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International Update Volume All, Issue All

EU CHARGES CARMAKERS WITH BLOCKING EMISSIONS CONTROL TECHNOLOGY

EU

On April 5, the European Commission charged BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen with colluding to limit the introduction of clean emissions technology. The Commission alleges that the carmakers colluded between 2006 and 2014 to limit, delay, or avoid the introduction of selective catalytic reduction systems to reduce harmful nitrogen oxides emissions from diesel passenger cars. The carmakers have 10 weeks to respond and could face fines of up to 10% of their global annual turnover.

SINGAPORE SEIZES MASSIVE SHIPMENT OF PANGOLIN SCALES

Singapore

On April 4, Singapore announced that authorities had seized 12.9 tons of pangolin scales, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The scales were found in a shipping container destined for Vietnam, along with 390 pounds of elephant ivory. Pangolins are critically endangered, and the conservation group WildAid estimates that roughly 100,000 pangolins are poached from the wild each year. For the full story, see https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-singapore-wildlife-trafficking/singapo....

MEXICO ANNOUNCES PLAN FOR VAQUITA PORPOISE RESERVE

Mexico

On March 21, the Mexican government announced that it would use buoys to mark the reserve of the vaquita porpoise in an effort to save the world's most endangered marine mammal. The Environment Department plans to provide social programs and jobs for fishing communities in the upper Gulf of California, where the species resides, and to encourage tourism, fish farms, and better fishing practices. With only roughly 10 vaquitas remaining, some environmental groups stress that more urgent measures are needed to save the species from extinction.

CHINESE COURT TO ESTABLISH NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL FUND

China

The Supreme People's Court, China's supreme court, is planning to establish a national environmental fund this year. The fund, which would use money collected in fines from polluting firms to help pay for environmental restoration, is being established in response to proposals from delegates of China's parliament. The court is currently engaging in discussions with other government departments to draft rules that clarify how the fund should be used.

EU CALLS OUT ITALY FOR FAILING TO BRING LANDFILLS INTO COMPLIANCE

Italy

On March 21, the European Court of Justice ruled that Italy has failed to bring 44 of its 102 landfills into compliance. The court noted that Italy's erratic treatment of its landfills, such as adopting a site-conditioning plan to authorize continued operations only to decide later to close the landfill, exacerbated the problem because it was impossible to unambiguously define whether landfills were to be closed or to continue to operate. For the full story, see https://www.courthousenews.com/eu-calls-out-italy-on-failure-to-redress-....

EU COURT RULES FOOD AGENCY MUST RELEASE GLYPHOSATE STUDIES

EU

On March 7, the European Court of Justice's General Court ruled that the European Food Safety Agency must disclose details of studies on the toxicity and carcinogenic properties of glyphosate. Concerns about the weedkiller's safety were highlighted in 2015 when an agency of the World Health Organization concluded that it probably causes cancer. The court found that it was in the public's interest to access the information not only for knowing what is or could be released into the environment, but also for understanding the impact of those emissions.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA PUSHES FOR CARBON EMISSIONS OFFSET

Australia

Western Australia's environment authority is proposing new guidelines to offset their carbon emissions in an effort to help curb climate change. Under the guidelines, fertilizer plants, power plants, and liquefied natural gas export sites that generate more than 100,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide would be required to buy credits to offset their emissions in order to pass the authority's assessment process. The guidelines are not binding, but the authority's assessments are considered by the state government when approving major projects.

HIGH COURT RULES AGAINST UK'S FRACKING GUIDELINES

United Kingdom

The High Court has ruled unlawful aspects of the UK government's national planning policy concerning fracking. The court found that the government failed to take into account scientific developments that called into question whether gas was considered a low-carbon fuel source before adopting the planning policy. The ruling suggests that gas from fracking might not be considered a low-carbon fuel source, which could hamper attempts to expand fracking around the country.

SOUTH KOREA TO TEMPORARILY SUSPEND OLDER COAL-FIRED POWER PLANTS

South Korea

On February 28, South Korea's energy ministry announced plans to suspend operations at four of its older coal-fired power plants from March to June in an effort to reduce air pollution. The ministry also plans to cap electricity output from other plants when air pollution levels are high and expand the use of low-sulfur coal. Coal power accounts for roughly 40% of South Korea's electricity. For the full story, see https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-coal/south-korea-plans-temp....

GROUNDED SHIP LEAKS 80 TONS OF OIL NEAR PACIFIC UNESCO SITE

Solomon Islands

On March 1, Australian officials announced that a large Hong Kong-flagged ship, which was chartered by the Bintan Mining Company to carry bauxite for aluminum production, has run aground next to a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Solomon Islands and has been leaking oil since February 5. Australian experts estimate that more than 80 tons of oil has leaked into the sea and shoreline in ecologically sensitive area and more than 660 tons of oil remain aboard the ship. Both Australia and New Zealand have sent experts to help monitor the spill.