As governments prepare to gather in Durban for the latest round of UN-led climate change negotiations, new figures cited by AP showed global warming gases in the world’s atmosphere have hit record levels. Concentrations of heat-trapping carbon dioxide are up 39% since the start of the industrial era and have now hit 389 parts per million, the World Meteorological Organization said.
The United Nations stirred concerns about “ozone-friendly” HFCs after releasing a report saying the global-warming potential of the potent greenhouse gases could match current emissions from the transport sector by 2050, the BBC reported. HFCs, widely used in fridges and air-conditioning, have become a popular replacement for substances banned under an international deal to protect the ozone layer.
Four nations in the politically tense Himalayan region agreed to work together to adapt to climate change after a two-day summit in Thimphu, AP reported. India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan said they would join forces on energy, water, food and biodiversity issues, a move welcomed by campaigners pushing for greater regional cooperation.
Australia’s plan for a 30% tax on the biggest profits in its booming mining industry cleared its biggest political hurdle when legislation was passed by the country’s lower parliamentary house, The Guardian reported. Money raised by the levy – which is also being considered by South American and African nations – would be used to fund infrastructure, pensions and business tax cuts if voted through by the Senate.
Brazil fined American oil giant Chevron US$28 million for an offshore spill in an area used as a migratory route by whales and dolphins and warned that more sanctions would follow, AFP said. Chevron, which has admitted full responsibility for the disaster, could be barred from operating in the country’s deepwater fields, according to officials.
The European Commission proposed a total ban on EU fishermen removing shark fins and discarding the body at sea, The Guardian reported. The governments of member countries were urged to back the “shark finning” prohibition, which would apply to vessels from the trading bloc – one of the world’s largest suppliers of shark fins to Asia – operating anywhere in the world.
Japan restricted rice shipments from an area in Fukushima prefecture after grain was found to contain radioactive contamination above safety levels, rekindling food-safety concerns, Bloomberg said. Tokyo officials said they had asked the region’s governor to tighten checks on local rice, eight months after eastern Japan was rocked by nuclear disaster.
Scientists said they had solved the mystery of how a “frozen continent” three kilometres beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet formed some 250 million years ago, offering clues to future global-warming impacts, Reuters reported. The history of the Gamburtsev subglacial mountains, which are the size of the Alps, will improve understanding of how the ice sheet responds to climate change, researchers said.
Moves by the Ministry of Environmental Protection to devolve powers to the local level is a mistake, says Friends of Nature director Li Bo