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April 2019: Monthly Environmental News Roundup

1.Germany to strengthen cooperation with Angola.

Dirk Lolk, the German Ambassador to Angola on his working visit to Cabinda said that Germany would strengthen its cooperation with Angola in the renewable energy sector. The diplomat, who is identifying areas for electricity subsector, praised the cooperation between the countries and highlighted the equipment supply for hydroelectric dam of Lauca and Cambambe. He is also visiting many economic enterprises during his visit there.

2.  Largest in Europe, 48 MW floating Solar PV project in Netherlands

GroenLeven the Dutch solar developer is constructing a 48 MW floating solar PV project on Netherlands’ old sand extraction site. As per the developer, upon completion this park being constructed in sand extraction site owned by Kremer Zand en Grind a leading sand and gravel extraction company, would be the largest in Europe and one amongst the largest in the world. This project is expected to generate electricity for about 13000 households. The electricity generated would be delivered to Kremer Zand en Grind which plans to optimize its electricity usage, lower transportation costs and reduce disruption to local communities. This project is also believed to benefit other industries in that area.

3.  25% global solar PV market growth in 2019 – IHS Markit

According to IHS Markit, Global business information provider, there would be around 25% growth in global solar PV market in 2019 and new solar capacity of around 129 GW. According to the Information provider, this growth is expected from markets outside China while only 2% growth is expected in China in 2019.  USA is expected to take over India as the second largest solar PV market. European market is also expected to grow and around 19GW is anticipated to be installed. Overall 2019 is expected to see strong solar rebound.

4. Bill introduced to protect Native American cultural site

A bill introduced by New Mexico lawmakers protects the Native American cultural site, the land around Chaco Canyon from drilling, mining, recurring attempts of oil and gas leasing.  Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act introduced bars any leasing or development of minerals by US government within 10-mile radius of the area.  This comes in after strong public opposition for planned lease sale of around 1500 acres within 10 miles of area which was then deferred in February. Navajo Nation and APCG, All Pueblo Council of Governors have backed the legislation, for protecting sacred sites from development and environmental destruction.

5. Norway’s largest party in parliament withdraws support for drilling in Arctic

In a major blow to the oil industry, Norway’s Labour party withdrew support for explorative drilling off the Lofoten islands in Arctic, where 1 to 3 billion barrels of oil are expected to be present, illustrating opposition to polluting fossil fuel in a country where more than 1.6 million barrels of oil are pumped out per day from the offshore operations. This comes in after Norway has given go-ahead for investing $1 trillion in renewable energy projects. These investments indicate wealth accumulated from fossil fuels being directed towards renewable energy based future projects.

6. UK parliament pension funds towards fossil fuel divestment

In a first for MPs’ finances, the parliamentary contributions pension fund (PCPF) trustees recognizing the climate change risk have confirmed that they would assess and reduce funds investments in fossil fuel companies and formulate responsible business plan and update statement of investment principles by October. In last December around 200 MPs called PCPF to phase out fossil fuel investment. It is notable that around the world such divestment campaigns have been happening and have also won notable victories like UK’s university pension funds, public pension funds divested.

7. By end of the century, two thirds ice in Alps glaciers doomed to melt

As per a new study two thirds ice in glaciers of Alps would melt by end of century owing to global warming. The research showed half of ice in 4000 glaciers to be gone by 2050 due to past emissions and at current rate of emissions; the ice could completely disappear soon. This would have huge impact on water for irrigation, hydroelectricity besides affecting nature and tourism. This study unlike past studies models included glaciers movement down the mountains and led to lower projected ice losses.

8. 45 million USD recycling plant in Kenya

To help cut environmental damage, a Chinese firm has opened 45 million USD recycling plant in Kenya. Every month 2000 tons of PET bottles will be recycled into pellets by the two plants in the east African country, by Weeco Recycling Company. Pellets so produced will be sent to Weeco’s parent company in China and polyester fiber would be made. A partnership deal has been signed with Kenya PET Recycling Company Ltd., PETCO. PETCO has also identified other partners for achieving the 2019 recycling target of 5900 tons.

9. World’s first 24 hour Ultra low Emission Zone unveiled

In an effort to curtail air pollution and protect public health, London Mayor unveiled the 24 hour Ultra low Emission Zone (ULEZ) the first of its kind in the world, boasting tough vehicle emission standards which would operate 24 hours and throughout the year. Vehicles non compliant to emission standards, driving into the city will have to pay a daily charge. This is expected to bring down the emissions and reduce the economic costs to the country which account to around £20 billion every year. Mayor also announced plans of expanding ULEZ to include North and South circular roads from October 2021.

10. 72% adults support emission charging in London

A poll by YouGov for business campaign group London First has shown 72% adults support the vehicle emissions charges. As per the Ultra low Emission Zone (ULEZ), diesel, petrol vehicles not complying to Euro 6, Euro 4 standards respectively will have pay £12.50 per day or face fine. While many personally welcome this and urged politicians to go even further, some feel the charges are too much and would affect the wrong places like the working class the most and only wealthy people who can afford the expensive low emission vehicles will only be able to drive.

11. £ 1m fund to boost paper cup recycling in UK

To expand as well as improve the paper cup recycling facilities across UK, Coffee giant Starbucks and environmental charity Hubbub have launched £ 1m fund. Starbucks’ 5p paper cup charge, finances this cup Fund. Though enough recycling facilities are present in UK, collecting the cups is still a challenge. Also, because of the plastic film in the paper cup only one in 400 cups gets recycled. This scheme aims to have more cup drop off points. Bids have been invited from local authorities, social enterprises, recycling companies for this purpose and an independent panel of experts would choose the winning bids.

12. Revamped Tirupati railway station gets green Gold rating

The green railway stations rating system developed by CII-IGBC with Environment Directorate of Indian Railways support has awarded Gold Rating to the Tirupati railway station in Andhra Pradesh on the basis of operational savings, reduction in water and electricity consumption, proper waste management, user friendly design for all, besides others. This revamped station now includes many modern facilities including LED lights, snacks kiosk etc. There are futuristic plans to have railway station plaza, multiplex, security check amongst others. The other railways stations revamped by the Railway ministry include Jaipur, Patna, Lonavala, etc.

13. German Government to discuss Carbon tax

As part of its national plan to control climate change, the government of Germany would discuss introduction of carbon tax says its environment minister. Svenja Schulze, the German Environment Minister said that in the months to come there would be proposals put forward to cut down greenhouse gases. It is notable that many countries have already introduced such carbon pricing. As per Schulze, the different models for such carbon taxes will also be debated in the Cabinet

14. Luxembourg signs agreement to fund FC4S

One of the world’s leading financial centers, Luxembourg signed an agreement to provide USD500000 funding to the FC4S, International Network of Financial Centres for Sustainability, an UN Environment convened network. This is to help FC4S to better connect financial centers and shape developments for green and sustainable finance in coming years. Luxembourg Green Exchange, 2016 is one amongst the various initiatives taken by Luxembourg towards its commitment to financial innovation and sustainable finance. The sustainable finance needed for delivering Paris Agreement and sustainable development goals are insufficient but efforts like these are needed to make the system sustainable.

15. Crack in Ice Shelf grew by 650 feet in just a month

Scientists are intensely monitoring an iceberg, twice New York City size that is about to break away from Brunt Ice Shelf of Antarctica. A huge crack in ice shelf which was steady for over 3 decades grew by 650 feet in last month extending towards another rift implying separation or calving of the iceberg. While there is no direct evidence of climate change link to this, past studies have shown thinning of ice shelves due to warming. As per NASA this could be the biggest iceberg to break off Brunt shelf in over a century. Once the iceberg breaks off, scientists plan to explore more to understand the region’s stability.

16. Bolsonaro’s new policy may lead to more deforestation fear environmentalists

President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration is considering replacing the broad paneled consisting of independent voices, council overseeing Brazil’s environmental policy known as CONAMA with smaller political appointees group. Activists fear that this could lead to less oversight, more deforestation, which is already in the rise, a crucial factor to slow global warming. Bolsonaro defended his environmental ideas mentioning that Brazil preserves the environment the most and others have lot to learn from it. However plans such as closing the agency overlooking conservation zones, etc are only creating more concerns as ecologists, scientists worry about downgrading of existing rainforest protections.

17. Below normal monsoon for India – Skymet

Private weather forecaster Skymet has predicted below normal rainfall between June-September in India. According to it, there is 15% of drought chances, 30% chance of normal and 55% chance of below normal rainfall. It also predicts rains in July, the key month to be around 9% short. El Nino – central Pacific Ocean warming is regarded as the key culprit here. According to a statement, around May-June-July, there is 66% El Nino chance. India Meteorological Department however has refused to comment on this forecast from Skymet.

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