Highlights from the world environment news this fortnight – Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Australia take steps to ban plastic, HK busts largest ivory haul, France aims to ban all petrol and diesel cars, the US might come back into the Paris Accord and more. Important steps have been taken, while there is a lot more to do. The environment still suffers everyday. The worlds largest iceberg has broken off the Antarctic due to global warming, potentially destabilizing the entire ice shelf. Read more below.
Australia puts pressure to ban plastic bags, Woolworths and Coles ban plastic bags
Pressure is growing from the federal government and multiple petitions on NSW, Victoria and Western Australia to ban plastic bags. In the last 3 months, 2 national TV programs, 160,000 Australians (who signed petitions), Federal ministers, Federal opposition have already pushed these 3 states to levy a ban.
Woolworths and Coles, the largest supermarket chains have already announced phasing out single use plastic, replacing them with a reusable 15c bag. Similar levies in Ireland, UK and Denmark on single use plastic have led to a reduction of over 80-90% of plastic bag usage in just one year!
Read the full article here.
Paris climate accord pushes electric car agenda forward, Volvo steps up hybrid and electric vehicle production
France has announced a huge step in reducing its carbon footprint by committing to ban sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 in order to meet its obligations to the Paris accord. This comes on the heels of Volvo that declared it will go completely electric – no new model launched after next year would rely solely on internal combustion engines. These decisions are made possible because of the rapid development of technology in this field and the acceptance of consumers to this concept.
Sales of diesel cars in Europe have already dropped by more than 10 percent this year, while demand for electric and hybrid vehicles is increasing. There is also a long waiting list for the new Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle, which will sell for $35,000 and shortly come on the market.
Full article here.
Sri Lanka bans plastic bags amid garbage crisis
The island nation has been facing a garbage crisis after a central garbage dump collapsed in April, killing over 30 people and burying an entire neighbourhood. Sri Lanka is also facing its worst ever dengue epidemic with over 225 patients killed and over 80,000 infected. Following a proposal by President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the Minister of Environment, the Cabinet agreed to ban the use of polythene and Styrofoam by local shops with immediate effect. The use, production, import and sale of lunch sheets would be banned under the new regulation. The burning of plastic bags in open areas was also prohibited from Wednesday.
The CEA said shopping bags will be replaced with reusable cloth bags under the new law, which according to local media reports was introduced in an effort to reduce environmental damage brought about by the use of non-biodegradable polythene items. Read more here.
Hong Kong authorities seize ‘record’ ivory haul
Authorities in Hong Kong have announced the world’s largest seizure of 7.2 tonnes of invory tusks estimated at $9.5 million. The raid and seizure was conducted in coordination with the EU action plan against wildlife trafficking. Hong Kong customs inspectors found the cargo on Tuesday when they searched a Malaysian shipment declared to be containing frozen fish at the Kwai Chung custom house. Full story here.
Donald Trump may reverse decision on Paris climate accord, says Emmanuel Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron said he was hopeful that US President Donald Trump would reverse his decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord, according to weekly newspaper ‘Le Journal du Dimanche’ This is after detailed meetings by the 2 leaders that around convincing the US President to reconsider joining the Paris Accord. Bringing back the US into the Paris Accord would mean a huge boost to controlling global warming, provided there are no major amendments that weaken the stance of the accord or put other nations under undue pressure.
Read more here.
Zimbabwe bans plastic foam containers
Zimbabwe’s Environment Management Agency has ordered the food industry to stop using containers made of expanded polystyrene and replace them with recyclable or biodegradable versions. This was made applicable immediately leaving business owners upset with unused stocks. However, the EPA has defended the decisions stating that EPS as plastic foam is dangerous because it emits toxic chemicals when the containers are burned, and garbage is routinely burned in Zimbabwe. They also contribute to garbage clogging and contribute to flooding. Anyone found flouting the EPS ban will be fined between $30 and $5,000. Environmentalists have applauded the move, but believe the Government needs to go further and ban plastic bags similar to other African countries like Kenya.
One of largest icebergs ever breaks off Antarctic ice shelf
A one-trillion-ton iceberg has broken off the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica. The iceberg which has been deteriorating for years finally calved and broke off last week. NASA satellites detected the break-away, which scientists have been anticipating for about a year. The ice will add to risks for ships as the peninsula is the main destination for cruise ships visiting from South America and could possibly lead to a rise in sea levels as it continues to melt. Because so much of the Larsen Ice Shelf has splintered off, scientists now worry that it could be less stable, which could mean more disintegration. The remaining ice sheets are also thinning at a rate of between 6 and 9 feet each year. This has been attributed to global warming which has led to an increase in earth’s temperature which has affected the temperature of the oceans as well.
While the future progress of the 2,300-square-mile iceberg is difficult to predict, it has changed the landscape of Antarctica forever and only time will truly tell the effects of this change.
Read more here.