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International Update Volume All, Issue All

NEGLECTED OIL TANKER THREATENS DISASTER OFF COAST OF YEMEN

On July 15, the director of the United Nations Environment Program called for urgent action to address a decaying oil tanker moored off the coast of Yemen. The FSO Safer, which has not been maintained for the past five years since the outbreak of Yemen’s civil war, holds 48 million gallons of oil. If spilled, the tanker would leak four times as much oil as spilled in the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

EGYPT, SUDAN PREPARE FOR NEGOTIATIONS OVER ETHIOPIA’S NILE DAM

On July 14, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan failed to reach agreement on the regulation of water flow from Ethiopia’s $4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile (Reuters). The dam would double Ethiopia’s current power capacity, positioning the country as a leading power exporter in Africa. Egypt has raised concerns that the dam would restrict water levels in the Nile River, the main source of water for its population of 100 million.

U.N. EASES AVIATION EMISSIONS OFFSETTING SCHEME IN RESPONSE TO PANDEMIC

EU

On June 30, the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agreed to shift the baseline year for CORSIA, a landmark carbon emissions offsetting scheme for airlines, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the industry. CORSIA, set to begin in 2021, requires airlines to buy credits to offset carbon emissions from international flights that exceed the baseline of average emissions in 2019-2020. The airline industry argued that using 2020 in the benchmark calculation would artificially lower the offset ceiling due to huge declines in flights this year.

NORWAY PLANS TO OPEN NEW TERRITORY FOR ARCTIC OIL EXPLORATION

Norway

Norway’s oil ministry plans to auction up to 136 new exploration blocks, including 125 in the Arctic Barents Sea, for oil and gas extraction. “We need new discoveries to uphold employment and value creation. I have good faith that the opportunities we now offer in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea will be attractive to companies,” said Tina Bru, Norway’s minister of petroleum and energy.

AMAZON FIRES POSE SERIOUS HEALTH RISK FOR COVID-19 AFFECTED COMMUNITIES

Brazil, Indonesia

Scientists warn that people living in tropical regions from Brazil to Indonesia may face a heightened risk for COVID-19 complications due to particulate matter released from forest fires (Reuters, Reuters).

RUSSIA INVESTIGATES CAUSES OF MAJOR OIL SPILL IN ARCTIC CIRCLE

Russia

On June 11, the Russian government charged the mayor of Norilsk, a remote Arctic city, with criminal negligence over a bungled response to a major oil spill (Reuters). On May 29, a fuel tank at a power station in Norilsk lost pressure and collapsed, leaking more than 20,000 tons of diesel into rivers and subsoil.

GLOBAL CO2 LEVELS REACH RECORD HIGH, DESPITE PANDEMIC LOCKDOWNS

Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose once again to the highest values ever recorded, despite global emissions drops due to the coronavirus pandemic. Carbon dioxide concentrations recorded at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii reached 417.2 parts per million (ppm) in May, 2.4 ppm higher than last year’s peak of 414.8 ppm (Reuters). 

COUNTRIES GRAPPLE WITH SURGE IN PLASTIC WASTE POLLUTION DUE TO COVID-19

Canada, Chile, China, France, Mexico, Thailand, United States

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased reliance on single-use plastics, resulting in a plastics pollution crisis faced by many countries around the world. A French environmental nongovernmental organization recently released a video showing masks and gloves littering the seabed of the Mediterranean Sea.

BRAZIL DEPLOYS TROOPS TO AMAZON AS DEFORESTATION REACHES RECORD HIGHS

Brazil

On May 11, Brazil deployed 3,800 troops to protect the Amazon rainforest as deforestation surged ahead of the high season for forest fires.

AUSTRALIA INVESTS $190 MILLION INTO HYDROGEN FOR GREEN ECONOMIC BOOST

Australia

On May 3, the Australian government announced the creation of a $190 million fund to develop hydrogen technology.

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