Around the Region

Caribbean nations acting to rein in plastic pollution

Caribbean countries are stepping up efforts to curb the use of single-use plastic, a major threat to the ocean waters that in multiple ways buoy their economies. Building on the Clean Seas Campaign launched by the United Nations in 2017, Barbados, The Bahamas and Dominica will implement complete bans on single-use plastic starting on Jan. 1, and Grenada is scheduled to put a ban in place the following month. In doing so, they will join other Caribbean nations that already have imposed such measures, among them Jamaica, Belize, St. Lucia and Antigua and Barbuda. At stake is the health of the Caribbean Sea, which according to the UN’s environmental arm has the second highest level of plastics pollution in the world after the Mediterranean—600 to 1,412 plastic items per square kilometer. In imposing the new restrictions, Caribbean countries aim to address their dubious distinction as world leaders...

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Bolsonaro administration park-concession plan wins applause

Environmental advocates have had little good—or, to be precise, much bad—to say about Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro since he took office nearly a year ago. So it should be noted that when his administration this month announced a new model for national park- and forest-concession contracts, some green groups actually applauded the initiative. The template, put into effect on Dec. 3 by presidential decree, will be used in the bidding for the first-ever private concessions in four national parks and two national forests, as well as in the renewal of existing, soon-to-expire private concessions in a fifth national park. The 30-year concessions will involve a wide range of activities including entrance-fee collection, visitation control, park restaurant and shop operations, guide services and transportation of visitors to trailheads. Until now, contracts for such concessions have been awarded to the bidder who offered the...

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COP 25 leaves region’s smaller nations feeling caught in middle

The dispiriting lack of progress at this month’s United Nations climate talks in Madrid underscored the predicament of small Latin American and Caribbean nations: they face devastating global-warming impacts but have limited power to persuade large, greenhouse-gas-emitting countries to quickly and dramatically change course. Major emitters at the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP 25) obstructed agreements on issues such as establishing a transparent framework for measuring progress on emissions; setting rules for international carbon trading; and providing compensation to smaller countries for loss and damage, experts say. Delegates and environmental activists expecting forceful language on the need to increase emissions targets in 2020 were also disappointed. Carlos Fuller, lead negotiator on climate change for the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis), told reporters in Madrid that his group of 44 small-island and low-lying coastal developing nations was “appalled at the state of negotiations.” Fuller, a...

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