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International Update Volume 46, Issue 35

INDONESIA PASSES LAW ON PEATLANDS TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE

Indonesia

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.

MORE COUNTRIES TAKE LEGAL ACTION ON VOLKSWAGEN’S DIESEL SCANDAL

EU, South Korea

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.

RENEWABLE ENERGY INCENTIVES LOSE GROUND IN EUROPE

Italy, Netherlands

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.

CANADA AND AUSTRALIA DIVERGE ON CARBON PRICING

Australia, Canada

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.