The Stream, November 19: International Agreement Restricts Coal Financing

The  Global Rundown

The Global Rundown

More than 30 countries, including the United States, agreed to dramatically scale back financing for overseas coal-fired power plants ahead of the Paris climate change negotiations. A United Nations board urged the organization to create a scientific body focused on water. Flood risks are growing in Chennai, India, while a drought in Ethiopia is forcing the government to buy wheat. A civil lawsuit in Brazil is demanding billions of dollars for environmental damages caused by an iron ore mine, U.S. lawmakers are considering a bill to ban plastic microbeads, and a new project in Florida seeks to reclaim billions of liters of stormwater. Researchers argue China’s South-North water diversion is unsustainable.

“It’s been a very hard-fought compromise. We regard it as a major step forward coming just less than two weeks before the start of the (climate talks) in Paris on 30 November.”–A senior Obama administration official, on a new agreement between the 34 countries that make up the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development –including the United States– to significantly limit financial backing of overseas coal-fired power plants. (Guardian)

By the Numbers

By The Numbers

$2.62 billion Amount prosecutors in a civil lawsuit are demanding Brazilian mining company Samarco Mineracao SA pay for environmental damages after dam failures at one of the company’s iron ore mines triggered a mudslide and contaminated a nearby river. Bloomberg

1 million metric tons Amount of wheat Ethiopia has purchased so far in response to food shortages caused by a drought. The country announced plans to purchase more wheat to stave off food insecurity. Reuters

6 billion liters Amount of water expected to be reclaimed by a stormwater project in Florida that will capture runoff from a 3.2-kilometer section of highway. The stormwater will be cleaned by the local water treatment system and used for residential irrigation. Reuters


Science, Studies, And Reports

China’s massive South-North water diversion project, which can transfer 25 billion cubic meters of water from the Yangtze River to the country’s North, is both unsustainable and ineffectual in the long run, according to researchers writing in the journal Nature. They argue that China should instead focus on addressing the drivers of water scarcity in the North, particularly water pollution and inefficiency. Nature

The United Nations should create a scientific body focused on water to function like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, according to a report by the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation. Such an entity would improve international coordination on water issues, monitor progress toward water goals, and keep water in the political spotlight, the report’s authors said. SciDevNet

On the Radar

On The Radar

Flood risks are growing in Chennai, a city located on India’s eastern coast that is home to more than four million people. Population growth and development have encroached on wetlands and impeded the ability of rivers to carry away floodwaters. Quartz

The U.S. House of Representatives is preparing to vote on a measure that would ban the use of plastic microbeads in personal hygiene products. Microbeads can pass through wastewater treatment systems, ending up in rivers, lakes, and oceans where they are harmful to fish and other animals. Guardian

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