Sep 29, 2018

Norway announces $200 million boost to anti-ocean plastic efforts

A woman looks for valuables in a rubbish dump in Bamako on August 16, 2018. Photo: Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images

The Norwegian government has announced a commitment to spend $200 million over the next 4 years to combat the growing scourge of plastic pollution in the oceans.

Why it matters: The commitment, unveiled at the Global Citizen Festival in New York, represents a significant ramp-up of efforts to prevent economic growth from irreparably harming sea life. It also shows momentum on a second major pillar of ocean policy, in addition to setting aside more ocean regions for conservation.

The background: The world's oceans are increasingly cluttered with plastic pollution from everything like plastic straws to water bottles and "ghostnets," which are fishing nets that have broken off their original lines.

  • The majority of all plastic produced is discarded or disposed of in natural environments, rather than being recycled.
  • Roughly 4.9 billion tons of plastic waste produced since the 1950s hasn't been recycled or burned. And, plastic production is expected to double over the next two decades.
  • Norway is a major oil producer, including offshore oil production, and has a significant fisheries industry.
  • The Norwegian government views oceans' health as a strategic priority, according to Nikolai Astrup, Norway's minister of international development.

The commitment: According to Astrup, who previewed the announcement in an interview on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, two-thirds of Norway’s wealth creation comes from ocean-related activities, and the oceans will be an even more important food source worldwide as population growth continues. This is particularly the case in Asia and Africa, he said.

"'One of the main problems is the almost complete lack of waste management systems in developing countries.”
— Nikolai Astrup, Norwegian Minister of International Development

Go deeper: Plastic straws play only minor role in global plastics pollution

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China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown

People wearing facemasks stand near Yangtze River in Wuhan. Photo: HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

China has lifted its lockdown of Wuhan, the city in Hubei province where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported in December, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: As cases surged in January, China took the draconian step of sealing off the city of 11 million and shutting down its economy — a response that was viewed at the time as only possible in an authoritarian system, but which has since been adopted by governments around the world.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 1,381,014— Total deaths: 78,269 — Total recoveries: 292,973Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 378,289 — Total deaths: 11,830 — Total recoveries: 20,003Map.
  3. Trump administration latest: Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill
  4. Federal government latest: Senate looks to increase coronavirus relief for small businesses this week — Testing capacity is still lagging far behind demand.
  5. States update: New York death toll surged to its highest one-day total as state predicts a plateau in hospitalizations.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The race to reopen America
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill

Glenn Fine, acting Pentagon watchdog

President Trump on Monday replaced the Pentagon's acting Inspector General Glenn Fine, who had been selected to chair the panel overseeing the rollout of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed last month, Politico first reported.

Why it matters: A group of independent federal watchdogs selected Fine to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, but Fine's removal from his Pentagon job prevents him from being able to serve in that position — since the law only allows sitting inspectors general to fill the role.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy