International Update Volume all, Issue 31
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<p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>Ahead of COP26, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australia’s target of net zero emissions by 2050.

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<p>The new Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, is set to declare Japan’s intention to become carbon-neutral by 2050 in his first general policy address to the Diet, Japan’s parliament.

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<p>A new regulation by the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) will ban ships from using fuel with a sulfur content higher than 0.5%, compared to the current 3.5%, starting January 1, 2020. The upcoming mandate brings forth major changes in the global shipping sector, which consumes four million barrels of bunker fuel a day.

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<p>On October 29, the Chinese government announced that it is legalizing the use of rhino horn and tiger bone for medical and cultural purposes, reversing a 25-year ban on both products. Rhino horn and tiger bone can now be obtained from farmed rhinos and tigers for medical purposes, and rhino and tiger products that qualify as "cultural relics" can be traded. Illegally obtained products, however, will be confiscated, and all illegal trade will be subject to severe crackdowns.

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<p>Palau has signed a law restricting the sale and use of sunscreen and skincare products containing ingredients that are highly toxic to marine life. The ban covers products containing ten different chemicals, including oxybenxzone, which causes corals to bleach at lower temperatures and reduces their resilience to climate change. The ban will take effect in 2020. For the full story, see https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46046064.</p&gt;

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<p>A Danish court has ruled that Brahetrolleborg Forest and Agriculture, an agricultural company, is not entitled to compensation for new restrictions imposed on the use of its land to protect the environment. The Danish Environment Ministry designated land owned by the company as a Natura 2000 zone in 2005, which imposed special requirements on sustainability and habitat protection, and barred the owners from clearing woodland to plant Christmas trees.

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<p>China’s top steel-producing region Hebei province has surpassed its targeted cuts for this year in steel, coal, cement and glass, under efforts to cut air pollution and overcapacity, according to a Chinese media outlet. The local government has also cut coal capacity by 10.5 million tons and coke capacity by 8.08 million tons, during the same period. To further curb pollution during winter, Hebei will also limit steel and iron output by 50 percent in major producing cities.

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<p>A new species of orangutan, Tapanuli orangutan, has been discovered in Indonesia. The apes in question were only reported to exist after an expedition into the remote mountain forests there in 1997. An analysis of a total 37 complete orangutan genomes has shown that these apes separated from their Bornean relatives less than 700,000 years ago. The new great ape will be added to the list of Critically Endangered species.

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<p>The Dutch company Boogaerdt Hout was found guilty of violating the EU Timber Regulation by placing illegal Burmese teak on the EU market. An investigation has revealed the company placed illegally sourced teak from Myanmar on the European market, prompting the Dutch Food and Safety Authority to rule the company in breach of the EU Timber Regulation. The EUTR is part of the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade action plan and aims to reduce illegal logging by banning the sale of illicitly sourced timber and timber products in the EU.

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<p>A new report by Forest Trends concludes that within the past year, governments and private companies from around the world committed $888 million in new funds for forest initiatives to keep the carbon-storage potential of forests intact. As a result, forest carbon projects are estimated to protect approximately 28 million hectares of forest, about twice the size of New York state, and enough to negate about 87.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

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<p>In late October, nearly 300 leaders from indigenous tribes in the Amazon gathered in Lima, Peru to demand that governments respect their rights to land ownership and forest conservation. The issue of indigenous land rights has been a pertinent issue this past year, particularly after the Paris Agreement removed language enforcing the recognition of indigenous rights from the final text. Currently, only 21 countries have included recognition of indigenous rights and community-based land tenure in their national emissions reduction commitments.

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<p>Last Friday, the Paris Agreement entered into force, having reached the requisite thresholds (at least 55 ratifying countries representing at least 55% of global carbon emissions) less than a year after it was negotiated. The Agreement’s swift ratification process stands in stark contrast to that of the Kyoto Protocol, the last major climate deal, which took eight years to come into force. Despite ratification and the requirement for countries to re-evaluate their climate goals every five years, many feel that the Agreement isn’t doing enough.

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<p>China amended its seed law on November 4 making it easier for new crop varieties to be introduced into the market. Existing seeds such as oilseed rape, potato, and peanut seeds will now avoid long approval processes and will be able to register directly with authorities. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2016. The approval process, which requires government trials and can take up to four years to complete, will remain unchanged for corn, cotton, rice, and soybeans, some of China’s most important commodity crops.

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<p>A South African official announced on November 4 that Northern Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces will be named "drought disaster areas" in the coming two weeks. This will allow the provinces to receive emergency assistance from the National Treasury. According to the Director of Risk Management in the Department of Agriculture, the province of KwaZulu-Natal will also soon be named a disaster area for agriculture. These are not the first provinces declared drought disaster areas in South Africa.

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<p>The European Union approved a plan to give sub-standard homes a green makeover, but only after a large downgrade of the initial plan. The Energiesprong project planned to give 10-day green makeovers for more than 100,000 public housing units by installing wraparound insulating facades, solar panels, and Ikea kitchens. But the EU approved only 10% of the scope of the original project. The new plan will provide 5,000 remodels in the United Kingdom and 5,000 in France. Energiesprong is now asking the United Kingdom government to help with financing the project.

<p>The European Union approved a plan to give sub-standard homes a green makeover, but only after a large downgrade of the initial plan. The Energiesprong project planned to give 10-day green makeovers for more than 100,000 public housing units by installing wraparound insulating facades, solar panels, and Ikea kitchens. But the EU approved only 10% of the scope of the original project. The new plan will provide 5,000 remodels in the United Kingdom and 5,000 in France. Energiesprong is now asking the United Kingdom government to help with financing the project.

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<p>The European Union approved a plan to give sub-standard homes a green makeover, but only after a large downgrade of the initial plan. The Energiesprong project planned to give 10-day green makeovers for more than 100,000 public housing units by installing wraparound insulating facades, solar panels, and Ikea kitchens. But the EU approved only 10% of the scope of the original project. The new plan will provide 5,000 remodels in the United Kingdom and 5,000 in France. Energiesprong is now asking the United Kingdom government to help with financing the project.

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<p>The European Union approved a plan to give sub-standard homes a green makeover, but only after a large downgrade of the initial plan. The Energiesprong project planned to give 10-day green makeovers for more than 100,000 public housing units by installing wraparound insulating facades, solar panels, and Ikea kitchens. But the EU approved only 10% of the scope of the original project. The new plan will provide 5,000 remodels in the United Kingdom and 5,000 in France. Energiesprong is now asking the United Kingdom government to help with financing the project.

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<p>The European Union approved a plan to give sub-standard homes a green makeover, but only after a large downgrade of the initial plan. The Energiesprong project planned to give 10-day green makeovers for more than 100,000 public housing units by installing wraparound insulating facades, solar panels, and Ikea kitchens. But the EU approved only 10% of the scope of the original project. The new plan will provide 5,000 remodels in the United Kingdom and 5,000 in France. Energiesprong is now asking the United Kingdom government to help with financing the project.

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<p>According to data from PADDDtracker.org, an agency that monitors changes to protected areas worldwide, India’s protected areas are rapidly “being downgraded, downsized or even degazetted (relinquished of their protected status entirely) in a phenomenon termed PADDD.” While protected areas in India have faced conservation challenges in the past, the weakening government recognition of protected areas is a new problem.

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<p>In a commitment made at the UN Climate Change Summit in New York last month, the government of Ethiopia has pledged to restore 15 million hectares of degraded land—one sixth of the country. At the climate summit, “governments, companies and civil society groups together agreed to try to restore 350m hectares of deforested landscapes—an area the size of India—by 2030.” The commitment by Ethiopia was the largest of these.

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<p>In Australia, the government of Prime Minister Abbott has instructed the nation’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation to prepare to cease investments by the end of 2014 and to cease operations by late June 2015. The bank, which was established by the former Labor government to provide commercial loans to clean energy projects, has stated that it will continue to operate normally until the legislature amends the legislation that establishes the organization. “The fact that we have to prepare our accounts this way makes no difference to what we do.

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<p>Australia’s Climate Change Authority—a group founded in 2011 that conducts independent research and analysis on climate change—has deemed the country’s target of a five percent cut in carbon emissions to be inadequate. According to the Authority, a 15 to 25 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 would put Australia “more in line with what other countries are doing,” and a report by the Authority even recommended a target reduction of 35-50 percent by 2030.

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<p>On November 11, representatives from nearly 200 countries will gather in Warsaw for the 19th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Discussion will focus on a global deal to fight climate change that would be agreed to in 2015 and implemented in 2020. A report released last Thursday by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency could complicate these talks as it addresses who is most to blame for global warming—a key discussion point in UN climate negotiations.

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<p>Last Thursday, a federal review panel said that a revised mine plan for Taseko Mines’ New Prosperity copper-gold project in British Columbia still poses a threat to the environment. According to the panel, the project could harm land and resources used by certain aboriginal groups, in addition to the water quality and fish in Fish Lake. In 2010, Ottawa blocked the development of the Taseko project based on worries about damage to the environment, but Taseko claims that the new plan addresses those concerns.

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<p>China will launch an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into European Union solar manufacturing products, the Commerce Ministry said last week. The investigation will determine whether manufacturers are selling materials such as polysilicon, used to make panels, below cost. The investigation will also probe whether manufacturers received illegal subsidies.

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<p>China will launch an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into European Union solar manufacturing products, the Commerce Ministry said last week. The investigation will determine whether manufacturers are selling materials such as polysilicon, used to make panels, below cost. The investigation will also probe whether manufacturers received illegal subsidies.

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<p>China will launch an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into European Union solar manufacturing products, the Commerce Ministry said last week. The investigation will determine whether manufacturers are selling materials such as polysilicon, used to make panels, below cost. The investigation will also probe whether manufacturers received illegal subsidies.

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<p>Bolivian soy farmers have urged President Evo Morales to reconsider the "Mother Earth" law, a ban on genetically modified seeds signed by Morales in October. Opponents of the law say that the ban gives neighbors such as Brazil and Argentina "too many advantages," as lower crop yields and higher food costs add to the country's high transport costs to reduce competitiveness.

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<p>A seizure of more than 200 elephant tusks in Tanzania underscores a rise in poaching, officials say. The tusks combined were worth $1.32 million, and according to police the poachers were planning on transporting the ivory to Kenya. "<span>This is the biggest seizure of elephant tusks in Dar es Salaam in recent history. The tusks were really big, which means that they were carefully picked for certain customers," said the regional police commander.

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<p>A seizure of more than 200 elephant tusks in Tanzania underscores a rise in poaching, officials say. The tusks combined were worth $1.32 million, and according to police the poachers were planning on transporting the ivory to Kenya. "<span>This is the biggest seizure of elephant tusks in Dar es Salaam in recent history. The tusks were really big, which means that they were carefully picked for certain customers," said the regional police commander.

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<p>China's Industrial Bank Co. signed an agreement with the Shanghai Environment and Energy Exchange to finance the city's planned carbon emissions market. China, which has pledged to reduce carbon output by as much as 45% of 2005 levels by 2020, plans to launch a carbon trading pilot program in Shanghai in 2013 and to expand it nationally by 2015. The Industrial Bank will provide liquidity and supervise trading funds for the exchange's platform.

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<p>The European Union (EU) refused last week to change its airline carbon emissions plan despite opposition from the United Nations aviation body. Starting January 1, the EU will charge foreign and domestic airline carriers for their carbon emissions, and the EU is already defending its decision in court. Last Wednesday, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) released a declaration with the backing of China, the United States, and 24 other nations saying that the directive was "inconsistent with applicable international law." U.S.

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<p>Belgium's main political parties have committed to a plan to shut down the country's three oldest nuclear power reactors in accordance with its 2003 nuclear exit law. The shutdowns are set to take place by 2015, but are conditioned on finding enough alternative energy sources for the 5,860 megawatts that will need to be replaced. The Belgian government first passed a law in which all seven reactors were to be eliminated by 2025, but the law was never implemented before the breakup of the federal government in 2010.