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International Update Volume 47, Issue 1

CHINA BANS IVORY TRADE

China

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.

CHINA TO EXPAND DEFINITION OF “ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMES”

China

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.

CHINA TAKING STEPS TO ADDRESS COAL USE

China

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.