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International Update Volume All, Issue All

LEADERS, COMPANIES RAMP UP CLIMATE EFFORTS AHEAD OF EUROPEAN GREEN DEAL

EU

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. Previous efforts to endorse climate neutrality have been blocked by Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, who rely heavily on coal (Reuters). 

CHINA EXPANDS COAL CAPACITY, THREATENING PARIS CLIMATE GOALS

China

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.

STUDY: CLIMATE CHANGE WILL BURDEN FUTURE GENERATIONS WITH LIFELONG ILLNESS

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 (Reuters).

NEW DELHI GOVERNMENT GRAPPLES WITH AIR POLLUTION CRISIS

India

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.

GOVERNMENTS, COMPANIES GEAR UP FOR NEW IMO SHIPPING EMISSION STANDARDS

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.

TYPHOON HAGIBIS DEVASTATES JAPAN; NATION GRAPPLES WITH PREDICTIONS OF MORE FREQUENT INTENSE STORMS

Japan

On October 12, Typhoon Hagibis made landfall in Izu Peninsula, Japan, sweeping across the northern region of the country and causing widespread flooding (CNN). The death toll hit 74 as of October 15, according to the national Japanese broadcaster NHK. Powerful winds and rain burst 73 levees on rivers across the nation, submerged over 13,000 houses and at least partially destroyed over 1,100 homes (NHK).

BRAZIL SAYS VENEZUELA TO BLAME FOR MAJOR OIL SPILL ON BEACHES

Brazil

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.

MADAGASCAR CALLS FOR INTERNATIONAL AID FOR FOREST FIRES

Madagascar

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.

AUSTRALIAN FARMER LAUNCHES GLYPHOSATE LAWSUIT AGAINST BAYER

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.

OCEAN CLEANUP DEVICE CATCHES PLASTIC FOR FIRST TIME

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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