The Environment Chronicle

Notable environmental events between 2003 and 2003 Deselect

  1. The Executive Body adopted the Protocol on Heavy Metals on 24 June 1998 in Aarhus (Denmark). It targets three particularly harmful metals: cadmium, lead and mercury. According to one of the basic obligations, Parties will have to reduce their emissions for these three metals below their levels in 1990 (or an alternative year between 1985 and 1995). The Protocol aims to cut emissions from industrial sources (iron and steel industry, non-ferrous metal industry), combustion processes (power generation, road transport), and waste incineration.

  2. Ninth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 9) took place from 1 to 12 December 2003 in Milan, Italy. The Climate Change Conference was initially adversely affected by Russia's contradictory statements on its ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, the uncertainty regarding the date of the Protocol's entry into force and by the US going on the offensive in its climate policy approach in the media and at side events. Nevertheless, COP 9 was able to make it clear that the Kyoto Protocol had the support of the overwhelming majority in the international community. One key outcome of COP 9 was the successful conclusion of the two-year negotiations on the rules for afforestation and reforestation projects in developing countries. This closed the last gap in the Kyoto Protocol's rules of implementation.

  3. The Stade nuclear power plant had been in operation since 1972, making it Germany's second-oldest electricity-generating reactor after Obrigheim which went on line in 1968. Producing 660 megawatts of electricity Stade was the country's largest nuclear power plant based on a pressurized water reactor. Stade is the second nuclear power plant to be taken off the grid, a further step in the implementation of nuclear energy phase-out policy adopted in Germany three-and-a-half years ago.

  4. On 29 January 2000, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a supplementary agreement to the Convention known as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. It entered into force on 11 September 2003. The Protocol seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms (LMO) resulting from modern biotechnology.

  5. As a signatory state of the Climate Convention of the UNFCCC and of the Kyoto Protocol Germany is obliged to report on its emission of greenhouse gas. These so called emission inventories have to be have to be produced, published, and updated every year. The National Inventory Report (NIR) 2003 describes and explains the methods and presumptions of the emission inventories for the first time. This report covers the emission inventories of the years from 1990 to 2001.

  6. The oil tanker Tasman Spirit grounded in the channel of the port of Karachi, Pakistan in the early hours of Sunday 27 July 2003. The vessel was carrying 67,535 tonnes of Iranian Light crude oil destined for the national refinery in Karachi. On 11 August the tanker began to show signs of breaking up and eventually broke in two overnight on 13/14 August, spilling several thousand tonnes of crude oil. Much of the spilled oil quickly stranded on Clifton Beach, the main tourist beach in Karachi, but significant quantities remained afloat both inside and outside Karachi port. In total, it is estimated that some 30,000 tonnes of oil was spilled from the Tasman Spirit.

  7. In Germany, all the three months of summer 2003 have been extremely warm and very dry and sunny. The country's mean air temperature of June and August was the highest on record starting in 1901. The air temperature of July exceeded the mean value of the international climate reference period 1961-1990. The mean day temperature of 19.6 °C exceeded the reference value by 3.4 degrees.

  8. On 31 May 2003, the Chinese bulk carrier Fu Shan Hai collided with the Polish freighter Gdynia about 40 km southwest of Sweden and 4.5 km north of Hammer Odde, Bornholm in the western Baltic Sea. Fu Shan Hai sank at 68 meters water depth from where it began to leak oil. Fu Shan Hai was carrying 66.000 tons of carbonate of potash, 1680 tons of heavy fuel oil, 110 tons of diesel oil and 35 tons of lubricating oil.

  9. In 2002, the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans in the Baltic and North Seas (UNEP/ASCOBANS) declared the third Sunday in May of each year as the International Day of the Baltic Harbour Porpoise (IDBHP) in order to raise awareness of the critical situation of the populations of Harbour Porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), the only species of cetacean native to the Baltic Sea.

  10. The textile dye "Navy Blue 018112" may no longer be used or sold for the purpose of dyeing textile or leather goods within the European Union (EU). The permanent ban has been published in the European Community's Official Journal. The EU member states are obliged to transpose this directive into national law by June 2004. It has been almost exactly ten years since the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) called for such a ban after tests were conducted on the substances as part of the Chemicals Act.

  11. Medicinal Herb of the Year is the Sage (Salvia officinalis).

  12. Spider of the Year is the Daddy-long-legs spider or Cellar spider (Pholcus phalangioides).

  13. Since 2003 the BUND NRW Naturschutzstiftung has been selecting the "Butterfly of the Year".

  14. Mollusc of the year is the Desmoulin's whorl snail (Vertigo moulinsiana).

  15. Laboratory animal of the Year 2003 is the Golden Orfe. The ide or orfe (Leuciscus idus)is a freshwater fish of the family Cyprinidae. The golden orfe is a variety.

  16. Water plant of the year 2003 is the Water Soldier (Stratiotes aloides).

  17. Butterfly of the Year is the Scotch argus (Erebia aethiops)

  18. Medicinal Plant of the Year 2003 is the Artichoke (Cynara scolymus).

  19. Perennial Herb of the Year is the Salvia.

  20. Bird of the Year 2003 is the Common Swift (Apus apus).

  21. Tree of the Year 2003 is the Common Alder (Alnus glutinosa).

  22. Flower of the Year 2003 is the Common Corncockle (Agrostemma githago).

  23. Fish of the Year 2003 is the Barbel (Barbus barbus L.).

  24. Vegetable of the Year 2003: Potato (Solanum tuberosum L. ssp. tuberosum)

  25. Insect of the Year 2003 is the field cricket (Grillus campestris).

  26. Orchid of the Year is the Fly Orchid (Ophrys insectifera L.).

  27. Fungus of the Year 2003 is the Parrot Mushroom (Hygrocybe psittacina).

  28. Animal of the Year: Wolf (Canus lupus).

  29. The United Nations General Assembly in resolution 55/196 proclaimed the year 2003 as the International Year of Freshwater. It encourages Governments, the United Nations system and all other actors to take advantage of the Year to increase awareness of the importance of sustainable freshwater use, management and protection.

  30. The law regulating mandatory deposits on non-reusable beverage packaging entered into force. The amount of the deposit is dependent on the volume of the product. By way of example the deposit on cans or plastic bottles containing beer, mineral water, or carbonated soft drinks with a volume of up to 1.5 liters is 25 cents. For packaging with volumes greater than that the deposit is 50 cents. This requirement is based on packaging regulations adopted in 1991. The deposit requirement was to remain in abeyance as long as the share of returnable beverage packaging remained above 72 percent. As of the end of last year this figure had declined to below 60 percent.

  31. The new Drinking Water Regulation implements the amendment of the EC- Drinking Water Directive (98/83/EC, 03.11.1998) as a national law. It is substantially based on the Infection Protection Law. Besides that, it reconfirms and redefines liabilities of the water supplying enterprises. The duties of the public health authorities and of the house owners have been enhanced and rendered more precisely.

  32. The German Ordinance on the Management of Municipal Wastes of Commercial Origin and Certain Construction and Demolition Wastes (Commercial Wastes Ordinance) entered into force. The ordinance mainly regulates an improved waste separation and pre-treatment.