International Update Volume all, Issue all
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<p>On January 6, China notified the Mekong River Commission (MRC), whose Member States include Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, that it would be holding back the Mekong’s water flow for 20 days. China’s statement on the matter was delivered one day after the new U.S.-funded Mekong Dam Monitor found that disruptions to the river’s water level caused by operation of China’s Jinghong Dam had begun on December 31.

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<p>President Emmanuel Macron has been vocal this week in his opposition to the impending trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and the Mercosur trade bloc, made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The French President has refused to sign the agreement on the grounds that, if ratified, it would increase soy trade between the EU and Brazil, leading to increased deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest, as land is cleared for commercial agricultural use.

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<p>Just hours after being inaugurated last Wednesday, President Joe Biden began his presidency by signing a series of Executive Orders, one of which re-entered the United States into the Paris Climate Agreement. Though the United States only formally exited the agreement last November, the country has been relatively absent as a key player in climate negotiations since Donald Trump took office in 2016. Biden’s move, viewed by many as the return of U.S.

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<p>This past Friday, a Dutch appeals court ruled that Royal Dutch Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary was responsible for two pipeline leaks in the Niger River Delta, occurring in 2004 and 2005 in the villages of Oruma and Goi (<a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-shell-nigeria-court/environmentalist…; and <a href="

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<p>Last Wednesday, the Administrative Tribunal of Paris ruled that France’s failure to meet its greenhouse gas reduction commitments have caused “ecological damage.” In order to meet its emissions reduction targets under the Paris Climate Accords, France had passed domestic laws promising to decrease emissions by 1.5% annually and 3% annually beginning in 2025. However, according to France’s High Council on Climate, these goals have yet to be achieved.

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<p>On February 13, 22-year-old Indian climate activist Disha Ravi was arrested at her home in Bengaluru. Ravi is the co-founder of the Bengaluru chapter of Fridays for Future, an organization created by Greta Thunberg to promote youth climate activism. Delhi authorities have accused Ravi of sedition and criminal conspiracy (<a href="https://time.com/5939627/disha-ravi-india-toolkit-arrest/">Time</a&gt;).</p>

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<p>On February 25, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the New Zealand government would be collaborating with conservation groups—the World Wild Life Fund and MAUI63—and major fishing companies—Moana New Zealand and Sanford Limited—on a new initiative to protect the critically endangered Maui dolphin.

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<p>Eight teenagers from across Australia have jointly filed a class action lawsuit to stop the expansion of Whitehaven’s Coal Vickery coal mine in Gunnedah.

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<p>Officials in the Chinese city of Tangshan have announced they will be intensifying enforcement efforts to reduce local air pollution after two weeks of especially heavy smog across northern China.

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<p style="text-align: left;" align="center">On April 13, the Japanese government announced its decision to release wastewater from its infamous Fukushima nuclear facility into the Pacific Ocean. The plan would authorize the release of over 1.24 million tons of treated but still radioactive water (<a href="https://www.usnews.com/news/news/articles/2021-04-09/japan-to-announce-… News and World Report</a>).

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<p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size: 11.0pt; line-height: 107%; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';">Reports from a Malaysian environmental group, Sahabat Alam Malaysia, led officials at the country’s Department of Environment to believe an incoming shipment of plastic waste from the United States contained hazardous waste (</span><a href="

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<p>On April 22, U.S. President Joseph Biden convened a virtual summit to commemorate Earth Day. The summit was attended by the leaders of 40 countries, including many of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters (<a href="https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/us-pledges-halve-its-emiss…;). Observers have called the event the return of U.S.

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<p>On April 29, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled in favor of nine young climate activists in their challenge against Germany’s 2019 Federal Climate Change Act. The law aims to meet the country’s carbon emissions reduction targets under the Paris Agreement and calls for the German government to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030 relative to 1990 levels.

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<p style="text-align: left;" align="center">On May 12, Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies passed a bill to expedite infrastructure, mining, and agricultural projects by relaxing existing environmental regulations associated with the permitting process.

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<p style="text-align: left;" align="center">On May 20, the Arctic Council held their 12<sup>th</sup> ministerial meeting in Reykjavik, convening the foreign ministers of the eight Arctic States.

<p>On June 3, the Bank of England (BoE)’s Governor, Andrew Bailey, stated the bank would seek to cut greenhouse gas emissions associated with running its physical offices and printing banknotes to net zero by 2050 “at the latest.” The decision is in line with a larger push by the United Kingdom to improve its climate action agenda ahead of the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), to be hosted by the country in Glasgow later this year (<a href="

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<p style="text-align: left;" align="center">On June 8, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres declared to the Insurance Development Forum that the insurance and reinsurance industry has “a key role to play” in the future of climate action (<a href="https://www.reinsurancene.ws/un-chief-says-decisive-climate-action-need… News</a>).

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<p>On June 23, Brazil’s Environment Minister, Ricardo Salles, resigned. This news comes one month after the country’s Supreme Court authorized an investigation against Salles, alleging he had obstructed a federal investigation into illegal logging in the Amazon. He will be replaced by Secretary for the Amazon Joaquim Alvaro Pereira Leite (<a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/24/americas/brazil-ricardo-salles-resigns-i…;).

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<p style="text-align: left;" align="center">On July 1, the Conseil d’Etat, France’s highest administrative court, found that the French government has not taken sufficient legislative action to meet its carbon emissions reduction goals, and ordered the government to take “all necessary measures to curb the curve of greenhouse gas emissions” (<a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/top-court-asks-france-to-take-more-m

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<p>On July 5, Roberto David Castillo, the former head of Desarrollos Energéticos (DESA), was convicted as a co-conspirator in the murder of Honduran environmental defender and Indigenous rights activist, Berta Cáceres. His sentencing hearing will take place on August 3.

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<p style="text-align: left;" align="center">United Nations negotiators have released 21 proposals, setting ambitious new goals for environmental conservation this decade (<a href="https://www.cbd.int/doc/c/abb5/591f/2e46096d3f0330b08ce87a45/wg2020-03-… Environment Programme</a>). The draft agreement is broad in its targets.

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<p style="text-align: left;" align="center">On August 4, Chilean lawmakers voted unanimously to overhaul the country’s water code, a leftover from Augusto Pinochet’s 1980s regime.

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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>Throughout the last three decades under the Convention on Biological Diversity, various plans have been agreed upon to protect nature and species globally. However, historically targets have not been met (<a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-58306288">BBC</a&gt;). Now governments are looking forward to the next decade.</p>

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<p>A motion for a moratorium on deep-sea mining received overwhelming support earlier this week at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) conference in Marseille, France (<a href="https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/conservation-body-calls-gl…;).

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<p>The Central Jakarta District Court ruled that Indonesian President Joko Widodo, along with the ministers of Health, Environment, and Home Affairs and three governors, neglected citizens’ rights to clean air in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia (<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/16/world/asia/jakarta-pollution-court-d… York Times</a>).

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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.

<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>AllRise, an environmental litigation group, submitted a petition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) calling for Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro to be held criminally accountable for his actions in the Amazon (<a href="https://apnews.com/article/climate-change-business-europe-glasgow-crime… News</a>).

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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><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>COP26 is underway in Glasgow, including a major agreement to end deforestation by 2030, among other initiatives (</span><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-59088498"><span>BBC</span>…;).

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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>Widespread bushfires across New South Wales and Kangaroo Island in Southeast Australia have scorched over 25.5 million acres of land, equal to the size of South Korea (<a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-australia-bushfires/australia-calls-f…;).The fires have claimed 27 deaths and destroyed over 2,000 homes, with conditions expected to worsen the weekend of January 10 (<a href="

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<p><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 107%; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif;">Effective January 1, Thailand’s plastic bag ban in major stores follows a yearlong campaign against single-use plastics after several incidents in which animals died from plastic blocking their digestive systems (</span><a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-thailand-environment-plastic/thailand… st

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<p>A recent coronavirus outbreak in Asia has been linked to illegal wildlife trade in a seafood market in Wuhan, China, according to Chinese government officials (<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jan/24/calls-for-global-ban-wi… Guardian</a>). The virus has killed at least 25 people and sickened over 800 in Asia, as well as one person in the United States who had recently traveled to Wuhan.

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<p>Portugal, Germany, and Australia have taken measures this past week to achieve ambitious emissions reduction goals. On January 28, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced that a hydroelectric project under construction in northern Portugal will replace all power lost from the closing of the country’s final coal plants. The project, called the Tamega complex, will generate enough energy to supply 2 million homes.

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<p>On February 4, Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal ruled against four challenges by First Nations groups against the controversial expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

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<p>Locust swarms across Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Tanzania, and Uganda have now entered South Sudan, threatening crops and livelihoods of 25 million people. The locust outbreak in Kenya is the worst the country has faced in 70 years, while Somalia and Ethiopia are experiencing their worst swarms in 25 years.

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<p>Locust swarms across Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Tanzania, and Uganda have now entered South Sudan, threatening crops and livelihoods of 25 million people. The locust outbreak in Kenya is the worst the country has faced in 70 years, while Somalia and Ethiopia are experiencing their worst swarms in 25 years.

<p>On February 27, Britain’s Court of Appeal ruled against an $18 billion proposed expansion of Heathrow Airport, stating policymakers had failed to consider the U.K.’s climate change commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement when designing the project (<a href="https://apnews.com/d38ba261a3bdb8af6f890f111f3744f5">AP News</a>, <a href="

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<p>On March 2, Australian officials announced that there were no longer any active bushfires in the state of New South Wales for the first time in 240 days.

<p>On April 1, the United Nations announced it would postpone this year’s climate change conference to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic (<a href="https://unfccc.int/news/cop26-postponed">UNFCCC</a&gt;). The talks, originally to be held November 9-20 in Glasgow, mark the five-year deadline for countries to update their national climate targets according to the Paris Agreement of 2015.

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<p style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: black;">Recent social isolation and travel restriction measures imposed by countries including China and Italy have led to a significant decline in air pollution. Lockdown measures affecting 35 million people in China began in January.

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<p style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: black;">Recent social isolation and travel restriction measures imposed by countries including China and Italy have led to a significant decline in air pollution. Lockdown measures affecting 35 million people in China began in January.

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<p style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: black;">Recent social isolation and travel restriction measures imposed by countries including China and Italy have led to a significant decline in air pollution. Lockdown measures affecting 35 million people in China began in January.

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<p style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: black;">Recent social isolation and travel restriction measures imposed by countries including China and Italy have led to a significant decline in air pollution. Lockdown measures affecting 35 million people in China began in January.

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<p>On April 1, the United Nations announced it would postpone this year’s climate change conference to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic (<a href="https://unfccc.int/news/cop26-postponed">UNFCCC</a&gt;). The talks, originally to be held November 9-20 in Glasgow, mark the five-year deadline for countries to update their national climate targets according to the Paris Agreement of 2015.

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<p>European leaders have called for green investments in their coronavirus recovery plans, citing the need for clean air and a circular economy to rebuild resilience. On April 15, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reaffirmed strong support for the European Green Deal, which aims for zero carbon emissions in the European Union (EU) bloc by 2050.

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<p>Global carbon emissions are projected to fall by 8 percent this year, the largest decline in emissions ever recorded, according to a report released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) on April 30 (<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/30/climate/global-emissions-decline.htm… York Times</a>).

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<p style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: black;">As borders closed this past month in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, Africa’s $39 billion tourism industry and the conservation projects that rely on its revenues have come to a sudden halt.

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<p style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: black;">As borders closed this past month in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, Africa’s $39 billion tourism industry and the conservation projects that rely on its revenues have come to a sudden halt.

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<p style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: black;">On May 3, the Australian government announced the creation of a $190 million fund to develop hydrogen technology.

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<p style="margin-bottom: .0001pt; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: 'Times New Roman',serif; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: black;">On May 11, Brazil deployed 3,800 troops to protect the Amazon rainforest as deforestation surged ahead of the high season for forest fires.

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<p>The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased reliance on single-use plastics, resulting in a plastics pollution crisis faced by many countries around the world. A French environmental nongovernmental organization recently released a video showing masks and gloves littering the seabed of the Mediterranean Sea.

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<p>The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased reliance on single-use plastics, resulting in a plastics pollution crisis faced by many countries around the world. A French environmental nongovernmental organization recently released a video showing masks and gloves littering the seabed of the Mediterranean Sea.

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<p>The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased reliance on single-use plastics, resulting in a plastics pollution crisis faced by many countries around the world. A French environmental nongovernmental organization recently released a video showing masks and gloves littering the seabed of the Mediterranean Sea.

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<p>The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased reliance on single-use plastics, resulting in a plastics pollution crisis faced by many countries around the world. A French environmental nongovernmental organization recently released a video showing masks and gloves littering the seabed of the Mediterranean Sea.

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<p>The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased reliance on single-use plastics, resulting in a plastics pollution crisis faced by many countries around the world. A French environmental nongovernmental organization recently released a video showing masks and gloves littering the seabed of the Mediterranean Sea.

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<p>The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased reliance on single-use plastics, resulting in a plastics pollution crisis faced by many countries around the world. A French environmental nongovernmental organization recently released a video showing masks and gloves littering the seabed of the Mediterranean Sea.

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<p>The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased reliance on single-use plastics, resulting in a plastics pollution crisis faced by many countries around the world. A French environmental nongovernmental organization recently released a video showing masks and gloves littering the seabed of the Mediterranean Sea.

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<p>Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose once again to the highest values ever recorded, despite global emissions drops due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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<p>On June 11, the Russian government charged the mayor of Norilsk, a remote Arctic city, with criminal negligence over a bungled response to a major oil spill (<a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-russia-pollution-investigation/russia…;). On May 29, a fuel tank at a power station in Norilsk lost pressure and collapsed, leaking more than 20,000 tons of diesel into rivers and subsoil.

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<p>Scientists warn that people living in tropical regions from Brazil to Indonesia may face a heightened risk for COVID-19 complications due to particulate matter released from forest fires (<a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-wildfire-trfn/smo…;, <a href="

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<p>Scientists warn that people living in tropical regions from Brazil to Indonesia may face a heightened risk for COVID-19 complications due to particulate matter released from forest fires (<a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-wildfire-trfn/smo…;, <a href="

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<p>Norway’s oil ministry plans to auction up to 136 new exploration blocks, including 125 in the Arctic Barents Sea, for oil and gas extraction. “We need new discoveries to uphold employment and value creation. I have good faith that the opportunities we now offer in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea will be attractive to companies,” said Tina Bru, Norway’s minister of petroleum and energy.

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<p>On June 30, the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agreed to shift the baseline year for CORSIA, a landmark carbon emissions offsetting scheme for airlines, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the industry. CORSIA, set to begin in 2021, requires airlines to buy credits to offset carbon emissions from international flights that exceed the baseline of average emissions in 2019-2020. The airline industry argued that using 2020 in the benchmark calculation would artificially lower the offset ceiling due to huge declines in flights this year.

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<p>On July 14, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan failed to reach agreement on the regulation of water flow from Ethiopia’s $4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile (<a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-ethiopia-egypt-dam/egypt-sudan-ethiop…;). The dam would double Ethiopia’s current power capacity, positioning the country as a leading power exporter in Africa.

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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>On August 5, the European Commission declared its intention to introduce new legislation to quell the use of fossil fuels in the aviation sector, initiating a public consultation on the matter. The creation of these measures comes as part of the European Green Deal, which has committed the European Union (EU) to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

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<p>The captain of the MV <em>Wakashio</em>, Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar, was arrested in Mauritius on August 18 on the charge of endangering safe navigation.

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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>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>The International Finance Reporting Standards Foundation (IFRSF), which is responsible for setting accounting rules used in over 140 countries, has released a consultation paper to gauge interest in creating a global standard for sustainability reporting (<a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-accounts-climatechange/global-accoun…;).

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<p>On October 15, European Union (EU) leaders agreed that they should move to increase their climate emissions reduction goal but have yet to commit to a specific target. Currently, the EU has pledged to achieve full carbon neutrality by 2050, with an interim goal of cutting emissions by 40% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2030.

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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>On October 28, in an address to the National Assembly, South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced that South Korea will be carbon-neutral by 2050. The announcement comes just two days after Japan’s declaration of the same goal and just over a month following China’s promise to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 (<a href="https://www.ft.com/content/185e5043-fd72-4fef-a05c-f2a5001c7f4b">Financ… Times</a>).</p>

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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>Last Thursday, France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat, ruled that the French government would have three months to show that it is enacting policies to ensure it will meet its carbon emissions reduction requirements (<a href="https://www.conseil-etat.fr/actualites/actualites/emissions-de-gaz-a-ef… d’Etat&nbsp;[FR]</a>, &lt

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<p>Last Thursday, the European Commission announced that it will be taking Greece and Bulgaria to the European Court of Justice for continuing to violate air pollution limits, despite multiple previous warnings.

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<p>On December 17, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Mexican Center for Environmental Law filed a petition under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the replacement for the long-standing North American Free Trade Agreement.

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<p>Canada's Syncrude has pleaded guilty to the deaths of 31 blue herons at its oil sands mine in northern Alberta and fined C$2.75 million. According to Alberta's energy regulator, the birds died after becoming oiled in an abandoned sump that was built to collect process-affected water containing residual bitumen from a storage site at the mine. Syncrude was previously fined C$3 million for negligence in the 2008 deaths of 1,600 ducks in a toxic tailings pond.

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<p>Julia Kloecker, Germany's Agriculture Minister, has proposed to loosen hunting restrictions on wolves to reduce their threat to grazing animals. According to the ministry, wolves killed more than 1,000 farm animals in 2016. Kloecker wrote last month to Svenja Schulze, Germany's Environment Minister, to lobby for a change in the rule to allow more wolves to be shot as part of a moderate regulation of the species' population, but it was unclear who would be licensed to carry out the shooting.

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<p>On January 10, China's top planning agency announced plans to launch a series of subsidy-free wind and solar projects this year to address an $18 billion payment backlog. The projects will generate renewable power for sale at the same prices as non-subsidized coal-fired power plants and will not be required to comply with capacity quota restrictions. According to the National Development and Reform Commission, the new policy will further boost income from solar projects by cutting land costs and promoting new market mechanisms like green certificate trading.

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<p>The European Union's executive body has approved the slaughtering of some 200,000 wild boars in Poland to protect livestock from the deadly African swine fever. A spokeswoman for the European Commission said that shooting wild boars, which spread the virus, if done properly is one way of stopping the disease. Poland is not the first country to take this approach—Germany killed over 800,000 wild boars last year as a precaution. Massive board hunts are planned for remaining weekends this month.

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<p>On January 9, Italy's industry ministry announced plans to halt the issuance of roughly 36 oil and gas exploration permits, including three permits already issued in the Ionian Sea. The proposal is part of the country's long-term plans to cut its carbon footprint, which include phasing out coal power production by 2025 and phasing out fossil fuels by 2050. The ministry has said the proposal will be discussed in parliament in the coming days.

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<p>On January 24, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Italy for failing to protect its citizens from a polluting steel plant in the southern city of Taranto that has been blamed for hundred of cancer-related deaths. The court ruled that the country must pay 161 people who live near the plant 5,000 euros each in damages. The Ilva plant is Europe's largest steel plant and was put under special administration in 2015 after magistrates directed it to be cleaned up or shut down.

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<p>On January 25, the Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency published a report stating that the Netherlands' emissions reductions target for greenhouse gases—reducing emissions by 25% from 1990 levels by 2020—which was confirmed last year by an appeals court, is "out of reach." The agency predicted that the reduction in 2020 will more likely amount to 21% compared with 1990. Dutch lawmakers approved new climate legislation last month that aims to reduce emissions by 95% by 2050, but a plan to achieve these goals has not been confirmed.

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<p>China's environment ministry has announced a new plan to tackle illegal lead recycling and increase the collection rate of lead acid batteries for recycling to 70% by 2025. It is estimated that the country produces around 3.3 million tons of waste lead batteries every year, and less than 30% of the batteries are properly recycled.

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<p>Indonesia has announced its intentions to challenge a European Union directive, known as RED II, that aims to stop the use of crops that cause deforestation in transportation fuel by 2030. The country is concerned that the directive will unfairly target palm oil, of which it is the world's top producer. A government document outlining Indonesia's stance on the directive claims that the method use to measure the risk of unintended carbon emissions was not internationally recognized and not applicable in a tropical region.

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<p>On February 8, the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales dismissed an appeal by pipeline developers of the Rocky Hill open-cut coal mine against an earlier planning rejection. The court found that construction and operation of the mine would result in greenhouse gas emissions that would contribute to climate change, and thus rejected its construction. This case marks the first time an Australian court has heard expert evidence on the need to stay within a global carbon budget in the context of a proposed coal mine.

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<p>Rwanda has signed a $400 million deal to produce bottled methane gas from Lake Kivu, which lies in the volcanic region of Rwanda's border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and is known for emitting dense clouds of methane. The project will suck gas from the lake's deep floor and bottle it for use as fuel, which, in turn, should help prevent toxic gas from bubbling to the surface. The bottled methane is intended to help cut local reliance on wood and charcoal, the fuels most households and tea factories use in the East African nation.

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<p>Brazil's leading research institute, Fiocruz, is warning of a potential health crisis from the failure of a dam in the state of Minas Gerais, which released muddy mining waste and killed at least 134 people. The reservoir breach leached roughly 12 million cubic meters of reddish-brown mud, threatening to contaminate 48 municipalities and affecting up to 1.3 million residents. The institute is concerned that contamination of the ecosystem and nearby Paraopeba River could lead to the spread of diseases like dengue and yellow fever in communities surrounding the reservoir.

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<p>On February 20, Spain announced a $53 billion public investment plan to tackle climate change and become carbon-neutral by 2050. The government intends to establish a calendar of capacity auctions to work toward a target of producing 74% of the country's electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and 100% by 2050. The proposal is expected to cut Spain's reliance on imported energy to 59% from 74% over 10 years.

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<p>The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization has published a report suggesting that a decline in biodiversity poses a growing threat to food security. According to the UN study, the plants, animals, and microorganisms that are the bedrock of food production are in decline as a result of changes in land and water use and management, pollution, and climate change, among other drivers. The report highlights a number of "biodiversity friendly practices" that countries are beginning to adopt, but suggests that changes are not happening quickly enough.

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<p>On March 1, Pakistan announced plans to lodge a complaint against India at the United Nations (UN) that accuses India of "eco-terrorism" over air strikes that damaged pine trees. According to Malik Amin Aslam, Pakistan's climate change minister, Indian jets bombed a "forest reserve" on February 26 near the northern Pakistani town of Balakot and caused significant environmental damage. Pakistan is undertaking an environmental impact assessment that will be the basis for its complaint at the UN and other forums.

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<p>On March 1, Pakistan announced plans to lodge a complaint against India at the United Nations (UN) that accuses India of "eco-terrorism" over air strikes that damaged pine trees. According to Malik Amin Aslam, Pakistan's climate change minister, Indian jets bombed a "forest reserve" on February 26 near the northern Pakistani town of Balakot and caused significant environmental damage. Pakistan is undertaking an environmental impact assessment that will be the basis for its complaint at the UN and other forums.

<p>On March 1, Australian officials announced that a large Hong Kong-flagged ship, which was chartered by the Bintan Mining Company to carry bauxite for aluminum production, has run aground next to a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Solomon Islands and has been leaking oil since February 5. Australian experts estimate that more than 80 tons of oil has leaked into the sea and shoreline in ecologically sensitive area and more than 660 tons of oil remain aboard the ship. Both Australia and New Zealand have sent experts to help monitor the spill.

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<p>On February 28, South Korea's energy ministry announced plans to suspend operations at four of its older coal-fired power plants from March to June in an effort to reduce air pollution. The ministry also plans to cap electricity output from other plants when air pollution levels are high and expand the use of low-sulfur coal. Coal power accounts for roughly 40% of South Korea's electricity.

<p>The High Court has ruled unlawful aspects of the UK government's national planning policy concerning fracking. The court found that the government failed to take into account scientific developments that called into question whether gas was considered a low-carbon fuel source before adopting the planning policy. The ruling suggests that gas from fracking might not be considered a low-carbon fuel source, which could hamper attempts to expand fracking around the country.

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<p>Western Australia's environment authority is proposing new guidelines to offset their carbon emissions in an effort to help curb climate change. Under the guidelines, fertilizer plants, power plants, and liquefied natural gas export sites that generate more than 100,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide would be required to buy credits to offset their emissions in order to pass the authority's assessment process. The guidelines are not binding, but the authority's assessments are considered by the state government when approving major projects.

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<p>On March 7, the European Court of Justice's General Court ruled that the European Food Safety Agency must disclose details of studies on the toxicity and carcinogenic properties of glyphosate. Concerns about the weedkiller's safety were highlighted in 2015 when an agency of the World Health Organization concluded that it probably causes cancer. The court found that it was in the public's interest to access the information not only for knowing what is or could be released into the environment, but also for understanding the impact of those emissions.

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<p>On March 21, the European Court of Justice ruled that Italy has failed to bring 44 of its 102 landfills into compliance. The court noted that Italy's erratic treatment of its landfills, such as adopting a site-conditioning plan to authorize continued operations only to decide later to close the landfill, exacerbated the problem because it was impossible to unambiguously define whether landfills were to be closed or to continue to operate.

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<p>The Supreme People's Court, China's supreme court, is planning to establish a national environmental fund this year. The fund, which would use money collected in fines from polluting firms to help pay for environmental restoration, is being established in response to proposals from delegates of China's parliament. The court is currently engaging in discussions with other government departments to draft rules that clarify how the fund should be used.

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<p>On April 4, Singapore announced that authorities had seized 12.9 tons of pangolin scales, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The scales were found in a shipping container destined for Vietnam, along with 390 pounds of elephant ivory. Pangolins are critically endangered, and the conservation group WildAid estimates that roughly 100,000 pangolins are poached from the wild each year.

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<p>On April 5, the European Commission charged BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen with colluding to limit the introduction of clean emissions technology. The Commission alleges that the carmakers colluded between 2006 and 2014 to limit, delay, or avoid the introduction of selective catalytic reduction systems to reduce harmful nitrogen oxides emissions from diesel passenger cars. The carmakers have 10 weeks to respond and could face fines of up to 10% of their global annual turnover.

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<p>On April 5, the German government announced plans to approve an aid package for mining regions affected by its plans to phase out coal by 2038. The package would distribute 14 billion euros to the four German states affected by the phaseout and 26 billion euros in direct federal investments. The Bundestag lower house of parliament will vote on the package after the cabinet has given it the green light.

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<p>According to a study published this week, plastic pollution in the world's oceans costs society billions of dollars every year in damaged and lost resources. An estimated eight million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean every year, negatively affecting fisheries, aquaculture, recreational activities, and global well-being. The study is the first of its kind to explore the social and economic impact of marine plastic pollution, finding that plastic waste costs up to $33,000 per ton in reduced environmental value.

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<p>On April 10, London's Supreme Court ruled that nearly 2,000 Zambian villagers have the right to sue a mining company for allegedly polluting their land. Vedanta, which delisted from London last year but maintains a legal base in Britain, appealed a lower court ruling that the villagers' case could be heard in England. But the London court dismissed the company's appeal and held that the villagers could pursue their case through the English courts.

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<p>Australia's environment minister, Melissa Price, has granted extensions sought by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee for 13 threatened species. The extensions effectively delay assessments for up to three years. The 13 species include the critically endangered Leadbeater's possum and the vulnerable Australian sea lion. Cuts to the federal environment department appear to be one reason for the extensions.

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<p>On April 24, South Korea announced a $5.87 billion supplemental budget to fight unprecedented air pollution levels and boost exports. The budget includes subsidies for replacing old diesel-powered cars, buying air purifiers, and encouraging renewable energy technologies. It also proposes increasing export credit financing and creating jobs.

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<p>A report has found concerning levels of 27 pesticides in 1,400 towns across Brazil. Of the pesticides found, 11 are prohibited in Brazil and 21 are banned in the European Union (EU). The study was performed by a Swiss nonprofit group called Public Eye and investigative journalists from Repórter Brasil and Agência Publica. Most test results fell within loose Brazilian safety limits, but 12% of samples breached the EU's stricter regulations.

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<p>On May 8, New Zealand's government introduced legislation to tackle climate change. The bill would reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, and includes a target for cutting methane emissions from livestock by at least 10% by 2030. According to the United Nations, livestock farming alone is responsible for up to 18% of the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

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<p>On May 16, Mexico's education ministry cancelled schools in the capital and surrounding areas due to elevated levels of air pollution. Weather conditions combined with dozens of brushfires burning in and around the city have produced a blanket of smoky haze, triggering city authorities to declare an environmental emergency earlier in the week. On May 16, the Environment Department announced that firefighters are combating an average of 100 fires a day in brush, scrub, agricultural, and forest land through the country.

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<p>On May 13, Gabon's president vowed to find and punish the people responsible for the disappearance of over 350 containers of protected kevazingo wood. Authorities had uncovered and seized illegally felled kevazingo wood in Owendo in late February and early March, but much of the wood disappeared in April. The stolen kevazingo is estimated to have a market value of at least $241 million. Forestry is a major industry for Gabon, but the kevazingo tree, which can take 500 years to grow to its full height, is protected by law.

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<p>On June 4, Argentina's Supreme Court upheld an environmental law that bans mining on and around the country's glaciers to protect water supplies. A Canadian mining company argued that the law could affect its projects near glacial areas in Argentina and sought to have it declared unconstitutional, but the court found no proof that the ban caused any damage to the company. For the full story, see https://www.apnews.com/4a4dadcc832048258147d9aa5ad80a55.</p&gt;

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<p>The Scottish government is proposing to establish four new marine protected areas (MPAs) to provide special protections for minke whales and basking sharks in feeding grounds around Scotland. The proposed areas are located at the southern trench in the outer Moray Firth, north-east Lewis, the Sea of the Hebrides, and Shiant East Bank, and would cover 5,000 square miles of sea. The government aims to complete Scotland's MPA network by the end of 2020.

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<p>On June 5, Myanmar announced two new policies—the National Environmental Policy and the Myanmar Climate Change Policy—for addressing the country's environmental management and climate change strategies. The two policies, which explicitly recognize the rising threat of extreme weather and other impacts of climate change to the country's economic and social development, aim to transform Myanmar into a climate-resilient, low-carbon society.

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<p>Twenty-seven island states across the Caribbean, the Pacific, and the Indian Ocean are uniting under a new initiative to manage and eliminate toxic chemicals and waste. Under the new initiative, called the Implementing Sustainable Low and Non-Chemical Development in Small Island Developing States (ISLANDS) program, the island states will work together to eliminate over 23,000 metric tons of toxic chemicals and avoid the release of over 185,000 metric tons of marine litter.

<p>The United Kingdom (UK) government is proposing to amend its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, which was agreed to under the Climate Change Act in 2008, to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. The net zero target was recommended last month by the government's advisory Committee on Climate Change. According to the committee, there is a 50-50 chance of staying below the recommended 1.5°C temperature rise by 2100 if the UK and other countries achieve the target.

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<p>On June 14, the International Energy Agency released its first major report on fuel that calls for the use of hydrogen as a potentially emissions-free source of energy. According to the report, the cost of producing hydrogen from renewable energy could fall by 30% by 2030 and the fuel could reduce emissions in the transport, chemicals, and steel industries. The agency outlines several recommendations for producing hydrogen from renewable energy sources and spreading its use across economies.

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<p>On June 17, a Dutch court fined Shell $2.8 million for violating environmental and labor laws at its chemical plant in the village of Moerdjik. The court ruled that the company did not take sufficient precautions to prevent two explosions at the plant that injured two workers, and held that the company was liable for an ethylene oxide gas leak at the same plant. For the full story, see https://www.apnews.com/a4e35696a00f4e8790b1f61fdb32f116.</p&gt;

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<p>On June 18, Canada passed a new law banning the import and export of shark fins. Called the Fisheries Act, the new law also requires depleted fish populations to be rebuilt. Canada, which is the largest importer of shark fins outside of Asia, is the first G20 country to ban the export and import of shark fins. For the full story, see https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-canada-fisheries/canada-becomes-first…;

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<p>On June 24, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations pledged to tackle marine trash in the region. The declaration was adopted by the association's 10 member states at its biannual summit and expresses the members' commitment to "prevent and significantly reduce marine debris, particularly from land-based activities." The association also published a framework for how it intends to address the trash problem, including policy planning and engaging the private sector.

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<p>On June 26, a Kenyan environmental tribunal blocked construction of a coal-fired power plant in Lamu County, where a UNESCO world heritage site is located. Environmental groups challenged the government's issuance of a license to a power company to operate the plant, arguing the plant would cause environmental damage. The tribunal found that the National Environmental Management Authority failed to adequately involve county residents in public participation, as required by law.

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<p>On July 9, France's transport minister announced plans to introduce a new "ecotax" on all flights from French airports beginning in 2020. The tax, which will cost between 1.50 euros and 18 euros, is expected to raise over 180 million euros that will be used to invest in eco-friendly transport infrastructure, such as rail. The tax will not apply to flights arriving in France. For the full story, see https://www.apnews.com/be0605b81b214502b2fce419869ea09e.</p&gt;

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<p>India's western state of Gujarat has launched the world's first "cap and trading" program in an effort to combat particulate air pollution. The program is being launched in the city of Surat, where textile and dye factories are a major source of pollution. Under the program, the government will set a cap on emissions and allow the factories to trade permits among themselves to stay below the cap.

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<p>On July 18, Colombia's constitutional court upheld restrictions on the aerial spraying of the herbicide glyphosate to eliminate coca, the base ingredient in cocaine. All eight of the court's judges held that the national narcotics council would decide whether spraying could restart, noting that it was not necessary to prove with absolute certainty that the herbicide was not harmful, but that the council should consider all available scientific evidence about minimizing risks to health and the environment.

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<p>On July 17, Indonesian authorities seized 72 helmeted hornbill casques that were hidden in a woman's carry-on bag at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. The woman carrying the casques was charged under the 1990 Conservation Law, for which she could face up to five years in prison and up to 100 million rupiah in fines if convicted. The helmeted hornbill is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List, a decline which has been driven by demand for their casques.

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<p>On July 16, a Spanish judge blocked an attempt by Madrid's council to lift restrictions on vehicles entering the city center. Under the current restrictions, only certain vehicles—primarily electric and hybrid cars—are permitted to enter a central area of around five square kilometers without being subject to fines. The court held the restrictions should remain in place pending further review by magistrates because lifting them would have an irreversible immediate impact on the environment.

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<p>On July 31, German prosecutors announced they had filed charges against former Audi Chief Executive Rupert Stadler, who is being investigated over his role in Volkswagen's emissions test cheating scandal. According to the public prosecutor's office in Munich, Stadler and three other defendants are being charged with fraud, false certification, and criminal advertising practices.

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<p>On August 22, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro conceded that the record number of fires raging in the Amazon may be due to farmers illegally setting fires, but told foreign powers not to interfere with Brazil’s sovereignty. Government figures indicate that fires in the Amazon have risen 83% compared to the same period last year. French President Emmanuel Macron expressed concern over the fires on Twitter, calling them an “international crisis” that should be discussed at the upcoming G7 summit.

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<p>South Africa has received permission from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to nearly double the number of black rhinos that can be killed as trophies. The money raised from selling hunting rights will support conservation funds for the critically endangered species. Since 2003, South Africa has sold hunting rights for five black rhinos a year. The latest decision increases the quota to 0.5% of the population, which translates to nine black rhinos at today’s levels. The move has received support from some African states and opposition from others.

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<p>On August 22, a Cambodian court found Spanish environmental activist Alejandro-Gonzalez Davidson not guilty of incitement, the default charge for activists in Cambodia. Gonzalez-Davidson was charged with acting as an accomplice to three Cambodians who were arrested for protesting sand dredging in the coastal province of Koh Kong. The practice of extracting sand for export to countries like Singapore for reclamation and construction can have a major impact on marine environments, from destroying mangrove forests to decimating fish populations.

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<p>Germany will phase out the use of the controversial weed killer glyphosate by the end of 2023 due to its negative impacts on insect pollinator populations. Biologists are concerned about plummeting populations of insects vital for ecosystem health and pollinating crops. Some experts suspect glyphosate may also cause cancer in humans. Bayer, the company that sells glyphosate, opposed the ban, stating that the weed killer can be used safely. Farm groups and the German Chemical Industry Association have also lobbied for the continued use of glyphosate.

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<p>In the 1980s, banana plantations in Nicaragua and other parts of Central America sprayed a powerful pesticide called Nemagon, sterilizing workers on a mass scale. Victims are now suing Dow Chemical, Shell Oil, and Occidental Chemical in France to recover $805 million in unpaid damages awarded to them by courts in Nicaragua. The case follows decades of suits in the United States and countries in Central America. In the past, Dow and Shell have declined to pay the damages, and U.S. courts have repeatedly ruled in favor of the companies.

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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>Brazil's new president, Jair Bolsonaro, has issued an administrative decree that shifts responsibility for indigenous land demarcation from the government's indigenous affairs office to the ministry of agriculture. The decree also shifts authority over regulation of quilombola territory from the government's agrarian reform institute to the ministry.

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<p>On January 30, United Nations human rights experts called for an impartial investigation into the collapse of a dam in Minas Gerais, Brazil, on January 25, and into toxicity of the waste from the iron ore mine. The dam is owned by Vale SA, the world's largest iron ore miner. One expert urged the government to prioritize safety evaluations of dams, and to refrain from authorizing new tailing dams until safety has been ensured.

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<p>Canada's top court has ruled that energy companies must fulfill their environmental obligations before paying back creditors in cases of insolvency and bankruptcy, effectively requiring companies to clean up old oil and gas wells rather than leaving them for others to clean up.

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<p>Nearly a decade after Indonesia and Norway signed an agreement to preserve Indonesia's rainforests, Indonesia is ready to receive funding from Norway for reducing its carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation in 2017.

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<p>Nearly a decade after Indonesia and Norway signed an agreement to preserve Indonesia's rainforests, Indonesia is ready to receive funding from Norway for reducing its carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation in 2017.

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<p>On March 21, the Mexican government announced that it would use buoys to mark the reserve of the vaquita porpoise in an effort to save the world's most endangered marine mammal. The Environment Department plans to provide social programs and jobs for fishing communities in the upper Gulf of California, where the species resides, and to encourage tourism, fish farms, and better fishing practices. With only roughly 10 vaquitas remaining, some environmental groups stress that more urgent measures are needed to save the species from extinction.

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<p>The Indonesian government has designated three new marine protected areas (MPAs) in the waters of eastern North Maluku province in an effort to achieve sustainable fisheries and support food security across the country. The MPAs span a combined 87 square miles within the Coral Triangle, which is home to the greatest diversity of corals and reef fishes in the world. As a result of the designations, only traditional and small-scale fishers using sustainable fishing equipment will be permitted to operate in these waters.

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<p>On May 7, the United States refused to sign an agreement with seven other nations—Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden—addressing challenges in the Arctic due to climate change language. The meeting of the Arctic Council in Finland was supposed to frame a two-year agenda to balance the challenge of climate change in the region with sustainable development of mineral wealth.

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<p>On May 6, the United Nation's Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a summary of its global assessment report on threats to biodiversity. According to the summary, the number of species has dwindled by an average of 20% over the past 120 years, and sensitive animal groups have been hit particularly hard, with 40% of amphibians and roughly a third each of corals and marine mammals facing possible extinction.

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<p>On May 17, court hearings began on halting dolphin hunting in the western Japanese town of Taiji. Taiji has long maintained that the hunts, which involve driving hundreds of dolphins into coves and clubbing then to death, are a traditional part of its livelihood as the town has hunted dolphins and whales for thousands of years. An animal welfare group, a marine activist, and a man who grew up in Taiji filed suit, arguing that dolphins are protected under Japanese animal welfare laws, but are subjected to "extreme acts of cruelty" in these hunts.

<p>The United Kingdom has created 41 new marine conservation zones, ranging from Studland Bay near Bournemouth to the Goodwin Sands off the Deal coast in Kent. The newly-protected areas will cover 4,633 square miles of marine habitat, bringing the total number of marine protected areas around the British coastline to 355. Among the species and habitats that will benefit from the new protections are the short-snouted seahorse, the ocean quahog, ross worm reefs, and blue mussel beds.

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<p>Chile has finalized an agreement to publicly share data from its satellite system for monitoring fishing boats to, among other things, support its disease prevention program. The country will share the data through an online interactive mapping platform called Global Fishing Watch that tracks ship movements across the globe. The data will enable fisheries managers to monitor vessels to help prevent the spread of disease in the salmon aquaculture industry and to keep an eye on Chile's jack mackerel population.

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<p>On May 30, UN Environment presented a 20-year strategy to Guyanese President David Granger that is aimed at advancing sustainable economic growth in Guyana while preserving the country's vast natural capital. The comprehensive policy is focused on reorienting and diversifying the Caribbean nation's economy, as well as opening new sustainable income and investment opportunities in green sectors with higher added value.

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<p>At a European Union (EU) summit on June 20, efforts led by France and Germany for the 28-member EU to agree to a 2050 net-zero carbon emissions target was blocked by three central European countries. The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland refused to sign on to the agreement, which is projected to require the bloc to invest an additional 175 billion to 290 billion euros per year in clean energy technology. The summit was the last chance to agree to the target before global climate talks in September.

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<p>In a lawsuit brought by a resident arguing that air pollution in Paris caused her respiratory problems, the administrative court of Montreuil held that the state had repeatedly failed to take sufficient measures to prevent pollution from rising above government-set thresholds between 2012 and 2016, when the resident contracted bronchitis.

<p>On July 11, Britain's maritime minister announced that all new ships ordered from 2025 onwards and destined for its waters must be equipped with zero emission technology in an effort to curb maritime pollution. The new requirements are part of the Clean Maritime Plan that includes a competition to find innovative ways to reduce maritime emissions and a call for evidence to reduce emissions in the United Kingdom's (UK's) waterways and on its domestic vessels.

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<p>On August 1, the Australian government announced that it was dropping actions against hundreds of farmers for breaching the 2003 Native Vegetation Act that has since been repealed. According to energy and environment minister Matt Kean and agriculture minister Adam Marshall, the actions were dropped to "deliver fairness" to farmers by ensuring that those engaged in activity that is now legal are not punished under historic laws.

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<p>Indonesia's environment ministry has deployed a team to investigate the cause of a leaking oil well in the Java Sea. The well has pumped an estimated 3,000 barrels of oil per day into the sea and the northern Java coast since the spill began. According to the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), the country's biggest green nongovernmental organization, up to 80% of neighboring fishing communities have incurred some degree of economic loss as a result of the spill.

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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>On September 5, New Zealand announced plans to enforce greater protections on its waterways in response to pollution from farming and tourism. The new measures include restrictions on farming intensification, conversion of lands for dairy farming, and the use of synthetic nitrogen pesticides. A surge in tourism and the farming industry has taken a toll on New Zealand’s once pristine waters. Experts say New Zealand’s rivers and lakes are now some of the most polluted among OECD countries.

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<p>Thousands of people are missing after the onslaught of Hurricane Dorian, the worst hurricane to ever hit the Bahamas. The United Nations estimates 70,000 people are in immediate need of food, water, and shelter. On the evening of September 5, the death toll stood at 30, although officials expect the final toll to be much higher. International relief efforts by the U.N. World Food Programme, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Netherlands, and Jamaica are currently underway to provide relief supplies.

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<p>On September 20, the German government agreed on a $60 billion package of measures to combat climate change. Germany aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The new measures include a national emissions trading system that will set prices for carbon dioxide emissions. Other plans include raising the climate charge on airline fares and reducing the tax on train tickets. The new plan arrives amidst a surge of public support for addressing climate change.

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<p>On September 19, Malaysia announced it will push Southeast Asian nations to find a long-term solution for regional smog haze caused by forest fires in Indonesia. Malaysian Environmental Minister Yeo Bee Yin told reporters, “We hope there will be a more effective mechanism at the ASEAN level so that we can cooperate to seek a long-term solution to address this problem.” Malaysia is also considering a new law to punish any of its companies responsible for starting fires.

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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>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>An Australian farmer has launched a lawsuit against Bayer AG’s agricultural chemicals unit Monsanto after being diagnosed with cancer he says was caused by its weedkiller Roundup. New South Wales farmer Ross Wild was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and cites his long-term exposure to Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate as the cause. His lawsuit is the second such in Australia and the first from a farmer. Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used weedkiller. As of July 11, Bayer faced lawsuits from over 18,400 U.S. plaintiffs who say glyphosate caused cancer.

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<p>Between August and September, fires caused by slash-and-burn agriculture destroyed over 3,212 acres of forest in Ankarafantsika National Park in northwestern Madagascar. Madagascar’s environment minister Alexandre Georget told reporters that the country needs help from the international community, especially in securing fire-fighting aircraft. “Every year, around 120,000 hectares [297,000 acres] of forest disappear, mostly as a result of slash-and-burn farming. If the destruction continues at this rate, Madagascar will be completely deforested in 40 years,” said Georget.

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<p>Since early September, 130 tons of oil sludge have polluted Brazil’s northeastern beaches. According to a report by Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras, the oil came from a boat from Venezuela navigating close to the coast. Brazilian environment minister Ricardo Salles supported this claim, stating the oil “very probably comes from Venezuela.” The oil has now reached 61 municipalities in nine Brazilian states, contaminating 130 beaches. Authorities say the oil has already killed ten turtles, and environmental experts fear the oil will continue to damage coral and marine life.

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<p>On October 12, Typhoon Hagibis made landfall in Izu Peninsula, Japan, sweeping across the northern region of the country and causing widespread flooding (<a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/15/asia/japan-typhoon-hagibis-aftermath-int…;). The death toll hit 74 as of October 15, according to the national Japanese broadcaster NHK.

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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>New Delhi, India, is facing its worst air pollution crisis in three years, prompting authorities to shut down schools and delay over 30 flights due to poor visibility. On November 1, New Delhi officials declared a public health emergency, halting construction projects, closing several thousand primary schools until November 5, and distributing five million face masks to schoolchildren.

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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>While most of the world works to reduce reliance on coal, China has expanded its coal-powered generation to a level equal to the generating capacity of the European Union. According to a United States-based research group, Global Energy Monitor, China raised its coal-firing capacity by 42.9 gigawatts (gW), or 4.5%, in the last 18 months. In the same period, the rest of the world cut its coal power capacity by 8.1 gW. Coal plants currently under construction in China add another 121.3 gW—enough to power all of France.</p>

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<p>European Union leaders will push for a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at an upcoming summit December 12-13, according to a draft statement released December 2.

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<p><span style="mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';">On December 6, over half a million protesters marched outside the U.N. climate summit in Madrid, demanding that world leaders take action (</span><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50744784"><span style="mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';">BBC</span></a><span style="mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman';">).

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<p>An outbreak of coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish has been found munching Australia’s World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef. The predator starfish feeds on corals, and the outbreak hits as the reef is still reeling from two consecutive years of major coral bleaching. The threat has caused the government to start culling the starfish. The crown-of-thorns were found in large numbers last month in the Swains Reefs, at the southern edge of the Great Barrier Reef, by researchers from the reef’s Marine Park Authority.

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<p>Hebei, China's most polluted province, pledged to cut emissions by 14 percent by 2020 as part of China's overall goal of improving air quality in the region. The provincial government promised to cut fine particulate matter to an average of 57 micrograms per cubic meter by 2020, down from 65 micrograms in 2017. The province has been under heavy pressure to bring smog under control this winter, shutting factories, curbing traffic and converting coal-fired heating boilers as part of a state anti-pollution drive.

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<p>For the first time ever, scientists have surveyed the rainforest of Penang Hill comprehensively. The 130-million-year old forest is believed to have never been cut before and has remained largely unexplored. Among the exciting discoveries is a potentially new species of “ghost” scorpion. A 117-member team climbed tall trees, searched the forest floor, and scoured the dark to discover many animals and plants. They recorded more than 1,400 species, including four likely new to science.

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<p>Scientists have found a new species of dwarf lemur in southeastern Madagascar. The Grove's Dwarf lemur was discovered in two of Madagascar’s national parks, Ranomafana and Andringitra, two World Heritage sites. The new lemur is nocturnal and smaller than a squirrel. The fur on its back, limbs, and head are a reddish-brown in color, and there are brownish-black rings around its large eyes. An analysis of DNA samples taken from a number of animals was used to confirm that Grove’s Dwarf lemur is in fact a new, distinct species.

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<p>Beijing issued its first major smog alert of the winter, which triggers strict measures to reduce industrial output. The falling temperatures, and the increased demand they cause, triggered an orange alert, the second-highest on China’s four-level system. The Ministry of Environmental Protection warned in a statement that heavy air pollution would envelop Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and the surrounding area from Friday until Jan. 17. A list of companies in the capital affected by the orange alert numbers more than 700 enterprises.

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<p>Scientists are using information gleaned from both illegal ivory art and elephant dung to provide clues that could help save their lives. The process consists of cutting up seized artifacts and subjecting them to carbon dating to determine when the elephants were killed. DNA from the ivory art is then compared to a DNA database derived from elephant dung to pinpoint where they lived. Previous work by the researchers has provided valuable information to focus poaching law enforcement in Africa and prosecute ivory traffickers elsewhere.

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<p>The Sanchi, an Iranian oil tanker carrying more than 100,000 tons of toxic oil, collided with a freighter and exploded, killing all 32 crew onboard. The Sanchi was carrying the equivalent of nearly 1 million barrels of ultra-light crude, plus its own fuel, to South Korea. An updated emergency ocean model simulation shows that waters polluted by the sinking Sanchi oil tanker could reach Japan within a month.

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<p>In December 2017, a research group visited the Galápagos Islands to survey coral reefs and to gather ecological information on their extent and condition. The reefs of the Galápagos have a history of coral bleaching across the archipelago. El Niño's hot waters pushed many corals beyond their thermal tolerances, resulting in widespread reef-scale bleaching.

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<p>Plastic waste is building up in the wilderness of the Norwegian Arctic. Researchers are particularly concerned about huge concentrations of microplastic fragments in sea ice. Norwegian fishermen are worried that their fish stocks may lose their reputation for being untouched by pollution. A report from the Norwegian Polar Institute to the recent Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø says there's a great need for more research into the extent of possible harm from plastic.

<p>New British biofuel targets, which officially went into effect April 15, aim to double renewable fuels usage in the United Kingdom's transport sector and reduce reliance on imported diesel. With these targets, large-scale transport fuel suppliers will mix at least 12.4% biofuel by 2032. The changes will also support the production of sustainable aviation fuels in Britain.

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<p>On June 14, EU negotiators agreed to phase out the use of palm oil in transport fuels by 2030. The wording on the specifics of the phase-out are yet to be agreed upon, but EU negotiators agreed that the use of palm oil would be capped at 2019 levels until 2023 and reduced to zero by 2030. The agreement is part of the EU's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

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<p>China's cabinet has launched a new cross-ministerial leadership group to tackle pollution around Beijing. The group will assist in creating a "coordination mechanism" to tackle pollution in and around the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. The group will be headed by the vice-premier Han Zheng, and environment minister Li Ganjie, the mayors of Beijing and Tianjin and the governor of Hebei province will serve as deputies.

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<p>On June 25, Europe's highest court declared that crops obtained by mutagenesis, or gene editing, should fall under laws restricting the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The Court of Justice of the European Union took the view that organisms obtained by mutagenesis are GMOs within the meaning of the GMO Directive because mutagenesis involves techniques that alter the genetic material of an organism in a way that does not occur naturally.

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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>Bosnian authorities have ordered the Balkans' leading metallurgical coke producer to halt operations to prevent major environmental damage. The company has been accused of discharging toxic liquid waste into a nearby river, and has not renewed an environmental permit that expired in January 2017 despite sanctions being imposed. The regional prosecutor's office has opened an investigation into whether the company is guilty of negligence.

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<p>Starting September 1, halogen light bulbs will be banned across Europe in an effort to reduce emissions and energy bills by switching to light-emitting diodes (LEDs). LEDs consume one-fifth of the energy of halogen bulbs, which means the phase-out of halogen bulbs will prevent more than 15 million tons of carbon emissions a year. The phase-out will occur gradually, allowing remaining stocks of halogen bulbs to be sold and exempting capsules, linear, and low-voltage incandescents used in oven lights.

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<p>Australia's outgoing Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, removed requirements from the National Energy Guarantee plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions due to insufficient parliamentary support. The requirements would have mandated that greenhouse gas emissions from the country's power industry be reduced by 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Opponents of the requirements argued that reducing emissions would put the country at an economic disadvantage after the United States withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord.

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<p>The Indonesian government has removed three songbird species from its newly updated list of protected species. The white-rumped shama, Javan pied starling, and straw-headed bulbul will no longer be protected from captive breeding and trading by private owners. According to Indra Eksploitasia, the director of biodiversity conservation in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the decision to remove the songbirds from the protected list was based on a socioeconomic impact study carried out by the ministry.

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<p>Beginning this week, the Philippines government will impose restrictions on the development of land for nickel mining. The new restrictions will limit nickel mining to a production area ranging from 50 to 100 hectares at any one time, depending on the size of production and whether there is a processing plant. Miners will also be required to establish a 20-meter buffer zone inward from the mining tenement boundary and near rivers and streams,where metals extraction will be prohibited.

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<p>ClientEarth, an environmental campaign group, has filed a second complaint with a court in Sweden to block construction of a gas pipeline through Swedish waters. The group is arguing that Sweden's Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation failed to consider the project's impact on wildlife in the Baltic Sea when it approved the pipeline in June. Construction of the pipeline involves detonating World War II bombs on the sea floor along the project's 510-kilometer route in Sweden.

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<p>On September 13 at its biennial meeting in Brazil, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) passed a declaration to safeguard marine mammals in perpetuity. The non-binding Florianopolis Declaration, which was proposed by Brazil and no longer recognizes whaling as a necessary economic activity, was supported by 40 countries and rejected by 27 pro-whaling states. The 89 member countries of the IWC also voted to renew quotas for limited hunts for indigenous communities in Alaska, Russia, Greenland, and the Caribbean on account of their cultural and subsistence needs.

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<p>China's transport and environment ministries are drafting a plan to replace heavy-duty diesel trucks with vehicles that burn cleaner fuel. The proposals being considered include replacing vehicles with more modern trucks using a higher grade of diesel called National Five and using electric trucks or ones that run on liquefied natural gas. The plan is expected to take effect in 2020 and be implemented in the country's smoggiest northern regions.

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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>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>On October 11, the Shanxi government announced plans to establish "no-coal zones" in Datong, a major coal-producing city in the province, to curb pollution. The "no-coal zones," in which the storage, sale, and direct combustion of all kinds of coal will be prohibited, will cover 39 square miles of the city. As a result, households in Datong will switch to cleaner gas heating this winter.

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<p>The Cabinet of Ghana has decided to switch all government institutions to solar power in an effort to reduce energy consumption costs. Feasibility studies are already underway for the Jubilee House, the seat of Government, and Parliament House to make the switch. The decision was announced by Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia at the opening of the Fourth Ghana Renewable Energy Fair in Accra.

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<p>The Australian government has proposed a A$3.9 billion fund for water infrastructure and drought-related projects in an effort to buffer farming communities from future droughts. The fund is designed to surpass immediate relief and aid the agriculture sector long-term with water infrastructure, projects, and research. If approved, the fund would provide A$100 million a year to farming communities to invest in projects.

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<p>On October 23, Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced a plan to tax industrial emitters and fuels in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and New Brunswick. The fuel surcharge is expected to raise about 2.3 billion Canadian dollars in revenue next year, much of which will be sent out as benefits to individuals. The tax on large industrial emitters will begin in January, and the fuel tax will take effect in April.

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<p>On October 26, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted a ban prohibiting ships from using fuels with a sulfur content above 0.5 percent beginning in 2020, unless they are equipped with scrubbers to clean up the sulfur emissions. Ships that violate the ban will face fines or risk of impoundment by IMO member states.

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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>On November 6, a federal court in Brazil upheld a decision by a state court that forced the world's largest alumina refinery to run at half capacity. Norsk Hydro, the owner of the refinery, was ordered to slash output by half after admitting to making unlicensed emissions of untreated water during heavy rains in February. The court also upheld a ban on the company's use of a second waste deposit area near the plant.

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<p>On November 7, Germany's Environment Minister, Svenja Schulze, announced she would soon present a draft climate protection law that would assign all sectors specific targets for reducing their carbon dioxide emissions. Under the new law, fossil fuel use would become more expensive for transport or buildings while electricity would become cheaper.

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<p>The Ile-de-France region has plans to launch a large fleet of electric bicycles in a state-funded scheme that is aimed at encouraging bicycle commuting to reduce congestion and pollution. Under the scheme, a regional transport agency will provide up to 10,000 electric bicycles for long-term rental in the region with the hope of expanding the fleet to 20,000 bicycles. The bicycles will remain with the users, who can rent them for 40 euros a month, half of which can be subsidized by their employers.

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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>Beginning January 1, 2020, Singapore's Maritime Port Authority will ban discharge into the ocean of "wash water" that is created when ships capture sulfur from engine exhausts using open-loop exhaust gas scrubbers. The ban is being imposed to prepare one of the world's busiest ports for International Maritime Organization rules that will require ships to use cleaner fuels beginning in 2020, including reducing the sulfur content in fuel from 3.5% to below 0.5%.

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<p>On November 29, a Honduran court convicted seven men for the 2016 murder of Berta Caceres, an indigenous land rights campaigner who led opposition to the construction of a hydroelectric dam on the ancestral lands of her Lenca tribe. Caceres was shot and killed at her home on March 2, 2016, after receiving death threats over her challenges to the Agua Zarca dam that threatened to displace hundreds of indigenous Lenca. The seven men face up to 30 years in jail.

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<p>On November 28, the European Union's (EU's) executive branch proposed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The proposal is far more ambitious than the national targets set by many of the EU's 28 member nations and is likely to be met with resistance. To achieve net-zero emissions, any greenhouse gases that are emitted would need to be soaked up by forest growth or by new technologies that remove carbon from the atmosphere.

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<p>On December 5, the Peruvian government unanimously passed a law prohibiting the manufacturing, importation, distribution, and consumption of single-use plastic bags. All single-use plastic bags, along with straws and other plastic products that cannot be recycled, will be phased out over the next three years. Peru joins more than 60 other countries that have imposed bans or taxes on single-use plastics.

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<p>On December 5, New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, announced a new $69.28 million green investment fund that is aimed at boosting private-sector participation in efforts to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The fund will likely target electric vehicles, manufacturing, farming practices, and energy-efficient commercial buildings.

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<p>On December 6, a Dutch court ruled that the culling of hundreds of red deer in a wetland reserve north of Amsterdam could proceed. The 13,540-acre reserve, known as the Oostvaardersplassen, was created for wild birds but is also home to deer, horses, and cattle. Regional authorities hope to reduce the number of large grazing animals in the reserve to encourage more varied vegetation to grow. For the full story, see https://www.apnews.com/2011f9410cca49959d1303bd08f65203.</p&gt;

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<p>The Tanzanian government has signed an agreement with two Egyptian companies to construct a hydroelectric dam along the Rufiji River in the Selous Game Reserve. The reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is renowned for its animal populations and variety of wildlife habitats. Conservationists say the project would destroy the reserve, which is a tourist draw and source of revenue for the country. The dam is expected to produce 5,920 gigawatts of power annually.

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<p>Poland's new Environmental Minister stated that the country will comply with an EU court order to stop cutting trees in Bialowieza forest except where public safety has to be ensured. Environmentalists see the public safety exemption as pretextual. The World Heritage site is one of Europe’s last primeval forests and home to its largest herd of European bison as well as unique birds and insects. In 2016, the former Minister approved a tripling of the quota of wood that can be harvested to stop a beetle outbreak.

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<p>France will not increase carbon emissions as it reduces its reliance on nuclear energy in coming years. Currently, nuclear is about 75% of the country's energy mix. Grid operator RTE has prepared scenarios for cutting nuclear energy’s share from 56 percent to 11 percent by 2035, and an additional scenario on reducing nuclear reliance to 50 percent by 2025. Environment activists complain that the government has withheld scenarios cutting back nuclear capacity the most, when it held workshops this month to prepare for the public debate.

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<p>In 2017, like some other European countries and cities, the German government announced a plan that would eventually remove diesel vehicles from the roads. A governing coalition, including Chancellor Merkel's conservative bloc, is discussing a plan to allow automakers to install new hardware in older diesel models to improve emissions rather than remove them from the roads. In August 2017, the industry agreed to provide software updates and trade-in incentives aimed at improving air quality in cities seeking to stem growing smog.

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<p>A group of researchers have discovered two new species of dog-faced bats in South America. Researchers have described two new species of dog-faced bats: the Freeman’s dog-faced bat&nbsp;from Panama and the Waorani dog-faced bat from Ecuador. At the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History the scientists compared their field observations, including DNA, sound recordings and body measurements of the bats, with existing museum collections and confirmed that the bat was a new species. The team first came across the bats in 2012.

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<p>Animals that live in trees in the tropics are likely to be better at crossing mountains and dealing with climate change compared to ground-dwelling animals. A new study has found that the temperature within a tropical forest varies considerably, with tree canopies experiencing wider extremes of heating and cooling compared to the ground or soil. Canopy animals likely have the physiology that allow them to move across mountains freely, unaffected by the climate, and may be more resilient against climate change.

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<p>The Inter-American Court on Human Rights, in a landmark decision, concluded that a healthy environment is an autonomous right, “fundamental to the existence of humanity.” The decision was the result of Colombia’s consultation on the scope of States’ obligations to protect human rights from damages to the marine environment in the Greater Caribbean region.

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<p>Germany’s highest federal administrative court delayed its pending ruling on a diesel ban to February 27. The ruling on whether major cities will be allowed to ban high-polluting diesel cars poses substantial financial implications, impacting the resale value of up to 15 million vehicles and causing automakers to pay for expensive vehicle modifications. In recent proceedings, lawyers considered whether the government would need to introduce a new car-labelling scheme to enable the enforcement of any potential future bans.

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<p>Seychelles and The Nature Conservancy agreed to what may be the first debt swap for a marine protection area. As a result of this agreement, 210,000 sq. km (81,000 sq. mi) of ocean are protected in exchange for paying off some of the nation’s debt. To minimize further damage to marine resources, the reserves limit tourism and fishing activities in Seychelles. The nation will direct future national debt payments into a new trust, the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT).

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<p>South Africa’s Finance Minister announced plans to implement a carbon tax on businesses and companies with high emissions. The carbon tax is expected to take effect January 2019, allowing businesses almost a year to transition toward lower emissions to comply with the law. Currently, the draft Carbon Tax Bill is being considered by Parliament; if accepted as is, it will tax businesses with excessive emissions a rate of R120 (US $10.35) per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent.

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<p>Brazil’s Supreme Court reaffirmed the Quilombo people’s rights over their territories, ending a lengthy multi-generational fight for their land entitlement. Historically, Quilombo communities faced tremendous difficulties to secure land titles, and were forced to compete with powerful agribusiness interests in developing and using the land. The Quilombos’ rights to traditional lands are guaranteed under the 1988 Brazilian constitution; following the Supreme Court decision, the Cachoeira Porteira Quilombo community received an official land entitlement.

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<p>To bring pollution levels down in and around New Dehli, India approved a two-year plan targeting agricultural mechanization to reduce crop residue burning. Burned crop stubble is a significant source of pollution in New Delhi, accounting for one-quarter of the capital’s air pollution last November. This plan may respond to some of the criticisms the New Delhi government received regarding the city’s air quality; Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal described New Delhi as a “gas chamber.” Last November, United Airlines suspended flights to New Delhi because of the pollution.

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<p>A year after the Supreme Court decision to uphold a freedom-of-information order, the Indonesian government continues to stall on releasing data on plantations operating in the country. The government’s rationale for not complying with the order is its obligation to generate revenue from the release of this data; the lack of a payment mechanism is the obstacle in releasing the information to the public. Lack of public access to this information contributes to the increasing number of land conflicts in plantation areas in recent years.

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<p>The Nature Conservancy and the state government of Quintana Roo announced the creation of a Coastal Management Trust, the world’s first insurance policy for a coral reef. The policy aims to protect the Mesoamerican Reef, a 600-mile-long coral reef second only to the Great Barrier Reef in size. The reef is insured under a parametric policy that applies when certain conditions occur; in this case, if a Category 4 or 5 hurricane hits a 37-mi (60 km) stretch of the coast. When the policy is triggered, an immediate payout to repair and restore coral reefs occurs.

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<p>A new report released by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) finds that 20 REDD+ projects in Mai-Ndome, a province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, do not address two primary goals of the strategy: forest conservation and economic development. In the report, RRI claims that the REDD+ projects are sidelining local communities and infringing on their rights to control what happens to their forest homes.

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<p>To achieve its Paris Agreement commitments to increase its natural gas use to 50% by 2020, Hong Kong utility CLP Power is pursuing a liquefied natural gas project. Hong Kong is in the process of making a deal with Royal Dutch Shell to supply the city with fuel. CLP Power is building a new gas-fired generation unit and plans to start operations by 2020. Currently, CLP Power is finalizing the environmental impact assessment study and plans to submit it to the Hong Kong government soon.

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<p>The Eighth World Water Forum, which took place in Brazil from March 18-22, comprised several parallel processes that affirmed the respective roles of judges, local and regional authorities, parliamentarians, and young people in the governance of water resources. The "Political Process" included a ministerial program, a local and regional authorities program, a mock "water court" involving judges and prosecutors, and a parliamentarians’ process.

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<p>Indonesia’s anti-corruption agency, the KPK, has vowed to include environmental damages in its calculations of state losses incurred through corruption--a move that could translate to heavier sentences and fines for crimes in the natural resources sector. The announcement comes in connection with its ongoing prosecution of Nur Alam, the suspended governor of the province of Southeast Sulawesi who faces 18 years in prison for allegedly abusing his authority to grant mining licenses from 2009 to 2014.

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<p>All drink containers in England, whether plastic, glass or metal, will be covered by a deposit return scheme, the government has announced. The forthcoming scheme is intended to cut litter by returning a small cash sum to consumers who return their bottles and cans. Similar schemes operate in 38 countries, and campaigners have worked for a decade for its introduction in England. Fees vary depending on the size of the bottle or can, and many use “reverse vending machines” to automate the return.

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<p>On April 11, an Indian court ruled that Monsanto cannot claim patents on genetically modified cotton seeds in India. Since Indian law excludes seeds from patenting, Monsanto was not permitted to claim patents and charge royalties. More than 90% of India’s cotton crops are genetically modified, making this ruling financially devastating for Monsanto.

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<p>In March, a major smog indicator rose by more than a quarter in the industry-heavy Beijing-Tianjin-Heibei region. The Ministry of Ecology and Environment worries this is due to the end of a six-month anti-pollution campaign, which ended on March 15. The campaign required Chinese cities to reduce fine particulate matter levels by lowering industrial output, traffic, and coal use. The restrictions successfully reduced pollution output while they were in effect, but now that the campaign is over, there is increased concern that pollution levels will revert.

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<p>In response to global pressures, Japan’s government aims to increase its renewable energy sources’ shares from 15% to between 22% and 24% by 2030. However, this push to expand the renewable energy sector may pose counterproductive threats to the environment. Residents near the proposed large-scale solar farm in the city of Kamogawa oppose these efforts, in part, because creating the “mega solar plant” involves developers destroying 300 hectares of forest. The irony of swapping carbon-sequestering trees for a solar plant is not lost on campaigners who oppose this plan.

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<p>While Brazil’s reported CO2 emissions are compliant with UN guidelines, scientists suggest that these guidelines ignore significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions, namely carbon-emitting forestry practices. For example, the UN doesn’t require Brazil or other developing countries to count “non-anthropogenic” emission sources, which includes wildlife CO2 releases. In Brazil, however, the majority of fires are intentionally set by humans in an attempt to clear land.

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<p>Australian state energy ministers agreed to move forward with a detailed National Energy Guarantee plan that includes emission cuts. The National Energy Guarantee would require the power sector to cut carbon emissions by 26% from 2005 levels by 2030. Over the past 10 years, disputes over carbon policy have disrupted fossil-fuel power needed for a stable grid and left states to individually pursue renewable energy goals. Particularly, Victoria and Queensland have pushed for much sharper carbon emission cuts and more ambitious renewable energy targets.

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<p>Last Thursday, the French government launched a plan to renovate 500,000 homes every year to make them energy efficient and to cut heat loss, power consumption, and carbon emissions. The government will disburse 200 million euros (US $242 million) to help accelerate the plan by training building professionals on new energy efficiency standards and providing aid to families who need to do home renovations.

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<p>Environmental experts and activists are closely watching a lawsuit filed against an academic whose testimony helped convict a governor on corruption charges, in a case many fear could set a worrying precedent. Basuki Wasis, an expert on environmental degradation from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB), has testified in more than 200 cases involving environmental crimes such as forest fires and pollution.

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<p>The European Union will ban the world’s most widely used insecticides from all fields due to the serious danger they pose to bees. The ban on neonicotinoids, approved by member nations on April 27, is expected to come into force by the end of 2018 and will mean they can only be used in closed greenhouses. The plummeting numbers of pollinators in recent years has been blamed, in part, on the widespread use of pesticides. The EU banned the use of neonicotinoids on flowering crops that attract bees, such as oil seed rape, in 2013.

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<p>Representing the single largest investment for reef conservation and management in Australia’s history, the Australian Government announced more than 500 million Australian dollars ($379M USD) to fund Great Barrier Reef protection. The funding will target some of the threats to coral reefs including warming waters from climate change, agricultural runoff, and outbreaks from crown-of-thorns starfish, a natural predator of coral. Some criticism of the funding is that it emphasizes tactics that have already been tried and proven less successful than desired.

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<p>Indonesia's long-awaited indigenous rights bill to solidify the government's duty to protect indigenous collective rights is further delayed with the Indonesian Ministry of Home Affairs, suggesting the bill is not considered essential.

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<p>Late last year, the South African government announced “Day Zero,” the threshold when dam levels would be so low that they would turn off taps and send Cape Town residents to communal water collection points. While this tactic was deemed risky and “apocalyptic,” it ultimately proved effective. The aggressive campaign galvanized citizens into action. Water use is limited to 50 liters/person/day, and those exceeding the limit were subject to heavy fines or having meters installed that shut off water after the limit is surpassed.

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<p>Following a vote by the European Parliament to ban palm oil in European biofuels, British supermarket chain Iceland Foods decided to exclude palm oil from its store brand products. While some applauded this action and considered it a bold stance against deforestation and land grabbing, some scientists and conservationists expressed concern about the decision's environmental impacts.

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<p>The U.N. General Assembly voted last week to take a first step toward establishing a Global Pact for the Environment, a decision the United States opposed. The 193-member world body approved the resolution on a vote of 143-5 with seven abstentions. The United States was joined in voting against the resolution by Russia, Turkey, Syria and the Philippines.

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<p>The U.N. General Assembly voted last week to take a first step toward establishing a Global Pact for the Environment, a decision the United States opposed. The 193-member world body approved the resolution on a vote of 143-5 with seven abstentions. The United States was joined in voting against the resolution by Russia, Turkey, Syria and the Philippines.

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<p>The U.N. General Assembly voted last week to take a first step toward establishing a Global Pact for the Environment, a decision the United States opposed. The 193-member world body approved the resolution on a vote of 143-5 with seven abstentions. The United States was joined in voting against the resolution by Russia, Turkey, Syria and the Philippines.

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<p>The U.N. General Assembly voted last week to take a first step toward establishing a Global Pact for the Environment, a decision the United States opposed. The 193-member world body approved the resolution on a vote of 143-5 with seven abstentions. The United States was joined in voting against the resolution by Russia, Turkey, Syria and the Philippines.

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<p>The U.N. General Assembly voted last week to take a first step toward establishing a Global Pact for the Environment, a decision the United States opposed. The 193-member world body approved the resolution on a vote of 143-5 with seven abstentions. The United States was joined in voting against the resolution by Russia, Turkey, Syria and the Philippines.

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<p>After China closed the world’s biggest recycling market earlier this year, Europe has struggled to manage its plastic waste. Half of the plastic waste Europe previously shipped to China now goes to other parts of Asia; the remainder has been temporarily stored, awaiting new markets to emerge and accept the excess. The main alternatives are to either bury or burn it. Due to limited landfill space, the favored option is to burn waste to produce electricity and heat.

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<p>One-third of the world's protected lands are being degraded by human activities and are not fit for their purpose, according to a new study in the journal <em>Science</em>. Global efforts to care for natural heritage by creating protected zones have, in general, been a huge conservation success story. Since the Convention on Biological Diversity was ratified in 1992, the areas under protection have doubled in size and now amount to almost 15% of the lands and 8% of the oceans.

<p>Last week, in a series of moves related to air quality, the European Commission proposed measures to help member states combat air pollution. The Commission also referred France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to the EU Court of Justice for failure to respect limit values for nitrogen dioxide and for failing to take appropriate measures to keep exceedance periods as short as possible. In addition, it referred Hungary, Italy, and Romania to the Court of Justice over persistently high levels of particulate matter.

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<p>Last week, in a series of moves related to air quality, the European Commission proposed measures to help member states combat air pollution. The Commission also referred France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to the EU Court of Justice for failure to respect limit values for nitrogen dioxide and for failing to take appropriate measures to keep exceedance periods as short as possible. In addition, it referred Hungary, Italy, and Romania to the Court of Justice over persistently high levels of particulate matter.

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<p>Last week, in a series of moves related to air quality, the European Commission proposed measures to help member states combat air pollution. The Commission also referred France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to the EU Court of Justice for failure to respect limit values for nitrogen dioxide and for failing to take appropriate measures to keep exceedance periods as short as possible. In addition, it referred Hungary, Italy, and Romania to the Court of Justice over persistently high levels of particulate matter.

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<p>Last week, in a series of moves related to air quality, the European Commission proposed measures to help member states combat air pollution. The Commission also referred France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to the EU Court of Justice for failure to respect limit values for nitrogen dioxide and for failing to take appropriate measures to keep exceedance periods as short as possible. In addition, it referred Hungary, Italy, and Romania to the Court of Justice over persistently high levels of particulate matter.

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<p>Last week, in a series of moves related to air quality, the European Commission proposed measures to help member states combat air pollution. The Commission also referred France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to the EU Court of Justice for failure to respect limit values for nitrogen dioxide and for failing to take appropriate measures to keep exceedance periods as short as possible. In addition, it referred Hungary, Italy, and Romania to the Court of Justice over persistently high levels of particulate matter.

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<p>Swiss citizens will get the chance to vote on a complete ban on the use of synthetic pesticides. More than 100,000 Swiss signed the call for a ban that would apply to all farmers, industries and imported foods. If the vote is passed, Switzerland would become only the second country after Bhutan to implement a full ban. Just a few weeks ago, the EU agreed to a near-total ban on the use of neonicotinoids, the most widely used class of insecticides in the world.

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<p>On May 22, a Madagascar appeals court announced its decision to uphold the conviction of a farmer turned environmental activist who was convicted on criminal charges after questioning a mining company about its permits. The case began last September, when the farmer, who goes by the name Raleva, confronted representatives from Mac Lai Sima Gianna, a Chinese-Malagasy gold mining company, during a meeting in his village of Vohilava. Raleva asked to see the company’s permits, which had not in fact been granted.

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<p>Indonesia’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries submitted to parliament a bill of amendments aimed at strengthening the 2009 Fisheries Act through more stringent provisions, reported Mongabay. Among other things, the amendments include bans on foreign fishing vessels and crews, the transshipment of fish catches between vessels at sea, and foreign investment in the capture fisheries sector.

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<p>At the end of May, five transnational grain trading companies, along with dozens of their supplying farmers, were issued fines totaling 105.7 million Brazilian reais (US $29 million) by IBAMA, the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources. The fines are part of “Operation Soy Sauce” carried out since April by IBAMA and federal prosecutors in the Matopiba region in Brazil’s Cerrado savannah.

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<p>Hebei, the steel heartland of China and the country's smoggiest province, has a new plan to encourage enterprises to cut pollution and carbon emissions, upgrade technology, and improve efficiency. Under the new "pace setter" plan, enterprises from industrial sectors like steel, cement, glass-making, coking, and waste-to-energy can obtain "pace setter" status by adopting stricter than necessary emissions standards or implementing a "green supply chain" system.

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<p>France is taking aim at cigarette butt pollution, and looking to the tobacco industry for help. The government is asking tobacco companies to voluntarily propose commitments to reduce the number of discarded cigarette butts that litter the country's streets and contaminate its water. If the industry does not produce effective commitments by September, the government will force the industry to participate in measures to eliminate cigarette butt waste.

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<p>On June 20, the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Malta broke EU law by allowing the hunting and trapping of wild finch species. The ECJ declared that Malta failed to fulfill its obligations under the European Wild Birds Directive by adopting a derogation regime that allowed the live-capturing of seven species of wild finches. Finch-trapping was once common across Europe, but the introduction of the EU's Wild Birds Directive, which aims to conserve avian species and prevent habitat destruction, has effectively rolled back the practice.

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<p>On June 21, Thailand's Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Gen. Surasak Karnjanarat, announced that he will lead an effort to institute a total ban on the import of electronic waste. Electronic waste creates significant health concerns, as many components are laden with toxic materials like lead and mercury. Thai police began raiding factories last month that have been accused of illegally importing and processing electronic waste. So far, over 30 factories have been raided.

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<p>In an effort to crack down on officials who are engaging in "perfunctory" environmental protection work, China has ordered inspectors to keep their eyes peeled for perfunctory, superficial, or fraudulent environmental rectifications. Inspectors have been reviewing authorities' responses to environmental violations previously uncovered during a central government probe. In the first half of June, 641 firms were fined a total of 58 million yuan ($8.92 million) for failing to properly rectify violations, and 58 people were detained.

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<p>In Mumbai, municipal authorities have criminalized the use of plastic bags with fines of up to $US 366 and jail sentences for repeat offenders. India has a low consumption of plastic compared with Western countries, but the ban has potential to reduce the 26,000 tons of plastic waste that is produced daily in the country. Authorities have already collected $US 5000 in fines from 87 shops since the ban was enforced.

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<p>PepsiCo has launched an investigation into reports of deforestation carried out by one of its supplier's oil palm plantations. The investigation is in response to a complaint by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) alleging that PepsiCo has failed to investigate deforestation allegations that were first reported four years ago.

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<p>On June 29, Poland's upper house of parliament approved an amendment to the renewable sources of energy law in hopes of removing obstacles to green energy investment and helping Warsaw meet EU renewable energy targets. The amendment removes tax disincentives and kicks off auctions under a new subsidy system in which renewable producers will be assured a stable price for their energy in any given period.

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<p>Nestlé has been suspended from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the world's largest association for ethical palm oil production. The RSPO was established by environmental groups and industry representatives in 2004 to push back against destructive practices by oil palm growers, like deforestation and land grabbing. According to RSPO, Nestlé's suspension was due to its failure to submit a 2016 progress report, for submitting an incomplete report in 2017, and for failing to pay its membership fees.

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<p>On July 12, Ireland's lower house of parliament passed a Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill that, if passed by the upper house, would make the Republic of Ireland the first country to sell off its investments in fossil fuel companies. The bill defines a fossil fuel company as a company that derives 20% or more of its revenue from exploration, extraction, or refinement of fossil fuels, and it allows investment in Irish fossil fuel companies if the investment funds move away from fossil fuels.

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<p>Vietnam will stop issuing new licenses for the import of waste. The country has seen a surge in waste imports since the Chinese government banned the entry of several types of solid wastes at the beginning of 2018, with roughly 6,000 containers of paper, plastic, and metal scrap currently sitting at its ports. The waste is a supplemental source of raw materials for Vietnam's paper, plastic, and steel industries, but the government has stated that this demand benefits only the processors, not the environment.

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<p>China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment has approved a new plan to tackle growing pollution threats in the country's rural areas. The new plan will aim to clean up contaminated rural land and drinking water, and improve waste management throughout China's countryside. The plan also mandates cuts in fertilizer and pesticide use, and improved recycling rates.

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<p>On August 9, Brazil's Environment Ministry announced that the country has cut its greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation in 2017 to levels below its 2020 emission goals under the 2009 Copenhagen Accord. More specifically, the country reduced deforestation emissions by 610 million tons of carbon dioxide in the Amazon rainforest and 170 million tons of carbon dioxide in the Cerrado savanna compared to its targets of 564 million tons and 104 million tons, respectively.

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<p>Shanxi province, a major coal mining hub in China, plans to curb industrial manufacturing output voluntarily over the next three winters. The province seeks to lower its sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 20 percent by 2020 from 2015 levels, which goes beyond the national requirement of cutting emissions by 15 percent, and match national targets on reducing hazardous particles in its 11 cities.

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<p>Madagascar's government is proposing to pay illegal loggers for access to their illicit stockpiles of rosewood in an effort to clear the way for the wood to be exported legally and eliminate all stockpiles of the wood to make it easier to keep tabs on any new logging. The illicit stockpiles are the product of a wave of illegal logging in the country's national parks during a political crisis surrounding a 2009 coup d'état.

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<p>An environmental group in Australia has taken legal action against the Queensland government for its use of baited hooks in the Great Barrier Reef under its shark control program. The group is arguing that the program, which allows 173 legal drum lines to operate within the Great Barrier Reef, is inconsistent with the Great Barrier Marine Park's main objective to provide for long-term protection and conservation of the Great Barrier Reef region. The case is scheduled to be heard in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in January 2019.

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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>On October 10, the European Parliament's Environment and Public Health Committee approved a draft proposal to ban single-use plastic products from the EU market beginning in 2021. Products under the proposal include those made of oxo-degradable plastics, fast-food containers made of expanded polystyrene, single-use cutlery, and drinking straws. The plan also introduces collection and recycling targets for fishing gear containing plastic, which represents 27% of waste found on Europe's beaches.

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<p>On December 13, a European Union (EU) court partly overturned the European Commission's 2016 regulatory amendment that raised the limits on nitrogen oxide emissions from cars and vans, in a complaint brought by city authorities from Paris, Brussels, and Madrid. The General Court determined that the part of the amendment that increased nitrogen oxide limits exceeded the Commission's authority and broke EU human rights and other laws.

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<p>On December 12, the Argentine Congress passed a bill that establishes two new marine protected areas—the Yaganese Marine National Park and the Namuncurá-Burdwood Bank II Marine National Park—covering a total area of about 37,000 square miles. The parks are home to a diversity of marine creatures, including the South American sea lion, rare cold-water corals, and vulnerable and threatened species, like the black-browed albatross and the South American fur seal. The designation of these two parks increases Argentina's total area of protected ocean to approximately 8 percent.

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<p>In response to increasing incidents of heavy smog, China has vowed to further accelerate its move away from coal, committing to reduce coal consumption an additional 30% in 2017 (compared to its original plan for 2017). The new plan will bring Beijing’s coal use to fewer than 7 million metric tons by next January. In addition, the government plans to have zero coal use in six districts by the end of the year, and Beijing plans to remove 300,000 fuel-inefficient vehicles from use this year in order to promote more fuel-efficient cars and improve fuel standards.

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<p>The Albanian village of Zharreza has been feeling the impacts of hydraulic fracturing since 2010. Over 80% of the town's homes have been damaged by earthquakes caused by disposing of fracking waste water in injection wells; 10% are no longer habitable. Last week the country’s Deputy Prime Minister announced that all villagers in Albania whose homes have been damaged by fracking will be fully compensated, though the fracking company, Bankers Petroleum, said they would only pay the compensation if their disposal activities are causally linked to the tremors.

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<p>Earlier this month, the New Zealand government granted Te Awa Tupua, the country’s third largest river, the legal status of a living person. The Maori tribe, who have been fighting for this recognition for 140 years, considers the river as an ancestor, which has been the basis of their legal argument. The law means that harm inflicted on the river is considered equivalent to inflicting harm on members of the tribe. The new law now reflects the worldview of the Maori.

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<p>Hoping to fulfill Japan’s vision of being the first nation to be fueled by super-clean energy, Norway and Australia are racing to supply Japan with hydrogen. Currently, Australia has a plan to derive liquid hydrogen from brown coal, but Norway’s new pilot program to produce clean energy may be cheaper. Japan’s annual hydrogen and fuel cell market is forecast to hit 1 trillion yen ($9 billion) in 2030 and 8 trillion yen in 2050, according to the industry ministry.

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<p>Phillipines Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, Regina Lopez, announced that new open-pit metal mining would be banned because of evidence of injury to communities and water supplies, and findings of rampant violations of environmental law. The ban extends to new open-pit gold, copper, nickel, and silver mines. The order to prevent new open-pit mines does not affect quarries and the country’s sole open-pit coal mine. Lopez says her mining orders are meant to prevent any more damage from big new mines.

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<p>Chinese and EU officials have agreed to meet in June to talk about trade protectionism and action on climate change. The intention of the meeting is to advance their support for the Paris Agreement in hopes of convincing the Trump Administration not to withdraw from the climate deal. In addition, China is hoping to have the European Union take on a leadership role on climate change. For the full story, see http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-eu-china-idUKKBN1871M4.&nbsp;</p&gt;

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<p>Canada announced that it planned to impose a cap on pollution in provinces that refuse to adopt a national price on carbon. Last December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reached a deal with 8 of the 10 provinces to introduce a carbon price to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, and threatened to impose it on holdout provinces. Thursday, the government proposed a tax on fossil fuels that would increase annually. Under Trudeau's plan, carbon pollution would cost $10 a ton in 2018, rising by $10 a year until it reaches $50 in 2022.

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<p>The EU will provide 800 million euros to help 79 African, Pacific, and Caribbean nations implement a global climate deal. The package is a response to U.S. President Donald Trump's threat to quit the Paris Agreement. The EU will also provide 3 million euros to support Fiji, which will oversee United Nations negotiations in 2018. The European Commission did not detail how the rest of the money would be spent.

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<p>Norway's sovereign wealth fund will ask the banks in which it has invested to disclose how their lending contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. The fund has in the past measured the carbon footprint of its investments in equities and bonds, and now is pushing companies to disclose both their carbon emissions and their plans to handle the risk of climate change. The fund does not plan to change how it decides to invest in the U.S., which accounted for nearly 40% of its investments in 2016.

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<p>Sungrow Power Supply Co.&nbsp;has built the world’s largest floating solar farm, with&nbsp;166,000 panels on a lake created when a nearby mine collapsed.&nbsp;The scale of the project is another example of how China hopes to be the world's global leader in the environment. The country plans to spend $360 billion on renewable energy by 2020. By the end of September, Sungrow will complete more than 150 megawatts of new floating capacity.

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<p>At a UN oceans summit, delegates from China, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines said they would work to keep plastics out of the seas. It is&nbsp;estimated that 5-13 million tons of plastics&nbsp;flow into the world's oceans annually.&nbsp;The Helmholtz Centre in Leipzig, Germany, estimated that&nbsp;75% of land-borne marine pollution comes from just 10 rivers, predominantly in Asia.

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<p>At a UN oceans summit, delegates from China, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines said they would work to keep plastics out of the seas. It is&nbsp;estimated that 5-13 million tons of plastics&nbsp;flow into the world's oceans annually.&nbsp;The Helmholtz Centre in Leipzig, Germany, estimated that&nbsp;75% of land-borne marine pollution comes from just 10 rivers, predominantly in Asia.

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<p>At a UN oceans summit, delegates from China, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines said they would work to keep plastics out of the seas. It is&nbsp;estimated that 5-13 million tons of plastics&nbsp;flow into the world's oceans annually.&nbsp;The Helmholtz Centre in Leipzig, Germany, estimated that&nbsp;75% of land-borne marine pollution comes from just 10 rivers, predominantly in Asia.

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<p>At a UN oceans summit, delegates from China, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines said they would work to keep plastics out of the seas. It is&nbsp;estimated that 5-13 million tons of plastics&nbsp;flow into the world's oceans annually.&nbsp;The Helmholtz Centre in Leipzig, Germany, estimated that&nbsp;75% of land-borne marine pollution comes from just 10 rivers, predominantly in Asia.

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<p>On Mar. 4, the 90-meter-long <em>Caledonian Sky</em>, owned by tour operator Noble Caledonia, ran aground at low tide on a shoal at the Crossover Reef dive site at Raja Ampat. Nearly 205,000 square feet of reef were damaged in the accident. The Indonesian government cannot restore the coral reef until it reaches a settlement with Noble Caledonia. Noble Caledonia has pledged to cooperate with the Indonesian government to reach a fair settlement, but scientists say that compensation should be higher than normal because of the area's high marine biodiversity.

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<p>Ahead of the G20 summit a report revealed that the G20 nations provide four times more public financing to fossil fuels than renewable energy. The authors of the report accused the G20 of “talking out of both sides of their mouths.” Soft loans and government guarantees, along with fossil fuel subsidies, make fossil fuel plants cheaper and lock in carbon emissions for decades to come. A new report showed that G20 countries provided an average of $71.8 billion of public finance for fossil fuel projects per year between 2013-2015, compared to $18.7 billion for renewable energy.

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<p>On July 13, the Colombian government announced the expansion of two indigenous reserves in the buffer zone of Serrania de Chiribiquete, the country’s largest national park. The Los Monos and Monochoa indigenous reserves are both located near the province of Caquetá, which has the highest rate of deforestation in Colombia. The move is part of the government's larger climate change adaptation initiative. The expansion creates a conservation corridor larger than Honduras.

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<p>Drought in southern Europe threatens to reduce cereal production in Italy and parts of Spain to its lowest level in at least 20 years, as well as other regional crops including olives and almonds. Spanish soft wheat imports are expected to rise more than 40% according to Agroinfomarket. Olive production is expected to fall in both Italy and Spain, the world's top producers of olive oil. Olive production in Italy was already plagued by insect and bacterial disease in recent years.

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<p>Floods in India's northeast region have killed at least 83 people. Torrential rains across the hilly states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur over the past two weeks have also triggered landslides. In all, more than 2 million people have been displaced. The overflowing Brahmaputra River has also completely marooned the Kaziranga wildlife sanctuary in Assam, forcing animals to flee to safer areas. The Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, is home to an estimated 2,500 rhinos out of a world population of some 3,000.

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<p>German politicians and car manufacturers agreed to overhaul the engine software on 5.3 million diesel cars to cut pollution. This decision comes on the heels of two decisions by Britain and France to eventually ban diesel and gasoline vehicles in the near future. German manufacturers have taken heat after the admission by Volkswagen that it cheated U.S. diesel emissions tests two years ago. The auto industry is Germany's biggest exporter and provides 800,000 jobs.

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<p>A heat wave nicknamed "Lucifer" has engulfed southern and eastern Europe with temperatures as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The worst affected areas were Italy and the Balkans. European weather hub Meteoalarm issued its highest grade "red" warnings for 10 countries. Wine growers in Italy have started gathering the grape harvest weeks earlier than usual due to the extreme heat. Italian authorities have issued weather risk warnings for 26 cities, including tourist hubs Venice and Rome, where many of the fountains have been turned off due to a lengthy drought.

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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>Chile, the world's top copper-producing nation, is embarking on a fact-finding mission with the intention of restarting cobalt production after more than 50 years. Metals like lithium and copper are becoming a thing of the past as cobalt is a key component in the new breed of rechargeable batteries. The demand for cobalt is set to increase 34% until 2026 as electric cars gain a bigger share of the global car market. The cobalt market is currently dominated by the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has more than half of global production.

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<p>Chinese People's Liberation Army troops were deployed to Macau to assist with the clean up efforts after Typhoon Hato. Nearby Hong Kong shut down and closed financial markets ahead of Hato, yet Macau’s authorities failed to raise a sufficiently high typhoon warning. Hong Kong’s weather observatory said there were indications another storm could hit southern China in the next few days. For the full story see http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-asia-storm-macau-idUKKCN1B5066</p&gt;

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<p>No stranger to flooding, South Asia is struggling with one of the worst monsoons in recent history. Across India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, the death toll has risen above 1200. International aid agencies say things are worse this year, with thousands of villages cut off and people deprived of food and clean water for days. Farming has also collapsed due to flooding and a rise in unemployment is expected, according to a disaster management official in India. In Nepal, crops on 10,583 hectares have been washed away while another 600,587 hectares of farmland have been partially damaged.

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<p>France plans to pass legislation this year to phase out all oil and gas exploration and production on its mainland and overseas territories by 2040, becoming the first country to do so. France has previously stated its goal to discontinue the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles by the same year, and President Macron wants to make France carbon-neutral by 2050. The decision is, however, largely symbolic because France produces only about&nbsp;one percent of its consumption. The country will continue to import and refine oil.

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<p>President Michelle Bachelet officially created a 286,000-square mile marine reserve around Easter Island. The intent is to protect the dozens of species native only to the area. The Rapa Nui Rahui Marine Protected Area restricts commercial fishing and underwater mining, while allowing local artisanal fishermen to continue with their craft. Seventy-three percent of voters on the island chose to approve the park. According to environmental organizations backing the designation, at least 142 fish species in the protected area occur nowhere else.

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<p>Hebei, China’s smoggiest province, said it would ensure it meets its targets to replace coal with natural gas. On its official website the local government said that it would ensure as many as 1.8 million households completed the switch to gas from coal for fuel and heating by the end of October. As part of a central government push to fight smog this winter, Hebei plans to reduce fine particulate matter by 15 percent from October 2017 to March 2018, but some major cities will be forced to make even deeper cuts.

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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>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>Zambian villagers have won the right to sue mining company Vedanta Resources in the English courts. London’s Court of Appeal threw out the company’s attempt to block the Zambians’ legal action over pollution allegations. The villagers allege that their land has been destroyed by water pollution caused by the Nchanga Copper Mine, which is owned by Vedanta. Vedanta said it would seek the right to appeal to the Supreme Court.

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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>Three straight days of smog enveloped New Delhi, forcing schools to shut down and forcing residents to buy air purifiers. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called the capital a "gas chamber" as his government sought meetings with adjoining states to address the issue. Fine particulate matter levels were particularly dangerous, rising to 726 with a level above 300 considered hazardous.

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<p>Italy has set a goal to phase out coal power plant production by 2025 as it seeks to reduce its carbon footprint. Italy's plan is to have green energy sources account for 28 percent of overall energy consumption by 2030. Italy is also aiming to introduce more electric and hybrid vehicles. However, natural gas will continue to have a key role in the country’s energy future as the government will promote new gas import pipelines to diversify supply.

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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>Due to government mismanagement of waste disposal in Lebanon, people and municipalities have turned to burning garbage, with adverse effects on nearby residents. The waste problem came to a head when the government closed the main landfill near Beirut without arranging an alternative. According to Human Rights Watch, the government has failed to find a solution since.

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<p>The new French president, Emmanuel Macron, promised to rid France of the weedkiller glyphosate within three years. This goal is viewed as too ambitious by the European nation's farmers. Many French farmers believe that even five years is too short a time frame because there is currently no economically viable alternative that is more environmentally friendly. Glyphosate was determined to cause cancer by the World Health Organization in 2015.

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<p>Annually, Norway makes payments to Brazil as part of a long-term program to curb loss of the Amazon rainforest to slow global warming. The main causes of forest loss are logging and making way for farms. Last year, Norway paid around $40 million to Brazil, a reduction of about 60% in the period from 2009 to 2016: the more deforestation, the less Brazil gets paid. Officials say that initial figures are showing that deforestation is slowing which would result in an increase in payment.

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<p>The Nigerian government announced its plans to restore nearly 10 million acres of degraded lands. It is now one of 26 countries in Africa that have committed to restoring collectively more than 200 million acres of land as part of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative. The restoration of degraded forests and other landscapes was found to have the most climate mitigation potential of 20 natural climate strategies examined for a recent study.

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<p>The Netherlands launched an attempt to fund an offshore wind farm without subsidies. Only companies that require no support can participate. Companies can hand in bids for two slots available in the North Sea, each representing a 350 megawatt (MW) project, by Dec. 21. German success at limiting subsidies prompted the Dutch to go a step further and test this model.

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<p>Hungary will modify rules on the construction of small solar power plants and subsidize loans to landowners as part of its efforts to promote renewable energy. The country’s sole nuclear power plant currently provides over half of Hungary’s electricity while 29% of its electricity is imported. The new rules would relax regulations on the use of farmland. The state would purchase all electricity generated at the new solar plants with a long-term goal of minimizing Hungary’s need to import electricity in the next two decades.

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<p>As China faces one of its worst air pollution incidents to date, leading to a national smog red alert, the country is taking a variety of steps to combat coal-fired electricity production by 2020. The Chinese government is planning to create a nationwide emissions permitting system to cover all major industrial sectors, is placing stricter emissions caps for sulfur dioxide on a larger number of industries, hoping to cut sulfur dioxide emissions 15% in the next 3 years, and is upgrading coal plants of 300,000 KW capacity to improve efficiency.

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<p>With China’s air pollution now featured in international headlines, China’s legal system is making it easier to take legal action against polluters. The courts are planning to widen the definition of what constitutes an “environmental crime.” This development is particularly useful in the fight against air pollution as it is very difficult to collect evidence (air pollution “undergoes a large degree of dispersal, and is very quickly diluted”). Under the new terms, prosecutors will be able to focus on tampering with sensor equipment and falsification of data.

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<p>At the end of 2016, China announced a total ban on the domestic ivory trade, to be enforced by the end of this year. China, the world’s largest ivory market, hopes that this ban will reduce the illegal poaching of African elephants, whose numbers have declined dramatically in the last century. The ban will shut down a large number of factories and shops. Legally obtained ivory will still be permitted to be displayed at museums and traded as antiques under strict supervision, though certification will be required.

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<p>China has already begun to make good on a promise from November 2016 in which the government committed to shut down or delay at least 150 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired energy by 2020 and to cap coal power generation at 1,100 GW. To put this in perspective, as of February 2016, China had just over 1,000 GW of thermal-powered energy, most of which consists of coal-fired capacity. Earlier this month, the Chinese energy regulator halted more than 100 coal-fired projects, which have a combined capacity exceeding 100 GW.

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<p>In the Philippines, progress is also being made on political promises. Last year, the Environment and Natural Resources Secretary stated her interest in shutting down the country’s mining industry as it causes significant environmental damage, an initiative supported even by the country’s President Duterte, who said the country could “survive without a mining industry.” Last week, the Philippines cancelled the environmental permit for four mining projects, for nickel, gold, coal, and iron and copper.

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<p>Civil society groups in Indonesia have gone to court to request information from the government on the oil palm industry operating in the country. These green groups have requested maps of lands where oil palm companies have been licensed to operate, including the names of the companies; they want to monitor for illegal activity, as the industry is infamous for operating outside of where it is licensed. The Ministry of Land and Spatial Planning maintains that disclosing the permit holder’s name, in addition to the spatial information, would be a violation of the company’s privacy.

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<p>In China, the government is relaunching an initiative that provides subsidies for “green cars,” aimed at promoting the growth of the electric and plug-in hybrid car industry, as well as reducing urban air pollution. The initiative is being relaunched with increased oversight and technical standards after widespread cheating. Last week, the Chinese government released its first list of “recommended” vehicles, which makes 185 car models eligible for government subsidies.

<p>Last year, thousands of Nigerians brought a case against Shell, accusing them of years of oil pollution that has contaminated the drinking water of thousands. The suit was brought against Royal Dutch Shell, an Anglo-Dutch company, in an attempt to hold multinationals liable for their subsidiaries’ actions. Last week, the British High Court ruled in favor of Shell and said the claimants should pursue the case in Nigerian courts. However, the claimants are skeptical that the Nigerian courts have the expertise to address their case.

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<p>Copper mining in southern Ecuador has incited numerous confrontations between indigenous communities and a Chinese mining company. The country’s leading environmental organization, Acción Ecológica, has been criticizing the government’s handling of these conflicts. In response to the criticism, the Ecuadorian government has tried to shut down Acción Ecológica, making the environmental NGO one target of what seems to be a larger government campaign against vocal civil society organizations.

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<p>The Philippines declared Cleopatra’s Needle, an area over 100,000 acres on the island of Palawan, as a critical habitat. Critical habitats are lands outside protected areas that have habitats or other features essential for the conservation of threatened or endemic species. The Cleopatra’s Needle Critical Habitat (CNCH) is almost seven times the size of the second largest critical habitat (Carmen Critical Habitat) and hosts about 85% of the mammals and birds endemic only to Palawan.

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<p>Last week, the European Union proposed extending an exemption of international flights from emissions limits. The exemption was set to end at the beginning of 2017, but may not be enacted for at least another four years. The EU had tried to include international flights in its emissions trading system (ETS) in 2012, but was met with backlash from non-EU countries who said the deal violated their sovereignty.

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<p>Last month, the Brazilian government issued Ordinance 80, which moved the decision-making power for the recognition of indigenous territory boundaries away from the National Indian Foundation to the Ministry of Justice. Ordinance 80 is a redraft of Ordinance 68, which was previously annulled. The Ordinance promotes “careful analysis…of the whole demarcation procedure,” but promotes speedy action (demarcation of lands by the National Indian Foundation has sometimes taken decades).

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<p>In an effort to prevent another Volkswagen-like tailpipe emissions scandal, the European Union has announced that it will take legal action against member governments that have failed to police vehicle emissions testing. One core problem is that national regulators who inspect domestically made cars sometimes certify cars that do not meet standards. Another is that only the producing country can issue a recall, even though the vehicles can be sold throughout the EU.

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<p>In 2010, a mud spill full of toxic sludge from an alumina reservoir overran three towns, polluted waterways, and killed ten in what is recognized as one of Hungary’s worst environmental disasters. In 2016, a court in the town of Veszprem acquitted MAL Corp, the aluminum smelting company that owned the reservoir, ruling that the company’s executives had not been criminally negligent. Prosecutors claimed the court had drawn false conclusions.

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<p>The Chinese government continues to pursue its goal of reducing the country’s coal-power capacity. Last week the government announced considerations for what would be its third “major shift in policy” to move the country toward renewable energy: limiting the amount of coal that can be mined. In April 2016, the government capped the number of days a mine can operate in an attempt to reduce the supply of coal.

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<p>Last week a Brazilian judge issued a 180-day suspension to Belo Sun, the mining company that had planned an open-pit gold mine, which would be Brazil’s largest. The judge found that the company had improperly purchased the land from several owners and had yet to obtain an environmental permit. Further, the company is not permitted to develop the mine until pre-existing land rights issues in the area have been solved. The residents of the area are concerned about the environmental impact of the toxic waste impoundment dam that would accompany the mine.

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<p>Vietnam’s Communist Party Inspection Commission announced the names of 11 government and industry officials who will be held responsible for the environmental disaster at the Formosa Ha Tinh Steel steel mill last year. It was discovered that the mill had committed more than 50 violations, including using an outdated production process, which led to a “toxic leak” that polluted 200 kilometers of coastline, killed over 100 tons of fish, and left many in the affected area without employment.

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<p>HSBC, the world’s sixth-largest bank and one of the biggest financers of the palm oil industry, recently revised its Agricultural Commodities Policy to include a “No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation” (NDPE) policy for its financing of palm oil projects. The change comes in response to a Greenpeace investigation, which linked HSBC to Indonesian palm oil plantations that engage in deforestation, and subsequent campaign, which included thousands of HSBC customers urging the bank to changes its policies.

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<p>Last week, <a href="https://elr.info/international/international-update/china-continues-its… announced</a> its intent to limit coal production during the warmer months as part of the country’s efforts to tackle air pollution. Now, in order to cut smog during the colder months, Beijing has ordered steel producers, aluminum producers, and pesticides manufacturers to cut their production partially or completely in the winter.

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<p>Last week, Ibama, Brazil’s federal environmental agency, launched Sinaflor, a database to track timber from the Amazon rainforest throughout the supply chain. The system requires individual trees to be electronically tagged and tracked as the timber moves from source to sale and allows regulators to crosscheck the database with satellite mapping. Any timber not in the system will be deemed illegal. The new system was developed as a result of the 2012 forest code, and addresses problems of fraud and human error that were points of criticism for the older system.

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<p><a href="https://elr.info/international/international-update/indonesian green-groups-go-court-over-freedom-information">Two months ago</a> Forest Watch Indonesia took a freedom of information request to that coutnry's Supreme Court in order to better monitor for illegal activity.

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<p>Though having no elephants, Europe is responsible for exporting the most raw and carved ivory to the world. Despite bans on international ivory trade since 1990, European vendors had received an exemption to export ivory “harvested” before the international regulations went into place. However, falsified records allowed illegally collected ivory into the market; 2016 was another record year of ivory seizures across the continent.

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<p>A court in Japan ruled that Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) and the government are liable for negligence in a case involving compensation for the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The district court in Maebashi, north of Tokyo, ruled in favor of 137 evacuees seeking damages for the emotional distress of fleeing their homes as radiation spread from the meltdowns at Tepco's Fukushima Daiichi plant after an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. This marked the first time a court has recognized that the government was liable for the disaster.

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<p>In the wake of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, many countries are moving forward with plans to cut carbon emissions. One country, Germany, is preparing research that purports to show huge support among businesses for a transition towards a low-carbon economy. The German government plans to reveal this report, along with a plan to have a fixed carbon price, at the G20 Summit in July 2017. Germany believes that a carbon price is essential to both the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN goal of sustainable development.

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<p>During a rare congress of the Indigenous People's Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) underway in a Sumatran village, Indonesian forestry minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar outlined initiatives to bolster indigenous rights. However, the announcement was met with much skepticism as it fell short of the campaign promises made by President Joko Widodo, which included pledges to fight for a law on indigenous rights,&nbsp;create a national mechanism for resolving land conflicts, end the criminalization of indigenous persons and more.

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<p>The EU is intending to pass into law this year a rule that would require EU electric utilities to offer flexible pricing contracts. These contracts would effectively reduce the cost of electricity when the supply of energy is, abundant; in electric grids with renewable energy, this means during times when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.

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<p>Last week, El Salvador became the first country to ban all metal mining activities nationwide. The bill passed in a unanimous vote. The new law places an immediate and permanent ban on all metal mining, including exploratory activities, barring a two-year transition period for small-scale artisanal gold mines. The law is the culmination of years of campaigning and local action and of a 9-year moratorium on mining. In 2008, El Salvador denied a permit to El Dorado (now a subsidiary of OceanaGold), which then sued the country and lost.

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<p>Last week, a constitutional court in South Africa rejected the government’s appeal to retain a ban on domestic trade in rhino horns. Domestic trade is once again legal, though international trade remains illegal under CITES. Commercial rhino breeders have welcomed the decision, saying proceeds from legal trade can help pay for anti-poaching efforts. Conservationists argue otherwise, saying a legal domestic trade will increase illegal poaching and will be used as a cover for smuggling horns to the international market.

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<p>Earlier this month, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a non-binding resolution for a single Certified Sustainable Palm Oil scheme. The resolution calls for greater vetting of palm and other vegetable oils to ensure that these oils are produced without causing deforestation. The vote comes in reaction to environmental groups, which have campaigned to raise attention to the harmful impacts that unsustainable palm oil can have on the environment and on climate mitigation efforts.

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<p>A federal court in Brazil suspended the operating license of Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on the grounds that the government has not completed basic sanitation work in the city of Altamira before filling the dam’s reservoir. This is not the first time the Belo Monte project has been stalled for legal issues. In January 2016 a federal judge in Altamira suspended the dam’s license for failure to build a safety net for local communities, especially the indigenous communities that were to be affected by the dam.

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<p>Ridhima Pandey, a nine-year-old Indian girl, filed a lawsuit against the Indian government last week to bring government attention to the need for action on climate change. India is home to 4 of the world’s top 10 cities with air pollution problems. Although the government has committed to addressing air quality, including changing its energy portfolio to draw at least 40% of its electricity from non-fossil-fuel sources, it has not proven enough.

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<p>New information from Colombia’s National Hydrocarbon Agency reveals that the government has granted at least 43 hydraulic fracturing concessions to several multinational companies. The country’s oil and gas sector has been promoting the need to use hydraulic fracturing as conventional oil resources have dwindled. Exploratory drilling is already taking place in the Cundinamarca province, despite protests from local communities.

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<p>Although Shanghai has been successful in some environmental protection efforts, the city is lagging behind significantly in its efforts to improve environmental quality. A month-long investigation by the Ministry of Environmental Protection found that garbage was being dumped illegally; approximately a third of the city’s water was unfit for either farm or industrial use; and the city has delayed improvements to its sewage and wastewater treatment.

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<p>China and the European Space Agency are discussing a potential collaboration on a human outpost on the moon and other possible joint endeavors. The secretary general for China's space agency, Tian Yulong, first disclosed the talks about the envisioned lunar base in Chinese state media. Last week the China National Space Administration launched an unmanned spacecraft on a mission to dock with its currently unoccupied space station.

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<p>Increased sales of hybrid vehicles and improvements in vehicle efficiency are already cutting the demand for gasoline. But China and India are going further, taking radical measures in their efforts to reduce carbon emissions from their transportation sectors. China wants 7 million alternative fuel vehicles sold in the country every year by 2025; India is promoting having all vehicles on the road electrified by 2032. Currently electric vehicles comprise 2% of the “global car fleet,” but these two regulations will help increase their market share.

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<p>The Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry wants to extend by two years a moratorium on granting permits to use primary forest and peatland. The moratorium, passed in 2011, was initially instituted in order to reduce carbon emissions from forest fires caused by deforestation. The government has been under pressure to address the rampant deforestation and forest fires in the country, as these lands are still being used by farmers (despite an extant moratorium) and are being drained for use as palm oil plantations.

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<p>Encouraged by the Colombian peace process promising infrastructure advancement across the country, local citizens and municipal governments have started construction to expand the road to Miraflores, Colombia. The 138-kilometer road was carved illegally through rainforest and used by the FARC rebel group to transport coca, from which cocaine is produced. Conservationists argue that the road widening threatens the Nukak community, who have lost their sacred territories used to hunt and fish.

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<p>China has stepped up its efforts to keep the Paris agreement in place following the U.S. withdrawal. The EU and China issued a joint statement underscoring their commitments to the Paris accord to combat climate change. China pledged to bring its carbon emissions to a peak by 2030 or earlier as part of a joint pledge made with the U.S. ahead of the 2015 Paris talks. A U.S. withdrawal puts less pressure on China to bring its emissions peak earlier, but in recent years China has sought to dominate the clean energy market.

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<p>Electric fences have been used to prevent human/elephant confrontation as development encroaches on traditional elephant habitats. But elephants are intelligent and soon discover that their tusks do not conduct electricity, allowing them to escape. Alexander Vipond of the&nbsp;Knysna Elephant Park&nbsp;in South Africa invented a simple device, nicknamed “tusk braces,” to discourage elephants from cutting fence wires. The tusk brace is basically a wire fit onto the length of the top of the tusk that turns the tusk into a conductor.

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<p>The Phillipines is believed to hold around $1 trillion worth of mineral resources, but activists' opposition has stalled development and economic growth. Activists oppose mining development on the basis of financial fairness and environmental concerns. OceanaGold, a Canadian-Australian mining firm, earned $275 million in copper and gold sales last year, according to the Philippine Mines and Geosciences Bureau. Miners, some residents of the area surronding the mine, work for about a $1 an hour.

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<p>The Marginal de la Selva, a $1 billion dollar highway project that would connect Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador without having to enter the Andes mountains, could mean deforestation and industrial development in regions important for indigenous groups, and threaten biodiversity. The unfinished section that would complete the project cuts through a natural corridor between two national parks, which both contain exceptionally high levels of biodiversity.

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<p>Norway told visiting Brazilian President Michel Temer that it would slash its payments to help safeguard the Amazon rainforest in 2017 by more than half, to about $35 million, because of a rise in forest destruction. Norway has invested more than $1.1 billion in an Amazon Fund since 2008 to help Brazil protect the forests, which are under threat from logging and their conversion to farmland. Temer said Brazil was working to protect the Amazon, for example by expanding national parks. Brazil's deforestation climbed to 8,000 square kilometres (3,088 square miles) in 2016.

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<p>The North China leopard, one of the nine subspecies of leopards, has shown signs of revival in certain parts of the country in recent years, according to conservation groups. However, industrial development and infrastructure construction remain major threats to the integrity of the leopards' habitat. The species was widely found across Africa and Asia.

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<p>Indonesia’s goal of achieving food self-sufficiency, especially for rice, might be in doubt as the country converts agricultural land into coal mining sites. Researchers for the Waterkeeper Alliance and the Mining Advocacy Network found that 19 percent of Indonesia's rice-growing land falls within exploration or mining concessions for coal. The study calculated that coal mining already costs the country 1.7 million tons of potential rice production, and another 6 million tons of current production are under threat.

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<p>On July 28, 2017, EU's top court ordered Poland to halt large-scale logging of Bialowieza Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The forest is one of Europe's last primeval forests and home to its largest herd of European bison as well as unique birds and insects. The European Court of Justice ruled that logging should stop immediately as it could cause "serious and irreversible damage" to the forest. Poland's environment ministry says the logging is needed to protect the forest from an invasion of beetles.

<p>The British government committed to ban the sale of diesel and gas vehicles from 2040 to curb rising levels of nitrogen oxide. The government said the move, which will include hybrid vehicles, was needed because of the impact that poor air quality has on human health. The government was urged to introduce taxes for vehicles to enter clean air zones but the government sees the option as a last resort.

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<p>The island of Java has seen massive flooding as a result of deforestation. A mangrove forest that once surrounded the village Mangunharjo was clear-cut to facilitate shrimp and fish farms. The mangroves’ decline exposed Mangunharjo to massive erosion. In less than a decade, it wiped away the fishponds and almost sank the village. Locals have taken to replanting mangroves to curb the effects of erosion, and have seen improvement. The efforts have reclaimed 200 meters of land. Mangroves are crucial in the fight against climate change.

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<p>Three new frog species have been discovered in the montane forests and Andean grasslands of Peru’s Pui Pui Protected Forest. Rudolf von May, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Michigan and one of the authors of a paper describing the three new species, announced that there are many more species discoveries to be made in the region. Few biological surveys have been conducted in the Pui Pui Protected Forest in the decades since it was established in 1985.

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<p>New research indicates that the conversion of land, often to farms and ranches to produce food for people, has a bigger impact on the climate than anticipated. Only about 20 percent of the carbon dioxide that has been added to the atmosphere comes from clearing forests. But land used in the clearing is responsible for about 40 percent of the warming of the planet, according to a study published by Environmental Research Letters.

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<p>Thousands of people in northwest Ethiopia marched to Abay River and Lake Tana as part of the “Save Lake Tana” movement to remove invasive water hyacinth by hand. The free-floating, water-thirsty perennial is swallowing the northeast shores of Lake Tana, impacting both aquatic habitat health and local fishermen. Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile and the largest lake in Ethiopia, and is used for transport, tourism, hydroelectric power generation, ecological conservation and fishery operations.

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<p>GM chief executive, Mary Barra, believes that China's push toward green vehicles will need government backing to win over consumers. China is pushing hard to develop its own green car market. Car manufacturers, however, worry that targets for electric and hybrid cars may be tough to meet with government plans to roll back subsidies that have supported the market's growth. GM plans to introduce at least 10 new electric vehicles for the China market by 2020 and open a battery plant this year.

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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>To help lower energy costs, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has threatened gas producers with export restrictions unless they plug domestic shortages. Despite having one of the world’s largest coal and natural gas reserves, as well as ideal conditions for clean power generation, Australia has the highest power prices in the world. Political indecisiveness and climate policy missteps have left the country’s power system in limbo, which has doubled electricity prices and increased the risk of blackouts.

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<p>Three indigenous defendants accused of instigating project delays and causing financial losses during protests at the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project in western Panama have been acquitted of all charges. According to an opposition group leader, the company provided no concrete proof that he or any of the other 60-plus protestors trespassed on its property or impeded the work of its personnel. The dam is fully operational and its reservoir has flooded the land of three Ngäbe-Bugle communities.

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<p>Though deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon is at an all-time low, development that didn’t occur in the Amazon shifted over to the Cerrado, a highly biodiverse tropical savannah and the second-largest ecoregion in Brazil. According to INPE (Brazil’s national space agency), data shows that between 2013 and 2015 close to 4.7 million acres of the Cerrado were destroyed.

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<p>Longer dry seasons due to climate change affecting the growth of bamboo shoots are forcing the greater bamboo lemur to subsist on the less nutritious woody trunk of the plant for longer periods of time. A 2014 assessment found that numbers of the animal are down 80 percent in just the last three decades, attributing the decline to deforestation and habitat destruction for farming, logging and mining. An examination of the fossil record revealed that greater bamboo lemurs once inhabited a lot more of Madagascar.

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<p>France rejected the EU Commission's five-year extension to the license for weed-killer glyphosate. France seeks an extension that does not exceed four years. The five-year extension was a compromise after a ten-year extension was previously rejected. Europe has been split over the chemical, a key ingredient in Monsanto Co’s top-selling weed-killer Roundup, after the World Health Organization’s cancer research agency concluded in March 2015 it was a substance that probably causes cancer.

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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>At the Bonn Conference of the Parties, Fiji turned a tiny part of Germany into a tropical island as it leads global negotiations on climate change. Average sea levels in Fiji have risen 10 inches since the late 19th century, driven partly by melting ice and endangering life on the island. Fiji is the first small island state to preside at U.N. climate negotiations since they began in the 1990s. Fiji outfitted a conference centre with canoes, dancers, huge photographs of palm-fringed islands, virtual reality shows and flowers.

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<p>Delegations for the United States, Russia, and China, along with other countries, struck a deal to refrain from commercial fishing in the high Arctic seas until scientists can determine what fish are there and whether they can be sustainably harvested. The agreement will protect an area of the central Arctic Ocean for at least 16 years. Waters in the region were once frozen year-round but the area is now the earth's fastest-warming. The other parties to the legally binding agreement were Canada, Norway, Greenland, Iceland, Japan, South Korea and the European Union.

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<p>At the "One Planet" summit, two years after the Paris Agreement, there will be a focus on how public and private financial institutions can mobilize more money to address climate change. This focus is a result of the United States pulling out of the Agreement, leaving a $2 billion funding gap in the Green Climate Fund. Funding is not on track, with developing countries noting that the richer countries have not met funding goals that would allow them to switch from fossil fuels.

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<p>Smog warnings across northern China forced officials to order factories to reduce output, order construction sites to slow work, and enforce limits on the use of diesel-fueled vehicles. The city of Taiyuan in Shanxi province had the highest concentration of hazardous breathable particles. China has launched a major effort to clean the north’s notoriously toxic air during the winter, when smog blankets colder regions as people start to increase the use of heating. Beijing was the only city among 28 being monitored where air quality hadn’t become bad enough to trigger the order.

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<p>The Chinese State Council announced plans to increase agricultural production while simultaneously promoting more environmentally friendly agricultural techniques within the next five years. The plans include stimulating sustainable agriculture to protect water resources and arable lands, improving agricultural technology, in part by involving the information industry, and upgrading fisheries and plantation structures.

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<p>Last week, the European Court of Justice ruled that the EU was within its right to apply carbon taxes to flights between Switzerland and member states, even though flights to and from other countries outside the bloc are exempt. Lufthansa-owned Swiss International Air Lines brought the case to court, arguing that its treatment under the EU's Emission Trading System infringed on the principle of equal treatment under EU law by treating Switzerland differently from other third countries.

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<p>Belize has reversed a plan to allow offshore exploration and drilling and introduced a ban that prohibits these activities in areas within one kilometer of the Belize Barrier Reef system or within World Heritage Sites. The banned areas comprise 15% percent of the country’s marine territory. Belize has a total of seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites within its territory, and they have been on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger since 2009 because of lack of solid conservation policy.

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<p>On December 31, 2015, Peru’s Minister of Production passed a resolution that banned fishing of manta rays, among other stipulations. The resolution requires that mantas that are caught must be released immediately back into the ocean. The largest known populations of giant manta rays live in Peru and Ecuador. Ecuador began protecting manta rays in 2010, and Peru’s new ban adds to this protection. Other countries, including the Republic of Maldives, Mexico, and the Philippines, have passed regulations for manta ray protection.

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<p>On December 31, 2015, Peru’s Minister of Production passed a resolution that banned fishing of manta rays, among other stipulations. The resolution requires that mantas that are caught must be released immediately back into the ocean. The largest known populations of giant manta rays live in Peru and Ecuador. Ecuador began protecting manta rays in 2010, and Peru’s new ban adds to this protection. Other countries, including the Republic of Maldives, Mexico, and the Philippines, have passed regulations for manta ray protection.

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<p>On December 31, 2015, Peru’s Minister of Production passed a resolution that banned fishing of manta rays, among other stipulations. The resolution requires that mantas that are caught must be released immediately back into the ocean. The largest known populations of giant manta rays live in Peru and Ecuador. Ecuador began protecting manta rays in 2010, and Peru’s new ban adds to this protection. Other countries, including the Republic of Maldives, Mexico, and the Philippines, have passed regulations for manta ray protection.

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<p>On December 31, 2015, Peru’s Minister of Production passed a resolution that banned fishing of manta rays, among other stipulations. The resolution requires that mantas that are caught must be released immediately back into the ocean. The largest known populations of giant manta rays live in Peru and Ecuador. Ecuador began protecting manta rays in 2010, and Peru’s new ban adds to this protection. Other countries, including the Republic of Maldives, Mexico, and the Philippines, have passed regulations for manta ray protection.

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<p>The Supreme Court of India upheld a temporary ban on selling large diesel cars in New Delhi. This ban aims to counter toxic smog conditions in India's capital city. New Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the world, with air quality worse than in Beijing. Proponents of the rule would like to see the ban extended to smaller diesel cars and other cities in India. The Supreme Court stated that it was considering expanding the ban to diesel cars with engine capacity of less than 2,000 cc but planned to seek industry input first.

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<p>On December 14, 2016, the European Parliament delayed a vote on limits to car pollution. The proposal is supported by automakers whereas environmentalists are pushing for the enactment of tougher rules. Parliament members disagreed over whether to seek tougher pollution limits even if that would result in a delay in the vote. The limits, as currently set, would permit cars to continue emitting more than twice the official limits on nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, which can cause respiratory illness and premature death.

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<p><span>Four months ago, Indonesia’s Supreme Court ordered a palm oil grower to pay $26 million for damages to the forest in Aceh, but last week, a different palm oil company was acquitted of a similar crime in a district court. PT Bumi Mekar Hijau was on trial for $574 million in fines for failing to prevent or intentionally lighting hundreds of fires across 20,000 hectares of land. The lawsuit is expected to reach the Supreme Court. Critics of the acquittal wanted to see more emphasis placed on the human aspect of the fires, which are suspected to have killed 19 people.

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<p>On January 13, 2016, Brazil’s police force charged the CEO of Samarco, Ricardo Vescovi De Aragao, with causing Brazil’s largest environmental disaster in violation of the nation's Environmental Crimes Law. On November 5, 2015, a Samarco dam burst, which caused an avalanche of 2.2 billion cubic feet of waste and mud. Both the Samarco and Vale mining companies were indicted, in addition to VogBR Recursos Hidricos e Geotecnica, the company responsible for declaring that the dam was stable earlier in 2015.

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<p>An embargo on trading Madagascar’s ebonies, palisanders, and rosewoods was extended by the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The illegal harvest and trade of Madagascar’s precious wood has a detrimental impact on the livelihood of people dependent on the forests and on the Malagasy ecosystem.

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<p>A 2013 spatial plan exposed Sumatra’s Leuser Ecosystem to industrial development by the Aceh Government. Nine Aceh citizens filed a class action lawsuit last week against the plan, calling it illegal and requesting that Jakarta fulfill its promise to revoke it. The Leuser Ecosystem is one of Sumatra’s last intact rainforests.

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<p>Construction of the third largest dam in the world, Brazil's Belo Monte dam, is complete but a judge suspended its operating license. Judge Maria Carolina Valente de Carmo ruled that the dam must fulfill obligations that it made in 2010 to the region’s indigenous groups before the dam can begin generating electricity. The dam is located on the Xingu River in the Amazon and was just weeks away from beginning operation.

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<p>On February 3, 2016, the European Parliament supported a compromise deal that allows vehicles to continue to pollute more than the official limits. This disregards the call for stricter reform that followed the Volkswagen emissions-test cheating scandal. In September, Volkswagen admitted that it cheated on U.S. diesel emissions tests, which caused outrage in Europe where approximately half of the vehicles run on diesel. The Parliament's vote was almost blocked by opponents who viewed it as too lenient, but they narrowly missed the votes needed.

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<p>Fifteen people tried in connection with a 2010 toxic spill that killed 10 people were acquitted by a Hungarian court on February 4, 2016. The spill, one of Hungary’s worst environmental disasters, sent toxic red mud from a reservoir across three towns, destroyed hundreds of homes, and penetrated rivers all the way down to the Danube. The aluminum smelting company responsible for the spill, MAL Corp., was taken over by the government and remains under liquidation. In the ruling, the court determined that MAL Corp.

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<p>A British Columbia court ruled that the Wilderness Committee, an environmental group, did not break the law by criticizing a proposed mine project. In 2012, Taseko Mines sued the Wilderness Committee, stating that the group made defamatory statements about Taseko Mines’ New Prosperity mine project during a public comment period. These claims were dismissed, with the court awarding the Wilderness Committee court costs and additional costs incurred during the lawsuit.

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<p>Colombia banned mining and oil companies from extracting resources from the Andes. This decision follows a lawsuit against the Colombian National Development Plan, which allowed for extractive activities in the moorlands. When the National Development Plan passed, more than 71,000 people joined campaigns to protest the law. The recent court decision cancels 473 preexisting mining titles for the moorlands. In effect, this means that even the mining companies that have environmental licenses and their paperwork in order will not be able to conduct mining explorations.

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<p>India halted potash imports and postponed negotiations around next year’s imports until June 2016 due to weak demand caused by drought. Potash is a crop nutrient that is used to fertilize farmland. This is India’s first halting of potash imports in years and comes alongside decreased demand from China and Brazil as well. India’s major suppliers of potash include Uralkali, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, and Arab PotashCo. Even with this decision, India has 1.1 million tons in potash inventory, which highlights the crisis that India’s farm sector is experiencing.

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<p>India halted potash imports and postponed negotiations around next year’s imports until June 2016 due to weak demand caused by drought. Potash is a crop nutrient that is used to fertilize farmland. This is India’s first halting of potash imports in years and comes alongside decreased demand from China and Brazil as well. India’s major suppliers of potash include Uralkali, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, and Arab PotashCo. Even with this decision, India has 1.1 million tons in potash inventory, which highlights the crisis that India’s farm sector is experiencing.

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<p>India halted potash imports and postponed negotiations around next year’s imports until June 2016 due to weak demand caused by drought. Potash is a crop nutrient that is used to fertilize farmland. This is India’s first halting of potash imports in years and comes alongside decreased demand from China and Brazil as well. India’s major suppliers of potash include Uralkali, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, and Arab PotashCo. Even with this decision, India has 1.1 million tons in potash inventory, which highlights the crisis that India’s farm sector is experiencing.

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<p>AGL Energy Company pled guilty to 11 counts of breaking political donation disclosure laws. The prosecution followed a probe by anti-coal and gas activists, who prompted the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) to investigate AGL’s failure to provide full disclosure on donations made to New South Wales Labor and Liberal parties. The findings of the EDO showed that, since 2008, AGL has failed to disclose as much as $51,500 in reportable donations. During this period of time, AGL sought to drill 110 seam gas wells.

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<p>A plan to build a subway tunnel under Singapore's largest patch of primary rainforest has drawn sharp protests from environmental groups and activists who say it could irreversibly damage the habitats of hundreds of plant and animal species. They are appealing to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to re-route the 50 km (31 mile) Cross Island Line around the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, rather than through it.

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<p>A growing number of pollinator species worldwide are&nbsp;being driven toward extinction by diverse pressures, many of them human-made, threatening&nbsp;millions of livelihoods and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of food supplies, according to&nbsp;the first global assessment by the&nbsp;Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released February 26.

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<p>A growing number of pollinator species worldwide are&nbsp;being driven toward extinction by diverse pressures, many of them human-made, threatening&nbsp;millions of livelihoods and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of food supplies, according to&nbsp;the first global assessment by the&nbsp;Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released February 26.

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<p>A growing number of pollinator species worldwide are&nbsp;being driven toward extinction by diverse pressures, many of them human-made, threatening&nbsp;millions of livelihoods and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of food supplies, according to&nbsp;the first global assessment by the&nbsp;Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released February 26.

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<p>On February 24, the United States won a ruling against India at the World Trade Organization after challenging rules on the origin of solar cells and solar modules used in India's national solar power program. In a statement, the U.S. Trade Representative's office called the ruling a significant victory that would hasten the spread of solar energy across the world and support clean-energy jobs in the United States.

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<p>Germany, France, and Britain pressed the European Union for more ambitious greenhouse gas targets at a meeting of environment ministers last Friday, clashing with the EU executive and several eastern and central European states. The big states led criticism of a draft text that said the bloc does not need to revise upward its targets until the next decade as it tries to decide how to share the burden of meeting those among its 28 member countries. So far, the EU has agreed to cut emissions by at least 40% by 1990 levels by 2030 and to a first global stock-take in 2023.

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<p>Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau persuaded the country's 10 provinces last Thursday to accept the concept of putting a price on carbon but agreed the specific details could be worked out later. The compromise deal was unveiled at the end of a tough day's talks with the provinces, many of which had signaled their opposition to the idea of Ottawa imposing a single price across the country. Instead, the two sides agreed that mechanisms for pricing carbon would take into account each province's specific circumstances.

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<p>A draft Polish law that would impose a raft of exacting demands on windfarm developers is nothing less than a bid to sabotage the country’s renewable energy prospects, according to Europe’s wind industry. Under the proposal, developers would need to apply for a license to operate a wind turbine every two years. If they wanted to repair or modernize a turbine, they would first need to get permission from an inspector’s office, then pay a significant fee and reapply for another permit.

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<p>In February, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights ruled that Suriname is responsible for multiple violations against the Kaliña&nbsp;and Lokono indigenous peoples of Suriname. There are approximately 20,344 indigenous individuals in Suriname, comprising 3.8% of the population. A formal complaint was filed in January 2007 regarding the Lower Marowijne, Suriname’s most important estuary and home to many bird species and the leatherback sea turtle.

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<p>Kansai Electric Power was ordered by a Japanese court to halt operations at its Takahama nuclear reactors Nos. 3 and 4, the first time that an operating Japanese nuclear plant has been ordered to stop. Kansai Electric stated that it will quickly appeal the injunction, but it could be months or years before a final decision is made. The order comes in the middle of efforts by Prime Minister Shinzo to restore atomic power after the Fukushima crisis of 2011; the decision could challenge the recent progress getting reactors back online.

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<p>On March 7, 2016, the Philippines approved a set of rules on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which came as a relief to farmers and importers but to the dismay of environmental activists. The rules will now be forwarded to the Department of Agriculture with an expectation that they will take effect by April 2016, and are intended to improve transparency in the approval process for GMO permits.

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<p>Beginning in April, the Panama Canal will set new restrictions on ships because of the falling water levels of nearby lakes that filter into the waterway. The Panama Canal Authority (APC) is hopeful that the impact on operations will be minimal. Beginning on April 18, ships must have a maximum depth of 39 feet. Ships loaded after March 21 will be required to comply with these restrictions. These measures have been described as "temporary and preventative." They are connected to impacts on the local climate from El Nino.

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<p>European Union member states agreed on a plan to end the overfishing of cod, herring, and sprat in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday, April 22. The multi-year deal attempts to ensure that the species are managed sustainably and to take into account the interdependence of the three types of fish. Under the current plan, only cod are subject to management, which threatens the livelihood of all three species: sprats and herrings eat the eggs of cod, and cod eat sprats and herrings.

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<p>On March 26, the Lebanese government approved a plan to rectify the garbage crisis that has fuelled protests throughout the past seven months. The crisis has raised concerns about public health and the viability of the Lebanese government. The plan supports the creation of two landfills near Beirut, and a third one south of Beirut to house the trash that has been piling up since July. The crisis began when a landfill south of Beirut was closed last summer without any plan for its reinstatement.

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<p>On March 29, a Costa Rican court sentenced four men for the murder of sea turtle conservationist Jairo Mora Sandoval and the kidnapping of his volunteers. Three other defendants were acquitted due to lack of evidence. Jairo Mora Sandoval and four female volunteers were kidnapped on May 30, 2013. Sandoval died of asphyxiation after being beaten, tied up, and dragged along the beach. Sandoval’s conservation work was the primary motive for his murder. Sea turtle eggs, considered an aphrodisiac, are linked to drug trafficking in Costa Rica.

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<p>The creation of a marine reserve around the Austral Islands, originally proposed in 2014 by the municipal councils of the region, is close to becoming reality. On March 30, inhabitants of the Austral Islands submitted the proposal to the government of French Polynesia. If the project is approved, it will be the largest natural reserve in the world. It would span 1 million square kilometers—an area larger than Texas and Nevada combined.

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<p>China ordered power transmission companies to ensure that there is grid connectivity for all renewable power generation sources. The National Energy Administration (NEA) explained that the grid companies are now required to plug in all renewable power sources that are in compliance with technical standards. China is the biggest user of wind and solar energy in the world, but so far a huge amount of renewable power has not been included in the national grid because transmission capabilities are lagging generating capacity by three to five years.

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<p>Four Zambian villages have sued Vedanta Resources, a mining company based in London, for contaminating their water sources and land since 2004 through its mining operations. The villagers, who have fallen sick and have suffered huge crop losses, are asking Vedanta Resources and its Zambian subsidiary for compensation. Although the subsidiary is responsible for the alleged violations, the villagers have petitioned the high court in London to hear the case because they claim Vedanta Resources exercises control over its subsidiary’s activities.

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<p>Four Zambian villages have sued Vedanta Resources, a mining company based in London, for contaminating their water sources and land since 2004 through its mining operations. The villagers, who have fallen sick and have suffered huge crop losses, are asking Vedanta Resources and its Zambian subsidiary for compensation. Although the subsidiary is responsible for the alleged violations, the villagers have petitioned the high court in London to hear the case because they claim Vedanta Resources exercises control over its subsidiary’s activities.

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<p>Four Zambian villages have sued Vedanta Resources, a mining company based in London, for contaminating their water sources and land since 2004 through its mining operations. The villagers, who have fallen sick and have suffered huge crop losses, are asking Vedanta Resources and its Zambian subsidiary for compensation. Although the subsidiary is responsible for the alleged violations, the villagers have petitioned the high court in London to hear the case because they claim Vedanta Resources exercises control over its subsidiary’s activities.

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<p>The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has suspended IOI’s certification, preventing the Malaysian palm oil company from selling future palm oil as certified sustainable. The decision has come after years of documented violations of human rights and environmental destruction by IOI and will cause huge economic losses to the company. In fact, many of its 300 clients, such as Unilever and Kellogg’s, have already canceled their contract or want to cease to source palm oil from IOI.

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<p>The European Union passed a new regulation to prevent misleading claims on energy efficiency for home appliances, but excluded a key product: light bulbs. Companies will no longer be able to test refrigerators, TVs, and dishwashers using a 10% margin of error between their advertised and actual energy consumption, under an amendment to the EU's ecodesign law. But due to the EU’s fear of a possible collapse of the light bulb sector, which might not be ready to face the new rule, light bulbs will be exempt from this requirement.

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<p>On April 14, 2016, El Salvador declared its first water shortage emergency in history. The president of El Salvador cited the effects of El Niño and climate change as reasons for the shortage. Rainfall in El Salvador has decreased significantly in the past four years, leading to the current situation where water reserve levels are at a critical state. In the past couple of weeks, the Central American country has seen protests among neighborhood residents from the outskirts of San Salvador, the capital city, against the water shortages in their communities.

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<p>The top administrative court in France overturned a 2014 ban on genetically modified (GM) corn earlier this month. The April 15, 2016, ruling overturned a March 2014 decree that prohibited Monsanto's MON 810 corn, stating that the corn did not demonstrate serious health or environmental risks, as required by the European Union's rules for withdrawing a GM crop already approved by the EU.&nbsp;But the ruling was largely symbolic, as France has already legislatively banned the growing of any GM corn.

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<p>The top administrative court in France overturned a 2014 ban on genetically modified (GM) corn earlier this month. The April 15, 2016, ruling overturned a March 2014 decree that prohibited Monsanto's MON 810 corn, stating that the corn did not demonstrate serious health or environmental risks, as required by the European Union's rules for withdrawing a GM crop already approved by the EU.&nbsp;But the ruling was largely symbolic, as France has already legislatively banned the growing of any GM corn.

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<p>South Africa said it will not seek to lift the global ban on rhino horn trading and will retain its current policy of stockpiling the commodity. Poachers in South Africa kill thousands of rhinos for their horns, which are valuable in Asian markets. South Africa had considered trading rhino horns globally as a tactic to combat poaching activities, but ultimately decided to retain the current policy of keeping the rhino horns rather than selling them.

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<p>Europe’s highest court ruled on April 28 that the calculation the European Commission uses to set the maximum amount of free carbon permits issued to industries is flawed. Discrepancies in the data provided by the bloc's 28 nations on new industrial installations led to the error, the court said. It gave the Commission 10 months to review the policy. The ruling will not be retroactive and will not affect the overall cap of the EU's Emissions Trading System, but it could lead to a slight cut in the share of free permits issued to industry from 2018.

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<p>On April 22, the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Resources (IBAMA) suspended the license for the São Luiz do Tapajós dam construction. This would have been the largest in the Tapajós watershed in the Amazon and would have flooded an area the size of New York City, deforested 849 square miles, and displaced indigenous people. The decision followed a report by Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), which highlighted the negative impacts the dam would produce on local communities and recommended the demarcation of the nearby indigenous Munduruku territory.

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<p>A joint action by Peruvian public prosecutor’s office and a specialized environmental police force arrested 19 members of a logging gang on April 22. Among those arrested were two police officers and two regional forestry officials, whose involvement still needs to be clarified. Nearly 70,000 Peruvian Sol (a little over $20,000) were seized in the joint action, along with two trucks and a trailer loaded with illegal timber.&nbsp;China, Mexico, and the United States are said to be the chief destinations for the illegal timber harvested by the gang.

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<p>The Brazilian Ministry, the Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oils Industry, Brazil's National Association of Grain Exporters, the Soy Working Group, and Greenpeace signed an indefinite moratorium on rainforest clearing for soybean production. A 2006 agreement, prompted by a Greenpeace campaign, banned rainforest clearing for soybean production but required renewing annually.

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<p>The Malaysian palm oil giant IOI Group has filed a lawsuit against the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. RSPO suspended IOI Group’s sustainability certificate in March for causing suspected environmental harm in Indonesia. IOI can no longer sell the RSPO-brand “Certified Sustainable Palm Oil”—a brand preferred by certain companies. IOI Group says that it has been “unfairly affected” by the suspension of its certificate. Large companies such as Unilever, Kellogg, and Nestlé canceled contracts with IOI.

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<p>The Malaysian palm oil giant IOI Group has filed a lawsuit against the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. RSPO suspended IOI Group’s sustainability certificate in March for causing suspected environmental harm in Indonesia. IOI can no longer sell the RSPO-brand “Certified Sustainable Palm Oil”—a brand preferred by certain companies. IOI Group says that it has been “unfairly affected” by the suspension of its certificate. Large companies such as Unilever, Kellogg, and Nestlé canceled contracts with IOI.

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<p>The European Commission is taking Poland to the European Court of Justice for breaking European environmental law by illegally exploring for shale gas. EU environmental law requires impact assessments for drilling to a depth of more than 1,000 meters, whereas in Poland, impact assessments are only necessary for drilling deeper than 5,000 meters.

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<p>The European Commission is taking Poland to the European Court of Justice for breaking European environmental law by illegally exploring for shale gas. EU environmental law requires impact assessments for drilling to a depth of more than 1,000 meters, whereas in Poland, impact assessments are only necessary for drilling deeper than 5,000 meters.

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<p>Ollanta Humala, the President of Peru, declared a 20-day emergency in the Madre de Dios region in an attempt to curb mercury poisoning from illegal gold mining. Miners searching for gold illegally use mercury to separate rock from ore; they often handle the toxin with their bare hands, breathe it in when it is burned, and dump it into Peruvian rivers, destroying rainforest areas. The Madre de Dios region’s residents have dangerously high levels of mercury in their bodies. Indigenous and rural communities are most vulnerable to the toxins because they are subsistence fishers.

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<p>Poland adopted a law banning the construction of wind farms near homes. Under the new law, wind farms are required to be built at a distance that is at least 10 times the height of the turbine. The move could stunt Poland’s efforts in renewable energy, as the ban will result in higher costs for wind farm construction projects. Additionally, the new law will result in a hike in property taxes for owners of wind farms, which industry representatives commented could trigger bankruptcies.

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<p>On Friday, May 20, aboriginal groups in Canada announced that they have the ability to block Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s proposed oil pipelines because they run through lands where the aboriginal groups have proven title. These comments were in response to Trudeau’s statement that no community can veto the pipelines. Trudeau told Reuters that the government could approve pipeline projects that connect Canadian oil with the market without unanimous consent.

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<p>An appeals court in Chile ordered Sernapesca, the government's fisheries body, to disclose antibiotic use among salmon producers. Chile is the world's second-largest producer of salmon, and farmers use record levels of antibiotics to treat salmon bacteria. The waters surrounding Chile are filled with SRS, a bacteria that kills fish and causes them lesions and hemorrhaging. Antibiotic use among Chilean salmon farmers has risen by 25% since 2013, as farmers are unable to develop an effective vaccine. In 2014, the salmon industry used 1.2 million pounds of antibiotics.

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<p>On June 1, 2016, Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to the framework for a deal with state premiers on renewable energy law reforms in Germany. The proposed agreement is intended to reduce costs and control the speed of providing green power sources in the future. It would expand onshore wind by an increase of 2.8 gigawatts per year--approximately 1,000 wind turbines. Green subsidies in Germany have led to an expansion of renewable energy, accounting for one-third of Germany's electricity in 2015, particularly wind and solar.

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<p>Resolute Forest Products, a Quebec-based company, filed a lawsuit against Greenpeace and others for Greenpeace's campaign ("Resolute: Forest Destroyer") that criticized Resolute's forestry practices. Resolute's complaint included defamation, tortious interference, trademark, and racketeering claims. Greenpeace criticized Resolute for destroying Canada's Boreal forest and woodland caribou habitat. Resolute is one of the largest producers of newsprint in North America.

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<p>The parliament of Norway agreed unanimously to pursue carbon neutrality, cutting Norway's net greenhouse gas emissions to zero, by 2030—20 years earlier than its most recent goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. In order to meet this goal, either Norways' carbon output must be lowered or the country must purchase enough carbon credits to offset its emissions. In 2008, Norway set the same goal, but later pushed the timeline back to 2050 because international negotiations failed at reaching a global climate change deal.

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<p>India stated on June 7 that it plans to work towards joining the 2015 Paris climate accord this year. India joins the United States and China with this commitment, providing momentum to the international push to curb climate change. U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi to the White House, highlighting the strong relationship between the leaders of the world's two largest democracies.

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<p>India stated on June 7 that it plans to work towards joining the 2015 Paris climate accord this year. India joins the United States and China with this commitment, providing momentum to the international push to curb climate change. U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi to the White House, highlighting the strong relationship between the leaders of the world's two largest democracies.

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<p>India stated on June 7 that it plans to work towards joining the 2015 Paris climate accord this year. India joins the United States and China with this commitment, providing momentum to the international push to curb climate change. U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi to the White House, highlighting the strong relationship between the leaders of the world's two largest democracies.

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<p>The department of environmental resources in South Africa announced on June 8 that a moratorium on the domestic trade of rhino horns has been reinstated. This means that no new permits will be authorized to trade rhino horns or products until the Constitutional Court makes a decision about the legality of domestic rhino horn trade. The moratorium was prompted by an appeal by the department of environmental conservation to South Africa's top court. In May, the Supreme Court of Appeals rejected the government's bid to uphold a seven-year ban on rhino horn trade.

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<p>The department of environmental resources in South Africa announced on June 8 that a moratorium on the domestic trade of rhino horns has been reinstated. This means that no new permits will be authorized to trade rhino horns or products until the Constitutional Court makes a decision about the legality of domestic rhino horn trade. The moratorium was prompted by an appeal by the department of environmental conservation to South Africa's top court. In May, the Supreme Court of Appeals rejected the government's bid to uphold a seven-year ban on rhino horn trade.

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<p>The department of environmental resources in South Africa announced on June 8 that a moratorium on the domestic trade of rhino horns has been reinstated. This means that no new permits will be authorized to trade rhino horns or products until the Constitutional Court makes a decision about the legality of domestic rhino horn trade. The moratorium was prompted by an appeal by the department of environmental conservation to South Africa's top court. In May, the Supreme Court of Appeals rejected the government's bid to uphold a seven-year ban on rhino horn trade.

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<p>In the first case of its kind against a government department, Chinese prosecutors successfully sued a county environmental agency for not adequately punishing a sewage firm that was producing dye without the necessary safeguards. On June 20, China's top prosecutor, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, announced that prosecutors had proved the environmental protection department in Eastern Shandong dealt with the Qingshun Chemical Technology Company illegally. In 2014, it was found that the firm produced dye without adequate safeguards.

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<p>The coalition government in Germany agreed to ban fracking for shale gas. According to the decision, only test drilling will be allowed, with permission of the relevant state government. Industry in Germany would like to keep the option of fracking open, arguing that it lowers energy costs, but Germany has a strong green lobby opposed to fracking. If the law is approved by the German parliament, Germany will join France, which has already banned fracking.

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<p>The coalition government in Germany agreed to ban fracking for shale gas. According to the decision, only test drilling will be allowed, with permission of the relevant state government. Industry in Germany would like to keep the option of fracking open, arguing that it lowers energy costs, but Germany has a strong green lobby opposed to fracking. If the law is approved by the German parliament, Germany will join France, which has already banned fracking.

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<p>More than 7,100 cities in 119 countries joined the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy on Wednesday, June 22. This alliance, the world's largest, intends to make ground-breaking change to slow global warming. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, cities consume 70 percent of global energy and are responsible for approximately 75 percent of carbon emissions. The group is a merger of the European Union's Covenant of Mayors and the U.N.-backed Compact of Mayors. The alliance represents eight percent of global populuation.

<p>Authorities in the United Kingdom are taking action against 14 companies that are suspected of sourcing illegal timber from Cameroon. Cameroon’s forests are one of the most biodiverse in the Congo Basin, but they are being decimated at a rapid pace due to illegal logging. Pursuant to the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR), British authorities have started the first steps in targeting 14 companies that are suspected of sourcing the illegal timber, sending 6 letters of remedial action, 7 letters of warning, and 1 letter of advice.

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<p>Authorities in the United Kingdom are taking action against 14 companies that are suspected of sourcing illegal timber from Cameroon. Cameroon’s forests are one of the most biodiverse in the Congo Basin, but they are being decimated at a rapid pace due to illegal logging. Pursuant to the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR), British authorities have started the first steps in targeting 14 companies that are suspected of sourcing the illegal timber, sending 6 letters of remedial action, 7 letters of warning, and 1 letter of advice.

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<p>Authorities in the United Kingdom are taking action against 14 companies that are suspected of sourcing illegal timber from Cameroon. Cameroon’s forests are one of the most biodiverse in the Congo Basin, but they are being decimated at a rapid pace due to illegal logging. Pursuant to the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR), British authorities have started the first steps in targeting 14 companies that are suspected of sourcing the illegal timber, sending 6 letters of remedial action, 7 letters of warning, and 1 letter of advice.

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<p>Starting July 1st, the highest polluting cars have been banned from driving on Parisian streets between the hours of 8AM and 8PM on weekdays. Drivers that do not comply with this restriction can be fined 35 euros. The ban applies to all cars that were registered before January 1,&nbsp;1997; it also applies to two-wheeled vehicles, such as scooters, that were registered before June 1, 1999. This ban is an initiative by Mayor Anne Hidalgo to lower the city’s air pollution levels. Approximately 500,000 drivers will be affected.

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<p>Mining companies BHP Billiton and Vale SA, both involved in the 2015 Samarco iron ore mine disaster, intend to appeal a decision from the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice that suspended their financial settlement agreement. Though Samarco, BHP, and Vale had agreed to staggered payments over 15 years to cover cleanup and repair costs, the court ruled that the payment schedule was "insufficient" after federal prosecutors appealed the decision.

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<p>The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague declared China in violation of Philippine sovereign rights in the South China Sea. The dispute was taken to the PCA in January of 2013 by the Philippines after the Chinese Navy seized Scarborough Shoal, a chain of reefs and rocks off of a Philippine island. Under the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, only natural islands that can sustain human habitation would qualify for legitimate Chinese territorial jurisdiction of surrounding waters (up to 200 nautical miles in an exclusive economic zone).

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<p>The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague declared China in violation of Philippine sovereign rights in the South China Sea. The dispute was taken to the PCA in January of 2013 by the Philippines after the Chinese Navy seized Scarborough Shoal, a chain of reefs and rocks off of a Philippine island. Under the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, only natural islands that can sustain human habitation would qualify for legitimate Chinese territorial jurisdiction of surrounding waters (up to 200 nautical miles in an exclusive economic zone).

<p>Fourteen Pacific Island countries are considering an expansive new climate treaty at the annual leaders’ summit of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF). Pacific Island nations are considered some of the most vulnerable to climate change effects and have pushed strongly for significant climate action. The proposed legal model, written by the Pacific Island Climate Action Network, would be the first international treaty to ban or phase out fossil fuels.

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<p>Fourteen Pacific Island countries are considering an expansive new climate treaty at the annual leaders’ summit of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF). Pacific Island nations are considered some of the most vulnerable to climate change effects and have pushed strongly for significant climate action. The proposed legal model, written by the Pacific Island Climate Action Network, would be the first international treaty to ban or phase out fossil fuels.

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<p>A Spanish court ruling declared Volkswagen’s parent company, Volkswagen Group, liable for any charges over emissions fraud. This decision makes the Germany-based corporation responsible in court rather than its smaller affiliates. Spanish affiliate companies include Seat, Volkswagen-Audi España, and Volkswagen Navarra. Initial proceedings against Volkswagen began in October, after Volkswagen admitted to cheating diesel emissions tests in the United States with illegal software.

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<p>Advocate General Henrik Saugmandsgaard Oe upheld the European Union’s right to apply carbon taxes to flights to and from Switzerland. Under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), all airlines within the European Economic Area (EEA) are subject to certain carbon allowances and purchasing schemes. Lufthansa-owned Swiss Air brought a case to the European Court of Justice claiming unfair and unequal treatment through the application of carbon taxes and permits to its flights. Swiss Air is seeking recovery of over 600,000 carbon permits, worth millions of euros.

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<p>The World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) unanimously rejected New York-based Renco Group Inc.’s lawsuit against Peru for neglecting environmental cleanup around a smelter in La Oroya. The group filed the lawsuit in 2011 for $800 million, claiming that Peru did not clean the soil around La Oroya as was promised in their original purchasing agreement. The company additionally accused Peru of not taking responsibility for prior pollution claims tied to the smelter site.

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<p>Morocco has suspended the import of waste products to be burned for energy, mainly arriving from Europe. Mustapha Khalfi, Morocco’s Minister of Communication, stated "We have decided to suspend all imports of trash and to not use the shipment already imported pending the results of an investigation." The protests by environmentalists against the practice arose after it was revealed that the cement firm Lafarge Maroc imported 2,500 tons of Italian garbage to fuel production.

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<p>On August 3, seaweed farmers from Indonesia sued the Thailand company PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) for more than $152 million. The lawsuit was launched in Sydney's Federal Court and would cover damages from the worst Australian oil spill, which occured in 2009 when an explosion at PTTEP's Montara drilling rig spilled approximately 30,000 barrels of oil into the Timor Sea over the course of 74 days. Lawyers arguing the case say that the spill reached as far as Nusa Tenggara Timur in Indonesia, a distance of 124 miles.

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<p>On August 3, seaweed farmers from Indonesia sued the Thailand company PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) for more than $152 million. The lawsuit was launched in Sydney's Federal Court and would cover damages from the worst Australian oil spill, which occured in 2009 when an explosion at PTTEP's Montara drilling rig spilled approximately 30,000 barrels of oil into the Timor Sea over the course of 74 days. Lawyers arguing the case say that the spill reached as far as Nusa Tenggara Timur in Indonesia, a distance of 124 miles.

<p>On August 3, seaweed farmers from Indonesia sued the Thailand company PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) for more than $152 million. The lawsuit was launched in Sydney's Federal Court and would cover damages from the worst Australian oil spill, which occured in 2009 when an explosion at PTTEP's Montara drilling rig spilled approximately 30,000 barrels of oil into the Timor Sea over the course of 74 days. Lawyers arguing the case say that the spill reached as far as Nusa Tenggara Timur in Indonesia, a distance of 124 miles.

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<p>On August 3, seaweed farmers from Indonesia sued the Thailand company PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) for more than $152 million. The lawsuit was launched in Sydney's Federal Court and would cover damages from the worst Australian oil spill, which occured in 2009 when an explosion at PTTEP's Montara drilling rig spilled approximately 30,000 barrels of oil into the Timor Sea over the course of 74 days. Lawyers arguing the case say that the spill reached as far as Nusa Tenggara Timur in Indonesia, a distance of 124 miles.

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<p>On July 28, India's upper house of parliment passed a bill that, if enacted, would give state governments $895 million per year towards conservation and protecting wildlife and forests. While the Minister of State of Environment Anil Madhav Dave stated that it is a good bill that would help concentrate reforestation efforts, analysts and activists are saying that this law ignores the importance of indigenous people in conserving land and disregards their rights.

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<p>A human rights body from the Philippines set a deadline of 45 days for 47 oil, mining, and cement companies to respond to its complaint that the companies' carbon emissions caused human rights violations. This action stems from a petition that was filed by environmental and human rights groups led by Greenpeace. The petition asked for companies to be held accountable for violating the rights to life, water, food, adequate housing, and sanitation for Filipinos, and cited specific companies including Chevron and BHP Billiton.

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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>Following interception of multiple shipments of illegal timber on their way to the United States, a report produced by Peruvian agencies and verified by the U.S. government found that 90% of the sampled timber was illegally harvested. U.S. officials and conservationists are hoping Peru’s new government will address the inadequate implementation and enforcement of conservation laws, issues found to be major contributors to the statistic. According to a U.S.

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<p>Sarawak, a state on the Malaysian side of Borneo, has assigned 2.2 million acres of rainforest the status of national park, natural reserve, and wildlife sanctuary. Chief Minister Adenan Satem pledged to protect tropical forests last year and has since ensured that all of the state’s orangutan habitats are contained by the new protected areas. Thirty-one additional totally protected areas (TPAs) are being created and will be managed by a new Department of National Parks and Wildlife that will open by January 2017.

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<p>Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will have to decide on the $5.4 billion Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, balancing the demands of Native American groups and the need for growth. Whispering Pines Indian Band is in favor of the expansion, as they will receive economic support from the company following years of negotiations. But located closer to the pipeline’s end is, the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation is against the expansion, contending that it will lead to oil spills on their land and into Canada’s waters.

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<p>Scientists will start drilling off Japan this month to seek the hottest place where life can survive deep below the seabed. The drilling under the Nankai Trough in the Pacific Ocean will be part of a project by 900 experts to map carbon underground, hoping for clues to everything from the origin of life on earth to the formation of oil and gas.

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<p>China has accused more than 20 car makers of breaking rules on green car subsidies, according to a state media report, widening a scandal over a $4.5 billion annual payout program. On September 8, China's Ministry of Finance punished at least five companies, accusing them of cheating its program to subsidize electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, thus receiving roughly 1 billion yuan ($150 million U.S.) in illegal subsidies.

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<p>Sub-Saharan Africa is seeing a surge of interest in irrigation among small-scale farmers as climate change brings more erratic weather and as rising populations in countries from Nigeria to Kenya mean growing demand for a reliable harvest, agriculture and water experts say. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) estimates that more than a million hectares of small farms are now irrigated in the region. In Tanzania, the area of small farms with access to irrigation has risen from just 33,500 hectares in 2010 to about 150,000 today, institute figures show.

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<p>Companies and politicians engaging in environmental destruction and illegal land-grabbing could now be held accountable under international law. The International Criminal Court (ICC) recently announced it would start addressing crimes linked to environmental harms, the illegal exploitation of natural resources, and the “unlawful dispossession of land.” Some believe that this ruling may permit the ICC to prosecute climate change cases, as deforestation, increased carbon dioxide emissions, and illegal land-grabs are closely linked in many parts of the world.

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<p>The Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) is an international arbitration procedure inserted into thousands of international treaties as a means to resolve disputes between countries and the foreign corporations operating within them. The system is written into thousands of trade and investment treaties, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But according to a BuzzFeed News investigation, under typical ISDS provisions, only companies are permitted to bring suit against the countries in which they work; countries cannot sue corporations.

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<p>After months of protests, the D.C. Circuit temporarily enjoined further construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline within 20 miles of Lake Oahe in North Dakota while it considers whether to order a longer delay. This follows a September 9 U.S. district court ruling that allowed construction of the pipeline to continue, denying a petition brought by the Standing Rock Sioux. Despite the district court's ruling, DOI, DOJ, and the U.S.

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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>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.

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<p>The members of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), comprising states, government agencies, NGOs, and academic institutions from around the world, approved two resolutions that give legitimacy to "rights of nature." Motion 89 declares a healthy environment to be a right for all humans and “all living beings,” and Motion 78 encourages increasing the attention given to environmental crimes and crimes against nature. IUCN's action is part of a larger trend to recognize these rights in individual countries and internationally.

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<p>The European Union Industry Committee voted in favor of reforming the EU’s carbon market. The EU’s emissions trading system, a cap-and-trade market for carbon emissions, covers 45% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. Companies either buy emissions allowances or are given them free of charge; fines are imposed if a company exceeds its emissions allowance.

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<p>The Ngäbe-Bugle General Congress, the decisionmaking body of a semi-autonomous region in Panama, voted down an agreement that would have allowed the Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam to start operation. Members of the Ngäbe-Bugle General Congress argue that their former leadership lacked the authority to negotiate the agreement. The Panamanian government is currently holding meetings to formalize the rejection of the dam and intends to reinitiate negotiations on the stalled project.

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<p>One hundred and seventy countries recently passed the Kigali Amendment, a legally binding Amendment to the Montreal Protocol that will phase out hydrofluorocarbon gases (HFCs), low-cost refrigerants frequently used in air conditioners and refrigerators. HFCs are “super greenhouse gases” that are 1,000 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide; scientists estimate that they would contribute to almost a full degree Fahrenheit of atmospheric warming, despite being only a small percentage of total greenhouse gases.

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<p>Last week, the German cabinet approved a deal to move the responsibility for nuclear waste disposal and storage from utilities to the state. The deal will require the four utilities operating Germany’s nuclear plants to pay 23.3 billion Euros (US $25.32 billion) to cover interim storage, transport, and final disposal of radioactive wastes; any additional costs will be covered by the state.

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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>Last week Australia’s government ratified the Paris Agreement, becoming the 105th country to commit to reducing global carbon emissions. Australia, the world’s 13th largest economy representing 1.46% of global emissions, intends to reduce emissions 26-28% from a 2005 baseline by 2030. The Australian Parliament was unable to ratify the Agreement in advance of it going into force as it was unable to start deliberations until after federal elections in July of this year.

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<p>On October 20, an Indonesian court overturned a lower court's earlier ruling that developer PT Muara Wisesa Samudra must halt land reclamation activities in Jakarta Bay. In 2014, the development company was granted a permit to construct 17 artificial islands in the North Jakarta coast to reduce pollution and create new lands for housing developments in the densely populated city.

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<p>Last week, the HCS Convergence Working Group, a coalition of palm oil companies and environmental non-profits, agreed upon a single set of rules for companies to use when implementing their commitments to address deforestation. HCS, which stands for High Carbon Stock, is a measure of how natural, or robust, forest growth is on a plot of land (it excludes mostly young re-growth forest and recently cleared land).

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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.

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<p>According to TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, the number of non-native great apes and gibbons residing in zoos and other wildlife attractions in Thailand is much higher than those recorded as legally imported. For the great apes, this discrepancy is in part due to the fact that international trade in apes is prohibited (due to listings on Appendix I of CITES), but only four of those apes—those native to Thailand—receive protection under Thailand’s Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act.

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<p>Last week at the<a href="http://www.c40.org/&quot; target="_blank"> C40 Mayors Summit</a>, four cities—Athens, Mexico City, Madrid, and Paris—committed to ban diesel-fueled automobiles in their cities by 2025, a move applauded by many environmental supporters. Diesel-fueled vehicles had previously been championed for emitting less carbon dioxide than gasoline-powered vehicles.

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<p>Last week at the<a href="http://www.c40.org/&quot; target="_blank"> C40 Mayors Summit</a>, four cities—Athens, Mexico City, Madrid, and Paris—committed to ban diesel-fueled automobiles in their cities by 2025, a move applauded by many environmental supporters. Diesel-fueled vehicles had previously been championed for emitting less carbon dioxide than gasoline-powered vehicles.

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<p>Last week at the<a href="http://www.c40.org/&quot; target="_blank"> C40 Mayors Summit</a>, four cities—Athens, Mexico City, Madrid, and Paris—committed to ban diesel-fueled automobiles in their cities by 2025, a move applauded by many environmental supporters. Diesel-fueled vehicles had previously been championed for emitting less carbon dioxide than gasoline-powered vehicles.

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<p>Last week at the<a href="http://www.c40.org/&quot; target="_blank"> C40 Mayors Summit</a>, four cities—Athens, Mexico City, Madrid, and Paris—committed to ban diesel-fueled automobiles in their cities by 2025, a move applauded by many environmental supporters. Diesel-fueled vehicles had previously been championed for emitting less carbon dioxide than gasoline-powered vehicles.

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<p>China aims to provide clean air in its largest cities for 80% of each year, or more than 9-1/2 months, by 2020, up from a figure of 76.7% last year, the country's cabinet announced today. Amid concern that pollution was stirring social unrest, China launched a campaign in 2014 to revitalize its tainted air, water and soil, which have been ravaged by more than three decades of breakneck industrial growth.

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<p>As countries around the world begin to implement their nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement, there is a demonstrable rift between liberal and conservative governments. As of Friday, Canada’s government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and 10 provinces were set to agree on a national price for carbon. The plan allows provinces to implement either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade market; those provinces not willing to choose will have a carbon tax imposed by the national government.

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<p>As countries around the world begin to implement their nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement, there is a demonstrable rift between liberal and conservative governments. As of Friday, Canada’s government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and 10 provinces were set to agree on a national price for carbon. The plan allows provinces to implement either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade market; those provinces not willing to choose will have a carbon tax imposed by the national government.

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<p>Last week, subsidies for renewable energy lost favor in both the Netherlands and Italy. Despite an announcement two weeks ago by the Dutch government on increasing subsidies for renewable energy projects (including solar, wind, and geothermal), the Ministry of Economic Affairs published an “Energy Agenda” last week saying renewable energy subsidies would be phased out as renewables become more economically competitive. However, the government intends to work with power companies to make it easier for individuals to invest in renewables.

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<p>Last week, subsidies for renewable energy lost favor in both the Netherlands and Italy. Despite an announcement two weeks ago by the Dutch government on increasing subsidies for renewable energy projects (including solar, wind, and geothermal), the Ministry of Economic Affairs published an “Energy Agenda” last week saying renewable energy subsidies would be phased out as renewables become more economically competitive. However, the government intends to work with power companies to make it easier for individuals to invest in renewables.

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<p>Last week, both South Korea and the European Union noted they would be taking legal action in responses to “dieselgate,” the nickname given to the scandal on Volkswagen vehicles' nitrous oxide emissions. Last year, it was discovered that Volkswagen had intentionally misreported the amount of nitrous oxides that their cars emit outside of the laboratory. South Korea intends to file criminal charges against Volkswagen executives in the South Korean unit for falsely advertising their vehicles' emissions.

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<p>Last week, both South Korea and the European Union noted they would be taking legal action in responses to “dieselgate,” the nickname given to the scandal on Volkswagen vehicles' nitrous oxide emissions. Last year, it was discovered that Volkswagen had intentionally misreported the amount of nitrous oxides that their cars emit outside of the laboratory. South Korea intends to file criminal charges against Volkswagen executives in the South Korean unit for falsely advertising their vehicles' emissions.

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<p>Last week, Indonesia passed a ban preventing the conversion of peatlands into plantations, particularly palm oil plantations. Peat soils sequester huge amounts of carbon. When they are drained and burned, they release significant quantities of carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. In Indonesia, the decomposition and burning of peatlands contribute to almost half of Indonesia’s total carbon emissions.

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<p>In recent weeks, the European Union has voted in favor of including shipping in its carbon emissions trading system (ETS). The proposal will be addressed in a plenary vote and by the EU’s lawmaking bodies in February, despite concerns from the shipping industry that such a unilateral move by the EU would distort world trade. The proposal follows a 2015 study by the European Parliament that estimates that international aviation and maritime transport will together contribute to 40% of global carbon emissions in 2050.

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<p>Earlier this month the Chinese State Council vowed to introduce an environment tax by 2020. The tax would tackle “chronic and intractable pollution” by raising the operational costs of polluting industries, encouraging them to install cleaner technologies. Although China has had a pollutant discharge fee since 1979, the system has been exploited by local governments, among others.

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<p>Already party to the Paris Agreement and UN sustainable development goals for the reduction of hydrofluorocarbons, Myanmar is moving forward in revising its national environmental policy, which could be implemented as early as 2017. The new policy will address climate change, pollution, and waste from the expansion of industry, as well as environmental harm caused by natural resource exploitation.

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<p>Royal Dutch Shell and residents of the Bodo community in the Niger Delta have reached an $84 million settlement agreement for the harm caused by two oil spills in 2008 and 2009. Both spills came from the Trans Niger Pipeline and together affected thousands of hectares of mangrove in the region. The settlement comes after three years of litigation and also imposes cleanup requirements on Shell.

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<p>Norway's Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) recently announced that it removed 114 companies from its portfolio in 2014 due to environmental and climate change concerns. The list included 32 coal mining companies along with tar sands operations, cement manufacturers, and gold mines.

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<p>The European Commission has issued rules banning the sale of stovetops, ovens, and cooking hoods that do not meet new energy efficiency requirements. The new rules are expected to save customers who replace inefficient appliances about $57 per year. Industry groups were consulted throughout the rulemaking process and welcomed the changes, but critics have attacked the broader policy, known as ecodesign.

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<p>For the first time since November 2013, the European Union (EU) has approved for import 12 genetically modified organisms (GMOs), 10 crops and 2 flowers. The corn, soybean, cotton, and rapeseed varieties are produced by Monsanto, BASF, and Bayer CropScience, and will be used primarily as livestock feed. Sixty-eight GMO crops are now approved for import into the EU, but a recent proposal would allow individual countries to restrict imports despite the approval of the bloc.

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<p>A May 5, 2015, vote by the Victorian Parliament will ban cattle grazing in national parks within the Australian state. The ban affects all national parks in the state, and follows a controversial trial period for grazing in Alpine National Park instituted by the previous administration.

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<p>The Chinese government has set quality standards for non-automotive diesel fuels that will go into effect in 2018. The National Development and Reform Commission released information on the standard as part of the continuing challenge of addressing the nation's smog problem.

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<p>An international law enforcement coalition has released the results of a massive investigation aimed at curbing illegal wildlife trafficking. Sixty-two countries as well as several international organizations conducted a series of operations during May that netted over 300 arrests and the seizure of more than 600 items of contraband from across Asia, Africa, and Europe. Officials claim the arrests included eight kingpins from three countries.

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<p>Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry is asking the cabinet and parliament to approve a budget request of approximately $779 million to be used for energy efficiency programs. The Ministry wants to help factories and small businesses transition to energy-efficient devices, increase solar energy storage capacity at power stations, and bolster the clean energy industry in the region harmed by the 2011 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami.&nbsp;The Ministry’s announcement comes after utilities warned that their solar storage capacity was running out.

<p>The Marshall Islands filed a civil suit in the International Court of Justice against the world’s nuclear powers in an attempt to spur nuclear disarmament and bring attention to climate change issues faced by island nations. Countries named in the suit include Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States. The complaint asks the court to find the countries in violation of disarmament treaties and customary international law, and to establish a disarmament calendar with negotiations beginning one year after the court’s decision.

<p>The United Kingdom's Parliament passed several amendments to its current infrastructure bill to regulate hydraulic fracturing, including imposing a legal duty on companies to disclose chemicals used in the injection process. The amendments were among a dozen proposed by the Labour party, which also included measures aimed at protecting groundwater resources. Industry has been dismissive of the regulations, claiming it is already voluntarily taking the measures now required by law.

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<p>European politicians are expected this week to back by a narrow majority early action to bolster prices on the EU carbon market. Thursday's vote, one of several legislative stages, will be closely watched by traders. The European Commission, the EU executive, last year proposed putting hundreds of millions of&nbsp;<span>Emissions Trading System </span> allowances in a Market Stability Reserve (MSR) starting from 2021.

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<p>China's Supreme People's Court, the country's highest tribunal, recently announced new rules aimed at helping environmental organizations bring illegal polluters to court. The rules grant special status to NGOs and government backed social groups, reduce court fees, and allow organizations to sue polluters across China, regardless of where the plaintiff organization is based.

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<p>Austria has announced its intention to challenge a decision by the European Union to subsidize a nuclear power station in the United Kingdom. The appeal will be filed before April in the European Court of Justice, and it is likely other countries will join Austria in challenging the European Commission’s decision. Appellants will likely argue that the £17.6 ($26.43) billion subsidy is illegal state aid because the project does not meet the necessary criteria, including furthering the common interest of the EU as a whole.

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<p>Norway is offering new leases for fossil fuel exploration within its Arctic waters for the first time in over 20 years. The move infuses momentum into an energy rush poised to break out between the five countries claiming Arctic resource rights. The leases, mostly in the Barents Sea, have been offered to 43 energy companies, and production licenses could be awarded as early as 2016.

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<p>The Australian government has declared it will not list 5 of the 31 species covered by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, which Australia consented to in November. The five species, all sharks, include two species of hammerheads and three species of threshers. Australia’s Environment Minister said the reservation from the Convention is necessary because the country’s domestic laws are stricter than required by the agreement, and the listing would result in unintended consequences and unreasonably harsh penalties for violations.

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<p>France's farm minister has announced the country will delay pesticide reduction goals after failing to curb use of the chemicals as the original 2018 deadline approaches. The new target will be a 25% reduction in pesticide use by 2020 and a 50% reduction by 2025. Though reductions are voluntary, the Ministry of Agriculture, Agrifood, and Forestry hopes to add 1,000 farming operations to its network of 2,000 farms using technology and biological controls to decrease conventional pesticide use.

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<p>China is imposing a complete ban on commercial logging of state-owned forests in its Heilongjiang province, a major timber producer. The government sees the restriction as a trial program to allow the forests to regenerate, while refocusing the timber industry on forest management. Funds have been allocated to support forestry workers for the next 5 years, and programs will encourage them to become forest rangers or take up sustainable agriculture. Observers see the ban as part of China's larger shift from an extraction-heavy economy to one focused more on sustainability.

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<p>Caribbean nations and organizational partners issued a joint statement calling for the adoption of "necessary and specific reforms" in Caribbean energy policy at the first-ever Caribbean Energy Security Summit, hosted by the Obama administration in Washington, D.C. The statement specifically addressed sustainable and clean energy production. The United States also announced a $90 million investment in Jamaican wind power through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

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<p>Parties reached a settlement agreement worth $235 million in compensation for victims of one of Australia's deadly 2009 wildfires. Defendants included Victoria government agencies and utility companies, with AusNet Electricity Services agreeing to the largest sum of $204.5 million. The settlement marks the end of a series of lawsuits stemming from fires that ravaged rural Victoria on February 7, 2009, in what has become known as "Black Saturday." Total compensation now amounts to approximately $627 million.

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<p>Zimbabwe is facing a funding crisis for programs and projects intended to mitigate disasters caused by climate change. The Ministry of Environment, Water, and Climate is facing a budget cut of $41 million compared to last year, bringing the ministry's 2015 budget down to $52 million. Recent floods, which have killed 20 people so far this year, highlight deficiencies in funding for the nation's meteorological department, for example. Reduction in domestic funding, as well as slow access to international financing, have contributed to the crises.

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<p>Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced an agricultural program to provide soil testing for the country's farmers in an effort to increase productivity and reduce wasteful overuse of fertilizers. The program, which will be available to about 140 million of India's 235 million farmers, will provide agricultural workers with cards containing farm-specific data, which will then be used by government fertilizer suppliers to ensure that the correct type and amount of fertilizer is being used on the land.

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<p>Dozens of Indonesian government entities signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on February 17 aimed at stemming corruption and coordinating better management of the country's fisheries and forests. The document, entitled the "National Movement to Save Indonesia's Natural Resources," was signed by the Corruption Eradication Commission, the Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, the Minister of Environment and Forestry, 34 regional fisheries agencies, and 24 regional forestry agencies.

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<p>Chilean lawmakers have proposed a bill that would protect 80 percent of the country's glaciers by prohibiting commercial activity on them within Chile's national parks. The proposal comes after government officials and Congress agreed to work together to pass the legislation. Large mining projects, particularly copper mines, would be affected by the law. Chile is the world's largest exporter of copper. Though permits already issued would not be revoked, current operations could be required to take additional mitigation measures.

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<p>China's State Forestry Administration has announced a year-long moratorium on the importation of ivory carvings, a move authorities claim will allow them to evaluate the ban's effectiveness on curbing elephant poaching in Africa. Conservation organizations are less enthusiastic, saying the moratorium will do little to decrease demand for ivory within China. The country's legal domestic trade will not be affected, and critics worry the Chinese government will use the year-long ban to argue that moratoriums do not decrease poaching activities.

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<p>Colombia has proposed creating the world's largest protected area in an effort to preserve biodiversity and combat climate change. President Juan Manuel Santos plans to propose the project at the UN climate negotiations in Paris at the end of 2015, suggesting the country will seek credit for the forests the area would preserve.

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<p>Australia has announced a ban on the importation of African lion trophies in an effort to stop "canned hunting" of the big cats. Environment Minister Greg Hunt announced the ban, which goes into effect immediately, at the Global March for Lions held in Melbourne. Hunt decried the inhumane conditions involved in the practice, which can involve drugging or baiting the animals.

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<p>The German government has announced changes to its renewable energy subsidy program for buildings in an effort to meet carbon emission reduction goals. Though renewable sources generated nearly 28% of Germany's electrical use in 2014, they only accounted for about 10% of the energy used to heat buildings. The recent reforms are designed to help the country meet its goal of 14% generation from renewables for that category by 2020. Changes to the program include financial support for companies that invest in renewable heating sources and stringent energy efficiency criteria.

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<p>Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced plans to issue a new 5-year rebuilding plan to deal with the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown. The new plan would be unveiled this summer and replace the current one, set to expire next March. Abe said that the government would continue to take the lead on water decontamination and decommissioning of the plant. The Prime Minister also confirmed controversial plans to create permanent storage facilities for irradiated trash in several abandoned towns near the site.

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<p>Chile's Environmental Court ruled in favor of the Barrick Gold Corporation on March 23 in a case emblematic of the country's political debate over glacier protection. Local farmers and environmental organizations claimed the company's Pascua-Lama gold and silver mining project is harming three glaciers and their associated watersheds.

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<p>The Democratic Republic of Congo has announced that it will consider revising the boundaries of Virunga National Park in an effort to accommodate oil exploration in the area. The government announced the possible change following the voluntary halting of exploratory activities within the park by Soco International last year. The British company ceased operations in Virunga after completing seismic surveys, the results of which will be turned over to DRC officials. Changes to the borders would have to be approved by UNESCO, as the park was designated a World Heritage Site in 1994.

<p>The European Commission announced it will take legal action against the United Kingdom for violating emission limits for nitrogen dioxide (NOx) at a coal-fired power plant in Wales. The Aberthaw plant, located in the Vale of Glamorgan, is permitted to emit over twice the NOx allowed under the EU's large combustion plant directive. That directive was passed seven years ago and is scheduled to be replaced by even stricter standards in 2016.

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<p>On March 31, an Australian court began hearing arguments in a case challenging what would be the country's largest coal mine. The environmental group Coast and Country filed suit in the Land Court of Queensland against Indian mining conglomerate Adani and the company's proposed Carmichael mine. The $16.5 billion project would consist of strip and underground mining and cover about 174 square miles.

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<p>China is instituting a two-year inspection campaign to curb the submission of fraudulent air monitoring data, which Vice Minister for Environmental Protection Wu Xiaoqing says some local governments have been providing to Beijing. Under the program, the ministry's own monitoring stations will cross-check data from localities. Recent amendments to China's environmental law impose criminal liability for evading pollution monitoring requirements.

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<p>The Tanzanian parliament adopted a disaster assistance law in hopes of alleviating the country's increasing vulnerability to storms, floods, and droughts. The new legislation creates the Disaster Management Agency, which will stockpile supplies and have the authority to order evacuations. The agency will also have the power to halt movement of guns and alcohol into disaster areas, in an effort to reduce the surge in criminal activity that authorities say has accompanied recent disasters.

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<p>The Kenyan National Assembly is currently debating amendments to the Public Benefits Organization Act (PBO) that critics say will stifle the activity of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the country. The Act is aimed at combating terrorism by limiting ways for terrorist organizations to receive funding from abroad. Among the proposed provisions is a 15% cap on funding to NGOs from foreign sources.

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<p>The Norwegian government approved plans for a controversial mining project that will dump millions of tons of overburden and tailings from Engebø Mountain into Førde Fjord. The mine, operated by Nordic Mining, will extract rutile, a titanium mineral, over a planned 50-year lifetime of the project. Environmental groups, commercial fishing organizations, marine scientists, and political opposition have criticized the government's action, claiming the dumping will harm cod and salmon fisheries, as well as whale and porpoise habitat.

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<p>A regional court in Loreto, Peru, ruled in favor of a United Cacao subsidiary in a case concerning the company clearing almost 5,000 acres of Amazonian forest in the country's northeast. The case was brought by Peru's Forestry Department, which claimed the company needed the department's approval before clearing trees for a cacao plantation. Observers point to ambiguities in Peru's environmental laws that allowed the site to be classified as agricultural despite the presence of forest.

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<p>The Supreme Court of New South Wales, Australia, overturned a license suspension that has prohibited the energy company Metgasco from proceeding with a major gas-drilling project on the state's northern coast since May 2014. The suspension, issued by the Office of Coal Seam Gas, was declared unlawful due in part to the office's consideration of negative responses during the company's community consultation process. The court said the office should have considered the quality of the consultation process itself, not its outcome.

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<p>Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha announced the formation of a joint task force to crack down on illegal fishing operations in the wake of revelations concerning the use of slaves on Thai boats fishing in Indonesian waters. The announcement came two days after the European Union threatened an import ban if Thailand does not address the problem within six months. Representatives of the Thai fishing industry are skeptical about meeting that deadline, saying there are about 2,000 unlicensed fishing boats in Thailand.

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<p>The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a non-governmental, voluntary certification organization, has banned one of its biggest members, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), from acquiring or developing new land while a complaint concerning the company's practices in Indonesia is resolved. The complaint was filed by the UK-based Forest Peoples Programme, and alleges GAR took community land and filed for expansion without completing the proper environmental assessments in Indonesia's West Kalimantan province.

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<p>The United Kingdom's Environment Agency is predicting a decrease in the number of English beaches where water quality will obtain the highest rating of "excellent" following the tightening of European Union (EU) regulations. The agency estimates that 25, or 7%, of England's beaches will be classified as "poor." Only 1% failed the test last year. The number would set a record under EU regulations. The new standards, which went into effect this year, cut acceptable bacteria levels by half relative to the old regulations.

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<p>Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang issued a joint statement on May 15 pledging that the two countries will work together to develop plans to reduce carbon emissions in a lead up to global negotiations in December. Though no new targets were set, the leaders committed the countries to collaborate on clean energy and energy efficiency technology.

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<p>Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang issued a joint statement on May 15 pledging that the two countries will work together to develop plans to reduce carbon emissions in a lead up to global negotiations in December. Though no new targets were set, the leaders committed the countries to collaborate on clean energy and energy efficiency technology.

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<p>Plans to reopen a Spanish mine near Seville were put on hold by a judicial investigation following claims of corruption in the bidding process. A rival company filed a complaint against Grupo Mexico-Minorbis alleging the consortium practiced illegal negotiations, bribery, peddling of influence, and perversion of justice during the bidding process.

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<p>The French government on May 21 added a provision to a broad energy and environment bill that would&nbsp;manage food waste from supermarkets.&nbsp;The provision would require the country's largest supermarkets to enter into contracts to donate unsold but edible food to charities or to farms for animal feed and compost by July 2016. Penalties for failing to comply include fines upward of $80,000 and the possibility of jail time for managers.

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<p>Indonesia's Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry scuttled 41 illegal foreign fishing boats on May 20 as part of an ongoing effort by President Joko Widodo's administration to curb illegal fishing, which is considered rampant in the region. The government has now sunk 60 vessels that were seized on charges of illegal or unreported fishing.

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<p>Japan entered into a contribution agreement with the United Nation's Green Climate Fund on May 21, pushing the fund past the halfway mark needed for it to go into effect. Though Japan's agreement came nearly a month after the deadline, the country's $1.5 billion pledge brought the fund's total to $5.47 billion, well over the dollar amount necessary for the fund to start allocating resources to projects. The fund plans to approve the first round of projects in November 2015.

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<p>The Bolivian government ratified a new law permitting oil and gas exploration and extraction in protected areas. The government claims the law will bring needed economic development to the areas, and that requirements to use the latest technology and protect "fragile ecosystems" will prevent environmental harm.

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<p>On June 5, 2015,&nbsp;Norway's legislative body formally approved a plan for the nation's sovereign wealth fund to divest from coal investments, following an announcement from the fund in February. The move will affect 122 companies and sell up to $10 billion worth of investments in coal-related industries. Political compromise led to the approval, with Conservative party politicians focusing on the economic risk of coal-related investments with global climate change agreements in the works.

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<p>In partnership with ocean-focused nongovernmental organizations, the Sri Lankan government announced that it will grant full protection to all of the country's mangrove forests, making it the first country to implement such comprehensive conservation practices for the coastal ecosystems. The program will protect nearly 9,000 hectares of forests and restore 3,800 hectares that have been destroyed. It will also provide job training and microloans to women in communities near the protected areas, as well as funding for rangers to enforce the laws.

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<p>Negotiators settled on a draft agreement of the REDD+ forest conservation plan during United Nations climate talks in Bonn, Germany, in mid-June. Key issues hammered out in Bonn include reporting requirements for forested countries, payments for non-carbon benefits of forest protection, and the use of non-market mechanisms for REDD+ payments. While some critics worry that unresolved financing issues will still prohibit implementation, many observers are now hopeful the unexpected agreement will play an important role at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris later this year.

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<p>The German Ministry for the Environment released a plan for interim storage of the country's nuclear waste as the nation mulls over final disposal options after shuttering its nuclear fleet following the Fukushima disaster in 2011. The plan identifies four sites to be used, including one in the Isar region of Bavaria, which prompted outcry from state officials. The plan has its proponents as well, with Germany's four largest utility companies offering to dismiss several pending lawsuits if the plan leads to a lasting agreement.

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<p>The Canadian province of Alberta announced new regulations designed to meet increased emissions reduction targets and extend its climate change program over the next two years. The Ministry of Environment and Parks intends to increase the province's excess carbon price by 50% and to raise emissions reduction targets to 20% of normal emissions by 2017. The rules, due to expire at the end of June, also extend the climate program through 2017.

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<p>A Dutch district court in The Hague ruled that the national government must reduce greenhouse gas emissions faster than planned, a decision following a suit filed by the Urgenda Foundation, an environmental organization, on behalf of 900 Dutch citizens. The opinion declared that the state must cut emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020. The country is currently on pace to be at 17% of 1990 levels by that year. To some observers the decision is a landmark ruling, especially if it withstands appeal.

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<p>Citizens and nongovernmental organizations in Turkey's Black Sea region are growing increasingly concerned about the environmental impacts of hydroelectric development projects in the region and the lack of civil society participation in the process. The region is mostly rural and contains some of Turkey's most biologically diverse landscapes, but in recent decades it has faced rapid industrial encroachment. Dozens of small hydroelectric projects are planned for multiple valleys in the region, as well as mines and factories.

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<p>Australian government officials welcomed a decision by the United Nations' Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) not to list the Great Barrier Reef among World Heritage Sites considered "in danger." Effects of climate change and coastal development prompted the organization to review the status of the world's largest reef in May. The recent determination affirms the earlier decision that the reef does not warrant endangered status.

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<p>In a joint announcement with the United States, Brazil announced its plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions in preparation for United Nations climate negotiations in Paris later this year. Details of the plan include doubling electrical generation from renewable sources to 20% of the nation's power by 2030 and restoring 30 million acres of Amazonian rainforest. Though the plan has yet to be submitted to the U.N., commentators have praised the announcement for bringing another major economy into the fold.

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<p>The Chinese government issued new guidelines clarifying that senior officials, even those who have retired or changed positions, will be held accountable for illegal pollution that occurred on their watch. The guidelines follow a law enacted in January that strengthens monitoring and enforcement of environmental laws and allows for unlimited fines and prison time for repeat offenders.

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<p>Australia's federal Department of Environment gave its approval for Chinese mining firm Shenhua's Watermark coal mine in New South Wales' Liverpool Plains. The approval means the mine will likely get all government permits necessary for mining to commence, but politicians and local residents opposed to the mine's development have vowed to continue fighting to halt the project. The Liverpool Plains region is one of Australia's most agriculturally productive, which has farmers concerned about the effects mining may have on the region's aquifers.

<p>British Chancellor George Osborne announced that the government would terminate tax exemptions under the Climate Change Levy for renewable energy use beginning August 1, 2015. Since 2001, industrial users of energy derived from renewable sources have not paid taxes on that electricity. Osborne called the exemption "outdated" and claimed U.K. citizens were subsidizing too much foreign energy production.

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<p>Russian President Vladimir Putin approved legislation that will ban drift net fishing off of Russia's eastern coast. Environmentalists have long opposed the practice for its unsustainability and massive amounts of bycatch. The law, which will go into effect January 1, 2016, will align Russia with most of the international community. The U.N. adopted a resolution calling for all countries to ban drift net fishing back in 1991.

<p>Draft regulations released by the United Kingdom's Department of Energy and Climate Change surprised observers by allowing hydraulic fracturing activities in Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and under protected groundwater sources. The regulations, presented to Parliament on July 16, contradict statements made in January, when Energy Secretary Amber Rudd told legislators that a fracking ban in SSSIs and national parks had been agreed to.

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<p>The five nation-members of the Arctic Council (Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States) agreed to prohibit their commercial fishing fleets from accessing the central Arctic Ocean. The accord, signed in Oslo on July 16, is a preemptive move designed to prevent degradation to fish stocks expected to migrate into the area as rising temperatures keep more of the region ice-free. The Arctic Council has also asked other nations with large fishing fleets, such as China, Vietnam, and much of the European Union, to agree to keep the area off-limits.

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<p>In a continuation of the international conflict regarding territorial disputes in the South China Sea, the Philippines brought an action against China for damaging the region's ecology, in part by dredging the seafloor and constructing artificial islands. Arguing in front of a tribunal of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Philippines alleged that China has encroached on its exclusive economic zone, allowed endangered species to be harvested, and destroyed reefs.

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<p>The Federal Court of Australia overturned mining conglomerate Adani's federal environmental permit for the controversial Carmichael coal mine planned for central Queensland. The ruling is the latest development in a series of legal and political challenges to what would be Australia's largest coal mine. The court found that Environment Minister Greg Hunt failed to properly consider agency advice regarding two endangered species, the yakka skink and the ornamental snake, when issuing Adani's permit.

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<p>Four years after a critical United Nations report, the Nigerian government has established a fund to oversee $1 billion worth of cleanup and restoration in the Ogoniland oilfields of the Niger Delta. According to President Muhammadu Buhari, the new fund will be overseen by representatives of the Ogoni people, the United Nations, the Nigerian government, and oil companies responsible for the contamination.

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<p>Namibia and several other African countries have denounced bans on the transportation of wildlife trophies that various airlines instituted following international outrage sparked by a recent, high-profile lion kill. Namibian Minister of the Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta said that the bans will actually hurt conservation efforts in her country. There are over 80 conservation organizations in Namibia that depend on funding from trophy hunts. Shifeta cautioned that diverting resources from these groups could cause more harm to local wildlife than the hunts themselves.

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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>The conservative Law and Justice party in Poland, which is poised to win the national parliamentary election in October, hopes to keep the United Nations climate deal in Paris non-binding. Officials in Poland hope that this will allow the state to renegotiate current European Union (EU) emissions laws. Much of the electricity generated in Poland comes from coal. While EU leaders negotiated last October to cut emissions by at least 40% by 2030 from 1990 levels, this pledge has yet to be translated into binding law.

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<p><span>A new report from U.S.-based environmental group Forest Trends has found that land concessions for large-scale agricultural plantations, mainly producing rubber, sugar, pulp, and paper, are removing key forest coverage in Cambodia. The authors found that by the end of 2013, 2.6 million hectares (14%) of Cambodia's land had been allocated for commercial agriculture. Weak regulatory enforcement has provided logging companies with opportunities to conduct operations outside the borders of officially granted economic land concession areas.

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<p>Lawmakers and administration officials in Indonesia aim to revise the 1990 Conservation Law by 2016 so that wildlife crimes will receive stronger sentences. In an effort to combat the illegal wildlife trade, the law would address new kinds of crimes, such as transactions made over the Internet, and would allow for the arrest of perpetrators whether or not wildlife could be seized as evidence. In addition, Indonesia's Environment and Forestry Ministry plans to build judicial capacity by hosting a series of trainings on environmental issues.

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<p>The governments of Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda signed the Zanzibar Declaration at the XIV World Forestry Congress in Durban, South Africa, this week. The declaration aims to curb illegal trade in timber in Eastern and Southern Africa countries and to encourage member states to promote cooperation among their national forest agencies in information and intelligence sharing. Additionally, the declaration requests that member states implement bans on log exports and create monitoring and reporting systems for their timber industries.

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<p>China's agricultural ministry plans to launch a nationwide investigation of genetically modified organism (GMO) crops after an official financial newspaper reported that illegal GMO soybeans have been discovered in the Heilongjiang province. Although China is the world's top buyer of GMO soybeans, domestic cultivation is prohibited. The ministry revised regulations earlier this year to tighten supervision of biotech products under development, and port authorities have cracked down on the illegal sale of GMO varieties to food companies.

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<p>The Canadian Supreme Court ruled to allow a group of Ecuadorians to attempt to collect billions of dollars in environmental damages in a Canadian court. Ecuador has been embroiled in a 13-year legal battle with the company over the contamination of a rainforest in Ecuador, where Texaco operated. Chevron, which bought Texaco, has yet to pay the $9.5 billion judgment, arguing that the pollution was caused by the Ecuadorian national oil company and that the judgment was a product of corruption.

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<p>The French Farm and Environment ministries announced that they would use the European Union’s opt-out scheme to ensure France’s ability to prohibit the production of genetically modified (GM) crops. In March 2015, the EU agreed on an opt-out scheme that permits EU countries to exclude themselves from requests for GM cultivation. The only GM crop currently grown in Europe is Monsanto maize, produced in Spain and Portugal. Other crops are being reviewed for approval by the EU.

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<p>The French Farm and Environment ministries announced that they would use the European Union’s opt-out scheme to ensure France’s ability to prohibit the production of genetically modified (GM) crops. In March 2015, the EU agreed on an opt-out scheme that permits EU countries to exclude themselves from requests for GM cultivation. The only GM crop currently grown in Europe is Monsanto maize, produced in Spain and Portugal. Other crops are being reviewed for approval by the EU.

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<p>Norway announced that it will pay Brazil’s Amazon Fund $1 billion USD by the end of the year. This payment fulfills a pledge that Norway made to Brazil in 2008 to compensate deforestation reduction. Norway made another $1 billion USD pledge to Indonesia in 2008, but Indonesia’s efforts have fallen short. Brazil’s accomplishments were commended by the Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, as well as by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

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<p>Norway announced that it will pay Brazil’s Amazon Fund $1 billion USD by the end of the year. This payment fulfills a pledge that Norway made to Brazil in 2008 to compensate deforestation reduction. Norway made another $1 billion USD pledge to Indonesia in 2008, but Indonesia’s efforts have fallen short. Brazil’s accomplishments were commended by the Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, as well as by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

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<p>Norway announced that it will pay Brazil’s Amazon Fund $1 billion USD by the end of the year. This payment fulfills a pledge that Norway made to Brazil in 2008 to compensate deforestation reduction. Norway made another $1 billion USD pledge to Indonesia in 2008, but Indonesia’s efforts have fallen short. Brazil’s accomplishments were commended by the Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, as well as by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

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<p>The Supreme Court of Indonesia upheld the Environment Ministry’s charges of $26M in fines and reparations against palm oil company PT Kallista Alam. PT Kallista Alam had disputed the three-year-old charges for cutting and burning forested areas of the Tripa peat swamp region in Aceh Province. In addition to monetary punishment, the Attorney General’s office filed criminal charges against PT Kallista Alam.

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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.

<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>The High Court of Justice in the Pakistani city of Lahore mandated the creation of a climate council that will require the Pakistani government to meet its environmental commitments. The case that prompted the rule was brought by a farmer named Asghar Leghari who claimed that Pakistan had violated his fundamental rights due to lack of action on climate change.

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<p>Scotland announced on October 8, 2015, that it is extending the ban on shale gas imposed in January to include a moratorium on underground coal gasification (UCG). UCG is a process where gas is extracted through the injection of oxidants into underground coal deposits, followed by heating them to temperatures that permit the gases to escape. Scotland is planning to delve into an in-depth investigation of both shale gas fracking and UCG.

<p>Monday October 5, 2015, marked the start of a mandated, five-pence (US $0.08)&nbsp;charge for plastic bags in England. Customers are required to pay for plastic bags for groceries, clothing, and other types of retail. The fee is intended to reduce waste and pollution. The government estimates that, prior to this charge, approximately 7.6 billion plastic bags are handed out over the course of a year—nearly 140 bags per person. There are exemptions to the fee, however. Stores with fewer than 250 full-time employees are not required to enforce the charge.

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<p>Oslo announced its plan to ban cars from the central city by 2019 in order to reduce pollution. Norway’s capital city is set to be the first European capital city to have a comprehensive and permanent ban on cars. Oslo recently elected a new city council comprised of members of the Green Party, the Labor Party, and the Socialist Left. A lead negotiator for the Green Party explained that a car-free city will be better for pedestrians and cyclists. The city plans to build more than 37 miles of bike lanes between now and 2019.

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<p>Cuba launched a long-term plan to protect shark populations around its shores. The plan will create protected fishing areas and will require fishers to keep track of and limit their shark catches. Cuba worked on this plan with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). This plan comes at a time when shark populations have been declining rapidly due to accidental catches, overfishing, and demand for shark fins. Cuba has already banned shark fishing just for fins. Cuban waters host close to 20% of the world’s 500 species of sharks.

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<p>Japan told United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in a private statement that it plans to take a comprehensive exception to the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ's) jurisdiction over whaling practices. The statement was made last August by Motohide Toshikawa, Japan’s ambassador to the United Nations, and was recently disclosed in Australian political circles.

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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>The President of Indonesia banned the clearance and conversion of carbon-dense peatlands in Indonesia, including in existing concession areas. Additionally, the government has required the blockage of peat drainage canals through a series of instructions given over the course of the past few weeks in hopes of raising water tables. This decision comes in face of the recent fires that have sent approximately 500,000 people to the hospital, polluted the skies in Indonesia and neighboring countries, and released close to 1.7 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere.

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<p>On November 8, 2015, the Peruvian government declared the creation of the world’s newest national park: Sierra del Divisor. The creation of this national forest, which&nbsp;spans 1.3 million hectares (5,470 square miles), has been a struggle for local communities, scientists, and conservation groups for nearly a decade. The park is situated in eastern Peru along the Brazilian border. It is larger than Yellowstone National Park in the Northern United States and four times the size of California’s Yosemite National Park.

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<p>On November 4, 2015, the Indian Government canceled Greenpeace India’s registration after it determined that Greenpeace India had been “fraudulently” conducting business, falsifying balance sheets, and violating the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act of 1975. The order was passed down without a hearing, and Greenpeace India announced that it planned to challenge the cancellation in court. This follows a year during which Greenpeace India and the Indian government have continually been at odds with one another.

<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>Beginning in April 2016, India will not allow commercial trucks that are more than 15 years old on the road. This is an attempt by the Indian government to limit air pollution, as India is home to 13 of the 20 most polluted cities on the planet. Commercial vehicles, particularly when badly maintained, are one are the largest contributors to air pollution nationally.

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<p>French President Francois Hollande and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an international solar alliance at the onset of the Paris COP21 climate summit. The alliance includes more than 120 countries and was described by Modi as “the sunrise of new hope, not just for clean energy but for villages and homes still in darkness, for mornings and evenings filled with a clear view of the glory of the sun.” The goal is to bring clean and affordable solar energy to everyone. The majority of the countries involved are tropical, solar-rich nations.

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<p>French President Francois Hollande and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an international solar alliance at the onset of the Paris COP21 climate summit. The alliance includes more than 120 countries and was described by Modi as “the sunrise of new hope, not just for clean energy but for villages and homes still in darkness, for mornings and evenings filled with a clear view of the glory of the sun.” The goal is to bring clean and affordable solar energy to everyone. The majority of the countries involved are tropical, solar-rich nations.

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<p>The government of Botswana quietly sold the rights to frack for shale gas in nearly half of the Kgalagadi Park. Prospecting licenses were granted to a UK-listed company called Nodding Donkey in September 2014, although the sale was not reported. The company recently changed its name to Karoo Energy. The park is located along the border of South Africa and spans more than 36,000 sq. km. It is one of Africa’s largest conservation areas and is home to pygmy falcons, the gemsbok desert antelope, and black-maned Kalahari lions.

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<p>The European Commission is taking Poland to court due to Poland’s inability to tackle poor air quality. Poland is Europe’s most polluted country, with pollution levels more than double those in France. More than 40,000 Poles die each year due to air pollution. Poland uses coal and, on occasion, garbage to heat the country’s homes. South Poland, near the ski resort towns, feels the effects stronger than the rest of the country due to local neglect of environmental rules.

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<p>The European Commission is taking Poland to court due to Poland’s inability to tackle poor air quality. Poland is Europe’s most polluted country, with pollution levels more than double those in France. More than 40,000 Poles die each year due to air pollution. Poland uses coal and, on occasion, garbage to heat the country’s homes. South Poland, near the ski resort towns, feels the effects stronger than the rest of the country due to local neglect of environmental rules.

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<p>The European Commission is taking Poland to court due to Poland’s inability to tackle poor air quality. Poland is Europe’s most polluted country, with pollution levels more than double those in France. More than 40,000 Poles die each year due to air pollution. Poland uses coal and, on occasion, garbage to heat the country’s homes. South Poland, near the ski resort towns, feels the effects stronger than the rest of the country due to local neglect of environmental rules.

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<p>The European Commission is taking Poland to court due to Poland’s inability to tackle poor air quality. Poland is Europe’s most polluted country, with pollution levels more than double those in France. More than 40,000 Poles die each year due to air pollution. Poland uses coal and, on occasion, garbage to heat the country’s homes. South Poland, near the ski resort towns, feels the effects stronger than the rest of the country due to local neglect of environmental rules.

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<p>The European Commission is taking Poland to court due to Poland’s inability to tackle poor air quality. Poland is Europe’s most polluted country, with pollution levels more than double those in France. More than 40,000 Poles die each year due to air pollution. Poland uses coal and, on occasion, garbage to heat the country’s homes. South Poland, near the ski resort towns, feels the effects stronger than the rest of the country due to local neglect of environmental rules.

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<p>Starting in January 2016, China will introduce tough emissions controls for ships entering three key port areas in order to reduce sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide results in acid rain, which causes respiratory challenges and sometimes premature death. If the controls are implemented strictly, they will ensure that oil suppliers augment the use of cleaner marine fuel. The rule will affect ships entering the port areas of Pearl River Delta, Yangtze River Delta, and the Bohai Bay rim.

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<p>Concurrent with the official COP21 negotiations in Paris, leaders of indigenous nations from North and South America were in Paris demanding justice for violations of the rights of the earth. In 2010, in Bolivia, the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth gave rise to the International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature as an alternative to the COP meetings. This year, the tribunal reviewed several cases that dealt with Ecuador’s oil exploitation, particularly in Yasuni National Park.

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<p>Concurrent with the official COP21 negotiations in Paris, leaders of indigenous nations from North and South America were in Paris demanding justice for violations of the rights of the earth. In 2010, in Bolivia, the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth gave rise to the International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature as an alternative to the COP meetings. This year, the tribunal reviewed several cases that dealt with Ecuador’s oil exploitation, particularly in Yasuni National Park.

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<p>On December 12, 195 countries reached a historic deal to address the global challenge of climate change. The accord was reached after nearly two weeks of debate and years of preparation. Ahead of the Paris talks, 186 countries submitted plans to cut carbon emissions through either 2025 or 2030.&nbsp;The agreement commits countries to limit greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of not surpassing a 2-degree rise in global temperature, and an aspirational goal of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5C.

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<p>On December 18, a Dutch appeals court ruled that Royal Dutch Shell can be held liable for oil spills in Nigeria by its subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC). Shell was ordered by judges in The Hague to provide the court with documents that clarify details about the oil spill, particularly its causes and whether those in charge were aware of them. This decision overturned a finding by a lower Dutch court in 2013 that Shell’s parent company could not be held liable for oil pollution by its Nigerian subsidiary.

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<p>On December 18, a Dutch appeals court ruled that Royal Dutch Shell can be held liable for oil spills in Nigeria by its subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC). Shell was ordered by judges in The Hague to provide the court with documents that clarify details about the oil spill, particularly its causes and whether those in charge were aware of them. This decision overturned a finding by a lower Dutch court in 2013 that Shell’s parent company could not be held liable for oil pollution by its Nigerian subsidiary.

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<p>The government of the Philippines stated that it plans to challenge a ban on GMO imports that was ordered by the country’s top court. The announcement comes after the court’s ban rattled global soybean markets. The Supreme Court struck down a 2002 regulation that permitted GMO imports and instituted a temporary ban until new regulations are formed. The Philippines imports approximately 2.2 million tons of soybeans each year, largely from the United States, the vast majority of which is genetically modified.

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<p>Last week, China called for all cities to start charging tiered prices for household water by the end of 2015. In a statement released on Friday, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said cities should institute a three rate structure, whereby homes that use more water would pay more. Eighty percent of the country’s residential population would fall in the first and lowest tier, where prices would remain flat.

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<p>Lower house members in Chile have proposed a bill that would require mining companies to use desalinated water from the Pacific Ocean to run their copper mines in Chile. According to a high-level mining industry executive, communities in Chile's Atacama, the world's driest desert, often feel they must compete with mining companies for freshwater; under the new bill, mines that use more than 40 gallons of water per second would be forced to integrate seawater into their operations.

<p>A leaked report from the European Commission revealed that the United Kingdom’s opposition to new EU targets for green energy could mean the loss of over half a million jobs over the next two decades. Along with Czech Republic, the U.K. has opposed setting a renewable energy goal for 2030. Both nations want individual countries to be required to meet greenhouse gas emission levels instead. According to Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Davey, the EU should promote a “technology neutral” approach to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

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<p>In a ruling handed down last Wednesday, an Indonesian court found palm oil company Kallista Alam guilty of illegally clearing an area of protected peat forest that is home to endangered orangutans. The judge ordered the company to pay $30 (US) million in fines—$9.4 million in compensation and $20.6 million to restore damaged land in the protected Tripa peat swamp.

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<p>Colombia has ordered Drummond Co.—the country’s second biggest producer of coal—to stop loading coal in Colombian ports until the company complies with a new environmental law. In an effort to prevent spills, the new rules prohibit coal exporters from using barges and cranes to load ships and instead require them to institute a conveyor belt system. While other coal companies, including BHP and Glencore Xstrata PLC, met the rules' January 1 deadline, Drummond estimates that its new loading system should be in place by March.

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<p>According to a new report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Australia releases more greenhouse emissions to achieve its economic growth than almost any other major economy. The report ranks economies on their ability to grow without escalating carbon emissions, and found that Australia—with its reliance on coal-fired energy—is second only to Estonia in terms of carbon emissions per unit of GDP.

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<p>The European Commission has proposed a plan to reduce carbon emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2030. The plan, which will be reviewed by the European Council in March, would also require the EU to generate 27% of its energy from renewables by 2030.

<p>U.K. oil and gas exploration company Cuadrilla has scrapped plans to use fracking technology near the village of Balcombe in Sussex. Last summer, Balcombe was the site of weeks of protests, as thousands of people voiced opposition to Cuadrilla’s presence and to an exploratory well the company drilled to see whether oil could be produced in the area. Last Thursday, Cuadrilla released a statement saying fracking would not be necessary as the rocks at the site are naturally fractured, but the announcement brought only limited relief.

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<p>In an effort to contain rising power bills, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet supported plans to tax owners of renewable energy plants for use of their own electricity. The proposal would require clean energy plants to pay 70% of the EEG-Umlage, a fee paid by power consumers that renewable energy producers are exempt from at present.

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<p>Last Friday, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority gave the green light to North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation to deposit as much as 3,000,000 cubic meters of dredging waste into the Great Barrier Reef. The dumping permit would allow for major expansion of the port of Abbot Point, potentially bringing in up to $28 billion in coal projects. While the Authority placed 47 environmental conditions on the project—including long-term water quality monitoring and measures to reduce the impact on biodiversity—environmentalists fear the damage expansion of the port could cause.

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<p>European Union (EU) negotiators are clashing with member states on whether to require all airlines using EU airports to pay for their emissions. Currently, only emissions from intra-EU flights are regulated; last Thursday, however, members of the European parliament’s environment committee voted to charge for emissions for all flights through European airspace.

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<p>Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Ltd. (APRIL), Indonesia’s second-largest pulp and paper producer, has announced a new environmental policy intended to address criticism of its forestry practices. The announcement came just days after the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, a group of 200 companies that have made commitments to greener business practices, threatened to kick APRIL out if it doesn’t reform its forestry practices and stop clearing rainforests and peatlands on the island of Sumatra.

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<p>Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, home to some of the world’s largest populations of rhinoceros and tigers, may be in jeopardy due to government plans for a railroad that would cut the park in half and eight new feeder roads that would run through the area. In addition to rhinos and tigers, Chitwan—a UNESCO World Heritage site—has a number of threatened species, including four-horned antelope, sloth bears, Asiatic elephants, and the critically endangered gharial.

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<p>A plan to better distribute renewable energy throughout Germany has been met with significant resistance. While nearly 25% of Germany’s energy came from renewable sources in 2013, the production of green energy is highly uneven—the North is soon to produce more wind energy than it needs, while the South is still heavily dependent on nuclear power. The proposed energy highway, which would run from Wilster in Schleswig-Holstein to Grafenrheinfeld in Bavaria, would help resolve this imbalance. In the South, however, a protest movement has sprung up in response to the plan.

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<p>Last Thursday, several Caribbean nations committed to start replacing diesel generators with renewable energy sources. The countries signed the agreement at a meeting hosted by the Carbon War Room, an organization cofounded by British billionaire Richard Branson to fight climate change. Historically, Caribbean islands have had very high electricity costs and have relied heavily on diesel generators for power. As a result, the islands have a significant opportunity to pursue green energy, according to Lynn Tabernacki, managing director of renewable energy programs at the U.S.

<p>The European Commission announced last Thursday that it intends to take the United Kingdom to court for failing to reduce high levels of nitrogen dioxide air pollution. Although other EU countries have also exceeded EU NO2&nbsp;limits, the United Kingdom, according to EU environment commissioner Janez Potočnik, stands out for its persistent breach of the air quality directive; despite 15 years of warnings and several extensions, it has failed to comply with EU standards.

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<p>Last Friday, Beijing raised its four-tiered air pollution alert system to “orange” for the first time, as smog levels became hazardous. Friday’s alert responded to criticism the Beijing government faced for failing to act against high pollution levels the previous weekend, when levels of PM2.5 topped 500 micrograms per cubic meter—far above the 300 micrograms per cubic meter deemed hazardous by EPA. The alert is part of a monitoring plan introduced in October to rate the seriousness of air pollution.

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<p>Scientists fear that a plan to cut a canal across Nicaragua could cause serious damage to the environment. Last June, the Nicaraguan government signed a bill that would allow Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company (HKND) to build a canal linking the Pacific to the Atlantic. According to the Nicaraguan government, the canal would have significant economic benefits, potentially tripling economic growth while it is being built. Scientists Axel Meyer and Jorge A.

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<p>The government of New South Wales has cleared the way for the state’s forests to be used to generate electricity. Burning native vegetation to produce power had previously been banned, but new regulations would allow trees destined for pulp and paper production—as well as invasive native species and offcuts of sawlogs—to be burned in power stations.

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<p>After six years of testing, last month Polski Koks, Europe’s leading coke exporter, launched a new type of coal pellet intended to cut Poland’s emissions. Currently, coal-fired power stations generate 90% of Poland’s electricity. The new coal-based carbon pellets, called VARMO pellets, include nonpolluting biofuel components such as glycerine and other plant materials and could help Poland reduce its carbon emissions. According to Gerard Galeczka, Director of New Projects at Polski Koks, the VARMO pellets should have significant benefits for air quality.

<p>The U.K. Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs is discussing rules that would prevent farmers from contributing to floods. Experts hold farmers partially responsible for the severe flooding in Somerset and other areas, citing certain farming practices. Scientists are particularly concerned about the production of maize, as farm vehicles compact the soil of maize fields, causing significant runoff. To combat this problem, Exeter University’s Professor Richard Brazier recommends banning the cultivation of maize on steep fields.

<p>A report commissioned by groups including the National Trust and the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust called for the UK to designate “frack-free zones” in an effort to protect the country’s wildlife and avoid water pollution. According to the study, over 500 sites notable for their importance to wildlife are located in areas under license to fracking companies, and 2,500 more could be at risk.

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<p>Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he may take over management of the escalating fires on the island of Sumatra if local officials in Riau province do not increase their efforts to stop the burning. According to the World Resources Institute, Sumatra had 3,101 fire “hot spots” from February 20-March 11—a number that far exceeds the fire alerts from June 13-30, 2013, the peak of the previous haze crisis.

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<p>Last week, three senior Australian economists criticized the Abbott government's policies on climate change. Economist Ross Garnaut and former Treasury secretary Ken Henry attacked the government’s “direct action” policy, whereby companies and farmers would be paid to reduce emissions, arguing that it would cost close to $4 or $5 billion—rather than the $1.5 billion the government predicted. Former Reserve Bank governor and current chairman of the Climate Change Authority Bernie Fraser followed suit on Wednesday with an address to the National Press Club.

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<p>Starting April 1, Myanmar will ban the export of raw timber logs in an effort to put conservation above profit. The country has some of Asia’s most significant expanses of forests, but these forests have been decimated by the former military junta’s policies; between 1990 and 2010, forest cover shrank from 58% of total land area to 47%. In addition to the ban, the new reformist government, which took over in 2011, plans to reduce the amount of teak it allows to be removed from forests by 80%.

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<p>EU leaders plan to set an October deadline for agreeing to the bloc’s 2030 climate goals. The 28-member bloc has already nearly met its 2020 target of a 20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 levels, and in January the European Commission outlined a proposal to reduce emissions by 40% of 1990 levels by 2030.

<p>U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne froze a tax on carbon emissions from electricity generation in an effort to cut consumer energy bills. Gas bills in U.K. households rose by 41% from 2007 to 2013, putting pressure on the government to reduce energy costs. According to Osborne, the freeze could save U.K. businesses as much as four billion pounds (US $6.6 billion) by April 2019, while families could save an average of 15 pounds (US $24) per year.

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<p>Spain’s national government has opened the door to fracking even while regional and local authorities maintain opposition to oil and gas development. With a hurting economy and an unemployment rate of 26%, the government hopes to lessen what consumers pay for heating fuel—which currently stands at about triple the U.S. price. Over the past few months, the People’s Party-led government has changed a law in an effort to foster shale exploration and has sought to wrest control over land use from anti-fracking regional authorities.

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<p>Japan has cancelled an upcoming whale hunt in response to an International Court of Justice ruling that banned the country’s annual Antarctic whaling drive. Commercial whaling was prohibited in 1986, but Japan has continued to hunt the animals for years, ostensibly in order to gather scientific data. The recent ruling, handed down last Monday, rejected the nation’s claim that expeditions were for research purposes in a decision that amounts to a long-sought victory for environmentalists.

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<p>Last Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) agreed to hear an appeal by Chevron Corp of a lower court’s decision that would allow Ecuadorean villagers to pursue a $9.51 billion lawsuit in Ontario. The SCC’s decision to hear the case is the latest episode in a drawn-out conflict between Chevron and villagers of Ecuador’s Lago Agrio region in the Amazon. In November, Ecuador’s National Court of Justice upheld a 2011 verdict that held that Chevron was responsible for pollution in the Amazon rainforest caused by Texaco, an oil firm that was absorbed by Chevron.

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<p>On April 11, Japan’s cabinet approved an energy policy that would incorporate nuclear power, reversing the government’s previous decision to phase out atomic energy. The plan is the first energy strategy produced by Japan since the 2011 Fukushima disaster, which called into question the country’s reliance on nuclear energy.

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<p>Energy World Corporation (EWC) is planning to construct a huge liquefied gas export terminal at Abbot Point on the Queensland coast. The project, which comes just months after the Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority approved plans to dump 3,000,000 tons of dredge spoil in the area as part of a coal export expansion, could involve dredging half a million meters of seabed, further damaging the sensitive region. While the EWC states that the project was designed to minimize environmental impacts, environmentalists fear the effects the dredging could have on the ecosystem.

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<p><span>New EU rules published April 9 will replace green energy subsidies with market-based schemes. The rules will address “market distortions” that may result from renewable energy subsidies such as feed-in tariffs, which have spurred investment in renewables, with competitive bidding processes. Some critics see the rules as favoring business at the expense of consumers. Certain energy-intensive industries, such as chemicals, metals, and paper, would be exempt from charges levied for the funding of renewable energy.

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<p>On April 24, China passed the most significant changes to its environmental protection laws in 25 years. The new rules will encourage public participation and open information, according to UCLA law professor Alex Wang, and will impose much tougher penalties on polluters. In addition to levying consecutive daily fines on polluters who don’t make improvements, the amendments will allow non-government groups to file lawsuits for environmental damage and will create channels for whistleblowers to make environment-related appeals.

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<p>Last week, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk called on Europe to “rehabilitate” coal’s image in an effort to gain energy security. According to Eurasia Group analyst Mujtaba Rahman, in light of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, countries need to find a way to lessen energy dependence on Russia. Tusk sees Poland’s massive coal resource—which currently supplies 90% of Poland’s power—as a way to prevent Russia from using natural gas as a weapon.

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<p>Environmental groups in Australia are gearing up to take the government to court for what they see as a host of anti-environment measures. Over the past few months, green groups have objected to the Abbott government’s repeal of the carbon price in favor of a “direct action” policy, the bid to remove parts of Tasmania’s forests from World Heritage protection, and the handover of power to pro-development state governments. Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s comment in March that Australia has too much “locked up forest” fueled the conflict.

<p>Starting in June, UK households will be eligible to receive up to £7,600 (US $12,800) from the government for implementing measures that improve energy efficiency in buildings. Through the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF), consumers will be refunded up to £1,000 for installing two measures from an approved list, including cavity wall insulation and replacement storage heaters, and £6,000 for solid wall insulation. According to Energy Secretary Ed Davey, the GDHIF seeks to improve energy efficiency while lowering consumers’ gas and electricity bills.

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<p>On May 1, Dutch police boarded a Greenpeace ship and arrested 30 activists who were trying to prevent a Russian tanker from unloading its oil shipment in Rotterdam. The shipment was Russia’s first attempt to extract oil from the Barents Sea, a move Greenpeace sees as potentially catastrophic for the fragile Arctic ecosystem. Greenpeace activists used paragliders, climbers, a fleet of boats, and inflatables in an effort to stop the tanker, but, according to Dutch police, the ship was still able to moor in Rotterdam harbor.

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<p>A recent Green Alliance report suggests that renewable energy may be the key to development in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the study, the lack of existing energy infrastructure is an impediment to economic growth in a region with 41% of the world’s energy-poor people and where 65% of primary schools and 30% of health centers have no access to electricity.

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<p>On May 9, the Tasmanian government reversed a ban on the controversial sodium fluoroacetate product called "1080" that was due to come into effect next year. Many Tasmanians have fought against use of the pesticide, commonly used by farmers to manage animal pests, as it kill animals indiscriminately; according to Greens leader Kim Booth, farmers should instead turn to fencing or targeted removal of the pests. Primary industries minister Jeremy Rockliff, however, argued that the ban was premature.

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<p>The New Zealand Court of Appeal rejected a South Pacific Islander’s request for asylum as a “climate change refugee.” Ioane Teitiota is from Kiribati, a chain of low-lying islands that are seriously threatened by sea-level rise, and had made his appeal on the grounds that he and his family would face serious harm from climate change if forced to return home.

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<p>Last week, the Greek government froze plans to allow development of Greece’s coastline. The proposed bill, which would simplify building permits and allow substantial commercial construction on the country’s beaches, was met with strong opposition from the public; on May 13, the Ministry of Environment received a petition signed by over 110,000 people demanding that the legislation be shelved, and thousands have turned to social media to voice their dissent.

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<p>Resources company Metgasco has had its exploration license suspended in response to complaints that the company did not adequately consult with the local community. Activists near Lismore, Australia, in New South Wales report that the majority of the region’s residents opposed plans for test drilling in the area and were worried about the potential impact on the water supply.

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<p>Last Wednesday, the EU struck a compromise on genetically modified (GM) crops that will make it easier for them to win approval from some member states while allowing other countries to ban them. The deal was widely supported by EU member states; the UK farming and environment minister was hopeful that the compromise would “unblock the dysfunctional EU process for approving GM crops,” while France, which recently upheld a domestic ban on GM maize, was reassured that their opposition to such crops would be respected.

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<p>In an effort to step up the war on smog, Beijing announced last week that it will boost funding for local governments that do well in reducing air pollution. According to regulations released last Tuesday, China’s cabinet will assign local governments to one of four categories, ranging from “substandard” to “excellent.” Those that do well in reining in emissions will receive more funds, while those that do poorly will get less and potentially face disciplinary action. The cabinet will also impose harsher penalties on officials who fake environmental data.

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<p>Mining company Barrick Gold has reached a preliminary agreement with local indigenous peoples in Chile that may help clear the way to reactivating the Pascua-Lama mine in the Andes. The local Diaguita communities had long opposed the mine, saying it threatened their water supply and polluted nearby glaciers, and in May 2013 the Chilean environment minister blocked work on the project on the grounds that Barrick had violated its work permit.

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<p>British oil company Soco International has announced that it will suspend oil exploration in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park. Virunga—Africa’s oldest national park—is home to a number of endangered species, including the mountain gorilla, okapi, and several species of rare birds. Although Soco’s exploratory activities in the park had been supported by the DRC's government, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and other conservation groups have opposed exploration, fearing it will hurt the park’s fragile ecosystem.

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<p>In light of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, the EU has promulgated a new law that would strengthen nuclear safety measures. Prompted by the devastating aftermath of the earthquake in Japan, the EU conducted a series of stress tests on nuclear power stations and found that nearly all European power plants need safety improvements. The new rules, announced last Wednesday, specify that power plants be designed so that reactor damage would not have any consequences outside the plant.

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<p>Last week, the Chilean government rejected plans to construct the highly controversial HidroAysen dam project, which would have built dams on two of Patagonia’s rivers. Opponents, organized into a coalition known as the Patagonia Defense Council, had fought the project from the outset, fearing that it would endanger both the environment and the local communities.

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<p>Last week, the Spanish Supreme Court rejected environmental appeals against oil drilling off the Canary Islands. Spain had granted exploration permits in the region in 2012, but they were put in hold due to environmental concerns. Now, the Supreme Court has opened the door for businesses such as Spanish oil company Repsol to move forward with exploration plans. The court’s decision angered islanders—who are concerned about the potential impacts on tourism—as well as environmentalists, who fear damage to the Canary Islands’ unique ecosystems.

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<p>The United Nations has rejected a bid by the Australian government to delist 74,000 hectares of forest from Tasmania’s World Heritage Area. The area in question is part of the 170,000 hectares of forest that had been added to the World Heritage Area in 2013 by the former federal and state Labor governments as part of a deal between the forest industry and green groups. According to Australia’s Abbott government, the area they proposed to delist was not worthy of World Heritage status, as it had been damaged by prior logging.

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<p>In an effort to meet EU rules, Germany has drafted legislation that would raise the surcharge paid by German industrial companies that produce their own electricity. The legislation seeks to address objections the European Commission made to an initial draft of Germany’s renewable energy bill. The Commission had requested that Germany treat households and industry equally, rather than granting heavy industry discounts or exemptions from the surcharge.

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<p>Last week, the Singapore government proposed legislation that would levy substantial fines on companies responsible for air pollution that crosses over the border from Indonesia. Air pollution in Singapore reached record levels in 2013, due in part to forest fires in Indonesia, and experts predict that this year’s haze could be worse than last year’s pollution.

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<p>Chinese officials recently announced that the government is turning to unmanned aerial drones as part of their most recent efforts to combat air pollution. The drones, which are equipped with infrared cameras, can detect illegal pollution from factories at night, and, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection, would be able to “recognize a matchbox from 1000 meters above.” Eleven drones have flown missions in the most polluted regions of the country so far and have detected 64 factories committing violations.

<p>New figures released last Wednesday by the British government show that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions in the Greater London urban area, West Midlands urban area, and West Yorkshire urban area will likely continue to exceed EU limits until at least 2030. The UK has violated the EU pollution limits since 2010, but before Wednesday the government had maintained that all parts of the UK would be in compliance by 2025.

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<p>A co-developer of the massive HidroAysen hydropower project in Chile said last week that the project will not move forward in its current state. The controversial project—a joint effort between companies Endesa Chile and Colburn involving the construction of dams on two of Patagonia’s rivers—had come to a halt in June, when a Chilean ministerial committee cancelled the permit that would have allowed construction to move forward.

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<p>Last Thursday, Australia's senate voted 39 to 32 to repeal the carbon tax, a measure established under the previous Labor government that imposed a levy on the country’s biggest polluters. Prime Minister Tony Abbott had long opposed the tax, arguing that it cost jobs and caused energy prices to rise, and had made its repeal part of his election campaign.

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<p>A proposed coal mine near the border of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, the oldest protected wilderness in Africa, may endanger the already at-risk rhino population. Rhino poaching in South Africa is on the rise, with 13 killed in 2007 and 1,004 killed last year, and critics fear that the 14,615 hectare coal mine will worsen the problem, in addition to displacing local communities and polluting the air and rivers. According to one community member, the mine would make it easier for poachers to enter the park and access the threatened species.

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<p>Last week, the State Council, China's cabinet, announced a set of support guidelines aimed at augmenting the country's new-energy vehicle market, which has performed far below the government's expectations. Battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and fuel-cell cars will all be eligible under the plan, set to be phased in over the next two years.

<p>The United Kingdom's government announced last week that it would cap subsidies for renewable energy projects at £200 million ($340 million) a year, a move that frustrated green energy advocates and small businesses in the industry. The decision will affect the funding of large-scale, low-carbon installations from wind and solar farms to biomass-burning power plants.

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<p>The <em>Guardian</em> reported that plans by the World Bank to relax the conditions on which it lends up to $50 billion per year to developing countries have been condemned as potentially "disastrous" for the environment and likely to weaken protection of indigenous peoples and the poor.

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<p>According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), energy taxes in most of the world are much lower than they should be to reflect the detrimental environmental and health impacts of fossil fuel use. In a new book released last week, the IMF laid out what it sees as appropriate taxes on coal, natural gas, gasoline, and diesel for 156 countries. The publication takes into account the fuels’ overall costs, including carbon dioxide emissions, air pollution, congestion, and traffic accidents.

<p>A recent Freedom of Information request by Responding to Climate Change revealed that the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has significantly cut its climate and diplomacy budget over the past three years. Figures show that between 2011-12 and 2013-14, spending on activity related to climate change, the low carbon economy, and energy security fell by 28%, while the budget for FCO’s climate change and energy department, special representative for climate change, and overseas missions was cut by 39%.

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<p>The Australian government has approved plans for a giant coal mine in Queensland. According to the government, the mine could generate as much as $300 billion, with a resource value of $60 billion per year over 60 years. In response to environmental concerns, Environment Minister Greg Hunt emphasized that the mine was approved under very strict terms, including 36 federal and 190 state conditions and offsets of about 30,000 hectares for destroyed habitats.

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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>The Spanish government has given oil group Repsol the go-ahead to begin drilling in the Canary Islands. Repsol, which has long sought approval to tap what may be Spain’s most significant oil source, has been held up by environmental concerns and government delays for over a decade. Now, the industry ministry has granted the company a three-year license to drill in several sites off the coast of the archipelago. While the Spanish government states that its decision was backed by rigorous scientific research, the drilling project has been met with strong opposition.

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<p>The United States, Taiwan, and Clean Air Asia—an alliance representing organizations in China, India, and Indonesia—have signed a deal to curb city air pollution. The new deal, called the Cities Clean Air Partnership (CCAP), is the first major clean air partnership program designed to clean up cities in the Asia-Pacific region. The program will include sharing technologies, instituting a certification and scoring system to encourage clean air actions, and offering financial incentives to high-performing cities.

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<p>Last week, Chilean lawmakers approved an initiative to ban trawling, a method of fishing that involves pulling a net through the water behind boats. The draft agreement, which would prohibit trawling within Chile’s exclusive economic zone and territorial sea, pointed to the damage the use of trawl nets can do to marine ecosystems.

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<p>Chile is set to become the first country in South America—and the second in Latin America after Mexico—to institute a carbon tax. The tax, which will go before the Chilean House of Representatives this week, would impose a $5 tax per ton of carbon dioxide starting in 2017. The measure is part of a broader package intended to reduce air pollution that also includes taxes on particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide. The Chilean government hopes that the financial burden of using fossil fuels will encourage greater investment in renewable energy.

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<p>Last Friday, China announced that it will offer tax breaks on purchases of electric cars. Starting September 1, buyers of any of 17 models of approved vehicles will not have to pay sales tax. The tax break is the latest in a series of measures designed to promote all-electric and heavily electrified hybrid cars. Last year, China renewed a program through which buyers can receive subsidies of up to 60,000 yuan (US $9,767) for the purchase of all-electric cars, and last month the country ordered government officials to use more energy efficient cars.

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<p>A government-appointed review panel has recommended that Australia drastically cut back its Renewable Energy Target (RET) program. The review reported that the program’s costs are “not justifiable” and recommended either closing the program to new investment or modifying it so that renewable power would make up just 50% of any future growth in electricity demand.

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<p>The government of India is preparing a rule that would mandate companies building fossil fuel-based plants to also set up renewable capacity. The rule is intended to accelerate the growth of India's renewable energy capacity, a commitment of Prime Minster Narendra Modi's administration. "A generator will have an obligation to bundle his supplies with a certain share of renewable energy," said Power Minister Piyush Goyal last Thursday.

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<p>Zambia has lifted a ban on trophy hunting, which had been in place since early 2013, for all species other than big cats, meaning elephants will be among the species that may now&nbsp;be hunted. According to a statement by Jean Kapata, Zambia’s Tourism and Art's Minister, a main factor in the decision to lift the ban was the fact that it had resulted in a loss of revenue to the Zambia Wildlife Authority.

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<p>After the Australian Parliament appeared poised to dramatically scale back the country’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) to source 20% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020, a compromise more favorable to supporters of renewable energy now appears likely following intense lobbying in Canberra. A review of the RET, headed by businessman Dick Warburton, argued that the RET be closed to new projects or dramatically scaled back. But those options have been largely dismissed by both renewable energy and government supporters.

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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>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>On October 14, 2014, Italy became the first European country to require advanced biofuels in cars and trucks, passing a law that will require all fuel suppliers to include 0.6% advanced biofuels in gasoline and diesel by 2018, rising to 1% by 2022. Advanced biofuels are made from waste materials and are thus seen as less likely to contribute to land being taken out of production for food to in order to produce the feedstocks. This issue has been a major point of concern about traditional [first generation] biofuels, hindering the industry’s growth.

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<p>The government of Indonesia, currently the world’s top exporter of thermal coal, has launched an effort to tighten regulation and enforcement of the industry. The country’s coal industry, which tripled production in the last decade, has been plagued by corruption, illegal mining and exports, and conflicts with local and indigenous communities, and has caused severe environmental and health impacts.

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<p>A recently released Greenpeace report, Amazon's Silent Crisis: Night Terrors, documents illegal logging in protected public forest areas of the Brazilian Amazon. The report also identifies mechanisms by which loggers launder illegal timber and access markets in countries with laws prohibiting the import of illegally harvested timber, including the United States and the EU. Using GPS, Greenpeace activists tracked trucks used to transport illegal timber at night, a tactic that was complemented by the use of satellite imagery to identify areas of illegal logging.

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<p>On Friday, October 24, European Union leaders agreed upon a binding target to reduce emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, scaling up its previous commitment to reduce emissions to 20% of 1990 levels by 2020. EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in an interview that the move was intended to challenge other big economies ahead of climate talks in Lima in December, and ultimately Paris in 2015.

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<p>A law amended by the Indonesian government in September makes it more difficult for palm oil companies to conserve carbon-dense, high-biodiversity areas within their forest concessions, according to a report published on October 21, 2014, by Indonesian environmental group Greenomics. The report examined efforts that Golden-Agri Resources (GAR), Indonesia’s largest palm oil producer, is taking to eliminate the deforestation of high carbon stock and high conservation value forests.

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<p>The Brazilian government announced on Tuesday, October 21, the designation of a new federal reserve in the Amazon rainforest encompassing an area the size of Delaware. The new Alto Maues Reserve will confer federal protection from deforestation to 668,000 hectares of pristine forest, most of which has been untouched by human presence, according to the Brazilian Environment Ministry. The area contains hundreds of species of animals and 13 primate species, several of which are considered threatened with extinction.

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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>South Africa’s Department for Water and Sanitation announced that funding for a program to clean up toxic water contamination from abandoned mines in and around Johannesburg was recently secured between the Department and the National Treasury. The contamination, or acid-mine drainage, occurs from the flooding of abandoned mine shafts. As the water drains through the mines it is contaminated with toxic metals before returning to rivers and streams.

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<p>Researchers for the Climate Action Tracker say that the deal to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions reached between the United States and China—the world’s two largest emitters—on Wednesday, November 12, brings the world closer to limiting rising temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius. This level is the&nbsp;Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change target for avoiding the worst effects of climate change. Under the deal, the United States has pledged to reduce emissions to about 28% below 2005 levels by 2025, doubling the current pace of emissions reductions.

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<p>Researchers for the Climate Action Tracker say that the deal to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions reached between the United States and China—the world’s two largest emitters—on Wednesday, November 12, brings the world closer to limiting rising temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius. This level is the&nbsp;Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change target for avoiding the worst effects of climate change. Under the deal, the United States has pledged to reduce emissions to about 28% below 2005 levels by 2025, doubling the current pace of emissions reductions.

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<p>Data released by transmission grid firms on Friday, November 14, show that Germany’s energy capacity from renewable sources will increase by 23% between 2015 and 2019; however, related costs will also rise by over a fifth. The calculations are required in annual data from four transmission system operators to help gauge the cost of renewable energy subsidies, which are passed on to consumers as a surcharge on energy bills.

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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>China continues to make commitments to wide-scale environmental protection as the Ministry of Agriculture announced plans to limit the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Reductions would begin in the coming years with the intent of a nation-wide cap on growth of use by 2020. China produces more rice and wheat than any other country and is also the largest consumer of pesticides in the world. Ministry officials said the country plans to maintain self-sufficiency in production of those crops despite the planned decreases in pesticide and fertilizer application.

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<p>Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new government is reportedly reforming environmental regulations and removing regulatory requirements for industry in order to spur economic growth. A committee tasked with rewriting India's environmental laws released a report last week that recommended removing a layer of government inspection, instead relying on self-reporting and monitoring by industry. The changes are a stark contrast to the previous government's environmental policies that curtailed industrial growth in some regions.

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<p>An Aboriginal community in southwest Queensland, Australia, has filed an appeal with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. The Mithaka people claim the state government violated international law by failing to consult the group before removing protective status for certain rivers in order to open the region to shale oil exploration. The group fears hydraulic fracturing will threaten rights to their traditional culture, which is closely associated with the area's waterways.

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<p>The European Union's Juncker Commission named job creation, debt reduction, and increasing industrial competitiveness as top priorities while threatening to abandon support for major environmental legislation in a recently leaked draft workplan. There has already been opposition to scaling back air quality legislation that would establish national emission limits for six toxic air pollutants, but lack of executive support means plans for a massive waste reduction program are more uncertain.

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<p>The provincial government of Aceh, Indonesia, has adopted a new spatial plan, Qanun 19/2014, that critics worry will have severe consequences for the important Leuser Ecosystem and natural disaster mitigation. The plan makes no mention of the specially protected Leuser Ecosystem, despite the fact that the provincial government gained authority over the area's management in 2006. The plan also ignores rules prohibiting development on slopes graded steeper than 40%, which are intended to protect soils and prevent destructive landslides.

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<p>The Supreme Court of Yukon recently ruled against the territorial government for its attempt to override a negotiated land use plan for the Peel watershed region. Elections in 2011 gave the Yukon Party a majority government in the territory, which officials viewed as a mandate to revisit the plan negotiated with indigenous leaders. The government's new plan would have protected only 29% of the watershed from mining while the original plan prevented new development in 80% of the region.

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<p>China plans tougher pollution limits and heavier penalties in a revision of its air pollution law, state-run news agency Xinhua said, as the government battles to reduce smog that takes hundreds of thousands of lives each year. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress is considering a draft that would impose fines of up to 1 million yuan ($160,000) or even shut down factories that exceed emission limits, Xinhua reported last Monday.

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<p>Ecuador halted environmental cooperation deals with Germany worth some 43 million euros to the Latin American country after German lawmakers tried to visit an Amazon rainforest recently opened for oil production, the foreign minister said December 19. President Rafael Correa in 2007 asked wealthy countries to donate $3.6 billion to help protect the environmentally sensitive rainforest known as Yasuni in exchange for promises not to drill for the oil beneath it. In 2013, he scrapped the plan and authorized drilling after the proposal brought in a fraction of what he had sought.

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<p>Danish wind company Vestas&nbsp;won a contract&nbsp;to provide 365 turbines for a 310 megawatt wind power project in Kenya.&nbsp;The <a href="http://ltwp.co.ke/the-project/project-profile">Lake Turkana Wind Power </a>project will be the largest of its kind in Africa, and is expected to generate 15-20% of Kenya’s electricity needs when completed. According to project developers, the site is a&nbsp;unique location&nbsp;that is favorable for wind.

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<p>Beijing warned residents that air quality had reached serious pollution levels and that people should "avoid outdoor activities" last Friday. The U.S. embassy confirmed over Twitter that pollutants had reached "hazardous" levels and and were at their worst since at least December 1. The warning follows an announcement from March of last year that the government would demand stricter monitoring of fine particulate matter by cities, and it marks the fifth warning since January 1, when the measures went into effect.

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<p>Alberta's oil sands development has produced carcinogens in surrounding lakes well beyond natural levels, according to a study released last week, and the contamination may cover a much larger area than initially believed. The study analyzed sediment dating back 50 years from six small lakes in the center of the oil sands industry, finding that levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons had risen steadily since the beginning of large-scale oil production in 1978.

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<p>Japan's government is attempting to reverse plans to phase out nuclear power, almost two years after the Fukushima disaster. The previous government promised to rid the nation of all 50 nuclear reactors by 2040, dramatically shifting earlier plans to increase Japan's dependence on nuclear from 30 percent to 50 percent by 2030. The new government has announced a review of the nuclear phaseout, and has promised to restart reactors that pass safety tests.

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<p>Black carbon plays a much larger role in climate change than previously thought, according to a study published last week in the <em>Journal of Geophysical Research</em>. Soot, long known to be atmospherically destructive, is second only to carbon dioxide as the largest cause of climate change, and its heat trapping power is about twice the estimate made by&nbsp; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007. Rising from sources as varied as tailpipes and forest fires, the effect of soot on the atmosphere is broad and strong.

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<p>China possessed the bulk of projects designed to protect natural watersheds, according to a recent report, <em>State of Watershed Payments 2012</em>, that stated that water insecurity is likely "the single biggest risk to the country's continued economic growth." Global investment to protect areas providing drinking water and supplies totaled over $8 billion on 205 projects in 2011, accounting for more than 12 percent of the $66 billion spent since 1973 and marking a "pleasant surprise against a backdrop of an economic downturn in many parts of the w

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<p>Africa is falling behind in getting necessary funds for renewable energy because development banks are not assuming the political risk of working there, United Nations officials said. Banks must provide more guarantees that investors' projects won't suffer due to political or legal changes in the continent's poorest countries, according to Mohamed El-Ashry, a senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation. "Public private partnerships are not working because of too much risk on the private investors," he said at the World Future Energy Summit.

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<p>Following Beijing's announcement that it plans to implement harsher emissions standards for vehicles, China's environment minister said that emissions of four major pollutants fell last year and should fall by similar levels this year. However, he admitted that the country faced difficulties ending chronic pollution. Despite the winter's severe pollution, <span>emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, chemical oxygen, and ammonia nitrogen all recorded decreases of two percent in 2012 and are likely to drop an additional two percent in 2013.

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<p>Brazil appears to be suffering from an increase in deforestation after decades of decline, according to data compiled by researchers. Imazon, a research institute that tracks deforestation by satellite imagery, said that destruction in the Amazon increased for the fourth consecutive month in December as <span><span class="focusParagraph">farmers, loggers, miners, and builders moved into previously untouched woodland.

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<p>Australia must take swift action to protect the Great Barrier Reef, according to environmental groups. UNESCO issued a warning last June over development on the reef, and the United Nations said that the reef will be listed as "in danger" if there is no progress by February 1. The reef is worth approximately $6.26 billion in tourism to the economy annually.

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<p>Europe's MEPs voted to ban the discarding of healthy fish and to implement measures to protect endangered stocks in a series of sweeping reforms to the controversial EU Commons Fisheries Policy. A spokeswoman for the Greens said that the reforms would "finally put the EU's fisheries policy on a sustainable footing," as waste discards are estimated to account for a quarter of total catches under the current quota system.

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<p>United Kingdom's nuclear giant Sellafield has pleaded guilty to sending nuclear waste to a landfill instead of a repository, as the cost of cleanup at the Sellafield facility reached nearly $107 billion with no end to the rise in sight. The nuclear power company admitted to sending four bags of radioactive waste to the wrong facility, blaming a new monitor that exempted the bags from strict controls by classifying them as "general" waste. All four bags were retrieved, and sentencing will take place March 8.

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<p>A new report from the Environmental Investigation Agency suggests that 48 percent of timber sent to China from Mozambique's forest is illegal. The illicit logging, which the report blames on poor governance and widespread corruption, costs Mozambique $29 million in tax revenue.

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<p>A pledge by one of the world's largest paper companies to cease cutting down natural forests in Indonesia may be a sign of industry change, according to commentary from the World Resources Institute. Asia Pulp &amp; Paper agreed earlier this month to change its practices and demand the same from its suppliers, a plan lauded by environmental NGOs.

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<p>The European Union's plan to break up contaminated ships in developing countries may be illegal, according to the EU's own lawyers. The plan to overturn a ban on the practice would exempt ships from the Basel Convention, a treaty requiring wealthy nations to dispose of their own hazardous materials without adding to the pollution of poorer countries. The Shipbreaking Platform, a coalition of environmental and human rights groups, said the move may set a precedent in international law, and other NGOs expressed concern over the measure.

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<p>The Japanese government said that it is concerned about its likelihood of obtaining a fair hearing from a case brought against it by Australia, saying that "serious anomalies" have arisen from the admission of New Zealand as an intervenor in the case on Australia's side. Australia has taken Japan to the International Court of Justice over its Antarctic whaling hunt, saying that its so-called scientific whaling breaches a moratorium on commercial whaling.

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<p>The Japanese government said that it is concerned about its likelihood of obtaining a fair hearing from a case brought against it by Australia, saying that "serious anomalies" have arisen from the admission of New Zealand as an intervenor in the case on Australia's side. Australia has taken Japan to the International Court of Justice over its Antarctic whaling hunt, saying that its so-called scientific whaling breaches a moratorium on commercial whaling.

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<p>The Japanese government said that it is concerned about its likelihood of obtaining a fair hearing from a case brought against it by Australia, saying that "serious anomalies" have arisen from the admission of New Zealand as an intervenor in the case on Australia's side. Australia has taken Japan to the International Court of Justice over its Antarctic whaling hunt, saying that its so-called scientific whaling breaches a moratorium on commercial whaling.

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<p>The European Union agreed to its first law regulating safety in offshore oil and gas on Thursday, including criteria for awarding licenses and penalties for breaching safety standards. British politicians welcomed the law, saying it would force other states to enact the same laws Britain has had in place for years. But some environmental campaigners said that the law was not robust enough.

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<p>European Union member states approved a plan to register solar panels from China as both parties move closer to punitive tariffs. Though EU officials are aware that Europe needs China and the solar market to recover its economy, they have accused China of "stonewalling" and have criticized the lack of clarity from Chinese leadership. The measure would also allow the EU to retroactively place duties on China and its companies if they are found to have sold panels below cost.

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<p>European Union member states approved a plan to register solar panels from China as both parties move closer to punitive tariffs. Though EU officials are aware that Europe needs China and the solar market to recover its economy, they have accused China of "stonewalling" and have criticized the lack of clarity from Chinese leadership. The measure would also allow the EU to retroactively place duties on China and its companies if they are found to have sold panels below cost.

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<p>China plans to spend $850 billion on water improvement projects over the next decade, but efforts may do little to reverse damage caused by years of pollution and overuse. While the funding is necessary to fight the sewer discharge, chemical spills, and algae from fertilizer runoff caused by decades of rapid expansion, the nation's record of water cleanup indicates that the final amount needed may be much higher.

<p>The United Kingdom Supreme Court may force the United Kingdom to take urgent measures to rapidly reduce air pollution in British cities as the government admitted that air quality laws will be breached in 15 regions until 2020. The case, which will be heard by five law lords, concerns claims by ClientEarth that the government has a legal duty to comply with EU time scales and that its plans to reduce pollution are inadequate.

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<p>The United Kingdom Supreme Court may force the United Kingdom to take urgent measures to rapidly reduce air pollution in British cities as the government admitted that air quality laws will be breached in 15 regions until 2020. The case, which will be heard by five law lords, concerns claims by ClientEarth that the government has a legal duty to comply with EU time scales and that its plans to reduce pollution are inadequate.

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<p>China announced that it would not institute a carbon tax this year, backing away from previous statements. Though the government is moving forward with carbon trading pilot programs in seven major cities, the head of research at the Ministry of Finance said that the carbon tax is "still in internal discussions" as there is "obvious opposition." Though he said the nation eventually expects to introduce a levy of $.80 to $1.61 per ton of carbon, the announcement revises a previous five year plan.

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<p>The European Union implemented measures to prevent illegally harvested timber from entering Europe, a boon to efforts to fight deforestation as the EU accounts for 35 percent of the world's primary timber market. Though the law was passed in October 2010, it is only just coming into force due to measures required by member states and private companies.

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<p>Japan announced that it successfully extracted natural gas from frozen methane hydrate, a world first. The gas field, off Japan's central coast, could provide an alternative energy source for a nation that imports all of its fuel needs. The supply of methane gas could be enormous, but extraction raises environmental concerns as the geology containing it is unstable in some places. Production tests will continue for the next few weeks, but government officials have said they plan to establish technologies for practical use within the next five years.

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<p>The European Union failed to reach a decision on whether to ban three pesticides linked to the decline of honey bee populations. Sources indicated that 13 governments voted in favor of a two-year moratorium, first proposed in January, while nine countries voted against and five countries abstained.

<p>Energy company EDF dropped a $7.6 million lawsuit against a group of 21 activists who occupied a gas-fired power plant, claiming that they had reached a "fair and reasonable solution." Supporters of the demonstrators, who EDF claimed caused millions of dollars in production delays, called the result a "humiliating climbdown" and an "unmitigated defeat" for EDF.

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<p>The number of dead pigs found in rivers supplying water to Shanghai has risen rapidly to more than 16,000. While authorities have said that tests indicate the city's water is safe, officials have given no explanation on the dumping of carcasses. Some tests have indicated that some of the animals may have had porcine circovirus, a disease affecting pigs but not humans. The government in Shanghai said that 10,570 carcasses had been pulled from the Huangpu river, while 5,528 have been found in upstream tributaries in the Jiaxing area of Zhejiang province.

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<p>A draft European Commission paper calls for fewer summits and more incentives through carbon pricing to speed up efforts to fight climate change, according to Reuters. Recent annual meetings have been criticized for dragging on for weeks but achieving little. December's Doha summit failed to achieve anything that would have an immediate impact on greenhouse gas levels, instead laying out steps toward a global deal to be agreed to in 2015 and entered into effect in 2020.

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<p>The world can only achieve global prosperity by combining economic and environmental goals, according to scientists writing for the journal <em>Nature</em>. They say world leaders should set goals around an end to food and water shortages, universal clean energy, healthy and productive ecosystems, and thriving livelihoods. The article argues that it is no longer enough to pursue the millennium development goals, agreed to in 2000 but running out in 2015, to alleviate poverty.

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<p>China's fishermen fail to report up to 91 percent of fish caught in African and international waters to the United Nations, according to a study at the University of British Columbia. Fisheries experts have long stated that the figures reported to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization are low, but officials there contested the findings of the study. “The new estimates seem far, far too high,” says Richard Grainger, chief of the fisheries statistics and information service at the organization.

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<p>An investigation in Borneo cleared Asia Pulp &amp; Paper (APP) of violating Indonesia's zero deforestation committment, but an analysis released by a coalition of environmental groups stated that the commitment will not provide any "real conservation benefits." An investigation by the Forest Trust followed allegations that two APP suppliers were actively clearing within two concession areas, which would put them "in clear violation of their commitment to APP’s forest conservation policy," according to a consortium of local NGOs.

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<p>An increase in foreign demand for beef and soy may lead Brazil to reverse decades of slowing forest losses by clearing more of the Amazon, according to the <span>Center for International Climate and Environmental Research. The Center warned that demand for the products, which already account for 2.7 billion metric tons of carbon emissions caused by Brazil's deforestation, may indirectly contribute to the loss of forests industrialized countries had hoped to protect with international agreements.

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<p>Tokyo Electric Power, the utility that operates the Fukushima nuclear plant, rushed to build new tanks for radioactive water storage after finding contamination that may have leaked from one of its pits. The underground tanks store radioactive water used in the plant's cooling system, and if the leak is confirmed, it will be the third one discovered since April 6. "<span>There are a lot of makeshift fixes. They are walking a tightrope from one jerry-rigged fix to another," said one worker.

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<p>Soil samples show remnants of heavy metals and banned pesticides, according to an official, revealing the extent of China's pollution. In addition to traces of the 666 pesticide banned in the 1980s, the soil showed remains of industrial air pollution as well as toxic metals like lead, arsenic, and cadmium dating as far back as 100 years. <span>Zhuang Guotai, head of the ecological department of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, tied the heavy pollution to an agricultural boom that has seen grain production double while the workforce shrank.

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<p>Environment Canada's top official told the main Canadian oil and gas lobby group that the government needed more information about unidentified fluids involved in the hydraulic fracturing process. Paul Boothe, the former deputy minister, wrote that a voluntary industry disclosure program was a positive step toward improving environmental performance, but he also suggested that it was not enough to satisfy the environment department.

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<p>A Toronto-based mining company said that it was working closely with the Indonesia government to remove the protected status of around 1.6 million hectares of forest on the Sumatra island. According to a group of Indonesian environmentalists, East Asia Minerals Corporation has hired Fadel Muhammad, former Golkar Deputy Chairman, to help convince the Aceh government to re-zone sections of the forest for a gold mine. The re-zoning proposal would include close to a million hectares for mining, over 400,000 for logging, and over 250,000 for oil palm plantations.

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<p>A federal court suspended the use of the military during research on the São Luíz do Tapajós Dam in the Amazon. The government brought in police and military personnel to halt indigenous protests from groups living along the Tapajós, but a judge decreed that such groups must give free, prior, and informed consent before further studies on the dam.

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<p>The European Parliament rejected a plan last week that would have cut the surplus of carbon allowances being traded after opponents claimed it would cause a rise in energy costs. The plan, referred to as "backloading," was proposed to fight the sinking cost of carbon permits, dipping below $6.50 a ton. In an effort to push up prices, the European Commission proposed to withhold around 900 million permits over the next few years, hoping that the scarcity would drive up prices.

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<p>The European Commission voted to ban neonicotinoid pesticides linked to declining bee populations, despite opposition from several EU member states. Following a failed vote in March, 15 countries voted for the ban last week, short of the qualified majority needed. However, under EU rules the Commission now has the option of imposing a two-year restriction on the pesticides, which it says it plans to do by December of this year.

<p>The UK supreme court ruled last week that the government was guilty of breaching its legal duty to uphold European Union air quality laws. Britain's highest appeals court said that the government had breached a nitrogen dioxide directive and asked for guidance from the European Court of Justice on what actions need to be taken. The ruling marks the first time that a UK court has recognized that the government has failed to meet EU pollution rules, but the European court may take as long as 18 months to reply with answers to certain legal questions.

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<p>The UK supreme court ruled last week that the government was guilty of breaching its legal duty to uphold European Union air quality laws. Britain's highest appeals court said that the government had breached a nitrogen dioxide directive and asked for guidance from the European Court of Justice on what actions need to be taken. The ruling marks the first time that a UK court has recognized that the government has failed to meet EU pollution rules, but the European court may take as long as 18 months to reply with answers to certain legal questions.

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<p>The best way to meet growing demand for metals is for extraction companies to focus on recycling rather than increased mining, according to a report released last week by the United Nations Environment Programme. UNEP warned that demand for metals is likely to increase tenfold as developing economies emerge, putting severe stress on resources and bringing social and environmental consequences associated with mining. However, current recycling efforts focus on waste streams rather than reusing elements that have already been expensively mined, even though that can be cheaper.

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<p>Peru's government announced that it is trying to limit companies' ability to avoid fines by lodging years-long judicial appeals. The move comes from a proposal by <span>President Ollanta Humala to require firms to pay a deposit equal to the fine before asking the courts to suspend it, and is part of a push to crack down on polluters in the nation's mining and energy industries.

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<p>The European Union is planning to impose duties as high as 67.9% on Chinese solar panels to punish manufacturers for selling units below cost. The European Commission plans to introduce the levies by June 6, according to an anonymous commerce official. The duties will average 47.6% and will affect more than 100 Chinese companies. The move is the preliminary outcome of a dumping inquiry that will end in December.

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<p>The European Union is planning to impose duties as high as 67.9% on Chinese solar panels to punish manufacturers for selling units below cost. The European Commission plans to introduce the levies by June 6, according to an anonymous commerce official. The duties will average 47.6% and will affect more than 100 Chinese companies. The move is the preliminary outcome of a dumping inquiry that will end in December.

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<p>Swedish companies have sold about 200 tons of Baltic salmon containing illegal levels of dioxin in the European Union, breaching a ban on fatty fish from the Baltic Sea. The ban does not apply to fish sold directly to consumers in Sweden, Finland, and Latvia, but a 2002 EU ban restricts the sale of salmon from the heavily polluted sea due to dioxin's link to cancer and reproductive damage.

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<p>Swedish companies have sold about 200 tons of Baltic salmon containing illegal levels of dioxin in the European Union, breaching a ban on fatty fish from the Baltic Sea. The ban does not apply to fish sold directly to consumers in Sweden, Finland, and Latvia, but a 2002 EU ban restricts the sale of salmon from the heavily polluted sea due to dioxin's link to cancer and reproductive damage.

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<p>Swedish companies have sold about 200 tons of Baltic salmon containing illegal levels of dioxin in the European Union, breaching a ban on fatty fish from the Baltic Sea. The ban does not apply to fish sold directly to consumers in Sweden, Finland, and Latvia, but a 2002 EU ban restricts the sale of salmon from the heavily polluted sea due to dioxin's link to cancer and reproductive damage.

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<p>Experts determined that a nuclear reactor on the west coast of Japan is located on ground at high risk of an earthquake, beginning a process that will likely end with the first permanent shutdown following the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Closing the reactor would be the most stringent measure yet adopted, though the industry currently only has two out of 50 reactors running as it awaits safety checks from the new regulator. The possible permanent closing of the reactor may signal a change in the way Japan deals with its nuclear industry.

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<p>Experts determined that a nuclear reactor on the west coast of Japan is located on ground at high risk of an earthquake, beginning a process that will likely end with the first permanent shutdown following the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Closing the reactor would be the most stringent measure yet adopted, though the industry currently only has two out of 50 reactors running as it awaits safety checks from the new regulator. The possible permanent closing of the reactor may signal a change in the way Japan deals with its nuclear industry.

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<p>China is prepared to set anti-dumping duties on polysilicon, a raw material used in the production of solar panels, after determining it was being sold below cost, according to two sources. The Ministry of Commerce has completed probes determining the United States and European Union are subsidizing producers, but said that it would hold off on setting duties until the EU issues its own anti-dumping duties against China.

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<p>China is prepared to set anti-dumping duties on polysilicon, a raw material used in the production of solar panels, after determining it was being sold below cost, according to two sources. The Ministry of Commerce has completed probes determining the United States and European Union are subsidizing producers, but said that it would hold off on setting duties until the EU issues its own anti-dumping duties against China.

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<p>European fisheries ministers agreed to a plan aimed at tackling overfishing last week, but the deal disappointed environmental campaigners by failing to agree on an outright ban on the practice of discarding healthy fish at sea. Ministers agreed to end discards, but the ban will be phased in from 2015 rather than this year, and fleets will still be allowed to discard up to five percent of their catch, as ministers argued some inadvertent catch was unavoidable. Some member states pushed for an allowable discard rate up to ten percent, while Sweden pushed for a zero discard rate.

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<p>The European Union agreed last week to end overfishing and rebuild stocks by 2020, the latest step in efforts to reform the Common Fisheries Policy. Officials said a deal to follow scientific advice when setting quotas could increase fish stocks by up to 16.5 million tons by the end of the decade, and the deal will end annual fights over catch quotas in Brussels.

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<p>The world's largest REDD+ project has been approved by the Indonesian government, establishing a 64,000 hectare protected forest area in the nation's central province. The project is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 119 million tons over the course of its 30-year lifespan by preventing peatland drainage for conversion to oil palm plantations. According to the auditor who verified the project's carbon accounting, it reduced emissions by 2.1 million tons from 2009 to 2010, resulting in the highest number of credits ever verified in a single year.

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<p>The Kenyan parliament approved emergency measures to crack down on poachers last week, just as Kenya's Wildlife Service began pursuing a gang of poachers that slaughtered four rhinos. "Kenya's elephants declined from 160,000 in 1960s to 16,000 in 1989 due to poaching. Today Kenya is home to only 38,500 elephants and 1,025 rhinos," said Member of Parliament (MP) for North Horr Chachu Ganya.

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<p>The European Commission released a draft safety law last week that adds mandatory reviews for nuclear plants every six years. The proposal follows a series of stress tests enacted after the Fukushima disaster in 2011 and builds on the tests' conclusions, which found that plants need anywhere from $13 to $33 billion in repairs. The rule also proposes that reactors be designed so that they <span>will not have any consequences outside the plant. </span>"<span>There are 132 nuclear reactors in operation in Europe today.

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<p>European coal power causes 22,300 premature deaths a year and costs government and companies billions in health costs, according to a new study. The study also suggests that an additional 2,700 people can be expected to die prematurely each year due to 50 planned new coal fired power plants. Analysis of emissions shows that coal is linked to as many or more deaths than road accidents in many countries, and in 2010 Europe lost 240,000 "life years" as a result of coal-related air pollution.

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<p>Deforestation data opened up by the Peruvian government shows that the rate of forest clearing has slowed in recent years, though Peru's Amazon has lost more than 100,000 hectares annually since 2005. Overall, the area has gone from 80 to 78 percent forested from 2000. Peru's monitoring system, in development since 2009, is based mostly on satellite imagery and can detect changes as small as .09 hectares. "This is a big deal," said Greg Asner, a research at the Carnegie Institution for Science who has been working on the project.

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<p>China has given courts the authority to hand down the death penalty in cases of serious pollution, according to state media.

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<p>The European Parliament's Environment Committee agreed to back a ban on the use of fluorinated gases in refrigerators and air conditioners. The greenhouse gases, introduced as an alternative to <span>ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons after their ban,</span> are up to 23,000 times more damaging than greenhouse gases. The plan, <span>which seeks a gradual phase-out and ban in new equipment by 2020, would have to be approved by a plenary session of parliament and by EU member countries before going into effect.

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<p>Singaporeans were urged to stay indoors last week as a haze from Indonesian forest fires dramatically worsened, with air pollution levels hitting their highest since 1997. The pollutant standards were above the "hazardous" level, at which point air quality can trigger respiratory ailments.

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<p>Singaporeans were urged to stay indoors last week as a haze from Indonesian forest fires dramatically worsened, with air pollution levels hitting their highest since 1997. The pollutant standards were above the "hazardous" level, at which point air quality can trigger respiratory ailments.

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<p>Australia accused Japan of carrying out commercial whaling under the pretext of scientific research in violation of an international ban during the first day of court hearings between the two countries. Australia, which seeks to put an end to the yearly slaughter of nearly 1,000 whales in the Southern Ocean, has asked the International Court of Justice to withdraw the Japanese fleet's whale hunt permits.

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<p>Australia accused Japan of carrying out commercial whaling under the pretext of scientific research in violation of an international ban during the first day of court hearings between the two countries. Australia, which seeks to put an end to the yearly slaughter of nearly 1,000 whales in the Southern Ocean, has asked the International Court of Justice to withdraw the Japanese fleet's whale hunt permits.

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<p>New EU proposals would require ship owners using European ports to measure and report annual carbon emissions starting January 2018. The plan will not include shipping emissions in the carbon market, but the proposal would create a legal framework for collecting and publishing data for all ships using EU ports, regardless of where the ships are registered.

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<p>China announced last week that it would impose duties of up to 37 percent on <span>toluidine--a chemical used to produce dye, medicine, and pesticides--imported from the European Union. The duty will run for five years and accompanies an announcement that China may look into complaints about luxury cars imported from the EU. </span><span>The move follows a months-long trade battle between China and the EU on solar panels in which each side has accused the other of engaging in unfair practices.

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<p>China announced last week that it would impose duties of up to 37 percent on <span>toluidine--a chemical used to produce dye, medicine, and pesticides--imported from the European Union. The duty will run for five years and accompanies an announcement that China may look into complaints about luxury cars imported from the EU. </span><span>The move follows a months-long trade battle between China and the EU on solar panels in which each side has accused the other of engaging in unfair practices.

<p>Britain's high court ruled last week that the government can favor small vessels when redistributing fishing quotas. Small fisherman fought for the government to reallocate unused or underused permits given to large trawlers, saying that smaller ships provide more jobs and are more environmentally friendly than large vessels. It is unclear how broadly the ruling applies, however, because the court only considered unused quotas, which only represent a small fraction of UK's total.

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<p>Eight cities in China are likely to follow Beijing's example and restrict the sale of new vehicles, according to an official at <span>the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The group warned that restrictions could cut sales by 400,000 vehicles, roughly two percent of sales in 2012. The measures would be part of China's overall efforts to control air pollution. </span><span>Kiyotaka Ise, president of Toyota's Lexus brand, said that he would welcome measures that included incentives for hybrid cars.

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<p>The European parliament's environment committee voted last week to limit the use of crop-based biofuels. The proposed limit of 5.5 percent of total transport fuel use would seek to ease the environmental damage thought to be caused by some biofuels, especially biodiesel, which accounts for more than two thirds of the EU's market. Recent studies have shown that biodiesel made from vegetable oils such as rapeseed oil, palm oil, and soy oil may do more damage to the environment than conventional diesel.

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<p>Developing countries' energy-related carbon dioxide emissions will be 127 percent higher than those of OECD nations by 2040 under policies currently in place, according the Energy Information Administrations' biennial International Energy Outlook. Energy-related carbon emissions from nations like India and China are projected to grow 46 percent over a 2010 baseline, as these countries continue to experience a stronger rate of economic growth and rely heavily on fossil fuels to power development.

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<p>A British court has thrown out a case brought against Anglo American South Africa, a subdivision of the UK mining multinational, saying it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. Over 2,000 miners filed suit against the company after contracting the lung disease silicosis, a disease with no known cure that causes shortness of breath, a persistent cough, and a high susceptibility to tuberculosis. Anglo American switched its headquarters from Johannesburg to London in 1999, but maintains around $15 billion worth of assets in its South African unit.

<p>A British court has thrown out a case brought against Anglo American South Africa, a subdivision of the UK mining multinational, saying it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. Over 2,000 miners filed suit against the company after contracting the lung disease silicosis, a disease with no known cure that causes shortness of breath, a persistent cough, and a high susceptibility to tuberculosis. Anglo American switched its headquarters from Johannesburg to London in 1999, but maintains around $15 billion worth of assets in its South African unit.

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<p>The European Investment Bank said that it will stop financing most coal-fired power plants to help the European Union meet climate targets and reduce pollution.

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<p>Asia's confidence in nuclear power continued to falter as Taiwan said that a plant may have been leaking radioactive water for three years, and as the Fukushima site faces additional complications. In Taiwan, the government's watchdog released a report warning that the First Nuclear Power Plant, located near densely populated Taipei, has been leaking toxic water from the storage pools of two reactors.

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<p>Protestors in the Philippines destroyed a trial plot of "Golden Rice," a strain developed to combat vitamin A deficiency. The crop was a few weeks away from being submitted to authorities for safety evaluation, but a group of roughly 400 local farmers and protestors attacked the field and uprooted all the plants. The rice, which has been given extra genes that turn on the plant's ability to produce beta carotene, first entered development 20 years ago with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation.

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<p>As the United Nations body responsible for world heritage sites expressed concern that Australia did not inform it of plans to create one of the world's largest coalports adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef, environment minister Mark Butler deferred the decision, citing new reports that may influence whether the project is approved. Butler was due to decide by last Friday whether to allow the dredging of 3 million cubic meters of seabed to double Abbot Point port's coal capacity, but the minister pushed the deadline back to November 8, after the election.

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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 new computer model capable of predicting arsenic risks found that almost 20 million people in China live in areas under threat of water contamination. The model found that 14.7 million people live with a risk of contamination levels higher than the World Health Organization's recommended daily limit of 10 micrograms per liter, while 6 million people are at risk for levels five times higher than that. "In areas of high population density, the risk of high arsenic contamination is much more [than the average levels throughout China]," said a researcher.

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<p>Earlier this month, Fukushima's operator TEPCO announced that radioactive water was still leaking over underground barriers. The prime minister promised "firm measures," but a nuclear expert stated last week that he believes the leaks are even worse than stated by plant and government officials. Mycle Schneider, a consultant on nuclear issues, told the BBC that water is leaking all over the site and that there are no accurate figures for radiation.

<p>New UK rules on biomass upset both industry and environmental campaigners last week, as regulations failed to reassure companies of continuing financial support and simultaneously worried green groups that they would open the door to the use of biomass linked to deforestation in other countries. The proposals put strict limits on how the government would support biomass, setting it at a disadvantage to other forms of generation as some new plants will be excluded from new contracts.

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<p>The European Union abandoned its efforts to expand rules for aviation emissions in exchange for cooperation in setting up a global scheme, easing ongoing fears of trade wars. Tension has mounted as the EU moved closer to rules that would charge airline companies operating in member states for all emissions worldwide, and the threat of trade conflicts loomed as Chinese and Indian officials threatened lawsuits and boycotts. China suspended a sale worth billions of dollars of Airbus jetliners, and airlines warned of retaliatory measures including airspace restrictions.

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<p>The European Union abandoned its efforts to expand rules for aviation emissions in exchange for cooperation in setting up a global scheme, easing ongoing fears of trade wars. Tension has mounted as the EU moved closer to rules that would charge airline companies operating in member states for all emissions worldwide, and the threat of trade conflicts loomed as Chinese and Indian officials threatened lawsuits and boycotts. China suspended a sale worth billions of dollars of Airbus jetliners, and airlines warned of retaliatory measures including airspace restrictions.

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<p>Compensation talks will begin this week between Royal Dutch Shell lawyers and 15,000 Nigerian villagers who say oil spills destroyed their livelihoods. The villagers sought millions of dollars in payment in London for two spills that polluted the Bodo fishing communities of the Niger Delta. Shell accepts responsibility for the spills but it disagrees with the plaintiffs about the volume spilled and the number of people who lost their livelihoods. Talks broke down in 2012 before the lawsuit, but will resume this week in Port Harcourt, the main city in the Delta.

<p>Compensation talks will begin this week between Royal Dutch Shell lawyers and 15,000 Nigerian villagers who say oil spills destroyed their livelihoods. The villagers sought millions of dollars in payment in London for two spills that polluted the Bodo fishing communities of the Niger Delta. Shell accepts responsibility for the spills but it disagrees with the plaintiffs about the volume spilled and the number of people who lost their livelihoods. Talks broke down in 2012 before the lawsuit, but will resume this week in Port Harcourt, the main city in the Delta.

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<p>China has suspended refinery projects for its two largest oil companies for failing to meet pollution targets, according to China Central Television. The Ministry of Environmental Protection will continue the suspension until China National Petroleum Corporation and the China Petrochemical Corporation meet their pollution targets, as part of a wider crackdown on pollution in China.

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<p>Hydroelectric projects in forested national parks may be fronts for illegal logging operations, according to Vietnam Net. Around 20,000 hectares of forest have been cleared for 160 hydro projects in the last few years, with roughly 125 hectares cleared per project. However, many of the projects are not economically viable, and the primary purpose appears to be gaining access to logging resources.

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<p>A federal judge ordered dam construction activities in the Teles Pires river to be suspended due to faults in the environmental licensing process and the project's impacts on three local tribes.

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<p>Germany's energy industry association proposed an overhaul of government renewable energy policy to take place after upcoming elections. The proposal would remove the feed-in tariff system and ensure that only renewable energy at an early stage of development would be eligible for premiums over market price, meaning the higher prices would be paid for a much shorter period of time. The industry group has warned that high energy prices, due in large part to the cost of green energy incentives, threaten German industry's competitiveness.

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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>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.

<p>In the United Kingdom, anti-shale groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are using property law to attempt to stop hydraulic drilling, a process that they believe pollutes water and increases greenhouse gas emissions. Citing trespass laws, anti-fracking campaigners argue that it is illegal for companies to drill under a person's property unless the landowner gives consent, and so far they have succeeded in pushing production back several years.

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<p>Shanghai is considering imposing a traffic congestion charge in order to fight pollution. Singapore and London already charge motorists more for driving into the city center at peak hours, and Shanghai is poised to become the first city in China to adopt similar road pricing. Cities throughout China—the world’s biggest carbon emitter—are working on pollution control; last week Beijing announced rules to reduce the number of government and private vehicles on the roads and close schools when pollution is at its worst.

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<p>On Wednesday, the European Commission halted a plan to cap the production of food for fuel. Though the Commission had initially encouraged the production of biofuels, seeing them as a means to reduce carbon emissions and cut Europe’s dependence on imported oil, concerns that using food for fuel would inflate global food prices caused EU lawmakers to propose a cap on biofuel growth. On Wednesday, however, the Commission again changed direction when it failed to give the go-ahead for the creation of a plan to implement the cap.

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<p>A fuel tax in Spain could end up costing the Spanish government billions of euros. In 2003, Spain implemented a “health cent” tax on the sale of hydrocarbons in order to generate revenue to help finance healthcare spending. Last Thursday, Advocate General Nils Wahl, an adviser to the European Court of Justice, said that this tax is illegal because it does not comply with the regulations the EU sets on the levy of additional indirect taxes.

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<p>Sesa Sterlite, a mining company controlled by billionaire Anil Agarwal, may restart some of its iron ore mining operations in India as early as next month after a two year shutdown. Excavation had been banned in the southern state of Karnataka in 2011 due to environmental degradation, but, according to two officials who asked not to be named, Sesa has now met the requirements for a permit to mine in the state.

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<p>Last Thursday, the Canadian Ministry of the Environment admitted in a report that Canada is likely to fall short of its target for greenhouse gas emissions. In 2009, Canada signed the Copenhagen Accord and committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. A year ago, the government forecasted emissions of greenhouse gases to be at 720 megatons by 2020; now, however, Canada estimates that that number will be 734 megatons, a reduction of only 0.4 percent.

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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>A Brazilian call for a climate equity metric faces significant opposition from the U.S. and the European Union. At the Warsaw Climate Change Conference—which began on November 11th and will last for two weeks—Brazil proposed a program whereby nations would calculate their total output of greenhouse gases since 1850 in order to determine their responsibility for climate change.

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<p>Last Thursday, the Brazilian government released figures showing that deforestation in the Amazon increased by 28 percent between August 2012 and last July. Over the past decade, the country has made progress against the destruction of the rainforest, and in 2009 the government committed to reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 80 percent by 2020. Last year, Brazil saw the lowest rate of deforestation since monitoring began, but the newly released figures cause activists to fear that that trend might have reversed.

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<p>In a move that could hinder efforts to reach an agreement at the Warsaw Climate Change Conference, Japan has significantly dialed back its greenhouse gas emissions goals. On Friday, the Cabinet approved a target emission reduction of 3.8 percent from the 2005 level by 2020—as opposed to the earlier goal of a 25 percent reduction from the 1990 level. Japan has faced significant energy challenges since the 2011 Fukushima disaster resulted in the shutdown of all the country’s nuclear plants, which had previously provided about 30 percent of Japan's electricity.

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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>A new 10-year Forest Management Plan for Western Australia will double the area previously allowed for logging. The plan, which will be in effect from 2014 to 2023, will open up more than 2,000 square kilometers of old jarrah and karri forest in the southwest for logging, while protecting an extra 4,000 hectares in Whicher National Park and over 334,000 hectares of old-growth forest. According to Environment Minister Albert Jacob, the plan is based on “scientific knowledge” and will protect biodiversity, but conservationists feel that it will further endanger threatened wildlife.

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<p>Singapore-based Wilmar, the world’s largest palm oil trader, has signed a policy committing to eliminate deforestation from its supply chain. Over the past decade, the palm oil industry has become one of the leading drivers of tropical deforestation. As Wilmar controls 45 percent of the palm oil market, the new policy could have far-reaching environmental effects. Wilmar says that the policy will cover all its operations, including the company’s non-palm oil holdings and its dealings with third-party suppliers.

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<p>As the air quality index in Shanghai passed 500 last Friday—entering the “beyond index” category—Hong Kong revealed plans to create a new index that will assess the health risks associated with smog. Smog levels like those seen on Friday, which prompted Shanghai to order 30 percent of government vehicles off the road and resulted in widespread flight cancellations, cause serious health concerns; the new index would detail the risks associated with high levels of pollutants and would be the first time the country has changed the way it measures air quality since 1987.

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<p>A bill to end the moratorium on genetically modified “terminator” seeds could pass Brazil’s national Congress as early as Tuesday, December 17, spurring unease among farmers and environmentalists. These “suicide seeds” cause crops to die off after one harvest without producing offspring, increasing farmers’ dependence on seed and chemical companies as they are forced to buy new seeds for each planting.

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<p>Last Thursday, Paris was put on an air pollution alert as the city's worst smog levels since 2007 were recorded. According to Airparif, an organization that monitors the air quality in Paris, the pollution index reached the highest of five levels for fine particulates, causing the government to ask people to refrain from using wood fireplaces and driving diesel vehicles that lack proper filters. As the severe smog was brought on by a cold spell that trapped diesel fumes in the atmosphere, the pollution alert may reopen the debate over taxes on diesel fuel.

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<p>According to one marine scientist, mining constitutes a greater threat to the health of the Great Barrier Reef than agriculture. Last Tuesday, federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt authorized dredging and dumping associated with four coal terminals on the Great Barrier Reef coast, as well as the building of a liquid natural gas refinery and pipeline.

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<p>Last Wednesday, EU policymakers revealed a draft law designed to fight air pollution. The new law would institute revised legal limits on how much each nation can emit of a list of major pollutants and would establish measures to ensure that member states comply with existing limits. The legislation would also put new restrictions on emissions from medium-sized power plants, which in the past have escaped the limits imposed on larger plants.

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<p>Despite conservationists' concerns, last Friday Australia’s environment minister, Greg Hunt, approved mining billionaire Clive Palmer’s China First coalmine. The mine, planned for Queensland’s Galilee Basin, will have the capacity to produce 40 million tons of coal per year, triggering an estimated 85.6 million tons of CO2 when the coal is burned. Approval for the project came with 49 conditions.

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<p>More than 50 European and U.S. scientists have written to the president of the European Commission to urge him to go forward with a law that would label tar sands oil as 25 percent more polluting than other forms of oil. The law, which has been in limbo since it was approved by EU member states in 2009, has faced significant criticism from oil companies such as Total and BP. Canada—the world’s biggest producer of oil from tar sands—has headed the opposition to the law.

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<p>More than 50 European and U.S. scientists have written to the president of the European Commission to urge him to go forward with a law that would label tar sands oil as 25 percent more polluting than other forms of oil. The law, which has been in limbo since it was approved by EU member states in 2009, has faced significant criticism from oil companies such as Total and BP. Canada—the world’s biggest producer of oil from tar sands—has headed the opposition to the law.

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<p>European Union politicians supported a proposal last week to withhold carbon permits from the emissions trading scheme to increase prices. EU parliament's industry committee passed a proposal that would let the Commission take measures that "may include withholding of the necessary amount of allowances" from the 2013-2020 market. Analysts have said that the Commission overestimated the number of required permits for the 2008-2012 period, resulting in a price-depressing surplus of 500 million to 1.4 billion permits.

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<p>Chinese authorities have announced plans to force major cities to monitor fine particulate matter emissions, acknowledging that the move is partially in response to online activism. "A stirring campaign on the country's social network websites since last autumn seemed to have gained a satisfying response from the country's policymaker," said the Xinhua news agency. The plan involves stricter pollution monitoring in 27 provincial capitals, the Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, and Tianjin megacities, and three major industrial belts.

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<p>The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre proposed a plan last week that would result in 430,000 hectares of forest reserves being managed by Aborigines instead of the Parks and Wildlife Service. Any agreement would have to pass through Tasmanian parliament, and Premier Lara Geddings has stated that she is concerned that a deal would derail the agreement to end nearly all logging in public native forests.

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<p>Chevron's oil license is at risk in Brazil after federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against executives for an oil leak near Rio de Janeiro last year. Federal Prosecutor Eduardo Santos de Oliveira charged 17 Chevron and Transocean executives with environmental crimes and called for prison sentences of up to 31 years, adding to an earlier civil lawsuit seeking over $11 billion in damages.

<p>The United Kingdom Supreme Court rejected on Friday the government's appeal of a ruling deeming its changes to the solar tariff scheme "legally flawed." The ruling ends months of uncertainty for the industry, and determines that solar installations completed between December and early March will receive the original 43 per kilowatt hour (kwh) rate for 25 years, rather than the new 21 per kwh rate proposed by the government.

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<p>India asked its airlines to boycott the European Union's climate scheme last week, joining China in refusing to comply with the EU's carbon charge plan. "<span>Though the European Union has directed Indian carriers to submit emissions details of their aircraft by March 31, 2012, no Indian carrier is submitting them in view of the position of the government</span>," said Ajit Singh, India's civil aviation minister.

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<p>India asked its airlines to boycott the European Union's climate scheme last week, joining China in refusing to comply with the EU's carbon charge plan. "<span>Though the European Union has directed Indian carriers to submit emissions details of their aircraft by March 31, 2012, no Indian carrier is submitting them in view of the position of the government</span>," said Ajit Singh, India's civil aviation minister.

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<p><span style="color: #000000; font-family: 'Times New Roman'; line-height: normal; text-align: left; font-size: medium;">India's air quality is worst in the world for its effect on human health, according to a recent study from Yale and Columbia universities, measuring 3.73 out of a possible 100 points. The study, which used satellite data to measure air pollution concentrations, found that the fine particulate matter level in India is nearly five times the limit at which it becomes unsafe for humans.

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<p>Wildlife-rich English grasslands are at risk of being ploughed so that farmers can continue to claim EU subsidies for pastures, experts have warned. To escape penalties under proposed changes to the common agricultural policy, farmers are mowing down high-value grasslands to register permanent pastures ahead of a 2014 deadline. Though many of the grasslands are monocultures with limited natural value, an estimated 100,000 hectares remain that are rich in plants, fungi, bees, moths, and butterflies.

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<p>Though Petrobras appears to have contained Brazil's second major oil spill in four months, the accident has raised questions about offshore drilling's safety as the country moves forward with plans to develop offshore resources. A government team evaluating efforts to contain the spill said that there was virtually no chance the oil would reach the coastline, and that Petrobras' quick response was able to control the spill. However, environmental regulators have questioned the company's emergency plans.

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<p>The European Union could raise its binding 2020 emissions goals from 20 to 30 percent of 1990 levels much more cheaply and with costs divided much more fairly than originally believed, according to a draft EU document. The financial crisis has virtually guaranteed that the EU will achieve its 20 percent target, according to Reuters, and it also means that a 30 percent reduction would be much more affordable.

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<p>Japanese plans to restart nuclear reactors and cap their lifespan at 60 years has drawn anger, as citizen protestors delayed a nuclear watchdog hearing on its stress test results last week. Local officials, whose approval is needed to relaunch nuclear power plants, said that the stress tests are not enough and demanded additional safety standards.

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<p>Deforestation may cause the Amazon Basin to become a net emitter of carbon dioxide, according to a study published in the journal&nbsp;<em>Nature</em>. Though the region has traditionally defended against climate change, the basin's large population growth over the last 50 years has caused a massive spike in clearing for logging and agriculture. The study estimates that the Amazon contains 100 billion tons of carbon in its biomass, which is gradually released as the forest is cleared.

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<p>China's state planning agency ordered seven provinces and cities to set caps on greenhouse gas emissions last Friday as part of a plan to cut carbon intensity by 17% over the 2011-2015 period. China requested the cities of&nbsp;Beijing,&nbsp;Chongqing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and&nbsp;Tianjin, and the provinces of Hubei and Guangdong,&nbsp;to set targets and submit proposals for target allocation.

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<p>World clean energy investment hit $260 billion last year, in spite of a weak global economy, as nations ramped up investment to meet climate and energy targets. The United States, with $56 billion of investment, passed China to become the world's largest clean energy investor, a position it lost to China in 2009. "Despite financial crisis, and even though carbon pricing schemes haven't developed quite the way they were expected to . . . investment keeps growing," said Bloomberg New Energy Finance's lead clean energy analyst in Australia.

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<p>Federal and state officials announced an agreement to save 428,000 hectares of public forests, a move that follows more than 18 months of discussions between conservationist and industry groups. Green organizations criticized the deal, which leaves 2,000 hectares of high conservation value forests open to logging. "I would suggest if people are not happy with 99.5% of the original ask, then they are very hard to please," said Tasmania's Forests Minister, Bryan Green, though a map of areas available to loggers goes deep into wilderness forests.

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<p>Tokyo Electric Power Co asked a government-backed bailout body for an additional 690 billion yen ($8.8 billion) last week to help compensate victims of the nuclear crisis at its Fukushima Daiichi power plant. To help Japan's biggest utility, known as Tepco, meet costs running into trillions of yen for compensation and cleanup, the government had already agreed in November to provide 890 billion yen ($11.4 billion) through a bailout fund.

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<p>A maritime court in the northern coastal city of Tianjin accepted a case of compensation claims last Friday from aquaculture farmers who believe oil leaked from ConocoPhillips-operated oil field platforms in Bohai Sea resulted in their business losses. The Tianjin Maritime Court took up the lawsuit filed by a group of 29 aqua-farmers against ConocoPhillips China and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).

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<p>A record number of rhinos were poached this year in South Africa, home to the greatest number of the animals, as rising demand in Asia for their horns led to increased killings of the threatened species. At least 443 rhinos have been killed in South Africa in 2011, up from 333 last year, the national park service and conservationists said.

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<p>China's Three Gorges Dam Corp. began preparations last week on a dam that will flood the last free-flowing portion of the middle section of the Yangtze, the nation's longest river.

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<p>As Interpol carries out its largest anti-ivory poaching operation ever, executive director of police Bernd Rossbach called for a tougher crackdown on wildlife crime at a law enforcement summit last week. Calling ivory poaching and illegal logging "serious, organized and often transnational," Rossbach said there was increasing evidence that environmental crimes were connected to other forms of crime.

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<p>Farmers and seed companies appealed a ban on a genetically modified strain of Monsanto's corn, saying the ban was economically harmful and unjustified. Agricultural minister Bruno Le Maire imposed a temporary ban on MON 810 in March, saying it was a "precautionary measure" to protect the environment.

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<p>Farmers and seed companies appealed a ban on a genetically modified strain of Monsanto's corn, saying the ban was economically harmful and unjustified. Agricultural minister Bruno Le Maire imposed a temporary ban on MON 810 in March, saying it was a "precautionary measure" to protect the environment.

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<p>While Canada's greenhouse gas emissions remained largely unchanged from 2009 to 2010, the nation will have difficulty meeting its 2020 target, according to government figures. The Conservative government said that its environmental plan "is working," hailing the fact that emissions remained stable at a 0.25% increase while the economy grew 3.2%. Canada's emission peaked in 2007, at 751 megatons, and fell to 692 in 2010.

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<p>France's highest court may annul the verdict against oil company Total for a 1999 spill. The case involves the sinking of the tanker Erika, which broke apart in a storm and spilled some 20,000 tons of oil into the Bay of Biscay, damaging coastline and wildlife. The top appeals court will rule May 24 on whether to annul the guilty verdict on the grounds that the tanker did not sink in French waters. The chartered tanker was Italian-owned, flying a Maltese flag, and sitting in an Exclusive Economic Zone when it sank, which limits France's jurisdiction.

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<p>A judge in Brazil denied an injunction to stop Chevron and Transocean from operating after two offshore oil leaks, a federal court said last Wednesday. Prosecutor Eduardo Santos de Oliveira sought the injunction against the companies as part of an $11 billion lawsuit for damage at the Frade field last month, in the climate of increasing scrutiny of oil production. However, judge <span>Guilherme Diefenthaeler</span> ruled that the injunction would interfere with the authority of ANP, Brazil's oil regulator, to manage the oil industry.

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<p>Officials and activists detected toxins in consumer products in unrelated incidents in Beijing last week. The state's Xinhua News Agency said that police had arrested nine people and detained 54 others over chromium detected in gel capsules manufactured with industrial waste. According to Xinhua, police had seized 77 million capsules and halted 80 production lines as of last week, and no one has become ill or died from the capsules. The police also said they had arrested a local official who ordered his brother's factory torched last week to avoid the crackdown.

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<p>Brazil's congress voted to approve legislation easing rules on how much land farmers must preserve as forests. Though the bill requires millions of hectares of cleared land to be replanted, environmentalists say it makes land use regulations too lenient. "The approved bill gives a total and unrestricted amnesty to those who deforested . . . and goes against what the government itself had wanted," said Greenpeace in a statement. The final law allows federal states to decide how much forest needs to be replaced alongside rivers.

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<p>Peru is the latest developing nation to adopt a domestic climate change initiative in the absence of a binding international pact. The nation adopted a resolution to lower carbon emissions. The long-term plan is based on South Africa's plan and aims to add more renewables to Peru's energy mix, curb illegal logging, and move to a low-carbon economy. Peru said that it is already feeling the effects of climate change, including melting glaciers and crop-destroying record rainfall.

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<p>The United States, Japan, and the European Union (EU) have challenged China's export restrictions on rare earth materials, requesting dispute settlement consultations from the World Trade Organization (WTO). In the first WTO case filed jointly by the parties, they argue that China is driving up the prices of rare earth, crucial to the development of renewable energy technologies, by limiting exports.

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<p>The United States, Japan, and the European Union (EU) have challenged China's export restrictions on rare earth materials, requesting dispute settlement consultations from the World Trade Organization (WTO). In the first WTO case filed jointly by the parties, they argue that China is driving up the prices of rare earth, crucial to the development of renewable energy technologies, by limiting exports.

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<p>The United States, Japan, and the European Union (EU) have challenged China's export restrictions on rare earth materials, requesting dispute settlement consultations from the World Trade Organization (WTO). In the first WTO case filed jointly by the parties, they argue that China is driving up the prices of rare earth, crucial to the development of renewable energy technologies, by limiting exports.

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<p>United Nations negotiators in Rome have agreed to a set of proposed voluntary global guidelines for the governance of land tenure rights and access to land, fisheries, and forest rights. "Once approved, the guidelines will be voluntary, but because they have been drawn up in such a comprehensive and inclusive process, and because there is this shared perception that a framework like this is sorely needed, we all anticipate that they will set the bar for policymakers," said Yaya Olaniran, chairman of the United Nations Committee for World Food Security.

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<p>Urban air pollution may become the largest environmental cause of death, overtaking dirty water and poor sanitation, according to a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The report indicates that, by 2050, exposure to particulate matter may cause up the 3.6 million premature deaths per year. In addition, wealthy countries with aging populations will suffer due to ground-level ozone, as older people are more susceptible.

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<p>A European Union committee of technical experts failed to agree to a proposal to label oil sands fuel as more polluting than other fuel sources. The committee, which met last week, was tasked with determining whether oil sands should be labeled as "dirty" under the Fuel Quality Directive, which <span>is designed to cut the carbon intensity of transport fuels by 6 percent by 2020</span>. Such a label would make oil sands more costly to import, a measure Canada has called unjustified and discriminatory.

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<p>A European Union committee of technical experts failed to agree to a proposal to label oil sands fuel as more polluting than other fuel sources. The committee, which met last week, was tasked with determining whether oil sands should be labeled as "dirty" under the Fuel Quality Directive, which <span>is designed to cut the carbon intensity of transport fuels by 6 percent by 2020</span>. Such a label would make oil sands more costly to import, a measure Canada has called unjustified and discriminatory.

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<p>Forest fires have contributed to a large reduction in India's forest cover since 2009, with the heaviest losses occurring in Andrha Pradesh. The state reported a maximum forest cover loss of 281 square kilometer and a decrease across all states and territories totaling 867 square kilometers. Some of the damage is due to logging, and the state center in Andrha Pradesh blamed the Naxals, a militant Communist group, for felling trees. However, much of the damage is due to widespread fires.

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<p>The World Bank launched the Global Partnership for Oceans, a coalition of governments, nongovernmental organizations, and other groups, to protect oceans. The partnership aims to raise $1.5 billion in five years, and proposed targets for the Global Partnership for Oceans include rebuilding at least half of the world's fishing stocks. "The facts don't lie . . . we are not doing enough, we are not accomplishing enough, and the oceans continue to get sick and die," said World Bank president Robert Zoellick.

<p>The United Kingdom announced plans last week to reduce solar energy subsidies starting July 1 after an installation boom nearly exhausted its budget last year. "Costs are coming down, and we’re determined that the tariff comes down with it," Energy Minister Greg Barker said. "This is a very ambitious scheme and good news for the industry." Installations have increased significantly since the subsidies were announced in April 2010, and last year Britain installed three percent of the world's new solar panels.

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<p>On Thursday, a Conservative Alberta legislator called for a bill that would block foreign funding of the Canadian environmental movement. MP Brian Jean hinted that aboriginal chiefs may have received payments to oppose major projects, such as the Northern Gateway pipeline, while asking for details on research showing U.S. trusts had given $300 million to environmental groups in Canada.

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<p>In the face of blizzards that have pushed the power grid to its limit and a cold snap that has killed 400, Denmark has made progress on <span> the EU's Energy Efficiency Directive</span> a priority during its presidency. While Denmark argues efficiency would bring jobs and help reduce reliance on imported fuel, the EU is on track to meet only half of its non-binding target to increase efficiency by 20 percent by 2020.

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<p>South Korea became the latest nation to approve a climate trading scheme last Wednesday as lawmakers agreed to cap greenhouse gas emissions. The scheme places a cap on emissions from industry, generators, and even large universities, encouraging a move toward energy efficiency. The measure may lead to savings, as South Korea is the fifth largest importer of oil and the second largest importer of liquefied natural gas. Under the plan, firms can trade emissions permits or buy offsets from U.N. backed energy projects.

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<p>Rising sea levels and Greenland's glacial melt have not increased as fast as previously predicted, but ice loss has still increased 30 percent over the last decade, and sea level rises have endangered low-lying coasts, according to a new report published in the May issue of <em>Science</em>. Previous studies estimated that glaciers would double their ice loss by 2010 and continue at that speed, and the actual flow of ice rivers has caused "significantly less" of an increase in sea level rise.

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<p>Electricity retailer Origin Energy said that Australia is likely to overshoot its 2020 renewable energy targets by about six percent due to falling electricity demand and the penetration of household solar systems. Origin called for a change to the target, which will be reviewed this year by the Climate Change Authority. Russell Marsh, policy director for the Clean Energy Council, said that the level of demand for 2020 was unknown, and switching to a more flexible target would not give the certainty needed to drive investment.