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International Update Volume 44, Issue 6

NICARAGUAN CANAL AN "ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER"

Nicaragua

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.

FIRST "ORANGE" POLLUTION ALERT ANNOUNCED IN BEIJING

China

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.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION TO TAKE UK TO COURT OVER AIR POLLUTION

United Kingdom

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 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.