The environment in the news

ROAP Media Update 31 May 2006

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ROAP Media Update 31 May 2006

UN or UNEP in the news

Toyota Environmental Activities Grant Program Accepting Applications

Japan Corporate News (press release), Japan - Tokyo, Japan, May 30, 2006 - (JCN Newswire) - Toyota Motor Corporation ('TMC'; TSE:7203; NYSE: TM) has begun accepting applications today for this year's (*1) Toyota Environmental Activities Grant Program, which is designed to support environmental revitalization and conservation activities, both in Japan and overseas, for the purpose of sustainable development.
The program was established in commemoration of TMC's receipt of the Global 500 Award (*2) in 1999 from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and has been implemented every year since 2000, as part of TMC's environmental philanthropic activities. This year marks the seventh year of its implementation.
The program will support practical projects in the areas of environmental education and environmental technology conducted by NPOs (excluding schools) and other non-profit private groups. The program has two categories of grants: general grants, with no restriction on the implementation sites or on the grant amount per project, and small-scale grants, with a limit on the grant amount per project and with simpler application procedures (targeting activities in Japan). In total, approximately 200 million Japanese yen is to be awarded in grants for 2006.


PARIS, France, May 30, 2006 (ENS) - The hot economies of China, India and Brazil will more than double their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions within a generation with major impacts on global energy markets and the global climate, unless energy efficiency efforts are successful, according to new research published Monday. The study is a joint initiative of the World Bank, the UN Environment Programme's Risoe Centre, and partners in Brazil, China and India.
General Environment News

Kiribati rejects Australia's whaling ban appeal
ABC Asia Pacific, Australia, 31 May 2006 - The Pacific island nation of Kiribati has refused to give Australia a commitment to back a campaign to stop scientific whaling.
Our reporter in Kiribati, Sarah Clarke, says the refusal is being seen as a setback to Australia's global campaign to end whaling.
Australia's environment minister, Ian Campbell, met a ministerial delegation from Kiribati on Tuesday night.
The Pacific nation's fisheries minister says his country supports Japan's scientific whaling and remains neutral on its push to resume a commercial hunt.
Senator Campbell says it is two weeks until the International Whaling Commission meeting in St Kitts, so there is still time to secure the vote of Kiribati.

Australia Lobbies Pacific Nations Against Whaling
AUSTRALIA: May 31, 2006 - CANBERRA - Australia began a last-ditch attempt to lobby small Pacific Island nations to support whale conservation on Tuesday, warning that every vote at next month's International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting would be crucial.
Environment Minister Ian Campbell is leading a delegation to Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and Vanuatu to lobby against any move by Japan to try to overturn a moratorium on commercial whaling at the IWC meeting in the Caribbean.
"This year's IWC vote is crunch time for the future survival of whales and every vote will be critical," Campbell said, adding that whale populations were beginning to recover in the southern hemisphere following the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling.

Beijing turns back the tide of sand

New Zealand Herald, New Zealand -  Wednesday May 31, 2006, By Leonard Doyle - China has announced it has slowed the rate at which desertification is eating up farm and other land, a remarkable achievement in a country where the desert already covers one-third of its land mass.  

To the disbelief of many who endure the sandstorms that sweep the country every year, officials also expressed confidence that the 2008 Olympics in Beijing would not be affected by them.  

China would never completely tame the sandstorms, the officials said, but they did promise China would step up efforts to control the problem.  

Desertification of western China and the Mongolian steppes has made spring sandstorms worse in recent years, reaching as far away as South Korea and Japan. A persistent drought in northern parts of China has only added to the problem, sucking moisture from the soil and making it more easily picked up by the wind.

China Deserts Eat Up Arable Land – Environmentalist
CHINA: May 31, 2006 - BEIJING - A giant dust bowl is forming across northern China, converting swathes of arable land to desert and triggering sandstorms whose impact carries across the Pacific, a leading environmentalist said on Tuesday.
Lester Brown, of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute, said China was far from arresting the problem he attributed to overgrazing and falling water tables in the country whose landmass is already one-third desert.
"There are huge areas there that were once productive grassland that are now desert," Brown told foreign correspondents. "It represents the largest conversion of productive land to desert anywhere in the world."

China's Longest River "Cancerous" With Pollution
CHINA: May 31, 2006 - BEIJING - China's longest river is "cancerous" with pollution and rapidly dying, threatening drinking water supplies in 186 cities along its banks, state media said on Tuesday.
Chinese environmental experts fear worsening pollution could kill the Yangtze river within five years, Xinhua news agency said, calling for an urgent clean-up.
"Many officials think the pollution is nothing for the Yangtze," Xinhua quoted Yuan Aiguo, a professor with the China University of Geosciences, as saying.
"But the pollution is actually very serious," it added, warning that experts considered it "cancerous"."

Indonesia Quake Death Toll at 5,427; Aid Increases
INDONESIA: May 31, 2006 - YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia - International relief efforts picked up on Tuesday for survivors of a weekend earthquake that killed more than 5,000 people on Indonesia's Java island, with over a score of countries now involved.

Philippines Shuts Down KFC Outlet for Pollution
PHILIPPINES: May 31, 2006 - MANILA - A Philippine state agency on Tuesday ordered the closure of a branch of US-based fast-food chain KFC and a local restaurant for discharging untreated waste water into a lake supplying water to Manila, officials said.
The closure order was served to the manager of the KFC branch, who declined to make any comment. The franchise owner was not available to comment.
The agency said it had given KFC and Filipino restaurant Cabalen numerous chances to implement corrective measures to control discharges of untreated waste water into Laguna de Bay.

Funds sought for towers for early warning - 144 high-risk natural disaster areas seen
Bangkok Post, 31 May 2006 - POST REPORTERS - The National Committee on Natural Disaster Warning yesterday asked the government for a budget to set up early warning systems in 144 high-risk areas across the country. Committee chairman Smith Dharmasarojana said the systems were urgently needed to ensure the safety of people in areas prone to natural disasters.
He told yesterday's cabinet meeting that the setting up of early warning towers in the South was almost complete now.
However, similar alert systems were urgently needed in other parts of the country too, especially in the North and the Northeast.
Early warning towers should be set up at 144 high-risk sites in 57 provinces, Mr Smith said. Drills should also be organised regularly to prepare people to cope with natural disasters, he added.

BEIJING, China, May 29, 2006 (ENS) - The moment of truth for the world's largest dam will arrive on June 6. The main concrete wall of the Three Gorges dam on the Yangtze River must begin to hold water after a temporary cofferdam is demolished in a series of planned explosions. The last of three cofferdams used in building the massive dam, it generated power for construction crews building the main dam's right bank and served as a temporary barrier, excluding water from an area of the main dam that will soon be submerged.

China Says It's Slowing Rate of Desertification
BEIJING, May 29 (Reuters) - China, with desert covering one third of its landmass, is slowing the rate at which desertification is eating up arable and other land but the problem remains serious, a government official said on Monday.
At the end of the last century, areas affected by desertification in China were expanding at an annual rate of 10,400 square km (4,015 sq mile), said Zhu Lieke, deputy head of the State Forestry Administration.
This had now slowed to about 3,000 square km a year, he told a news conference.
"China's anti-desertification work has made major progress," Zhu said. "It has effectively improved agricultural production conditions ... and made a major contribution to the sustainable development of the economy and society.

Prince invests in green fuel
Bangkok Post, 31 May 2006 - UMESH PANDEY - Al Tayyar Energy, a company controlled by Prince Moulay Hicham Ben Abdallah of Morocco, plans to invest billions of baht in building eco-friendly power plants in Thailand in an effort to tap growing demand for energy in the country.
''We have already invested US$35 million in building the first phase of the project and over the three phases we plan to invest $100 million,'' HRH Prince Abdallah said during a visit to Bangkok to inaugurate A.T. Biopower, a power plant based in Phichit.
Apart from the expansion of this power plant, the company plans to invest in various biogas and biomass projects in Thailand and the region.
''We will have investments of $100 million for biomass projects in Thailand, another $25 million for biogas projects and other projects such as the expansion of our existing facilities in Korat [Nakhon Ratchasima],'' he said.

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