IFCE Global Environmental Weekly Events [6/9 - 6/15/2018]

Release time:2018-06-18

1.      China to Launch Broader Environmental Inspections This Month

Beijing will expand environmental inspections to more cities and regions in a new round of checks from this month to April next year, the ministry of ecology and environment (MEE) said in a statement on Friday, part of a three-year anti-pollution plan.

Apart from smog-heavy Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and nearby areas, the inspections - to run from June 11 to April 28, 2019 - will also target the Yangtze River Delta region, including Shanghai, and Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces, and some 11 cities in the northwestern provinces of Shanxi and Shaanxi.

Two hundred teams with a total of some 18,000 inspectors and support staff will be sent out, tripling the workforce for the inspections carried out during this past winter.

"Despite improvements in some regions, Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei remains the most polluted place in the country, while the Shanxi-Shaanxi region saw air quality worsen in recent years," the MEE said.

Last year, China emitted around 25 million tonnes of VOCs, up 25 per cent from 10 years ago.

Source: The Economic Times

2.      Free Power From Freeways? China is Testing Roads Paved With Solar Panels

On a smoggy afternoon, huge log carriers and oil tankers thundered down a highway and hurtled around a curve at the bottom of a hill. Only a single, unreinforced guardrail stood between the traffic and a ravine.

The route could make for tough driving under any conditions. But experts are watching it for one feature in particular: The highway curve is paved with solar panels.

“If it can pass this test, it can fit all conditions,” said Li Wu, the chairman of Shandong Pavenergy, the company that made the plastic-covered solar panels that carpet the road. If his product fares well, it could have a major impact on the renewable energy sector, and on the driving experience, too.

The experiment is the latest sign of China’s desire to innovate in, and dominate, the increasingly lucrative and strategically important market for renewable energy. The country already produces three-quarters of the solar panels sold globally, and its wind-turbine manufacturing industry is also among the world’s largest.

Source: The New York Times

3.      Environment North Carolina’s New Campaign: Wildlife Over Waste

Plastic pollution is killing our wildlife. That's why Environment North Carolina is announcing a new campaign and working with local partners to ban harmful types of single-use plastic food containers in North Carolina.

Polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, is one of the worst and most common types of plastic. Americans throw out 70 million polystyrene foam cups every day, and that doesn't include bowls and takeout containers. Roughly a third of that discarded plastic ends up in our waterways: rivers, lakes and especially oceans.

Environment North Carolina canvassers will be knocking over 30,000 doors through August to educate consumers, business owners and decision-makers about plastic pollution, and urging them to support a statewide ban. Canvassers have already collected over 4,000 petition signatures from North Carolinians and are adding more every day in support of banning foam cups and boxes made of polystyrene.

"With the many, safer alternatives that exist today, we don't need polystyrene, or any single-use plastic for that matter," said Alex Truelove, Zero Waste Campaign Director for U.S. PIRG Education Fund. "We need to ban these unnecessary and harmful plastics that are destroying wildlife in order to shift towards better alternatives."

Source: The Transylvania Times

4.      The US and Japan Are The Only G7 Nations That Refuse to Tackle Plastic Pollution

During this year's Group of Seven (G7) summit, five of the world's leading industrial powers signed an ambitious environmental charter, promising to protect our shared oceans from plastic pollution.

Under the G7 Ocean Plastics Charter, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union (EU) have all agreed to increase plastic recycling by 50 percent, while also working towards 100 percent reusable, recyclable or recoverable plastics by 2030. The US and Japan were the only nations that refused to join.

The US plastics industry is the third largest manufacturing industry in the US, producing 19.5 percent of the world's plastic, employing 1.4 million people and creating about $380 billion a year.

The problems that this industry has created are staggering. Every year, the world produces around 300 million tons of plastic, and every year, 10 million tonnes of plastic winds up in our oceans.

Nations outside of the G7 are also doing their part. India, for instance, just announced that it would be removing all single-use plastics by 2022. While the rest of the world appears to be joining together to fight this global issue, the US is nowhere to be seen.

Source: ScienceAlert

5.      Pinoys Urged to Reduce Meat Consumption to Help the Environment

According to the the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock process is "one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems.”

To prevent further degradation of the environment, Greenpeace and its partner groups are calling on Filipinos to participate in the World Meat-Free Week and replace beef, chicken, pork, and other animal products on their tables with fruits and vegetables instead.

Meat lovers, however, do not need to eliminate their carnivorous diet to be part of the solution. Simply reducing meat consumption will go a long way in preventing climate change, Benosa-Llorin said.

She noted that substituting two meat servings a week to plant-based courses regularly will significantly decrease GHG emissions.

Contrary to popular belief, switching to a plant-based diet does not mean a decrease in nutrients. "There is a misconception that we need animals for protein but the truth is we can get protein from, beans, legumes, and other vegetables," she explained. "Our enemy is our mindset. We are trapped in a mindset that meat is necessary to be healthy. There are other options."

Source: ABS-CBN News

6.      Pope Urges Oil, Energy Bosses to Lead on Environment

Pope Francis urged oil and energy industry executives to be leaders on the environment as he met with them Saturday in a first-of-its-kind conference at the Vatican. "Civilization requires energy," the Pope said, "but energy must not be used to destroy civilization!"

Francis encouraged the industry chiefs to reduce fossil fuel use and work to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit climate change caused by carbon dioxide emission and greenhouse gases.

Environmental degradation and climate change hurt the poor most of all, he said, telling the group to consider the impact of their economic decisions.

Under increasing pressure from environmental groups and many lawmakers, some oil and gas companies are attempting to show a "greener" face by investing in renewable energy.

Source: CNN

7.      India at Bottom of 2018 Global Environment Performance Index

Unable to improve its air quality, protect its biodiversity, and cut its greenhouse gas emissions, India – say all available data -- stands today at the bottom of the Global Environment Performance Index (EPI) rankings. In 2016, the country had ranked 141 out of 180 countries. In 2018, according to the just released State of India’s Environment (SoE) 2018 in Figures, it has slipped to the 177th position.

Delhi is always in the news for its poor air quality. However, an analysis of the winter (November and December 2017) and summer (April-May 27, 2018) air quality levels of 10 state capital cities shows that they too are in the dangerous grip of a multi-pollutant crisis, and are currently facing a severe health challenge.

While India's total forest cover has registered a 0.2 percent increase between 2015 and 2017, there are some serious concerns over the growth pattern. Says Richard Mahapatra, managing editor, Down To Earth: The SoE in Figures clearly shows that the bulk of the increase has taken place in the open forest category, which includes commercial plantations – which is worrying. And this has happened at the cost of moderately dense forest category, which is normally the area close to human habitations.”

Source: The Times of India

8.      South Sudan First State of Environment Report Emphasizes Sustainable Resource Management for Peace

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment) and South Sudan’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry issued the first-ever report on the state of the environment in South Sudan. Titled ‘South Sudan: First State of Environment and Outlook Report,’ the publication highlights that droughts, floods, pollution, deforestation and conflicts could worsen South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis and threaten the livelihoods of ten million of the country’s 12 million people.

The report acknowledges that ongoing conflict hinders the country’s ability to sustainably manage and develop its natural resources, and states that competition over access to resources could exacerbate conflicts and forced migration. It concludes that sustainable and equitable management of resources, such as forests, oil, water and minerals, will contribute to peace and economic prosperity. The report’s recommendations aim to help South Sudan: protect its ecosystems and generate income by promoting agriculture, fishery and industrial development; establish mechanisms for protecting and sustainably using natural resources; and develop climate resilient communities.

Source: IISD SDG Knowledge Hub

9.      How Countries Can Trade Their Way to Climate Resilience

In the winter of 2014, the Finistère area of Brittany in northwestern France was hit with violent storms, bringing torrential rain, heavy wind and flooding. Winter floods in this part of France are common; in 2014, however, the heavy rainfall caused the river to rise to record levels – 2.5 times higher than average – threatening people and infrastructure.

Trade can play an important role in response, recovery and building resilience to natural disasters, particularly through the implementation of technologies that help to reduce emissions and protect livelihoods from the impacts of climate change. Many companies are seeing this trend, and are producing innovative technologies to meet the challenges of the future.

Globally, the economic cost of natural disasters is around $520 billion. The prudence of encouraging and investing in environmentally sound technologies to promote climate resilience is becoming clearer and clearer. UN Environment’s Environment and Trade Hub works with governments around the world to help them identify opportunities for trade in environmental goods and services, open up trade in environmental goods and services, and encourage the diffusion of environmentally sound technologies.

Source: UN Environment

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