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September 28, 2015

Forest loss and land degradation fuel climate crisis

Climate News Network
Monday 28 September 2015

The planet’s forests have dwindled by 3 per cent − equivalent almost to the land area of South Africa − in the last 25 years, according to a new assessment by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

While the planet continues to lose its forests – albeit at a slower rate – through felling, burning or being turned into farmland, another UN study predicts that the economic cost of degraded agricultural land in the form of lost ecosystem services now amounts to up to US$10 trillion a year.

Within 10 years, 50 million people could have been forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods to become migrants. If all those people were assembled in one place, they would constitute the planet’s 28th biggest nation in terms of population.

Increasing levels
Forest loss and farmland degradation are both part of climate change accountancy. The rise in greenhouse gases is in part linked to the loss of forest cover to soak up the carbon dioxide released by the burning of fossil fuels.

But increasing levels of heat and drought are likely to accompany climate change, increasing the area of desert or land too arid to support life and industry.

So in losing forest, and in watching farmland become saline because of over-irrigation, or exhausted by intensive cultivation or overgrazing, or simply increasingly too arid to support vegetation, humans are witnessing the loss of all sorts of valuable services not normally recorded by accountants.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

September 26, 2015

The SDG Compass Helps Companies Take Action on New UN Goals

New York, September 26 2015 - Companies now have a new tool to help them navigate and contribute to a new set of global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations on 25 September. Launched today at a UN-business event at UN Headquarters in New York, the SDG Compass –developed jointly by GRI, the UN Global Compact and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) – guides companies in taking a strategic approach to the SDGs and enhancing their contribution to sustainable development through core business activities.

The SDGs, which will shape the global development agenda from now until 2030, explicitly call on business to use creativity and innovation to address sustainable development challenges, such as poverty, gender equality, clean water, clean energy and climate change. Many companies, however, are uncertain about what actions they can and should take in order to contribute to the goals. To meet this need, the SDG Compass is a guide that companies can use to align their strategies with the relevant SDGs, and measure and manage their impacts. It is supported by a live and constantly updated inventory of business indicators and tools.

Though all 193 Member States of the United Nations reached agreement on the SDGs, their success relies heavily on action and collaboration by all actors. The SDG Compass acknowledges this and incorporates feedback from companies, government agencies, academic institutions and civil society organizations, from around the world.

Read more at world business council for sustainable development.

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category : Topics

September 25, 2015

UN adopts new Global Goals, charting sustainable development for people and planet by 2030

25 September 2015 - The 193-Member United Nations General Assembly today formally adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with a set of bold new Global Goals, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed as a universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world.
"The new agenda is a promise by leaders to all people everywhere. It is an agenda for people, to end poverty in all its forms - an agenda for the planet, our common home," declared Mr. Ban as he opened the UN Sustainable Development Summit which kicked off today and wraps up Sunday.

The UN chief's address came ahead of the Assembly's formal adoption of the new framework, Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is composed of 17 goals and 169 targets to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years.
The Goals aim to build on the work of the historic Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which in September 2000, rallied the world around a common 15-year agenda to tackle the indignity of poverty.

The Summit opened with a full programme of events, including a screening of the film The Earth From Space, performances by UN Goodwill Ambassadors Shakira and Angelique Kidjo, as well as call to action by female education advocate and the youngest-ever Nobel Laureate, Malala Yousafzai along with youth representatives as torch bearers to a sustainable future.

The adoption ceremony was presided over by Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who stressed the successes of the MDGSs and the need for the full implementation of the new Agenda.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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category : Topics

September 24, 2015

Imagine a world without waste: it's possible with a circular economy

Alicia Clegg
Thursday 24 September 2015 12.55 BST

The world’s mineral and metal reserves are dwindling, but that doesn’t mean it’s time for development to switch into reverse gear. If we could redesign our profligate industrial processes, say circular economists, we could put a stop to our throwaway habits without sacrificing growth.

Instead of burning or burying millions of tonnes of waste every year, we could take today’s garbage − even the fragments of plastics that hapless seabirds ingest − and use them as the building blocks to make anything from carpets to laptops.

Although the circular economy is often mentioned in the same breath as recycling, the two should not be conflated. Materials that have been jumbled up in the waste stream or contaminated lose much of their value and the recycling process for cleaning and converting them into usable products can itself consume a large amount of energy.

In the circular economy the emphasis is on designing goods to be long-lasting, easy to repair and reuse, easy to disassemble and easy to remake into items that are as good, if not better, than their virgin equivalents.

And it is not all about squeezing more life from a fixed stock of resources that have been dug from the ground at heavy cost to the environment. By developing bio-materials, circular innovators hope one day to replace petroleum-derived plastics with compostable plant-based materials that can be returned to the ecosystem after use.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

September 21, 2015

France overturns ban on BPA in export products

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a substance used in the manufacture of many everyday objects, including plastic bottles, food processors and metal food containers. Some scientists suspect that exposure to the chemical, for example by eating canned food, can disrupt the body’s hormone functions.

In a decision on 17 September 2015, the Constitutional Council overturned the ban on the use of BPA in food containers destined for the export market. The sale and import of the substance remains prohibited in France itself.

The Constitutional Council's decision to partially subvert the French ban on BPA has re-opened the scientific debate on the dangers of the hormone disrupter. This has been seen as a defeat for the French ecology minister, Ségolène Royal.

The court arrived at this paradoxical decision to protect the competitiveness of French businesses, as the use of the substance is still permitted in the European Union.

"The decision of the Constitutional Council is astonishing. It feels like we have gone back to the time of Chernobyl, when we were told that the radioactive cloud had stopped at the French border," MEP Michèle Rivasi (Greens) said.

Read more at EurActiv.com.

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category : Topics

September 17, 2015

Look at how much e-waste Singapore has saved from the landfill

By Vaidehi Shah
Thursday 17 September 2015

Singapore’s largest electronic waste (e-waste) recycling programme, Recycling Nation’s Electronic Waste (Renew), is now a year old. It is turning out to be a hit with tech-savvy residents of the city state, who have recycled more than 23 tonnes of gadgets like laptops, tablets, remote controls, mice, and wires in the past year.

The programme is a voluntary effort by Singapore telecommunications firm Starhub, freight company DHL Express and e-waste management firm TES-AMM. Last year, the firms banded together to roll out 150 collection bins for old electronics across the island, and also handle the transport and recycling.

It builds on an earlier recycling drive by Starhub, which had 30 collection bins placed around the island between March 2012 and September 2014. As part of Renew, Starhub, together with DHL Express and TES-AMM, added more than 150 bins in malls, residences, government offices, community clubs, and schools islandwide, bringing the total to 185 bins.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

September 14, 2015

Diesel cars in the EU having trouble meeting emissions standards on the road

Every major car manufacturer is selling diesel cars that fail to meet EU air pollution limits on the road in Europe, according to data obtained by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E).

All new diesel cars should have met the Euro 6 autoemissions standard from 1 September – but just one in 10 tested complied with the legal limit.

On average new EU diesel cars produce emissions about five times higher than the allowed limit. The results are compiled in a new report, Don’t Breathe Here, in which T&E analyses the reasons for and solutions to air pollution caused by diesel machines and cars – the worst of which, an Audi, emitted 22 times the allowed EU limit.

Read more at Environmental News Network.

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category : Topics

September 10, 2015

Holistic approach needed to reduce consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags

Member States already have different national policies in place to limit the consumption of plastic bags. On 29 April 2015, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Directive (EU) 2015/720 amending the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive with regard to reducing the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags. Member States must take measures, by 26 November 2016 at the latest, to reduce the consumption these bags, including either the setting of a maximum annual consumption level of 90 bags per person by 2019 (and of 40 bags by 2025), or stop retailers giving away free bags altogether by the end of 2018.

The authors analysed the impact of existing measures implemented to reduce plastic carrier bag consumption in different Member States. They considered national legislation, voluntary initiatives and economic measures, and assessed the impact of different measures on levels of plastic bag consumption and littering. The results suggest that there is no obvious pattern to the types of policies that work in different Member States.

Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland and the Netherlands had existing national legislation to reduce the consumption of carrier bags and in 2011/12 consumers in those countries consumed fewer bags than the average. However, in Estonia, Italy, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the UK, consumption was average, and in the Czech Republic and Latvia higher than average, despite national legislation to reduce bag consumption. Some Member States that had average consumption levels had high littering rates, while others had low littering rates.

Read more at: "Science for Environment Policy": European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service.

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category : Topics

September 8, 2015

New centre promotes clean technology for Asia-Pacific

SciDev Net
Tuesday 8 September 2015

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) opened (1 September) its first Asia-Pacific regional hub to promote clean technology.

The UNFCCC Regional Collaboration Centre (RCC), formed in partnership with the non-profit Institute for Global Environmental Strategies in Japan, will help developing countries in the region to identify and develop clean development mechanism (CDM) projects to help limit damage from climate change.

Based in Bangkok, Thailand, the RCC helps source the funding needed to implement CDM projects.

“It’s important for the region to have its own centre to make it better equipped in mitigating the impact of climate change,” Luca Brusa, a team leader at UNFCCC, tells SciDev.Net.

Brusa says these CDMs will be in line with the nationally appropriate mitigation actions to be implemented by the developing countries.

He adds the centre is targeting about 300 projects a year. It plans to focus more on countries that have yet to implement CDM projects, such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

September 7, 2015

The Mounting Problem: World's Cities Produce up to 10 Billion Tonnes of Waste Each Year, UN Study Estimates

Antwerp, 7 September 2015 - Inadequate waste management has become a major public health, economic and environmental problem, with 7-10 billion tonnes of urban waste produced each year and 3 billion people worldwide lacking access to controlled waste disposal facilities.

Fuelled by population growth, urbanization and rising consumption, the volumes of waste are likely to even double in lower-income African and Asian cities by 2030, warns the Global Waste Management Outlook - launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) today.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, "An urgent response to the world's mounting waste problem is not only a public health and environmental necessity, but also a sound economic investment. Inaction is costing countries 5-10 times more than investments in proper waste management. A greater commitment by nations to systematically apply the 3 R's - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - can transform the problem of waste into a resource for our economies.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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category : Topics

September 4, 2015

EU car pollution laws have improved UK's air quality, say carmakers

John Vidal
Friday 4 September 2015 11.48 BST

Meeting strict new EU pollution standards has added £1,500 to the cost of every new vehicle, say carmakers who claim that because of European legislation to cut tailpipe pollution, Britain’s air quality is better now than it has been for centuries.

“New European emission limits, which apply to all new cars sold from this week, have the potential to all but eliminate exhaust pollutants that impact air quality,” said Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The European motor industry has been stung by World Health Organisation statement that diesel fumes are a “major cancer risk” and by government health figures suggesting particulate air pollution is killing 29,000 people a year.

But as a result of European legislation to to reduce car pollution, since 1993, the minute, partially-burned bits of soot emitted from Britain’s 35m tailpipes have been cut by 96% in diesel vehicles, and the toxic NO2 gas has been reduced by 84%. Carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to climate change, have dropped 82% in diesel and 63% in petrol cars.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

September 3, 2015

Dutch procurement agency makes guidance available in English

PIANOo, a Dutch public procurement agency, has launched a translated version of their website, providing those who speak English with a wealth of useful information on sustainable public procurement (SPP). PIANOo’s website explains key procurement concepts and provides information on how procurers can embrace sustainable and innovative procurement, as well as giving access to tools and documents.

Separated by theme, the website contains comprehensive SPP guidance, outlining how procurers can minimise the impact of procurement on people and the environment and use it as a means to meet their organisation's policy objectives. Topics covered on the website include social conditions in global supply chains, circular procurement, opportunities for SMEs, and more.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre.

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category : Topics

September 1, 2015

Only one third of EU's e-waste recycled properly

01 Sep 2015 - 07:24 updated: 15:55
EurActiv.com by Catherine Stupp

More than two thirds of metal appliances and tech products that are thrown away in the EU are processed illegally and some leak toxins into the environment that can have dangerous health effects. Researchers said Europe has an electronic waste problem.

Almost five million tonnes of e-waste were mismanaged or traded under the table within the EU in 2012, and 1.3 tonnes were illegally exported out of the EU, mostly to Africa and Asia.

Only one third of Europe's e-waste is properly recycled.

Refrigerators are among the worst culprits that leak dangerous materials if they're not carefully recycled.

An estimated 84,000 tonnes of refrigerator compressors don't end up at official processing centres, which produce roughly the same amount of CO2as five million cars, according to a report published over the weekend (30 August) by the Countering WEEE Illegal Trade (CWIT) project.

Read more at EurActiv.com.

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category : Topics

September 1, 2015

With help, small island states ditch diesel for cheaper, cleaner energy

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 1 Sep 2015 09:41 GMT
Author: Megan Rowling

BARCELONA, Sept 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - After oil prices hit a record high in July 2008, the tiny Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands was forced to declare an economic emergency since around 90 percent of its energy needs were met by imported petroleum products.

The fuel price shock was a major incentive for the low-lying island country to reduce its reliance on diesel and other fossil fuels, and expand renewable energy instead.

Now 99 percent of lighting on its outer islands is powered by solar, street lamps and water pumps also run on the sun, and solar energy is being fed into the otherwise diesel-powered grids on the main urban islands.

In its national contribution to a new global climate change deal now under negotiation, the Marshall Islands outlined in July more ambitious renewable energy measures for the future.

They include small-scale wind-power, expanding coconut oil production for use in electricity and transport fuel, introducing electric vehicles and solar-charged lagoon transport, and improving energy efficiency with pre-paid meters and heat recovery.

The planned steps are expected to replace more than one-third of fossil fuels for electricity and transport by 2030, helping meet emissions reduction goals of 32 percent by 2025 and 45 percent by 2030.

Read more at Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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category : Topics

September 1, 2015

EPA Rules Target Hazardous Waste Management

The EPA yesterday proposed two new hazardous waste rules that the agency says will strengthen environmental protection while reducing regulatory burden on businesses.

One of the proposed rules aims to protect waterways, including drinking and surface water, by preventing the flushing of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals and simplify the requirements for healthcare workers. The EPA says the other rule will provide greater flexibility to industry while requiring new safeguards to protect the public from mismanagement of hazardous waste.

The proposed hazardous waste pharmaceuticals rule will make drinking and surface water safer and healthier by reducing the amount of pharmaceuticals entering US waterways, the agency says. It projects the proposal will prevent the flushing of more than 6,400 tons of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals annually by banning healthcare facilities from flushing hazardous waste pharmaceuticals down the sink and toilet.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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category : Topics

September 1, 2015

Up to 90% of seabirds have plastic in their guts, study finds

Associated Press
Tuesday 1 September 2015 03.44 BST

As many as nine out of 10 of the world’s seabirds are likely to have pieces of plastic in their guts, a new study estimates.

An Australian team of scientists who have studied birds and marine debris found that far more seabirds were affected than the previous estimate of 29%. Their results were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“It’s pretty astronomical,” said study coauthor Denise Hardesty, a senior research scientist at the CSIRO.

She said the problem with plastics in the ocean was increasing as the world made more of it. “In the next 11 years we will make as much plastic as has been made since industrial plastic production began in the 1950s.”

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics


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