Australia, one of the world’s worst per-capita carbon emitters, approved landmark laws to introduce a tax on polluting industries, The Independent reported. The final senate vote makes Australia only the second country outside the European Union (after New Zealand) to embrace a nationwide carbon-capping scheme.
The legislation’s impact will be felt across the economy, Reuters said, and is aimed at making companies more energy efficient and pushing power generation toward gas and renewables. Beginning in July 2012, a tax of 23 Australian dollars (US$23.50) per tonne of carbon emitted will be levied on the 500 biggest polluters.
Carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels made their biggest-ever annual jump in 2010, Agence France-Presse cited US energy department global data as showing. China led the way with an increase of 212 million tonnes of carbon in 2010 over 2009, compared to 59 million tonnes more from the United States and 48 million more from India. Significant spikes also were seen in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia, Poland and Kazakhstan.
The increase in emissions was a sign of how feeble the world’s efforts are at slowing man-made global warming, the Associated Press said, noting that the new 2010 figures mean that greenhouse-gas levels are higher than the worst-case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago.
Three weeks after floodwaters arrived in Bangkok, The New York Times reported, chest-deep water lingers across vast areas in a slow-moving catastrophe. One quarter of Thailand’s provinces are still affected by flooding, which has killed at least 527 people in the past three months. Built on swampland, Bangkok is slowly sinking, Agence France-Presse quoted experts as saying, and the floods could be a mere foretaste of the future as climate change intensifies.
Rhino poaching in South Africa has hit an all-time high, The Guardian cited the environmental organisation WWF as saying, with 341 rhinoceroses killed so far this year to supply the rhino-horn market in parts of Asia. To put 19 black rhinos in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province out of poachers’ range, New Scientist said, the WWF anesthetised and blindfolded the animals, then moved them 1,500 kilometres by helicopter and truck, north to Limpopo province.
Interpol, the international police agency, launched a campaign to help save the world’s last wild tigers in the 13 Asian countries where they still exist, the Associated Press reported. The project will link international wildlife officials with customs and law-enforcement officers to help stem poaching and smuggling of tiger parts. The tigers’ habitat spans China, Russia, south-east Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
The Prague Zoo plans to transport at least four more rare wild horses to a western Mongolian reserve next year as part of efforts to reintroduce the critically endangered species to its native habitat, The Washington Post said. Never successfully domesticated, the Przewalski horse is native to the steppes of Central Asia and became extinct in the wild in the late 1960s.
Japan’s weak carbon targets and reliance on coal will water down developed country actions at Paris climate talks, say analysts