IFCE Global Environmental Weekly Events [6/1 - 6/8/2018]
1. Chinese Mapping App Provides Environmental Information, Encourages Low-Carbon Travel
Amap, one of the major mapping and navigation platforms in China, launched an environmental mapping service on its app on Tuesday, providing users with real-time environmental information, including air and water quality indexes and factory sewage records.
When users in China open the Amap navigation app, they can now not only make use of its mapping service, but also view environmental information and choose to go to the most environmentally-friendly destinations.
“The new service aims to encourage people to be more aware of environmental issues and take part in environmental protection to build a Beautiful China,” said Sub Lijun, Vice President of Alibaba group, China’s e-commerce giant. Users can access the service by selecting “environment map” in the app. If users choose public transport, walking or cycling as their mode of transportation, the app will automatically record the distance of these low-carbon trips.
It will accumulate points for users who use low-carbon means of travel, and will convert these points to charity programs, such as building bridges in impoverished mountainous areas to make contributions to China’s poverty alleviation programs, according to Liu.
Source: Xinhua Net
2. China Can Give India Lessons On Curbing Water Pollution, Says UN Environment Head Erik Solheim
China, the world’s biggest polluter, can give India a lesson on curbing water pollution, according to Erik Solheim, executive director at the United Nations Environment Programme.
“Five years ago, the country had some of the worst polluted rivers in the world, but now they are clean,” Solheim told bloombergQuint in an interview. It has evolved techniques to manage waste in confined areas and has opened rivers, lakes and wetlands to prevent contamination, he said.
According to Central Pollution Control Board, the number of polluted rivers in India has risen to 275 from 121 over the last five years. The state recorded the highest number of river stretches where industrial effluents were being dumped between 2008 and 2012. Indian cities generated over 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day, a January 2015 assessment report of the Central Pollution Control Board said.
3. More Chinese Cities Get Black Marks for Pollution Failures
China’s environment ministry has criticised senior officials from three cities for failing to fix serious pollution problems, in Beijing’s latest attempt to name and shame regional governments for persistent environmental violations.
The president’s direct involvement has turned environmental compliance into a matter of political loyalty, putting regions under even more pressure to comply with tough new rules and standards. But while some provinces have been racing to meet or even exceed their targets, especially in developed eastern regions close to the capital Beijing, others have fallen behind.
In April, the ministry held the first of its name-and-shame meetings, summoning mayors from three northern cities to account for their failings during last winter’s crackdown on smog. The country’s smoggiest province of Hebei, which surrounds Beijing, said last month that it had fired and reprimanded more than a dozen officials for failing to control air pollution last year.
Source: South China Morning Post
4. House Republicans Attack Environmental Group Over Its Climate Work in China
The chairman and a senior member of the House Natural Resources Committee have written a letter to the Natural Resources Defense Council suggesting that the environmental organization register as a foreign agent because of its climate and environment activities in China and public statements the lawmakers alleged served China’s interests.
The NRDC has worked for years in China urging the government to slow the growth of coal use, improve building efficiency, track and limit mercury emissions, clean up diesel leaks in Chinese ports and help develop environmental laws.
“The Committee is concerned about NRDC’s role in aiding China’s perception management efforts with respect to pollution control and its international standing on environmental issues in a way that may be detrimental to the United States,” the letter said. “The NRDC’s relationship with China has many of the criteria identified by U.S. intelligence agencies and law enforcement as putting an entity at risk of being influenced or coerced by foreign interests.”
Source: The Washington Post
5. Trump Withdrew From the Paris Climate Deal A Year Ago. Here’s What Has Changed.
A year ago today, President Trump shocked the world by announcing that the United States would be the first and possibly only country to join, but then subsequently withdraw from, the Paris climate change agreement. Trump’s move felt dramatic at the time and was hugely controversial. Despite his administration efforts to roll back environmental protection, there has been little change in the nation’s overall greenhouse gas emissions trajectory.
The Trump administration, since the Paris withdrawal, has largely lacked a consistent message about climate change. Instead it has had many contradictory voices, from the climate change doubt of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to the recent embrace of climate science by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
Similarly, while the administration has launched a wave of attempted regulatory rollbacks of Obama policies meant to curb climate change, like the Clean Power Plan, litigation by states and environmental groups makes it unclear how far those will advance. Thus fay, market trends that continue to punish coal and reward renewable energy and natural gas remain the dominant driver of the U.S. energy picture.
Source: The Washington Post
6. EU’ Climate-ADAPT Found to Be A Key Tool for Adaptation in Europe
The number of users of the joint European Environment Agency (EEA) - European Commission Climate-ADAPT online knowledge hub has increased fivefold since its launch in 2012, according to an EEA report published today. The assessment confirms the increasing value of the web platform for users such as policy makers, city planners, and other experts who are looking to share and make use of information and best practices in adapting to climate change.
The EEA report “Sharing adaptation information across Europe” suggests that there is also potential to grow the use of the platform by improving its reach, especially to users in eastern and central Europe and users with less experience of adaptation. It explains that increasingly countries are moving from developing adaptation strategies to implementing action plans, which requires other information, for example, on indicators of progress and effectiveness of policies and actions - areas where Climate-ADAPT can help inform users.
The outcome of the evaluation will feed into the European Commission’s evaluation of the EU’s climate adaptation strategy currently taking place. It will help the Commission and the EEA in their work to update the platform ensuring it reflects changing policies and information demands at national, European and global level.
Source: European Environment Agency
7. Government Promises Profitable Farming Post-Brexit
The government will take steps to ensure farms can operate profitably after Brexit, the environment secretary has insisted, as MPs challenged ministers to keep taxpayer funding for agriculture after EU subsidies are withdrawn.
Michael Gove said food production was at the heart of British farming. He told the all-party parliamentary environment group: “It would be impossible to sustain everything we value in rural Britain without thriving food production. And we need a balance [with environmental protection].” His insistence on food at the core of the agriculture remit of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will be welcomed by farmers, who have seen lower productivity in recent years and were concerned by his previous emphasis on the environmental responsibilities of farming.
The environment, food and rural affairs committee found, in a report published on Wednesday, that the government’s plans for farming after Brexit have so far been vague and demanded further detail on what funding would be available after Brexit. Farmers currently receive £3bn in annual subsidies from the EU.
Source: The Guardian
8. World Environment Day: ‘Our World is Swamped By Plastic’
Discarded plastic is one of the biggest environmental threats facing the planet, the UN said in a report on Tuesday to mark World Environment Day.
The UN report, Single-Use Plastics: A Roadmap for Sustainability, said rules limiting the use of plastic bags have helped in places such as Morocco, Rwanda, and parts of China - sometimes significantly. Elsewhere, however, things have not gone well and urgent action is needed. The report noted, by some estimates, as many as five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year.
“Our world is swamped by harmful plastic waste,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a speech.” Microplastics in the seas now outnumber stars in our galaxy.
“If present trends continue, by 2050 our oceans will have more plastic than fish.”
Globally, eight million tons of plastic is dumped into the ocean every year, killing marine life and entering the human food chain, according to the UN Environment Programme.
9. Australian National Party Comments on Drought and Climate ‘A Disservice’ to Farmers
Farmers have challenged National party claims that conditions in drought-stricken regions in eastern Australia should not be politicised by attributing them to climate change. Farmer and former Nationals leader John Anderson said this week that while the drought was the worst he had experienced, it was not unprecedented.
The south-east of Australia has experienced record high temperatures this year during an unseasonably dry and hot autumn, prompting fire bans and warnings from authorities. In its latest winter outlook, the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting warmer and drier than average conditions across large parts of the country.
“The bottom line is climate change is making weather patterns more extreme and unpredictable and that has serious consequences for Australia’s agriculture production,” The Climate Council’s research director and acting CEO, Martin Rice, said. Rice said hotter than average conditions and heat wave conditions in northern parts of New South Wales were leading to drier conditions and there had been an “abject failure” in climate policy at a federal level.
Source: The Guardian
10. Resource Competition and Climate Change Hampering South Sudan Peace and Development
The South Sudan State of Environment & Outlook Summary Report launched on World Environment Day is the first ever review of the South Sudan environmental situation. Ongoing conflict in South Sudan continues to hinder its ability to sustainably manage and develop its natural resources, threatening livelihoods of more than 10 million people depending on the country’s natural resources, according to the report.
“The war in South Sudan has been absolutely horrific and brings an extraordinarily high cost to civilians,” Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment said. “This report shows how important it is to ensure South Sudan’s resources are managed well to benefit all of the people and put the country back on the road to peace.”
If sustainably managed, South Sudan’s natural resources - such as forests, oil, water, and minerals - present a huge economic opportunity for the country. The report identifies several key policy recommendations that will allow the world’s youngest nation to protect its ecosystems and create income by promoting agriculture, fishery and industrial development; establishing mechanisms for the protection and sustainable use of natural resources; and developing climate resilient communities.
Source: UN Environment