The Stream, March 19, 2020: Cambodia to Halt New Mekong Hydropower Projects for 10 Years

The Global Rundown

Cambodia says it will halt hydropower construction on the Mekong River for the next 10 years. Kenyan communities jumpstart initiatives to combat the coronavirus, including setting up handwashing stations and educating residents. As the coronavirus slows activities in Italy, the canals in Venice turn clear. A study warns that global banks are “failing miserably” as they shirk climate warnings and continue to fund fossil fuels. Poor families in India fear that a lack of access to clean water will leave them vulnerable to the coronavirus. 

“The kind of water we have access to has the potential to cause more diseases instead of warding off the virus if we use it to wash our hands.” –Dharam Singh Rajput, a resident of New Delhi, India, in reference to the difficulty of staving off the coronavirus in poorer Indian neighborhoods. Around 160 million Indians, including those in Rajput’s community, have no access to running water, complicating hygiene efforts. As of Wednesday, India had 147 confirmed cases and 3 deaths linked to the coronavirus. TIME

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By The Numbers

10 years Length of time that Cambodia will put a pause on the development of new hydropower dams along the Mekong River. A senior energy official said the country will redirect its focus to other forms of power generation, including coal and solar. Laos is now the only nation actively planning hydropower projects on the river. Reuters

30+ Countries in Africa that have confirmed cases of the coronavirus. In Kenya, many community-led initiatives are springing up to help combat the disease. Measures include hand washing stations and disease prevention education. Reuters

Science, Studies, and Reports

A new study by a group of environmental and non-governmental organizations states that the globe’s largest investment banks have poured $2.66 trillion into fossil fuels since the Paris climate agreement. Researchers from the study say that financing for the companies most heavily-invested in new fossil fuel extraction jumped by almost 40 percent in the past year.  The Guardian

In context: Big Banks Finance Water-Damaging, Climate-Warming Energy Projects

On the Radar

As Italy attempts to contain the coronavirus, a halt to most daily activities in the country has led to an interesting outcome: water in Venice’s canal system is now clear. The waters are normally heavily clouded, but heavy cuts to canal traffic have transformed the waterways. The Venice mayor’s office noted that the quality of the water has not actually improved despite the clearness of the water. MarketWatch 

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