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International Update Volume All, Issue All

AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER DENIES ROLE OF CLIMATE POLICY IN BUSHFIRES

Australia

Widespread bushfires across New South Wales and Kangaroo Island in Southeast Australia have scorched over 25.5 million acres of land, equal to the size of South Korea (Reuters).The fires have claimed 27 deaths and destroyed over 2,000 homes, with conditions expected to worsen the weekend of January 10 (New York Times).

THAILAND, MEXICO CITY KICK OFF 2020 WITH PLASTIC BAG BANS

Thailand

Effective January 1, Thailand’s plastic bag ban in major stores follows a yearlong campaign against single-use plastics after several incidents in which animals died from plastic blocking their digestive systems (Reuters

YOUTH ACTIVISTS, ISLAND NATIONS CALL FOR URGENT ACTION AT U.N. CLIMATE TALKS

On December 6, over half a million protesters marched outside the U.N. climate summit in Madrid, demanding that world leaders take action (BBC).

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.

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