22 October 2020 - NPWJ News Digest on Environmental Justice & Human Rights


Area burned in Indonesia fires ‘greater than the Netherlands’
Aljazeera, 22 Oct 2020

Tropical forest and peatland areas bigger than the Netherlands have burned in Indonesia in the past five years, Greenpeace has said, lambasting President Joko Widodo’s government for allowing the pulpwood and palm oil sector to act with impunity despite bearing “considerable responsibility” for the fire crisis.
In a new report on Thursday, the prominent environmental group said some 4.4 million hectares (9.9 million acres) of land have burned in Indonesia between 2015 and 2019.

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Damaged Venezuelan oil tanker poses minimal spill risk
Aljazeera, 22 Oct 2020

A damaged Venezuelan oil tanker recently tilting to one side in the Caribbean after taking on water poses no significant risk of spilling and causing an environmental catastrophe, officials of Trinidad and Tobago said Thursday.
Minister of Energy and Energy Industries Franklin Khan said a team of experts from his country inspected the Nabarima – a floating storage and offloading facility (FSO) – on Tuesday, allaying previous fears that it was on the brink of sinking and spewing 1.3 million barrels of oil. The double-hulled tanker is “intact and poses a minimum risk of any oil spills at this time”, Khan said.

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Alarm as Arctic sea ice not yet freezing at latest date on record
The Guardian, 22 Oct 2020

For the first time since records began, the main nursery of Arctic sea ice in Siberia has yet to start freezing in late October. The delayed annual freeze in the Laptev Sea has been caused by freakishly protracted warmth in northern Russia and the intrusion of Atlantic waters, say climate scientists who warn of possible knock-on effects across the polar region.
Ocean temperatures in the area recently climbed to more than 5C above average, following a record-breaking heatwave and the unusually early decline of last winter’s sea ice. The trapped heat takes a long time to dissipate into the atmosphere, even at this time of the year when the sun creeps above the horizon for little more than an hour or two each day.

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Greta Thunberg accuses MEPs of 'surrender on climate and environment'
The Guardian, 21 Oct 2020

Greta Thunberg has accused MEPs of surrendering on the climate and environment by voting in favour of a watered-down reform of the EU’s common agricultural policy.
The European parliament voted late on Wednesday in favour of proposals put forward by the main political groups that will continue 60% of the current direct payments to farmers with weak or non-existent green conditions attached. The changes backed by the parliament weaken an already heavily criticised proposal from the European commission on reform of the CAP, which accounts for one-third of the EU budget.

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Environmental factors behind 15 per cent of deaths across Mediterranean, new UN report reveals
UN News, 21 Oct 2020

Around 15 per cent of deaths in the Mediterranean are attributable to preventable environmental factors, a new UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report released on Wednesday has revealed. In 2016, more than 228,000 people died prematurely from exposure to air pollution, according to UNEP’s State of the Environment and Development in the Mediterranean (SoED).
Rising inequality, biodiversity loss, climate change and unrelenting pressure on natural resources, could lead to irreversible environmental damage in the Mediterranean basin, the report warned. Moreover, unless urgent and resolute action is taken to halt current trends, environmental degradation could have serious and lasting consequences for human health and livelihoods throughout the region.

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