International Update Volume all, Issue 28

<p>Greenpeace lost a case against the U.K. government and BP in Scotland's highest civil court, allowing BP to continue offshore drilling operations at the Vorlich site off the coast of Aberdeen, Scotland. Drilling began at the site, located in the North Sea, in late 2020 at a rate of 20,000 barrels per day.

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<p>Greenpeace lost a case against the U.K. government and BP in Scotland's highest civil court, allowing BP to continue offshore drilling operations at the Vorlich site off the coast of Aberdeen, Scotland. Drilling began at the site, located in the North Sea, in late 2020 at a rate of 20,000 barrels per day.

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<p>Last Tuesday, while addressing the United Nations General Assembly, President Xi Jingping shocked global observers with a bold announcement: China has promised to strengthen its commitments under the Paris Climate Accords, declaring that it will achieve peak emissions before 2030 and full carbon neutrality by 2060 (<a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-un-assembly-climatechange/china-call

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<p>On October 3, the Brazilian government announced plans to present a bill later this month that would allow building of mines on indigenous lands. The bill would also look to legalize independent mines that are currently operating illegally. This past July, the Ministry of Mines and Energy announced the creation of a working group to simplify the mining process. Critics of conservative President Jair Bolsonaro’s mining policies have stated that opening indigenous lands for mining, logging, and farming helped fuel this year’s Amazon fires.

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<p>A huge floating device designed by Dutch scientists to clean up garbage in the Pacific Ocean successfully picked up plastic for the first time. The device is intended to trap the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an island of trash in the Pacific Ocean three times the size of France, without disturbing marine life. In a previous four-month trial, the cleaning system fell apart and failed to pick up plastic. The Ocean Cleanup project predicts that selling items made from plastic reclaimed from the ocean will eventually cover all operational costs.

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<p>Indonesia’s outgoing parliament voted to postpone controversial bills on mining and land reform in the face of massive student protests. At least two students were killed in the protests outside the Indonesian parliament on September 30. Protestors criticized the bills for favoring business interests over the environment and land rights of indigenous communities. Despite the suspension, a new carry-over mechanism passed last week allows for bills left pending the previous term to be voted on by the next parliament.

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<p>On October 5, the Dutch government announced that it would increase taxes on heavily polluting companies to help fund the country's climate goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 49 percent by 2030. The level of taxes imposed on carbon dioxide emissions for different industry sectors have not yet been proposed, but the government is aiming to reach an agreement by the end of the year.

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<p>On October 5, a German administrative court issued a temporary halt to the clearing of Hambach Forest by an energy company wishing to expanding its adjacent lignite strip mine. An environmental group argued that the forest deserved protected status because of the bats that reside there. The court found that the legal questions raised over the forest's status were too complex to rule on the issue in accelerated proceedings, and thus determined that a halt was necessary to prevent irreversible changes being made.

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<p>Nine jurisdictions—Canada, China, Denmark, the European Union, Iceland, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, and the United States—have signed a legally binding agreement that bans commercial fishing in the high seas portion of the Central Arctic Ocean.

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<p>EU policymakers are split over carbon market reforms ahead of U.N. climate talks scheduled in November. Negotiators for EU nations and the European Parliament will meet October 12 to try to finalize reforms to the EU Emissions Trading System. The cap-and-trade system has suffered from a oversupply of permits. Negotiators are still striving to bridge divisions over how to balance environmental ambitions with protection for energy-intensive industries.

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<p>Norway will study ways to make its economy greener and reduce dependence on oil and gas. The government believes oil reserves are likely to lose value amid efforts to slow climate change. A government commission will examine ways to insulate itself from financial risks linked to climate change, and the government believes it needs to look for new businesses based on emerging technology to meet its goals.

<p>The sale and export of almost all ivory items would be banned in the UK under plans set out by the government. The government says there will be some exemptions for musical instruments and items of cultural importance. There were more than 36,000 items exported from the UK between 2010 and 2015, more than three times that of the next biggest exporter, the US. Conservationists argue that these sales stimulate the demand for ivory and are linked to increased elephant poaching across Africa.

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<p>Just days after the Paris Agreement crossed the second threshold needed for it to enter into effect, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)— with the support of 191 countries—approved a plan to offset emissions from international aviation. The agreement targets passenger and cargo flights that produce over 1,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually, or about 2% of global carbon emissions, and seeks to make growth in the industry carbon-neutral after 2020.

<p>Britian's Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has overturned the Lancashire council’s decision to prevent shale company Cuadrilla from fracking on the Fylde coastal plain. The Secretary’s decision to grant Cuadrilla’s appeal will allow the company to drill four wells in the county, despite strong opposition from local groups, environmentalists, and politicians. Opponents to Javid’s ruling say that the decision threatens the environment and undermines democracy, as many see this decision as the government overriding the will of local people.

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<p>Over 1.09 million hectares of coastal and offshore waters in the Palawan province of the Philippines were recently declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA). MPAs limit and strictly regulate human activity in the designated space in order to protect natural or historic marine resources. The initiative, which is supported by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Fondation Segré,&nbsp;intends to reestablish the fish stocks in the Coral Triangle, as using MPAs to maximize fisheries production has proven to be an effective conservation tactic.

<p>Five Congo River states--the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon--agreed with donor states on a plan to protect the tropical forests in the Congo River basin. The Congo River basin is the world's second largest after the Amazon. The project aims to reduce illegal logging and burning in forests in order to protect endangered species such as gorillas and bonobos. This could also contribute to more stable farming conditions for locals.

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<p>New Zealand announced that it plans to create the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, set to be one of the world’s largest, through a full ban on fishing and mining. The sanctuary will be 239,000 square miles, an area roughly the size of France. The area is currently home to endangered species such as dolphins, turtles, and whales. The announcement came as a surprise to New Zealand’s seafood industry and mining firms because it will preclude companies from gaining rights in the protected area.

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<p>New Zealand announced that it plans to create the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, set to be one of the world’s largest, through a full ban on fishing and mining. The sanctuary will be 239,000 square miles, an area roughly the size of France. The area is currently home to endangered species such as dolphins, turtles, and whales. The announcement came as a surprise to New Zealand’s seafood industry and mining firms because it will preclude companies from gaining rights in the protected area.

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<p>New Zealand announced that it plans to create the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, set to be one of the world’s largest, through a full ban on fishing and mining. The sanctuary will be 239,000 square miles, an area roughly the size of France. The area is currently home to endangered species such as dolphins, turtles, and whales. The announcement came as a surprise to New Zealand’s seafood industry and mining firms because it will preclude companies from gaining rights in the protected area.

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<p>New Zealand announced that it plans to create the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, set to be one of the world’s largest, through a full ban on fishing and mining. The sanctuary will be 239,000 square miles, an area roughly the size of France. The area is currently home to endangered species such as dolphins, turtles, and whales. The announcement came as a surprise to New Zealand’s seafood industry and mining firms because it will preclude companies from gaining rights in the protected area.

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<p><span>Zimbabwe plans to prohibit the use of electric water heaters and require new properties to use solar power in order to curb the electricity shortages that have plagued the country. Before new houses can connect to the power grid, they will be required to attain a solar water heater. Zimbabwe suffers from severe black outs, and 60% of the population does not have access to electricity.

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<p>On September 23, the governments of Liberia and Norway announced that they had entered into a deal under which Liberia will become the first nation to completely halt deforestation in exchange for Norwegian development aid. Norway has agreed to pay $150 million in exchange for the halting of deforestation in Liberia by 2020. The deal was announced at the UN Climate Summit in New York. While Liberia’s forests are not as large as other countries’, its forests represent a significant part of the remaining rainforest in West Africa and are a global biodiversity hotspot.

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<p>On September 23, the governments of Liberia and Norway announced that they had entered into a deal under which Liberia will become the first nation to completely halt deforestation in exchange for Norwegian development aid. Norway has agreed to pay $150 million in exchange for the halting of deforestation in Liberia by 2020. The deal was announced at the UN Climate Summit in New York. While Liberia’s forests are not as large as other countries’, its forests represent a significant part of the remaining rainforest in West Africa and are a global biodiversity hotspot.

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<p>On September 23, the governments of Liberia and Norway announced that they had entered into a deal under which Liberia will become the first nation to completely halt deforestation in exchange for Norwegian development aid. Norway has agreed to pay $150 million in exchange for the halting of deforestation in Liberia by 2020. The deal was announced at the UN Climate Summit in New York. While Liberia’s forests are not as large as other countries’, its forests represent a significant part of the remaining rainforest in West Africa and are a global biodiversity hotspot.

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<p>The High Court of Banda Aceh denied an appeal by palm oil company PT. Kallista Alam, which had been found guilty of destroying over 1,000 hectares of protected peat forest in Gunung Leuser ecosystem. The company faces a 114 billion rupiah ($9.4 million) fine, and is required to pay an additional 252 billion rupiah ($20.7 million) for cleanup, restoration, and remediation of the Tripa swamp area. Further, if the company is late in its compliance, it must pay an additional 5 million rupiah ($410) a day.

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<p>Bloomberg News reported that European Union (EU) carbon permits had their biggest weekly drop in almost two months amid concern weak economies will discourage efforts to reduce a glut of the contracts in the world’s biggest greenhouse-gas market. Allowances for December fell as much as 3.7% last Friday to 5.48 euros ($6.85) a metric ton, the lowest since July 7, on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London. Permits traded at 5.66 euros at 4:47 p.m., taking the weekly drop to 4.6%, the largest since August 8.

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<p>Last week, Japan became one of the first nations to sign a legally binding treaty designed to curb mercury pollution.&nbsp;Named for the Japanese city that saw severe cases of mercury poisoning in the 1950s, the Minamata Convention on Mercury is the first new global convention on environment and health in nearly a decade.&nbsp;The Convention regulates a variety of areas, including the use of mercury in products and industrial processes, and addresses the mining, safe storage, and import and export of the metal.&nbsp;These regulations come at a time when, according to a

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<p>Spurred by protests from environmental groups, France’s constitutional court upheld a 2011 moratorium on hydraulic fracturing on October 11th. The court rejected arguments that the ban went against property rights and maintained that it is a legitimate means of protecting the government.

<p>A wind farm project in the village of Collector, New South Wales (NSW), has been recommended to proceed despite opposition from the local community.&nbsp;The NSW Department of Planning recommended approval in its final report on the project, which has now been sent to the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) for a final decision. Local resident Tony Hodgson, president of the anti-wind farm group Friends of Collector, voiced concerns about the wind farm.

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<p>Chevron paid Brazil a $12.1 million fine for irregularities related to an oil spill northeast of Rio de Janeiro in November, according to a statement released by the country's oil regulator last week. Chevron received a 30 percent discount for paying promptly and not challenging the violations. Executives with Chevron and Transocean still face up to $20 billion in damages in a civil suit and up to 31 years in prison for last year's 3,600 barrel spill, as Brazil increasingly scrutinizes environmental damage.

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<p>There is still nothing to stop the dumping of hazardous waste in developing countries more than six years after Trafigura's actions, according to a new report on a three-year investigation by Greenpeace and Amnesty International. Trafigura, a global oil trader, was convicted in a Dutch court for illegally exporting waste to dump in the Ivory Coast after it shipped chemical waste and disposed of it, untreated, at various dumping sites around Abidjan. The public health crisis allegedly affected more than 100,000 people, causing breathing difficulties, nausea, and burning skin.

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<p>There is still nothing to stop the dumping of hazardous waste in developing countries more than six years after Trafigura's actions, according to a new report on a three-year investigation by Greenpeace and Amnesty International. Trafigura, a global oil trader, was convicted in a Dutch court for illegally exporting waste to dump in the Ivory Coast after it shipped chemical waste and disposed of it, untreated, at various dumping sites around Abidjan. The public health crisis allegedly affected more than 100,000 people, causing breathing difficulties, nausea, and burning skin.

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<p>The Aceh province in Indonesia revoked a controversial palm oil permit issued to a firm accused of breaching a forest clearing ban. "<span>It is important that there is rule of law in business and investing in Aceh, which provides benefits to the community," said the <span>director of the Aceh chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment. Last May, Indonesia agreed to set a two-year moratorium on new permits to clear primary forests and peatlands as part of a $1 billion deal with Norway.

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<p>The Aceh province in Indonesia revoked a controversial palm oil permit issued to a firm accused of breaching a forest clearing ban. "<span>It is important that there is rule of law in business and investing in Aceh, which provides benefits to the community," said the <span>director of the Aceh chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment. Last May, Indonesia agreed to set a two-year moratorium on new permits to clear primary forests and peatlands as part of a $1 billion deal with Norway.

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<p>An official panel said last week that climate change will cause damage to Canada equivalent to about 1% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2050 due to flooding, illness, and the death of forests. In addition, the damage could amount to as much as 2.5% of GDP by 2075.

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<p>A Brazilian judge halted work on the multi-billion dollar Belo Monte dam, ruling in favor of fisheries groups who argued that the dam posed a threat to the livelihoods of indigenous communities on the Xingu river. The government has said that the dam, which would be the world's third largest, is necessary to meet Brazil's growing energy needs and will provide electricity to 23 million homes.

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<p>The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council and other non-EU member states agreed to launch a formal protest against the EU last week over its plans to charge for carbon emissions from airlines, a move ICAO and other countries called discriminatory and inconsistent with global laws. Starting in January, airlines will have to buy permits from the Emissions Trading Scheme for 15% of carbon emissions produced during flights to and from Europe.