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International Update Volume 44, Issue 12

AUSTRALIA GREEN GROUPS TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION AGAINST ABBOTT AGENDA

Australia

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.

POLAND CALLS FOR ENERGY INDEPENDENCE FROM RUSSIA

Poland

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.

CHINA LEGAL REFORMS SEEK MORE TRANSPARENCY, ENFORCEMENT

China

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.