In case you missed it: 3 big stories from our world

The Anzihe Protected Area in China. (© Kyle Obermann)

Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

  1. China meets 2020 carbon target ahead of schedule: Xinhua

The story: China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, cut the amount of climate-warming carbon dioxide it produces per unit of economic growth by 46 percent in 2017, Reuters staff reported on March 27. In 2009, China pledged to cut its carbon emissions by 40 to 45 percent by 2020.

The big picture: In December, China announced its plans to create the world’s largest financial market devoted to reducing emissions contributing to climate change. Energy companies have a set amount of carbon that they’re allowed to emit, and companies exceeding that limit will need to buy “credits” from those that overachieved in reducing their emissions. By 2020, this model could contribute to removing 5.5 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually. “China’s planned cap-and-trade program represents an important step towards reducing emissions while incentivizing a shift to low-carbon development,” Shyla Raghav, Conservation International’s climate lead, said to Human Nature in December.

   2. UK ivory ban among world’s toughest

The story: Michael Gove, the United Kingdom’s environment secretary, said the sale of ivory of any age, with limited exceptions, will be banned in an effort to reduce elephant poaching, the BBC reported on Tuesday. Those breaking the ban by selling ivory will face a maximum penalty of five years in jail or an unlimited fine.

The big picture: The new UK ban is stronger than those in the United States and China, drastically narrowing the number and scope of exceptions. While the U.S. ban on the commercial African ivory trade is considered extensive, it exempts objects older than 100 years, and those that are less than 50 percent ivory. China’s ban exempts all “relics,” which are not defined by age. The new UK law, Gove said,  would “reaffirm the UK’s global leadership on this critical issue, demonstrating our belief that the abhorrent ivory trade should become a thing of the past.”

Read the story here.

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3. White House reviewing proposal that would roll back protections for threatened species

The story: The White House is considering a proposal that would remove protections for about 300 animal and plant species that are at risk of becoming endangered, Gregory Wallace reported for CNN on Thursday. A spokesman for the Fish and Wildlife Service, which sent the proposal to the White House, would not elaborate on the specific protections that would be removed.

The big picture: Noah Greenwald, who leads the endangered species project at the Center for Biological Diversity, said easing or removing the protections could allow oil and agriculture companies to kill or harm the habitat of these at-risk species in the process of their work. “This administration has more aggressively moved to roll back regulations for air, water and wildlife than any other administration,” Greenwald said.

Read the story here.

Morgan Lynch is a staff writer for Conservation International.

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