European business briefs: Iraqi pollution concerns, Irish parks, Iran nuclear power, Growing energy demand, Spanish oil slick

The UN announced this week that Iraqi scientists will assess pollution ranging from oil spills to scrap metal from destroyed military vehicles in an effort to tackle environmental damage in the war-ravaged country. Environmentalists have been struggling to draw attention to damage caused during last year's US-led invasion, the 1991 Gulf War and waste discharged by industry struggling with years of sanctions. A pilot scheme starting next month will test samples from five of the 300 locations in Iraq considered to be contaminated by various pollutants, including a sulphur mine and a seed store containing toxic fungicide.

Irish Minister Martin Cullen this week announced the Government's new National Parks strategy, which will see the first ever management plan process established for the country's six National Parks. Under the Government's new approach announced by the Minister, Park Managers of each of Ireland's six National Parks will formally consult with local Park Liaison Committees annually. Minister Cullen said the Government's National Park's strategy is designed to achieve an inclusive and consultative based approach to protecting Ireland's National Parks.

Iran announced this week it was losing patience with UN inspections of its nuclear programme, and that its agreement with the Europeans to halt uranium enrichment would soon come to an end. Iran took a tough stance at the UN's nuclear watchdog, which decides whether to refer them to the UN Security Council if it is not convinced the nuclear programme is entirely for peaceful purposes. The US has accused Iran of having a secret nuclear bomb programme, but the country says its nuclear programme is only for generating power.

By 2050, global energy demand could double or triple as populations rise and developing countries expand their economies, a new report by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has warned this week. If these trends are not curbed, global temperatures could rise by one to four degrees by the end of the century, leading to disruptive consequences to the earth's climate, says the new report by WBCSD, Facts and trends to 2050: Energy and climate change. The report considers the technological and policy options that are needed to overcome the threat of climate change, but warns it will take time to implement them on a global level.

And finally, the last few tonnes of toxic fuel oil have now been sucked out of the wreck of the Prestige tanker, Spain has announced almost two years after the ship went down. The Prestige broke in half and sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic after days struggling in high winds in November 2002, spewing thick oil over a once pristine coastline in the north-western region of Galicia. Environmental groups have complained it could take up to a decade for the eco-system to recover. Scientists will continue to investigate and work on damage to algae and the seabed.


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