Panama on July 20 became the first Central American nation to ban single-use plastic bags to try to curb pollution on its beaches and help tackle what the United Nations has identified as one of the world's biggest environmental challenges.
Plastic waste pile and debris are seen up
near the beach in Panama City, as Panama becomes the first country in Central
America to ban all single-use plastic bags, in Panama July 19, 2019.
The isthmus nation of roughly 4 million people joined more than
60 other countries that have totally or partially banned single-use plastic
bags, or introduced taxes to dissuade their use, including Chile and Colombia
in the region.
Supermarkets, pharmacies and retailers
in Panama must stop using traditional polyethylene plastic bags immediately,
while wholesale stores will have until 2020 to conform to the policy approved
in 2018. Fines can be applied for non-compliance but there are exceptions for
the use of plastic bags for sanitary reasons, such as with raw food.
On the streets of Panama City, signs
with the phrase "less bags, more life" reminded passersby that the
measure had gone into effect.
"This seems like a good measure
because you avoid continuing to pollute the streets and the community,"
said Victoria Gomez, a 42-year-old secretary in downtown Panama City.
Birds, turtles, seals, whales and fish
often become entangled or ingest the remnants of plastic bags in Latin America,
one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. Along Panama's coast, it is
common to see plastic waste littering beaches, especially near populated areas.
Given projected growth in consumption, without
new anti-pollution policies oceans are expected by 2050 to contain more
plastics than fish by weight, according to the New Plastics Economy report
published by Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2016. The report also found that the
entire plastics industry will consume 20% of total oil production by then.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on February 16 announced a new climate action plan and spoke about future challenges in his annual state-of-the-nation speech.
Chinese health authority Monday (February 17) said it received reports of 2,048 new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection and 105 deaths on Sunday (February 16) from 31 provincial-level regions and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.
The Indonesian Government is formulating incentives for tourism industry stakeholders such as hotels or airlines to counter negative impacts of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), said Indonesian Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani Indrawati.
Around 100,000 homes remain without power in Sydney on Monday (February 10), after the heaviest storm in 30 years lashed Australia's east coast.
Many countries and international organizations have provided materials and other kinds of support for China in combating and controlling the novel coronavirus epidemic.
The outbreak of the acute respiratory illness caused by a new strain of corona virus (nCoV) in China is spreading to many countries around the world, becoming a new challenge for the global economy. Accordingly, China’s economic growth has slowed down and heavy losses from service, aviation, tourism sectors are predicted to hinder the world economy this year.