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New Zealand: Landmark Judgment Recognizes Customary Rights in Coastal Marine Area

(May 21, 2021) On May 7, 2021, the High Court of New Zealand, the third highest court in New Zealand’s court hierarchy, issued a decision in Re Edwards (Whakatohea) (No 2) [2021] NZHC 1025 in which it “granted recognition orders for customary marine title and protected customary rights to a number of applicant groups in […]

Australia: Ban on Single-Use Plastic Products Enacted in Australian Capital Territory

(May 10, 2021) On April 8, 2021, the Plastic Reduction Act 2021 (ACT) was notified in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Legislation Register, with the relevant bill having been passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly on March 31, 2021. According to the revised explanatory statement for the bill, the legislation gives effect to a phase-out […]

International: Ten Protected Sites Added to International Union for Conservation of Nature “Green List”

(May 7, 2021) The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has added 10 additional protected areas to its “Green List”—a growing list of nearly 60 sites that meet IUCN’s 17 globally applicable standards for protected areas, which focus on good governance, planning, management, and preservation of nature. The standards are developed and monitored by […]

Norway: Supreme Court Rules on Scope of Climate Provision in Constitution, Finds Government May Issue Exploratory Arctic Drilling Permits

(Mar. 31, 2021) On December 22, 2020, the Norwegian Supreme Court ruled that the Norwegian Constitution does not prevent the country’s government from issuing permits to explore drilling in the Arctic. (Supreme Court Decision HR-2020-2472-P (sak nr. 20-051052SIV-HRET), Dec. 22, 2020.) In doing so, the Supreme Court also established the boundaries and meaning of the […]

China: Single-Use Plastic Straw and Bag Ban Takes Effect

(Mar. 23, 2021) On January 1, 2021, a plastic ban took effect in China that prohibits restaurants throughout the country from providing single-use plastic straws and stores in the major cities from providing plastic shopping bags. These are among the restrictions on the production, sale, and use of single-use plastic products set out in a […]

France: Court Finds Government Failed to Live Up to Carbon Emissions Reduction Objectives

(Mar. 8, 2021) On February 3, 2021, the Administrative Tribunal of Paris issued a judgment finding the French government liable for failing to live up to its own carbon emissions reduction objectives. This decision came in response to a lawsuit brought by four nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in March 2019, in which they sought to have […]

United Kingdom: Government Publishes Public Consultation on Environmental Impact of Commercial Spaceflight

(Mar. 2, 2021) On February 10, 2021, the United Kingdom’s government published a consultation (survey) seeking the public’s opinion about the environmental objectives the U.K.’s spaceflight regulator must consider when determining whether to grant a spaceport or launch operator license, along with guidance on how the regulator must implement these objectives. The government acknowledges both […]

Germany: Lightweight Plastic Bag Ban to Take Effect January 1, 2022

(Feb. 25, 2021) On February 9, 2021, the First Act to Amend the Packaging Act entered into force in Germany. The amendment bans the distribution of lightweight plastic bags at the point of sale of goods or products starting January 1, 2022. Lightweight plastic bags are those with a wall thickness below 50 microns. Very […]

Ecuador: Law on Restrictions on the Use of Plastic Enters into Force

(Feb. 16, 2021) On December 21, 2020, the Organic Law for the Rationalization, Reuse and Reduction of Single Use Plastics entered into force in Ecuador through its publication in the Registro Oficial, the official gazette. The purpose of the law is to restrict the use of single-use plastic products. Under the new law, the following […]

Switzerland: Popular Initiative to Hold Businesses Accountable for Human Rights Abuses or Environmental Harm Abroad Fails

(Feb. 10, 2021) On November 29, 2020, the popular initiative “For Responsible Businesses – Protecting Human Rights and the Environment” (Responsible Business Initiative) failed to reach the necessary majority for approval in Switzerland. The initiative aimed to introduce stricter statutory requirements for Swiss businesses abroad to comply with human rights obligations and environmental standards. It […]