International Update Volume all, Issue 33
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<p><span><span><span><span>COP26, which was set to end on Friday, extended into the weekend as countries continued debating the draft agreement that would uphold the 2015 Paris Agreement’s target goal of capping warming at 1.5</span><span>°</span><span> C above pre-industrial levels (</span><a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articl

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<p>Last Wednesday, while convening at a green finance summit organized by the French government, 450 public development banks released a joint statement, pledging to refocus their investments in alignment with the Paris Climate Accords (<a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-change-finance-development/d… href="

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<p>Rising temperatures and extreme weather events from climate change would leave children vulnerable to illnesses throughout their lives, according to a study published on November 13 (<a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-climate-change-health/climate-change-…;).

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<p>On November 14, France announced plans to address deforestation around the world. It is proposing 17 measures aimed at halting deforestation caused by imports of nonsustainable forest and agricultural products by 2030. Measures include financial aid to encourage developing countries to respect non-deforestation criteria, the creation of a "zero deforestation" label for consumers, and a push for European policy on imports that pose a risk to forests.

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<p>The Spanish government is considering a ban on the sale of gas and diesel cars as one of its measures to tackle climate change. The possible ban is part of a proposal the government released on November 13 that sets forth plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 37% by 2030 and convert the national energy grid to 100% renewable sources by 2050. For the full story, see https://www.eenews.net/climatewire/2018/11/14/stories/1060106117.</p&gt;

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<p>On November 15, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) downlisted the Central African mountain gorilla from its critically endangered species list to its endangered species list. The mountain gorilla population has risen to 1,000 from 680 in 2008, prompting the reclassification. Liz Williamson, a primate specialist for IUCN, however cautioned that the species is still in danger and that conservation efforts should continue.

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<p>Japan's move to cut dependence of imported fossil fuels has led to a surge in the shipment of palm oil. The government instituted incentives after the Fukushima disaster in 2011, which guaranteed prices for power generated by renewable sources of energy. Palm oil is becoming more popular as facilities that burn it are the cheapest to build. While palm oil is arguably carbon-neutral, environmentalists scorn its use, which contributes to deforestation and loss of peatlands.

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<p>A new report from the Global Carbon Project and the University of East Anglia projects that carbon emissions will have risen about two percent by the end of 2017. According to the report, global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry will reach about 37 billion metric tons in 2017, setting a new record. Emissions from all human activities, including fossil fuel use, industry, and land-use change, is projected to be about 41 billion metric tons, close to the record set in 2015. The report points to China and other developing countries as the cause of the increase.

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<p>Due to export regulations in South Africa and its own domestic regulations, India is faced with a critical shortage of tranquilizers&nbsp;for managing its rhinoceros population. Conservationists rely on Etorphine HCI to tranquilize rhinos for veterinary care and translocation. The lack of the drug is holding up translocation plans in several areas and preventing veterinarians from caring for injured animals.

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<p>A Brazilian federal judge agreed to hear an environmental criminal case brought against Samarco, a Brazilian mining company. In August of this year, the Fundao dam, which contained mining waste, broke, causing a large mudslide that killed 19 people and polluted a major river; it is perhaps Brazil’s largest environmental disaster. Prosecutors say the dam had been unsafe for several years, though Samarco denies knowledge of any risks to the dam’s integrity.

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<p>At a meeting in Marrakesh, seven African countries signed the <a href="https://www.tfa2020.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/TFA2020_Marrakesh_De…; target="_blank">TFA 2020 Marrakesh Declaration for the Sustainable Development of the Oil Palm Sector in Africa</a>, thereby committing themselves, with support from the palm oil industry, to prioritize sustainable palm oil development.

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<p>Last week at the COP22 meeting in Marrakesh, members of the African Development Bank announced their plans to combat and prepare for the impacts of climate change. The Bank sees pushing forward on energy development—including investment in renewable energy—as a way to boost the economy of African countries and combat climate change. The Bank’s plan, the New Deal on Energy for Africa, plans to invest $12 billion in the continent’s energy sector, including in developing up to 300GW of renewable energy power by 2030 as part of their African Renewable Energy Initiative.

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<p>Earlier this month, many saw the COP22 meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco, as an opportunity for decisionmakers from around the world to begin discussion on implementation of the climate commitments made the previous year in Paris. With President-elect Trump pledging to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, concerns have moved from implementation to how the Agreement might progress without U.S. involvement. At the conference last week, attendees were hopeful that China will take the lead in reducing global carbon emissions.

<p>On November 18, 2015, the United Kingdom announced that it intends to close all coal-fired power plants by 2025 that are not able to capture and store their carbon emissions. The country plans to begin restricting usage of coal-fired power plants in 2023.&nbsp;Coal-fired power plants that are able to implement carbon capture and storage before 2025 would not be required to shut down.&nbsp;This announcement makes the United Kingdom the first major economy to name a date for shutting down coal plants.

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<p>A court in Singapore approved the release of a shipment of rosewood from Madagascar, which had been seized by Singapore over a year ago. The timber, worth more than $50 million, was recently shipped without permits and in the face of a national ban on such exports. Singapore District Judge Jasvender Kaur dismissed the case against the company Kong Hoo for importing 30,000 rosewood logs from Madagascar in March 2014. The judge argued that the rosewood was in transit to Hong Kong, and there is no evidence that the logs were imported into Singapore.

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<p>Nasako Besingi, an activist from Cameroon, was convicted of four criminal counts against palm oil company Herakles Farms, a U.S.-based palm oil company that operates in Cameroon. Besingi is the director of the Cameroonian NGO Struggle to Economize our Future Environment (SEFE), a group that has led resistance against palm oil plantations in Cameroon. Besingi was convicted of two counts of defamation and two counts of propagation of false news after three years of legal battles. He was sentenced to either three years in prison or a fine of $2,400.

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<p>At a conference in Berlin on November 20, $9.3 billion in pledges to the U.N. Green Climate Fund from donor nations were announced, bringing the fund closer to the U.N.'s informal target of $10 billion. The fund is intended to help developing nations invest in low emission development strategies and adapt to climate change. Pledges to the fund are seen as important to the achievement of a 2015 climate deal in Paris.

<p>At a conference in Berlin on November 20, $9.3 billion in pledges to the U.N. Green Climate Fund from donor nations were announced, bringing the fund closer to the U.N.'s informal target of $10 billion. The fund is intended to help developing nations invest in low emission development strategies and adapt to climate change. Pledges to the fund are seen as important to the achievement of a 2015 climate deal in Paris.

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<p>At a conference in Berlin on November 20, $9.3 billion in pledges to the U.N. Green Climate Fund from donor nations were announced, bringing the fund closer to the U.N.'s informal target of $10 billion. The fund is intended to help developing nations invest in low emission development strategies and adapt to climate change. Pledges to the fund are seen as important to the achievement of a 2015 climate deal in Paris.

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<p>At a conference in Berlin on November 20, $9.3 billion in pledges to the U.N. Green Climate Fund from donor nations were announced, bringing the fund closer to the U.N.'s informal target of $10 billion. The fund is intended to help developing nations invest in low emission development strategies and adapt to climate change. Pledges to the fund are seen as important to the achievement of a 2015 climate deal in Paris.

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<p>Analysis of the energy investments required for China to meet the targets established in the deal reached between the United States and China on November 12 indicates that the country will need 67 times more nuclear energy, 30 times more solar, or 9 times more wind energy than it is projected to have at the end of 2014. This equates to about "1,000 nuclear reactors, 500,000 wind turbines or 50,000 solar farms." These investments are expected to cost $2 trillion.

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<p>Siti Nurbaya Bakar, Indonesia's new Minister of Environment and Forestry, has announced a moratorium on the issuance of all new logging permits, noting that the moratorium will be in place until the process for issuing the permits has been found to be "fair, accurate, clear and accountable, which means that the procedure is clear and the result is certain." The ministry has indicated it expects the moratorium to last four to six months.

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<p>Indonesia has drafted a Memorandum of Understanding to renew collaborations with Singapore in an effort to prevent and reduce forest and land fires in Sumatra. The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) in Singapore reached 401 during the summer of 2013—the highest PSI in the nation’s history and a level that can be life threatening for ill or elderly people. The smog has strained relations between Singapore and Indonesia, as pollution from the fires in Indonesia causes haze in both countries.

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<p>Delegates from 190 nations at the Warsaw Climate Change Conference are close to eaching some initial agreements on fighting global warming. Before the talks end, the envoys plan to make progress on a “loss and damage” mechanism that would help countries experiencing storms, floods, and erosion caused by rising seas and higher temperatures. Their primary goal is to reach agreements that will act as stepping stones to a 2015 legally binding treaty to be signed in Paris.

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<p>The oil sands industry has found a new place to store the water produced through the process used to turn bitumen into diesel fuel: a man-made lake. Companies such as Syncrude Canada Ltd., Royal Dutch Shell Plc, and Imperial Oil Ltd. currently produce so much of this water that, by 2022, one month’s output could fill an 11-foot-deep reservoir the size of New York’s Central Park. To combat the problem, they are making plans to create the largest man-made lake district on earth in northern Alberta.

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<p>The European Union postponed a planned extension of rules requiring airlines to pay for carbon emissions to and from non-EU destinations. Climate commissioner Connie Hedegard proposed "stopping the clock for one year" due to progress made in negotiations on a global carbon emissions deal, but she added that the tax would be reintroduced if the International Civil Aviation Organization did not make progress by this time next year.

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<p>The European Union postponed a planned extension of rules requiring airlines to pay for carbon emissions to and from non-EU destinations. Climate commissioner Connie Hedegard proposed "stopping the clock for one year" due to progress made in negotiations on a global carbon emissions deal, but she added that the tax would be reintroduced if the International Civil Aviation Organization did not make progress by this time next year.

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<p>The European Union postponed a planned extension of rules requiring airlines to pay for carbon emissions to and from non-EU destinations. Climate commissioner Connie Hedegard proposed "stopping the clock for one year" due to progress made in negotiations on a global carbon emissions deal, but she added that the tax would be reintroduced if the International Civil Aviation Organization did not make progress by this time next year.

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<p>Australia formally declared vast tracts of ocean protected areas as part of efforts to create the world's largest marine reserve. The new reserve will total over 2.3 million kilometers, completing a 3 million kilometer ring around Australia's coasts. The Coral Sea, home to dozens of coral reefs and marine species, will also be protected. As part of the deal, Australia will pay fishermen around $100 million to compensate for the impacts of the reserve, and fishermen will have until July 2014 before restrictions on fishing practices take effect.

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<p>As Western governments lift sanctions on an increasingly open and democratic Myanmar, the influx of foreign capital and the development it brings will threaten the nation's natural resources, experts warn. Home to the world's largest tiger preserve and impressive biodiversity, the nation's brutal human rights record brought sanctions that protected remote areas by preventing development. This protection is now threatened, as China and Japan make plans to open transportation corridors through Myanmar's jungles.

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<p>As Western governments lift sanctions on an increasingly open and democratic Myanmar, the influx of foreign capital and the development it brings will threaten the nation's natural resources, experts warn. Home to the world's largest tiger preserve and impressive biodiversity, the nation's brutal human rights record brought sanctions that protected remote areas by preventing development. This protection is now threatened, as China and Japan make plans to open transportation corridors through Myanmar's jungles.

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<p>Brazilian police launched a probe last week to investigate an offshore oil spill in a field operated by Chevron Corp. Brazil's energy agency attributed oil seeps off the coast of Rio de Janeiro to a spill at the company's Fade site, where Chevron estimates that as much as 650 barrels of oil was creating a sheen on the surface. Some environmental groups claim that the spill is much larger, and Fabio Scliar, head of the federal police's environmental affairs division, said that information provided by Chevron did not match reports from technicians.

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<p>The European debt crisis may widen the climate funding gap to $45 billion by 2015, according to accounting firm Ernst &amp; Young in a report last week. Governments facing severe austerity measures will struggle to maintain promised climate change investments in the Green Climate Fund, as 10 of the world's major economies will likely produce a gap of $22.5 billion in renewable energy, clean technology, pollution-cutting measures and subsidies, which could escalate if the crisis worsens.

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<p>Environment Minister Peter Kent announced last week proposed standards to require new vehicles sold in Canada to have an average fuel efficiency of 100 km on 4.35 litres of fuel by 2025, matching similar American standards. The regulations would also reduce tailpipe emissions over the next five years until more stringent rules take effect in 2017. Kent acknowledged automakers were skeptical. "I've met with representatives of the Canadian auto industry and the American side of the industry and there are concerns," said Kent.