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International Update Volume All, Issue All

UK, EU Carbon Tax Proposals Under Fire, Australia's Questioned by Businesses

United Kingdom

Point Carbon analysts said that UK's plan to introduce a price floor for carbon emissions permits may harm business by introducing a £9.3 ($15) billion burden, but will likely cut emissions from the energy industry by 5.3 percent. The proposed floor will begin at £16 ($26) per metric ton in 2013 and rise to £30 ($49) per metric ton by 2030. However, according to Point Carbon, the price could rise to €54 ($78) per metric ton by 2020, while the rest of EU's Emissions Trading Scheme sees prices closer to €36 ($52).

China to Increase Shale Production; Study Questions Environmental Impact

China

The deputy director of China's Ministry of Land and Resources said that the country may begin shale gas production within the next five years to "meet rising demand for cleaner-burning fuels," according to Reuters. Deputy director Che Changbo said that China wants to triple the use of natural gas to help cut its reliance on coal. According to a U.S. Energy Department report, shale reserves in China that are "technically recoverable" stand at about 1,275 trillion cubic feet, about 19 percent of the world's 6,622 trillion and about 12 times the amount of conventional gas reserves.

Algeria Sets New Renewable Energy Goals

Algeria

Energy and Mines Minister Youcef Yousfi announced last week that Algeria has adopted new goals that six percent of energy will come from renewable sources by 2015 and 40 percent by 2020. Fossil fuels currently account for 96 percent of export revenue, and Yousfi said that the launch of 60 renewable energy projects capable of producing 3,000 megawatts would "prepare the country for the post-petrol era." The country recently joined the Desertec Industrial Initiative, a Sahara group that aims to use wind and solar power to provide 15 percent of Europe's power by 2050.

IOI Censured by Industry Group for Environmental Violations

Malaysia

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, an industry body promoting eco-friendly palm oil, has censured IOI Corp., Malaysia's second largest planter. A grievance panel investigated and found breaches of membership obligations after environmental activists accused IOI of draining peatlands and engaging in land disputes with local communities in Sarawak. The company has 28 days to deliver a proposal to resolve standing issues.

World Bannk to Restrict Fossil Fuel Funding

The World Bank announced that it will seriously restrict its funding for fossil fuel projects, restricting money for coal-fired power plants to only the poorest countries, and only when they can prove alternative projects are not feasible.

Oilsands Cause Conflict in Canadian Elections

Canada

Oilsands projects and their subsidies have become a contentious issue in the Canadian federal elections, as the New Democratic Party's Jack Layton vowed to eliminate C$2 billion in oil and gas subsidies and use the money instead for renewable energy. The party has also proposed a moratorium on new oilsands projects pending efforts to manage their environmental impacts.

Hydropower Land Acquisition Sparks Local Chinese Protests

China

Five days of mass protests around the upper Yangtze River failed to stop China Three Gorges' planned Xiangjiaba hydropower project last week, and the corporation's website still lists June 2012 as the expected start date of electricity generation. Some 2,000 villagers blocked a main road and a bridge over the Yangtze and hurled bricks and stones at police to protest the valuation of the forcible land acquisition for the 40,000 people who are being displaced to make way for the dam, joining green groups that have long opposed the project.

South Africa to Spend $168 Million on Acid Cleanup

South Africa

South Africa will spend 1.2 billion rand to clean up the acidic water that threatens to spill out of gold mines near Johannesburg. The network of abandoned mines that surrounds and underlies Johannesburg stretches for miles, and the mix of chemicals filling the flooded tunnels will affect the country for years, according to a report released by the Department of Water Affairs. Water flooding the tunnels has reacted with billion-year-old rocks to produce heavy metals, sulfuric acid, and radiation.

UN Releases Report on Urbanization and Climate Change

A United Nations study released last week found that a "deadly collision between climate change and urbanization" will take place unless effective urban planning measures can deliver energy and emissions savings. According to the study, an estimated 59 percent of the world's population will live in urban areas by 2030, and cities tend to be energy intensive. The report warned that towns and cities are vulnerable to serious consequences of increased emissions, including increased frequency of heat waves, downpours, and droughts, and increased sea level in some areas of the world.

India Allows Controversial Steel Project

India

Environment minister Jairam Ramesh has fallen under heavy criticism from environmentalists and tribal rights activists after granting clearance to the Korean giant Pohang Iron and Steel Company to build a $12 billion steel plant in Orissa. The 12 million ton capacity plant was approved in 2007, but faced project-stalling opposition from tribal populations in possession of the necessary lands and from environmental groups concerned about the effects of the plant.