Oil giants ConocoPhillips and CNOOC agreed to pay 1.7 billion yuan (US$269 million) for environmental damage caused by last summer’s leak in northern China’s Bohai Bay, the Financial Times reported. The money will be used to compensate harm inflicted by the spill and to support environmental initiatives in the region, including habitat restoration and research, the country’s maritime watchdog announced.
A coalition of researchers and NGOs released the world’s largest public database of international land deals, lifting the lid on a decade of secretive agreements in developing countries that have seen 5% of Africa’s agricultural land sold or leased to investors since 2000, The Guardian reported. Chinese company ZTE International is the second biggest investor listed in the Land Matrix database thanks to a 2.8 million hectare deal in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
New figures from China’s drought-relief authority revealed that the country’s lingering water shortages have left almost 8.6 million people without sufficient drinking water, according to Xinhua. Droughts have also harmed more than 3.6 million hectares of farmland, mostly in the provinces of Yunnan, Shanxi, Hubei, Sichuan and Gansu, officials said.
Water authorities in north-west China’s Shaanxi province unveiled plans to invest 6 billion yuan (US$952 million) in flood prevention and environmental clean-up on the Weihe River, the longest and most polluted tributary of the Yellow River, China Daily reported. The money will be used to fight pollution and to finance projects including dike-widening, tree-planting and bridge-building, the provincial water resources bureau said.
The koala has been classified as a threatened species in parts of Australia for the first time due to the “serious threat” from factors including urbanisation and climate change, ABC reported. The government hopes to stem the species’ precipitous decline which has seen numbers fall by 40% in Queensland and one third in New South Wales over the past 20 years.
Humans are causing a steep fall in populations of reef sharks in the Pacific Ocean, a new study covered by CNN showed. Marine scientists from the University of Hawaii estimated reef shark numbers near inhabited areas had fallen by more than 90% after surveying and comparing the waters around settled islands and the most untouched reefs.
Work stopped at the controversial El Morro copper-gold project in Chile after the country’s Supreme Court revoked its environmental approvals, Reuters reported. The permit for the project, which is 70% owned by Canada’s second largest gold miner Goldcorp, was suspended on grounds that indigenous people had not been adequately consulted or compensated.
China’s industry ministry announced a target to close 7.8 million tonnes of steelmaking capacity and 700,000 tonnes of copper smelting capacity this year as part of efforts to reduce pollution and improve efficiency, Reuters said. It is also aiming to remove 270,000 tonnes of aluminium capacity and 10 million tonnes of iron-making capacity, both much lower than last year’s targets.
Domestic environmental laws should be extended to overseas operations, says former government environment economist Hu Tao