotiations, Indonesia signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) under the Plan, agreeing to export only verified legal timber products. This past spring, Indonesia entered the final stages of fulfilling its VPA requirements, and in November it will become the first country to export licensed wood products to the EU.

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<p>The European Union’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade Action Plan is a trade policy intended to reduce the importation of illegally logged timber and to promote sustainable, legal forest management. In 2013, after 6 years of negotiations, Indonesia signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) under the Plan, agreeing to export only verified legal timber products. This past spring, Indonesia entered the final stages of fulfilling its VPA requirements, and in November it will become the first country to export licensed wood products to the EU.

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<p>On September 24, 2015, the European Commission referred Malta to the European Union’s top court because of its annual spring hunt of finches. These birds cross Malta’s territory during their spring migration across the Mediterranean from Africa to their breeding grounds in Europe. Hunting birds in the spring is prohibited in the EU, but Malta requests an exemption each year. This past April, voters in Malta passed a referendum that supported the continuation of spring hunts.

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<p>On September 17, 2015, the Indian Madras High Court temporarily stayed a demand from the Indian government that prohibited Greenpeace India from accepting foreign funding. Earlier this month, the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs canceled the group's registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, which allows the organization to receive funds from abroad. Approximately 30% of Greenpeace India’s funds come from foreign sources.

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<p>On September 25, Singapore closed all primary and secondary schools, as well as kindergartens run by the Ministry of Education, due to high levels of air pollution. The sharp decline in air quality and persistent smog come from Indonesian forest fires. According to the National Environment Agency of Singapore, the three-hour pollutant standards index reached 320 on September 24, exceeding the maximum threshold of 300. The haze from the Indonesian forest fires has already led Singapore to cancel certain outdoor events and change flight schedules this past month.

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<p>On September 25, Singapore closed all primary and secondary schools, as well as kindergartens run by the Ministry of Education, due to high levels of air pollution. The sharp decline in air quality and persistent smog come from Indonesian forest fires. According to the National Environment Agency of Singapore, the three-hour pollutant standards index reached 320 on September 24, exceeding the maximum threshold of 300. The haze from the Indonesian forest fires has already led Singapore to cancel certain outdoor events and change flight schedules this past month.

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<p>A new study published by Brazilian NGO Imazon estimates that a plan to build a dozen dams on Brazil’s Tapajós river basin would drive the loss of an additional 950,000 hectares of rainforest by 2032. The dams planned for the Tapajós river, a tributary of the Amazon River, are part of a larger government plan for 30 large hydroelectric projects in the Amazon. The study analyzes forest loss beyond the losses that would be directly incurred from flooding and road construction, by considering the deforestation impacts of resulting land speculation and migration.

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<p>Following the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC's) passage on September 18, 2014, of a resolution opposing Japan’s "scientific whaling" program, the Japanese government announced last Friday its intention to continue whaling. The non-binding IWC resolution, which passed by a 35-20 majority at the group’s biennial meeting in Slovenia, follows a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ)&nbsp;in March, which declared Japan’s whaling practices illegal; the IWC resolution states that Japan should abide by the ICJ ruling.

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<p>Christine Milne, leader of the Australian Green party and Senator for Tasmania, weighed in on Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET), which has been stalled in Parliament due to the inability of major parties to reach a compromise on the target.

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<p>Conservative and Green Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) criticized EU proposals to reform farm payouts, saying it falls short on environmental targets and may increase big differences in farmers' incomes. The EU's agricultural committee will vote this week on the proposal, which allows 15 percent of environmental spending to be switched to direct farm support. Under current EU policies, direct payments to farmers make up most of the EU's agricultural budget, which itself makes up 40 percent of bloc spending.

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<p>The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its fifth assessment last week, saying that without sustained and substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions the world is likely to see a 1.5C increase in temperatures above pre-industrial levels, and that climate change's effects will continue for several hundred years even if emissions are reduced.

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<p>Japan backtracked on plans announced earlier this month to drop nuclear power, saying it would "take into consideration" a goal for a 2040 phaseout after it drew sharp criticism from industry. Business groups and communities whose economies depend on local power plants strongly opposed the plan, and chairmen of Japan's business associations called a joint news conference to demand the government drop its 2040 goal.

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<p>China agreed to strike a deal with the European Union to cut greenhouse gas emissions through projects that include the development of Chinese emissions trading schemes, an EU official said last week.

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<p>China agreed to strike a deal with the European Union to cut greenhouse gas emissions through projects that include the development of Chinese emissions trading schemes, an EU official said last week.

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<p>The ban on wildlife trade may be further endangering certain species, according to the journal Tropical Conservation Science. Kirsten Conrad, a researcher with AsiaCat, examined rhinos, elephants, and tigers, three species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and argued that bans exacerbate illegal trafficking by raising prices and moving all trade to the black market.

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<p><strong></strong>Australia's Senate voted last week that debate on the federal government's carbon tax will not be extended beyond November 21. "This motion will allow at least 20 hours of debate in each of the two weeks," said Senate leader Joe Ludwig in response to criticism of the end date.

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<p>Japan will formulate a new energy policy by early 2013 and by March will unveil a range of options to meet energy demand to 2030, the <span><em>Tokyo Shimbun</em> reported last week. Japan has said that it will boost power conservation and increase the use of renewable energy to make up for power lost from an end to nuclear generation.

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<p>The European Union climate chief said last week that the United Nation's carbon market will survive even if greenhouse gas reduction goals for developed nations expire in 2012 without an immediate renewal.

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<p>Over-exploited fisheries could become sustainable by using collective community-based rights, according to a professor of economics speaking at a recent conference. "We have a severe problem of over-exploitation of global fish stocks, with the associated damage of marine ecosystems," said Ragnar Arnason of Iceland University, speaking at the annual science conference of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.