Tue, Jan 02, 2018 - Page 6 News List

New rules in effect around the world

The Guardian

The TX electric black taxi, manufactured by London EV Co, is pictured during its unveiling in London on July 11 last year.

Photo: Bloomberg

Saudi Arabians and Emiratis will pay more tax, the Swiss will pay less, Brits will start taking more expensive train journeys and China will stop taking in the world’s garbage.

These are some of the changes that took effect as the world ticked over into the New Year.

In the US, New Yorkers will receive a more generous family leave entitlement, and more than 40 years after the summer of love, Californians will finally be able to buy marijuana legally for recreational purposes.

However, budding consumers might hit a snag, as state and local governments are still trying to figure out how to regulate cannabis, so few dispensaries will likely be ready to open their doors.

It is all change at the helm of the world’s big trading blocs and axes, as Bulgaria has its first crack at presiding over the EU council — a chance for the EU’s poorest member state to chair meetings and set its agenda.

Meanwhile, Argentina took over the G20 presidency. Argentine President Mauricio Macri has a thing for education technology and women’s access to finance, so watch out for these to be themes of his year in charge.

Valletta, Malta, and Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, will be enjoying being European capitals of culture.

Elsewhere, it will be harder to become Swiss, and more expensive to stay in Greece and Hawaii because of new tourist taxes. If you are driving in Ukraine, you will find urban speed limits reduced from 60kph to 50kph.

Finland got a little boozier, as stronger alcohol is allowed in grocery stores. Meanwhile, Seattle stepped up the battle against obesity with a sugar tax.

Perhaps one of the most striking changes, with global implications, is China’s decision to stop importing a wide range of plastic and other waste.

China has long been a repository for waste materials from around the world, as its hungry economy hoovers up all the resources it can get.

In 2016, China imported 7.3 million tonnes of waste plastics. Developed countries will need to figure out what will happen to all those jettisoned bottles and containers.

This is not the only New Year’s regulation that will affect the environment. In London, all new black cabs must be able to run on electric power, which is aimed at reducing high levels of nitrogen oxide and tiny particles in the air.

In Europe, all gas and wood-burning stoves must comply with strict emissions and energy efficiency rules. Open fires will no longer be allowed to be sold in EU member states.

There are tighter regulation of fertilizers, more fish protected by EU quotas in the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea, and a new law taxing pollution in China.

The US Environmental Protection Agency is introducing various new standards. Any technician who wants to maintain, repair or dispose of appliances with hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) will have to pass an exam, with the sale of HFCs restricted to certified outlets.

The agency has estimated that the rules will reduce greenhouse gas emissions annually by 7.3 million tonnes — roughly equivalent to taking 1.5 million cars off the road every year.

The EU’s most ambitious financial reforms will mostly come into effect tomorrow. The markets in financial instruments directive, consisting of 1.4 million paragraphs of rules, is intended to protect investors and bring more transparency into trading.

Gibraltar brought in a new license for financial technology firms using blockchain, the first attempt anywhere in the world to regulate the technology behind cryptocurrencies.

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