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News Archives

October 31, 2016

Greenpeace to Samsung: Recover Metals in Recalled Phones

SEOUL, South Korea, October 31, 2016 (ENS) – Samsung Electronics Co., faced with the discovery that the lithium ion batteries in its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone could ignite, has recalled 2.5 million of the devices from 10 countries. Greenpeace wants Samsung to retrieve tons of precious metals from the waste phones.

After the Galaxy Note 7’s launch in August, Samsung received 92 reports of the batteries overheating in the United States alone, including 26 reports of burns and 55 reports of property damage, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Initially, Samsung decided to recall all of the Galaxy Note 7 phones sold and offer replacements or refunds.

But by October 10, at least five of the replacement Galaxy Note 7 phones also had caught fire, and Samsung now is asking all users to shut down the phones. As of October 13, Samsung is recalling all Note 7s, including replacement units.

Consumers who have Galaxy Note 7 devices can exchange them for another model of Samsung smartphone, or receive a refund.

But compensation is not what concerns the environmental advocacy organization Greenpeace, which warned today that, “Samsung’s lack of transparency on the disposal of its Galaxy Note 7 leaves tons of precious minerals at risk of being discarded into the environment.”

Read more at Environment News Service.

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October 28, 2016

Walmart Unveils New Sustainable Packaging Priorities to Complement Zero-Waste Goal

October 28, 2016
by Sustainable Brands

Walmart hopes to reignite the passion around sustainable packaging with vendors, store buyers, packaging suppliers and consumers with three new, clear goals: Optimize Design; Source Sustainably; and Support Recycling. The priorities were unveiled along with the company’s new “Sustainable Packaging Playbook” at the Walmart Sustainable Packaging Summit this week.

The goals are in-line with the zero-waste goal that retail giant extended across its entire supply chain “from farming and manufacturing, consumption to end of life” earlier this year. Walmart stated that attention to the materials that go into products helps deliver value, from both a business bottom line and environmental perspective.

“Packaging is an essential part of the products that we sell,” Zach Freeze, Walmart’s Director of Strategic Initiatives–Sustainability said in an interview. “In the playbook, we talk about recyclability and making sure that messaging is clear to the customer. For us, it’s all about clear guidance. We want to provide clear guidance to our suppliers about optimizing design and supporting recycling and we want to make it easier for our customers to recycle packaging.”

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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October 28, 2016

Small oil palm plantations are having big impacts on Peru rainforest

28 October 2016 / Benji Jones

A closer look at a deforestation “hotspot” in central Peru finds oil palm expansion to be the primary driver of forest loss. That’s according to a recent report by Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP), which analyzed high-resolution satellite imagery in one of several patches of deforestation spattering the central Peruvian Amazon.

Earlier this year, MAAP identified several deforestation hotspots in Peru, each indicating an area where a high density of forest loss was detected in 2015. And a clear trend was evident: Most hotspots were found in the central Amazon, home to the country’s highest deforestation rates, in addition to myriad endemic plants and animals.

Since unveiling the hotspots in March, MAAP has used satellite imagery to investigate the likely drivers of deforestation in each area. Their earlier analyses pegged cattle ranching as the main reason behind forest clearance. Released last week, MAAP’s latest analysis revealed another driver of forest loss in the region – oil palm development.

High-resolution satellite imagery shows unequivocal signs of oil palm in a hotspot located in northern Huánuco Department, write MAAP researchers. They estimate that 558 hectares of forest were razed in this region to establish small and medium-scale plantations between 2010 and 2014.

Read more at MONGABAY.

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October 28, 2016

GRI launches first global standards on sustainability reporting

By Ping Manongdo
Friday 28 October 2016

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has launched a new set of global standards that offer companies a “common language” for sustainability reporting.

The Amsterdam-headquartered international organisation said the new standards will help companies be more transparent about their impact on the economy, the environment and society.

The new GRI standards - which is built on its previous G4 guidelines and replaces it - allows organisations to handpick reporting topics which are most relevant and substantial to the profitability and sustainability of their business.

In a statement, GRI interim chief executive Eric Hespenheide said that the new standards “make it much easier for companies to report non-financial information, using a well-understood shared language.”

“The Standards are more straightforward, making them accessible to potentially millions of businesses worldwide,” he added.

Under the new framework, businesses and organisations are required to report using three universal standards, namely GRI 101 Foundation, GRI 102 General Disclosures, and GRI 103 Management Approach.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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October 27, 2016

Study shows online consumers want environmentally friendly options

By Kristen Satre Meyer

October 27, 2016 — Reducing the carbon footprint of what we buy isn’t easy, but the opportunity for impact is substantial: In the United States, producing and delivering consumer purchases releases twice as much carbon into the atmosphere as home energy use and personal travel. By gathering and sharing information on carbon emissions associated with their products, companies can make environmentally friendly choices easier for consumers and boost their own reputations as planet-friendly businesses.

Advances in online technology provide effective and inexpensive opportunities to do this, according to a recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

To explore strategies for sharing carbon footprint information and evaluate the impact of offering consumers carbon offset options, NREL researchers designed a series of experiments focused on four industries — online retailing, ride sharing, video streaming and short-term lodging.

Using crowdsourced online survey services, they reproduced the online interfaces of actual companies to track the decision process of participants offered green choices. Follow-up questions explored participants’ reactions to these options. Their findings demonstrate that providing green choices can lower their overall carbon footprints and improve customer satisfaction.

Read more at Ensia.

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category : Topics

October 27, 2016

Rethinking production and consumption for a zero-waste Singapore

By Hannah Koh
Thursday 27 October 2016

After decades of producing, consuming and disposing, it is time for Singapore to get rid of its throw-away culture and evolve towards more socially and environmentally responsible ways of production and consumption, said participants at a high-level roundtable on the topic.

The “Coming full circle: Strategies for a zero waste Singapore” roundtable drew representatives from civil society, the private sector, as well as government officials from Singapore, Denmark, and the Netherlands who shared their thoughts on the possibilities for a zero-waste Singapore.

Sharing his insights at the roundtable in September 2016, Yuen Sai Kuan, Director (Corporate Affairs) at the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS), a unit under the Prime Minister’s Office, Strategy Group, said that Singapore was one of the 81 countries that had recently ratified the Paris climate agreement that will come into force this November.

Singapore has pledged to reduce its emissions intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 and to stabilise its emissions by peaking around the same time.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

October 25, 2016

Dow Pledges $2.8M to Help Advance Solutions to Ocean Plastic Waste

October 25, 2016
by Sustainable Brands

The Dow Chemical Company has announced that it has committed $2.8 million over the next two years to drive solutions that address global marine debris and litter. The company made the announcement on Friday, September 16th, at the inaugural Our Ocean Conference in Washington, D.C., hosted by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

“Dow is committed to finding viable science-based solutions to keep our oceans clean,” said Jim Fitterling, Dow’s president and chief operating officer. “These efforts are aligned to our 2025 Sustainability Goals and our efforts to advance a circular economy by delivering solutions to close resource loops and increase the rate of recycling and reuse of plastics.”

Dow’s $2.8 million commitment will be focused on two areas. Roughly half of the support will go toward sponsorship of collaborative projects such as the Ocean Conservancy’s research and waste management pilot programs and to support educational programs to promote recycling and prevent littering.

The other half will support ongoing research such as that being done by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation involving the development of new technologies to create a more circular economy while advancing opportunities to turn waste into a valuable end-state. This includes work to create a “new plastics economy” by increasing the recyclability of flexible packaging and driving the development of chemical recycling technologies to convert non-recycled plastics into feedstocks that can be used to make new materials.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

October 25, 2016

Backyard battery recycling is biggest chemical polluter for poorer nations

Damian Carrington
Tuesday 25 October 2016 15.00 BST

The backyard recycling of lead-acid car batteries is the number one source of chemical pollution in the world’s poorer nations and leads to millions of years of healthy life being lost, according to a new report.

The World’s Worst Pollution Problems, published by NGOs Pure Earth and Green Cross Switzerland on Tuesday, reveals the top 10 most polluting industries in low and middle-income countries.

Mining, leather tanning, rubbish dumps and the dye industry are among the most polluting activities harming health and causing early deaths. The NGOs estimate 200 million people are at risk in the 50 nations they analysed.

Old lead acid batteries are increasingly reused as some nations lack lead deposits and the rising number of cars is driving an upsurge in demand. However, in poorer nations the batteries are often opened with axes or hammers and the melting of the recovered lead takes places in homes.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

October 25, 2016

Rotterdam’s procurement activities profiled by GLCN

The procurement work of the City of Rotterdam (The Netherlands) has been outlined in a new profile produced by the Global Lead City Network on Sustainable Procurement. The profile outlines the Dutch city's efforts to achieve 100 percent sustainable procurement by 2015.

Rotterdam places a strong emphasis on including green criteria and has moved away from the lowest bid method. Sustainability experts are also involved in the procurement process, offering advice on formulating criteria that are effective and appropriate.

Through its procurement activities, the city aims to a achieve a 40 percent energy reduction in community buildings by 2030, installation of rooftop solar panels on seven public buildings and 70 schools, zero emission delivery of goods and services by 2020, and much more. The document looks at how Rotterdam aims to achieve these targets, and explores the city's future challenges.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Platform.

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October 24, 2016

Globally Averaged CO2 Levels Reach 400 parts per million in 2015

High greenhouse gas levels mark start of new era of climate reality

Globally averaged concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached the symbolic and significant milestone of 400 parts per million for the first time in 2015 and surged again to new records in 2016 on the back of the very powerful El Niño event, according to the World Meteorological Organization's annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

CO2 levels had previously reached the 400 ppm barrier for certain months of the year and in certain locations but never before on a global average basis for the entire year. The longest-established greenhouse gas monitoring station at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, predicts that CO2 concentrations will stay above 400 ppm for the whole of 2016 and not dip below that level for many generations.

The growth spurt in CO2 was fuelled by the El Niño event, which started in 2015 and had a strong impact well into 2016. This triggered droughts in tropical regions and reduced the capacity of “sinks” like forests, vegetation and the oceans to absorb CO2. These sinks currently absorb about half of CO2 emissions but there is a risk that they may become saturated, which would increase the fraction of emitted carbon dioxide which stays in the atmosphere, according to the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

Read more at World Meteorological Organization.

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October 24, 2016

Petrol cars allowed to exceed pollution limits by 50% under draft EU laws

Arthur Neslen
Monday 24 October 2016 06.00 BST

New European cars with petrol engines will be allowed to overshoot a limit on toxic particulates emissions by 50% under a draft EU regulation backed by the UK and most other EU states.

Campaigners say that a simple €25 (£22) filter could drastically cut the pollution, but the Guardian has learned that car-makers have instead mounted a successful push for loopholes and legislative delay.

Bas Eickhout, a Green MEP on the European parliament’s environment committee and dieselgate inquiry panel, promised action to ensure that the lessons of the VW scandal were learned.

“With this ridiculous proposal, the EU’s member states are again trying to dilute EU laws at a terrible cost to human health. We will call on the European commission to come to the European parliament and explain themselves on this issue,” he said.

Particulate matter (PM) is the largest single contributor to the estimated 600,000 premature deaths across Europe from pollution-related heart and lung diseases each year. Children and the elderly are worst affected, and the associated health costs could be as high as €1.6tn a year in Europe, according to the World Health Organisation.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

October 21, 2016

How open innovation competitions can help solve waste

By Melanie Tan
Friday 21 October 2016

Singapore is positioning itself as a leader in the development of sustainable cities. One of the ways they are doing so is by considering the implementation of the “circular economy” in Singapore. That is, a variety of business models and industrial processes which do not generate waste by intention or design and conserve natural resources as much as possible.

While high level talks by companies and government are necessary in creating change at the policy and industry level, there also is a need to support innovations for waste reduction from the ground up.

This is where open innovation—which refers to collaboration between different stakeholders to create original or different products and services—can help.

It offers opportunities to reduce R&D costs and bring the innovations to market more quickly compared to traditional R&D processes which can take years. One open innovation platform that has gained popularity in recent year is the hackathon. Hackathons are design sprint-like events in which participants collaborate intensively on solving software related challenge statements.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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October 20, 2016

What's next for the Kigali deal to curb potent greenhouse gases?

Thu, Oct 20, 2016

In the early hours of 15 October 2016, the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer unanimously adopted the Kigali Amendment, paving the way for the reduction of powerful greenhouse gases - hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

The world hailed the move as the single largest step made so far towards keeping global warming below two degrees Celsius, a key commitment of the Paris climate accord.

Below, we explain just how important the Kigali Amendment is, how it may impact the world around us and what it will take to get us there.

Why HFCs?

HFCs, or hydrofluorocarbons are commonly used in air conditioners, refrigerators, aerosols, foams and other products. They were introduced as substitutes for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other substances harmful to the ozone layer, which were being phased out under the Montreal Protocol.

But what was meant as a solution to the ozone hole problem, soon became a source of another major global threat, as it turned out that HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases, with a global warming potential thousands of times larger than that of carbon dioxide (CO2).

On a planet where temperature is steadily rising and a rapidly growing middle class can increasingly afford air conditioners and refrigerators, the demand for HFCs is skyrocketing. The consumption of HFCs is estimated to expand by about 10 per cent each year, making it not only one of the most powerful greenhouse gases, but also the fastest growing one.

Limiting the use of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol is expected to prevent the emissions of up to 105 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gases, helping to avoid up to 0.5 degree Celsius of global temperature rise by 2100.

This seemingly small difference could actually have an immense positive impact on food production, water availability or survival of coral reefs, as shown by a recent study by European scientists.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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October 19, 2016

Europe’s climate policy goals hinge on renewables, solar power

By James Crisp | EurActiv.com

The Paris Agreement on climate change is an international commitment that can only be kept by the European Union if effective, consistent policy drives the shift to a low-carbon economy through action which boosts renewable energy such as solar power.

Ratified by the EU in early October, the agreement is a landmark pact to keep global warming to less than two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

The task is enormous. World leaders made promises to curb their emissions in the run-up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. But these Intended Nationally Determined Contributions will only cap global warming at 3.7 degrees.

Efforts and ambition will have to be further stepped up by the EU, and other major polluters such as the US and China. The Paris Agreement enters into force on 7 November.

Read more at EurActiv.com.

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October 18, 2016

The new Sustainable Cities Platform launched at Habitat III

The new Sustainable Cities Platform, the online hub showcasing transformative actions by cities and civil society to inspire others was launched yesterday at the Habitat III Conference in Quito. The platform was announced in the Basque Declaration, with the aim to provide specific examples of its 15 pathways leading to more inclusive, resilient and productive cities and towns. The platform is supported by the City of Aalborg, the Basque Government and ICLEI.

The side event at HABITAT III saw a presentation of the Basque Declaration by Ruud Schuthof, Deputy Regional Director of ICLEI Europe, to an audience of over 100 participants. Roberto San Salvador, Director of the Cities Lab of the University of Deusto in the Basque Country, shared how the Basque Country has transformed into a sustainable region, thereby becoming a leading example in Europe.

Read more at ICLEI Europe.

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October 17, 2016

World to Phase Out Potent Climate-Warming Refrigerants

KIGALI, Rwanda, October 17, 2016 (ENS) – Nearly 200 nations have struck a legally binding deal to limit greenhouse gases of high global warming potential used in refrigerators and air conditioners. The accord was reached during talks in the Rwandan capital late Friday, and announced on Saturday.

The agreed amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer phases down hydrofluorocarbon, HFC, compounds by 85 percent between now and 2047.

The result will be reduction of HFC emissions by more than 70 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent through 2050.

It is projected that the amendment will avoid up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of atmospheric warming, creating a big down payment on the Paris climate agreement that will take effect on November 4.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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October 17, 2016

New Procura+ Manual launched

17 October 2016

The 3rd Edition of the Procura+ Manual was launched at the Procura+ Seminar in Rome on 13 and 14 October 2016. This fully updated and revised edition of the Procura+ Manual aims to position sustainable procurement in the current economic, political and legal framework. As with previous editions, it acts as a central point of reference for public authorities and others wishing to understand and implement sustainable procurement.

The manual includes practical advice on how to integrate sustainability into procurement and a model for systematically implementing sustainable procurement – the Procura+ Management Cycle. The manual also explores the possibilities for sustainable and innovation procurement set out within the 2014 Directives, together with how they can be applied in practice.

Key guidance is provided on sustainable procurement approaches for six high-priority product groups – construction, IT equipment, cleaning products, food, vehicles and electricity. Links and references throughout the text showcase good practice examples from around Europe, including many from participants of the Procura+ Network, more detailed information on the product groups covered and a variety of further implementation tools.

Read more at the Procura+ News.

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October 17, 2016

Asia-Pacific Climate Change Practitioners and Policymakers Convene to Strengthen Resilience to Climate Change

Bangkok/Colombo, 17 October 2016 – Adaptation experts, policymakers, donors, civil society and private sector representatives from over 50 Asia-Pacific countries are meeting in the Sri Lankan capital for three days to discuss ways to strengthen climate resilience in the fast urbanizing region where the majority still depend on climate-vulnerable sectors and ecosystems services for a living.

The President of Sri Lanka, H.E. Maithripala Sirisena opened the 17-19 October “5th Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum” organized by the UN Environment Asia Pacific Adaptation Network and hosted by the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, Sri Lanka, with more than 800 participants attending.

Having as its theme “Adapting and Living below 2°C: Bridging the Gaps in Policy & Practice”, the Adaptation Forum focuses on climate change adaptation planning, mobilizing financing for adaptation, promoting climate-resilient and sustainable development as well as role of partnerships.

Asia and the Pacific is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change with seven of the ten most vulnerable countries to climate change and natural disasters located in the region. Impacts vary across the region, country to country and even within country – depending largely on the specific geophysical reality, socio and economic circumstances, development trends and prioritization afforded by a nation’s government leaders to its specific situation. With a one meter rise in sea level by 2050, Bangladesh alone would see 20 million people displaced from their homes.

Read more at the News Center of the UNEP Regional Office for Asia Pacific.

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October 15, 2016

British households fail to recycle a 'staggering' 16m plastic bottles a day

Rebecca Smithers
Saturday 15 October 2016 07.01 BST

British households are failing to recycle as many as 16m plastic bottles every day – a “staggering” number and nearly half the total of more than 35m which are used and discarded daily – according to new research.

Based on the data published on Saturday, the Recycle Now campaign group suggests that the number of bottles evading recycling in the UK could reach 29bn by the end of 2020, putting huge pressure on landfill and with dire consequences for marine life.

Every year the average UK household uses 480 plastic bottles, but only recycles 270 of them, meaning nearly half (44%) are not put into recycling facilities, according to Recycle Now, a campaign group funded by the government’s waste advisory group Wrap.

On a national basis, that means an average of 35.8m plastic bottles are used every day, but only 19.8m are recycled each day. So an average of 16m plastic bottles a day are not being recycled and are ending up in landfill – and eventually the world’s oceans, where they will take years to break down.

Read more at The Guardian.

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October 14, 2016

EU Blocks Its Own Climate Change Emissions Cuts

GUILDFORD, Surrey, UK, October 14, 2016 E(NS) – The European Union’s own internal policy processes are blocking the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions across the 28-member bloc, finds new research by an international team from Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Researchers from Sweden’s Linnaeus University, the University of Surrey and the Buckinghamshire New University in the United Kingdom, interviewed policy officers in three Directorates-General of the European Commission on whether the policy process is on track to achieve climate objectives for the transport sector.

They found that emission reductions are hampered by existing policies that are seen to lack sufficient ambition, the interviews showed.

And there is internal disagreement over who is responsible for policy development.

Scarcity of data is regarded as a problem, especially in knowing whether the EU is on track to meet its targets.

Some policy officers are favoring economic goals over environmental ones, and their own professional backgrounds in industry are creating a bias towards serving the interests of industry lobby groups, the researchers learned.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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October 12, 2016

MSC Continues to Make Waves: Sustainable Wild-Catch Grows to 10% of Global Market

October 12, 2016
by Hannah Furlong

Sustainable fishing practices are having lasting impact on fish stocks and marine ecosystems, in part due to successful voluntary certification schemes such as that of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The organization’s latest Annual Report, released today, highlights growth in MSC-certified fisheries and supply chain.

Between April 2015 and March 2016, MSC-certified fisheries caught more than 9.3 million metric tonnes of seafood, representing almost 10 percent of the total global wild-caught seafood by volume. Compared to the previous year, the volume of MSC-certified catch increased by six percent and the MSC-certified supply chain climbed 16 percent.

Over the same period, the number of processors, restaurants and caterers with MSC Chain of Custody grew from 2,879 to 3,334 companies, operating in 37,121 sites across 82 countries. More than 20,000 products now carry the blue MSC label and can be traced back to fisheries which meet the MSC’s world-class standard for sustainable fishing. DNA test results have proven that MSC products are being accurately traced and labelled.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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October 11, 2016

Ghent’s sustainable procurement activities profiled by Global Lead Cities Network

11 October 2016

A profile of the City of Ghent (Belgium) published by the Global Lead Cities Network on Sustainable Procurement outlines how the city’s Procurement Strategy allows it to use its purchasing power to meet strategic goals. The Procurement Strategy aims to minimise the city's ecological footprint throughout the entire life-cycle of the purchased product or service, encourage sustainable employment of disadvantaged groups, promote sustainable innovations, foster local economic growth, integrate international labour standards and fair trade principals, and strive towards excellence in procurement.

The profile additionally looks at Ghent’s future procurement plans in a range of fields, such as logistics and fleet management, cleaning products, public lighting, and energy efficiency and building renovation.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Platform.

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October 10, 2016

Scoring palm oil buyers on their sustainability commitments

10 October 2016 / Mike Gaworecki

2015 was supposed to be a big year for the palm oil industry — the year it proposed to reach a “tipping point” and begin predominantly producing and trading palm oil that was not responsible for the destruction of forests, abuses of human rights, and other problems that have plagued the production of one of the fastest-growing agricultural commodities in the world.

Palm oil can be found in everything from cookies, peanut butter, and chocolate to lipstick, laundry detergent, and candles. It accounted for nearly 40 percent of global vegetable oil consumption between 2014 and 2015, according to a report released this month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The growth of palm oil production over the past several years has had dire consequences for tropical forests, which have been cleared for oil palm plantations at alarming rates, as well as the people and wildlife that call those forests home. Indonesia and Malaysia, which together produce nearly 90 percent of the world’s palm oil, have suffered a disproportionate amount of these impacts.

Many businesses have pledged to address the contribution their operations make to the destruction of rainforests for palm oil, and 2015 became an important target by consensus. Consumer companies like General Mills, Kellogg’s, Nestlé, PepsiCo, and Unilever; fast food companies like McDonald’s and Starbuck’s; makers of cosmetics and personal care products like Avon; and retailers like Marks & Spencer all made major commitments to use certified sustainable palm oil in their products by 2015. Even some countries, like the Netherlands and Belgium, said they would drop palm oil linked to deforestation and other environmentally damaging practices by 2015.

Read more at MONGABAY.

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October 10, 2016

Global summit to strike deal on phase-out of HFCs

John Vidal
Monday 10 October 2016 16.30 BST

Governments will address the law of unintended consequences when they meet this week to revise a global treaty and try to eliminate the use of a group of greenhouse gases used in fridges, inhalers and air conditioners.

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) were hailed as the answer to the hole in the ozone layer which appeared over Antarctica in the 1980s because they replaced hundreds of chemical substances widely used in aerosols which depleted the thin layer of ozone which protects the Earth from harmful rays of the sun.

One hundred and ninety-seven countries signed the historic 1987 agreement which phased out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and similar hydrochlorofluoro carbons (HCFCs) and has seen gradual closure of the two polar ozone holes.

But concern has been mounting at how their substitute is undermining the landmark Paris climate agreement and could hamper attempts to keep global warming below dangerous levels.

Read more at The Guardian.

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October 9, 2016

Aviation industry plans to curb emissions

October 9, 2016, by Paul Brown

LONDON, 9 October, 2016 − The aviation industry has taken the first step towards limiting the ever-growing carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft in an attempt to reduce airline contributions to global warming.

Delegates at the 39th congress of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Montreal, Canada, have finalised what they called “an historic agreement”, which begins in 2020 to offset carbon emissions from aircraft and create a sustainable future for international air travel.

Until now, shipping and air transport have both been excluded from the international negotiations that take place annually under the banner of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Neither sector was mentioned at the Paris climate conference last December, when there was worldwide agreement, amid much diplomatic rejoicing, to limit emissions. This was in a bid to hold the temperature increase below 2°C, the limit politicians have agreed would be too dangerous to exceed.

Read more at Climate News Network.

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October 7, 2016

Citizens recycle even in the absence of economic incentives, shows study from Malta

Recycling is an important policy goal in the EU, which has around half the global share of waste and recycling industries and some of the highest recycling rates in the world, as well as ambitious targets for the future.

In most Member States, communication campaigns and economic incentives (e.g. pay-as-you-throw schemes, such as the one in Treviso, Italy, where citizens who sort their waste pay lower waste fees) have been key in motivating citizens to separate their waste, which is a pre-requisite for achieving high recycling rates. In those cases where pay-as-you-throw schemes cannot yet be introduced, voluntary participation is one way to get separate collection started. Waste separation is one of few areas where there is clear evidence of voluntary pro-environmental behaviour. A recently published study evaluated such behaviour in Malta.

In 2007, Malta was generating among the highest quantities of municipal solid waste per capita in the EU and had the lowest recycling rates. Of an approximate 266 000 tonnes of municipal waste generated each year, less than 3 000 tonnes was separated, making improvements to waste separation (and thus recycling) a priority for the government. This study looked at a 2008 recycling scheme implemented by central government, a governmental body responsible for waste management and local councils.

Read more at "Science for Environment Policy": European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service, edited by SCU, The University of the West of England, Bristol.

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October 6, 2016

Paris Climate Pact Once ‘Unthinkable,’ Now ‘Unstoppable’

NEW YORK, New York, October 6, 2016 (ENS) – The Paris Agreement on climate change is set to enter into force on November 4, less than a year after it was adopted by world leaders. With the ratifications deposited Wednesday, enough countries have approved the accord so that it can take effect.

The Agreement was adopted in Paris, France at the UN climate conference in December 2015. In order to enter into force, at least 55 Parties accounting for at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are required, the Agreement enters into force 30 days later.

“What once seemed unthinkable, is now unstoppable,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he accepted the latest instruments of ratification that pushed the agreement over the threshold.

“Strong international support for the Paris Agreement entering into force is a testament to the urgency for action, and reflects the consensus of governments that robust global cooperation, grounded in national action, is essential to meet the climate challenge,” Ban said.

Ban, who will step down as secretary-general on December 31, has made adoption of the world’s first global climate agreement a priority of his 10 years as UN leader.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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October 5, 2016

SDGs Becoming More Prominent in Sustainability Reporting, But Challenges Remain

One year after the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, or Global Goals), United Nations (UN) officials are encouraging more businesses to engage in corporate sustainability reporting and integrate the Goals into their reporting. Also this week, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and consultants Radley Yeldar have released the 2016 edition of “Reporting matters,” which found that nearly a third of WBCSD’s members are already communicating on the SDGs.

The private sector has a significant role to play in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but incorporating social and environmental factors into global corporate accounting remains a sizeable challenge, said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi at an annual meeting of accountancy experts in Geneva this week. Hosted by UNCTAD, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the meeting runs October 4 to 6.

“Corporate sustainability reporting can be a powerful tool to measure the contribution of business towards the SDGs,” Kituyi said on Tuesday. He also welcomed collaboration between the international development and accounting communities and acknowledged the challenges of going from single-issue financial reporting to reporting with social, environmental and other sustainability factors.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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October 4, 2016

UN chief urges European Parliament to approve process on Paris Agreement ratification

4 October 2016 – Addressing the plenary of the European Parliament, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called its members to approve a speedy ratification by the European Union (EU) of the Paris Agreement on climate change and to help lead the world to a better future.

“I can think of no better way to secure the legacy of Paris than to have the Agreement enter into force in record time, backed by the support of the world’s most powerful economies and its most vulnerable countries,” said Mr. Ban in his remarks to the European body at its headquarters in Strasbourg, France.

“In the name of humanity and for the sake of future generations, I encourage you to support the speedy ratification of the Paris Agreement,” he added.

On 30 September, EU environment ministers had agreed to ratify the Agreement through a process that would enable individual countries to send their ratifications directly to the UN. The next step is the approval of the process by the European Parliament.

In his remarks today, the UN chief recalled that one of the two requirements that will allow the Agreement to enter into force first has already been achieved with 55 country ratifications (as of now 63 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement) and that the second one – that 55 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions accounted for – is close to being secured (it currently stands at 52.11 per cent).

Read more at UN News Centre.

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October 4, 2016

New guidance on procuring sustainable mobility available

4 October 2016

The CIVITAS Initiative has released new guidance on public procurement that provides local and regional policymakers and transport practitioners with policy reflections and practical insight from European procurement experts. The report outlines how public authorities should rethink how they meet their mobility needs, and how their procurement strategies can have broader positive (or negative) impacts on sustainable urban mobility patterns.

It describes what cities need to do before procuring vehicles, such as assessing needs and priorities, provides a methodological approach to greening public fleets and sets out how public authorities can go further and be bolder – for example, by procuring together with other cities or beyond local markets. The guidance builds upon existing initiatives and projects and offers some of the most inspiring good practice examples on sustainable mobility procurement in Europe.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Platform.

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October 3, 2016

Canada will tax carbon emissions to meet Paris climate agreement targets

Associated Press in Toronto
Monday 3 October 2016 22.54 BST

The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said on Monday that Canada will impose a tax on carbon emissions starting in 2018 as part of its efforts to meet targets set by the Paris climate change accord.

Trudeau made the announcement in parliament as debate started over whether Canada should ratify the Paris accord on climate change. The House of Commons is expected to approve the Paris accord in a vote on Wednesday.

Trudeau said provinces and territories can either put a direct tax on carbon emissions of at least $10 Canadian ($7.60) a ton or adopt a cap-and-trade system. If a province fails to do either by 2018, the federal government will implement a basic carbon tax of $10 a ton, rising by $10 a ton per year until it reaches C$50 a ton by 2022.

“There is no hiding from climate change,” Trudeau told the Commons. “It is real and it is everywhere. We cannot undo the last 10 years of inaction. What we can do is make a real and honest effort – today and every day – to protect the health of our environment, and with it, the health of all Canadians.”

Trudeau argued that pricing carbon pollution will give Canada a “significant advantage” in building a cleaner economy, compel businesses to develop innovative ways to reduce emissions, and create hundreds of thousands of clean technology jobs.

Read more at The Guardian.

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October 2, 2016

India Joins Paris Climate Agreement, Honoring Gandhi

NEW YORK, New York, October 2, 2016 (ENS) – India today ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change at UN Headquarters in New York, bringing the treaty’s entry into force “tantalizingly” close, said UN General Assembly President Peter Thomson.

“The country is embarking on a sustainable development pathway. Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi calls it ‘development without destruction,’” said UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson after witnessing India becoming the 62nd country to deposit its ratification during a commemorative event on the International Day of Non-Violence.

India chose the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, who led the country’s independence movement and pioneered the philosophy and strategy of non-violence, to join the climate accord.

“There is no better way to commemorate the great Mahatma Gandhi and his legacy of peace for people and planet,” said Eliasson.

The Agreement was adopted in Paris last December by the 195 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

It calls on countries to combat climate change and limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels.

The Agreement will take effect 30 days after at least 55 countries, responsible for 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, deposit their instruments of ratification. The world’s top two polluters, China and the United States, have already formally joined the pact.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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