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Taiwan Sets Aggressive Timeline to Ban Straws and Other Single-Use Plastics
Taiwan's Environmental Protection Agency, in cooperation with a number of environmental organizations, proposed an ambitious 12-year timeline Tuesday to eliminate four types of single-use plastics—takeaway beverage cups, drinking straws, shopping bags and disposable tableware—by 2030 to tackle plastic pollution.
Taiwan, the birthplace of bubble tea, is famous for its unique food and drink culture, but the plastic vessels that come with the treats make up the vast majority of the country's beach litter. Additionally, the Tamsui River in the north was declared the 16th dirtiest river in the world for leaching 14,700 tons of plastic debris into the ocean every year.
As Taiwan News detailed:
- Starting in 2019, food and beverage stores will be restricted from providing plastic straws for in-store use. In 2020, free plastic straws will be banned from all food and beverage establishments.
- Starting in 2025, even plastic straws for carryout will be banned and customers will need to pay a fee to use them. In 2030, the goal is to have a complete blanket ban on the use of plastic straws at all establishments in Taiwan.
- As for plastic shopping bag phase, the EPA will implement a ban on all stores that issue uniform invoices in 2020. In 2025, prices on plastic shopping bags will be raised, and by 2030 such bags are to be completely banned.
- Starting in 2020, food and beverage businesses will not be allowed to provide customers inside their establishments with disposable utensils. In 2025, a price system will be implemented on disposable tableware, and by 2030 a complete ban will be imposed on disposable utensils.
- In 2020, plastic beverage cups will be restricted and by 2025 users will have to pay an extra fee to use them. By 2030 take-away beverage cups will be completely banned.
At a press conference announcing the plan, Environmental Protection Agency Minister Lee Ying-yuan advised that single-use plastics can be switched with reusable or biodegradable items.
Along with the phase-out of plastic items, the Sea Waste Management Platform also involves dozens of initiatives to clean up existing plastic litter and to stop its flow from the source. Programs include raising public awareness, river trash removal, a microfibers and microplastics survey program, and a "public-private cooperation" model of cooperation.
McDonald's Taiwan has already said it will cooperate with the government regulations and promote green consumption.
Taiwan Today further reported:
"EPA Minister Lee Ying-yuan said protecting the ocean necessitates cooperation among all segments of society. The plan is a strong step forward in this regard and a milestone in tailoring responsive policies through input from the public and private sectors, he added.
According to Lee, rubbish-strewn oceans are a pressing global issue and Taiwan, as a responsible member of the international community, is committed to playing its part in rectifying the situation. As identified in the plan, the best way of addressing this problem is slashing the number of debris sources, he said."
A number of countries around the world have taken big steps to cut plastic waste. Chile prohibits the sale of single-use plastic bags in 102 coastal villages and towns. Kenya introduced a serious law that slaps a fine or even a jail sentence on anyone who manufactures, sells or even carries a plastic bag. And just last month, Scotland announced plans to ban the manufacture and sale of plastic-stemmed cotton buds.
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.