After months of bitter controversy, Australia joined a growing number of nations to impose a price on carbon emissions, Reuters said. The country’s biggest polluters will start by paying US$23 per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted in a hotly contested reform thought responsible for prime minister Julia Gillard’s ratings slump.
Japan restarted the first of 50 nuclear power plants dormant since the Fukushima disaster last year, amid noisy public protests, The Guardian said. Demonstrators shouted from the gates of the Ohi nuclear plant, on the country’s west coast, as its No 3 reactor was switched back on. Prime minister Yoshihiko Noda has warned that living standards cannot be maintained without nuclear energy.
China’s oceans watchdog issued a bleak assessment of the country’s marine environment, saying surging pollution and rampant development have driven rapid deterioration in recent years, China.org.cn reported. The area of sea classed as severely polluted grew to 44,000 square kilometres in 2011, up from 25,000 square kilometres in 2003, according to figures in the State Oceanic Administration’s annual report.
Millions of Americans were left without electricity amid heat-wave conditions after a round of severe storms battered the east coast, leaving at least 18 dead, Associated Press reported. Households from North Carolina to New Jersey and as far west as Illinois were grappling with power cuts as temperatures approached, or exceeded, 100-degrees Fahrenheit.
Fracking, the controversial technique used to extract natural gas from shale rock, was declared safe in a new report by the UK’s Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering, the BBC reported. The process, which involves pumping water and chemicals underground at pressure, is not dangerous as long as firms follow best practice and rules are enforced, said the study, which was commissioned following two fracking-related tremors in the north of England.
Hong Kong, Macau and south China’s Guangdong province launched a regional cooperation plan to boost quality of life, according to Xinhua. The strategy covers five key areas of potential collaboration, such as environment and ecology, low-carbon development and green transportation. Recommendations include working together to cut pollution from ships in the Pearl River Delta.
A new wave of fires raging on the Indonesian island of Sumatra is set to wipe out the world’s densest population of orangutans, conservationists cited in The Guardian warned. Satellite images reportedly show a surge in blazes started to clear land for palm oil plantations in the Tripa peat swamp, home to a group of around 200 critically endangered orangutans.
Authorities in northeast China’s Jilin province launched an investigation after five wild bears were found poisoned in the Changbai Mountains nature reserve, Xinhua reported. Officials said poachers caught in the area would be dealt with severely following discovery of the animal’s bodies, which were reportedly missing their paws and gallbladders. Bear paws are a Chinese delicacy, while gallbladder bile is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Domestic environmental laws should be extended to overseas operations, says former government environment economist Hu Tao