December 18, 2014

Transparency measure aimed at extractive industry signed into law

The Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act officially came into law on Tuesday. In an attempt to eradicate bribery and corruption in the extractives industry, governments around the world, including the United States and the European Union, have introduced mandatory reporting requirements to increase revenue transparency and accountability for resource extraction companies. Companies are required to begin reporting in 2017. The specific parameters of the law have yet to be determined and will be decided through a multi-stakeholder consultation process. Civil society actors are concerned that the reporting requirements will be watered down during the negotiation process. “For data-users in the more than 100 countries where Canadian extractive companies are active, Canada must ensure a strong reporting standard, aligned with global best practice,” says Claire Woodside, Director of Publish What You Pay Canada. “This includes public project-level reporting of payments with no exemptions.”

 

Barrick suspends Zambian operations after royalties hike

Barrick Gold Corp., the world’s largest gold mining company, announced that it will suspend operations at its Zambian copper mine after the government announced changes to its royalty regime. The Zambian government passed a new law that increases required royalty payments from 6 per cent to 20 per cent, starting in 2015. “The introduction of this royalty has left us with no choice but to initiate the process of suspending operations at Lumwana,” Barrick’s co-president Kelvin Dushnisky said in a statement. The company had previously threatened to halt work at the mine if the law passed.

 

New York State bans hydraulic fracturing

After years of delays, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration announced a ban on all forms of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking. The acting state health commissioner, Dr. Howard A. Zucker, explained that the decision was based on the possibility of the general public being exposed to “significant public health risks” through in-state fracking operations. A portion of New York State sits atop the Marcellus Shale formation, a rich source of natural gas in neighbouring states, such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. A well-organized grassroots anti-fracking movement has emerged in New York State over the past several years and has been instrumental in pressuring the administration to take a hard line on development. New York is the first state with sizeable natural gas reserves to institute such a ban.

 

Jeb Bush is a climate change denier

Now that former Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush has (sort of) thrown his hat into the 2016 Republican presidential sweepstakes, journalists and opposition researchers are hard at work outlining his various public policy positions. The Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg, for one, has unearthed strong evidence that Jeb Bush is a climate change denier. An early adopter of the “I’m not a scientist” line now infamous among Republican office holders, she also points readers to an instructive 2011 interview he conducted with Fox Business. “It is not unanimous among scientists that [climate change] is disproportionately manmade,” he said. “What I get a little tired of on the left is this idea that somehow science has decided all this so you can’t have a view.” With President Obama busy rolling out an ambitious climate change agenda, the issue of environmental regulations promises to be front and center during the 2016 presidential race.

 

12 reasons for climate optimism this holiday season

Events in 2014 have provided ample reason for climate change and environmental optimism, writes the Centre for Global Development’s Jonah Busch. The Ozone layer has begun to bounce back in certain places, while solar energy prices continued their unprecedented tumble downwards. Levels of deforestation have slowed in Brazil, while a dozen jurisdictions in North America now have some form of price on carbon pollution. States and provinces, such as Washington and Ontario, could be next to roll out similar policies.

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