India “has the capacity to clean up, but not the political will”. This piece from the Economist’s Asia edition cites political apathy towards pollution and failures to listen to middle classes as two of the most significant factors in India’s continuing struggle with environmental protection. The country also shows mixed responses to their climate change commitments, as data shows a significant preference for coal power generation over cleaner gas-fired plants.
Another seven toxic substances may be added to the REACH chemicals regime authorisation list under plans drawn up by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Consultation on the list, which heralds a significant expansion of annex XIV to REACH, began on 2 March. These seven substances are karanal, 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidone, four related phenolic benzotriazoles (UV-328, UV-327, UV-350 and UV-320) and a family of phthalic acid esters which could be used in adhesives. ECHA is seeking comment on the substances’ uses, proposed transitional arrangements, possible exemptions from authorisation and information on supply chains until 2 June. A final decision on the proposals will be taken by the European Commission.
Cutting down on cutting down: How Brazil became the world leader in reducing environmental degradation
A recently published paper in the journal Science assesses how Brazil managed to reduce its deforestation rates by 70% over the course of a decade and points to a three-stage process in which bans, better governance in frontier areas and consumer pressure on companies worked, if fitfully and only after several false starts. While the Brazilian Forest Code from the mid-1990s mandated that 80% of farm land had to be set aside as a forest reserve, deforestation rates reached their highest as the code was not enforced. However, from 2005 Brazil’s President Lula da Silva made halting deforestation a priority which led to better cooperation between enforcement agencies and public prosecutors. At the same time, improvements in the efficiency of cattle breeding, a fall in export earnings from soybeans and an NGO campaign to boycott Brazilian soybeans caused deforestation to plummet. Then in 2009, once soybean expansion resumed, the government focused its efforts on the counties with the worst deforestation rates and banned them from getting cheap credit until the rates fell. Other reinforcing factors included a proper land registry, a cattle boycott, an amnesty for illegal clearances before 2008 and money from a special $1 billion Amazon Fund financed by foreign aid.