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International Update Volume All, Issue All

BRAZIL’S BOLSONARO PUSHES BACK ON CRITICISM OVER AMAZON FIRES

Brazil

On August 22, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro conceded that the record number of fires raging in the Amazon may be due to farmers illegally setting fires, but told foreign powers not to interfere with Brazil’s sovereignty. Government figures indicate that fires in the Amazon have risen 83% compared to the same period last year. French President Emmanuel Macron expressed concern over the fires on Twitter, calling them an “international crisis” that should be discussed at the upcoming G7 summit.

INDONESIA’S CRACKDOWN ON WASTE IMPORTS CUTS VILLAGE INCOME

Indonesia

The Indonesian government’s restrictions on imported foreign waste has upset residents in the village of Bangun, who depend on waste recycling as a key source of income. Since China banned the import of foreign garbage, Indonesia has seen a surge in the arrival of waste. Last year, Indonesia imported 283,000 tons of plastic waste, up 141% from the previous year. Bangun residents depend on the revenue to send people from the village on the Haj pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest sites in Saudi Arabia and fund schooling, livestock, and housing.

NORWAY, GERMANY SUSPEND AMAZON FUNDING IN DISPUTE WITH BRAZIL

Brazil, Germany, Norway

Norway and Germany have suspended their funding to the Amazon Fund, criticizing President Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policies. Ola Elvestuen, Norway´s environment minister, stated that Brazil broke an agreement with Norway and Germany by eliminating the board and the technical committee of the Fund with no plans for replacement. Created in 2008, the Amazon Fund finances projects to protect the Amazon rain forest. Norway is the largest contributor to the Fund, donating $1.2 billion to date, followed by Germany at $68 million.

PACIFIC FORUM MEETING NEARLY COLLAPSES OVER CLIMATE ISSUES

At Thursday’s Pacific Islands Forum meeting, talks extended over 12 hours as leaders of Pacific Island nations clashed with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison over key climate policies. Morrison attempted to block a number of measures, including setting targets to limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and halting coal mining. “I said to the Australian prime minister that ‘you are concerned about your economy, I am concerned the future of my people,’” Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga recounted.

GERMAN PROSECUTORS CHARGE EX-AUDI CEO OVER EMISSIONS CHEATING

Germany

On July 31, German prosecutors announced they had filed charges against former Audi Chief Executive Rupert Stadler, who is being investigated over his role in Volkswagen's emissions test cheating scandal. According to the public prosecutor's office in Munich, Stadler and three other defendants are being charged with fraud, false certification, and criminal advertising practices. For the full story, see https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-audi-emissions-probe/german-prosecutor....

INDONESIA INVESTIGATES OIL SPILL IN JAVA SEA

Indonesia

Indonesia's environment ministry has deployed a team to investigate the cause of a leaking oil well in the Java Sea. The well has pumped an estimated 3,000 barrels of oil per day into the sea and the northern Java coast since the spill began. According to the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), the country's biggest green nongovernmental organization, up to 80% of neighboring fishing communities have incurred some degree of economic loss as a result of the spill.

AUSTRALIA DROPS ACTIONS FOR BREACH OF NATIVE VEGETATION ACT

Australia

On August 1, the Australian government announced that it was dropping actions against hundreds of farmers for breaching the 2003 Native Vegetation Act that has since been repealed. According to energy and environment minister Matt Kean and agriculture minister Adam Marshall, the actions were dropped to "deliver fairness" to farmers by ensuring that those engaged in activity that is now legal are not punished under historic laws.

SPANISH COURT BLOCKS BID TO LIFT MADRID CAR RESTRICTIONS

Spain

On July 16, a Spanish judge blocked an attempt by Madrid's council to lift restrictions on vehicles entering the city center. Under the current restrictions, only certain vehicles—primarily electric and hybrid cars—are permitted to enter a central area of around five square kilometers without being subject to fines. The court held the restrictions should remain in place pending further review by magistrates because lifting them would have an irreversible immediate impact on the environment.

HELMETED HORNBILL CASQUES SEIZED AT INDONESIAN AIRPORT

Indonesia

On July 17, Indonesian authorities seized 72 helmeted hornbill casques that were hidden in a woman's carry-on bag at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. The woman carrying the casques was charged under the 1990 Conservation Law, for which she could face up to five years in prison and up to 100 million rupiah in fines if convicted. The helmeted hornbill is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List, a decline which has been driven by demand for their casques.

COLOMBIA COURT UPHOLDS RESTRICTIONS ON GLYPHOSATE FUMIGATION OF COCA

Colombia

On July 18, Colombia's constitutional court upheld restrictions on the aerial spraying of the herbicide glyphosate to eliminate coca, the base ingredient in cocaine. All eight of the court's judges held that the national narcotics council would decide whether spraying could restart, noting that it was not necessary to prove with absolute certainty that the herbicide was not harmful, but that the council should consider all available scientific evidence about minimizing risks to health and the environment.