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November 28, 2016

An Ethical Footwear Force Awakens with Po-Zu and Its Better Shoes Foundation

November 28, 2016
by Maxine Perella

This week, ethical shoe brand Po-Zu will unveil its Star Wars-themed footwear at the FFANY trade show in New York as part of a major collaboration with the movie franchise. It’s a highly significant launch for Po-Zu, as it will enable the UK-based manufacturer to bring its products to a wider market and raise public awareness over the ‘dark side’ of the shoe trade.

The footwear industry is not known for its ethical or environmental practices. Used shoes are a landfill magnet – one study suggests less than 5 percent of waste from post-consumer shoes is recycled. Material toxicity is also a concern, with leather shoes being particularly problematic: 85 percent of the world’s leather is thought to be tanned using chromium, which is considered one of the world’s worst pollutants.

There are questionable supply chain labour practices too, with many workers exploited for what is often considered a cheap commodity. According to a recent report from NGO Labour Behind the Label, just over 2 percent of the final price of a pair of shoes goes towards the wages of workers who manufactured them, whereas about a quarter of the price remains with the brand company and one-third with the retailer.

Read more at Sustainable Business.

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category : Topics

November 26, 2016

Costa Coffee launches in-store cup recycling scheme

Rebecca Smithers, consumer affairs correspondent
Saturday 26 November 2016 08.01 GMT

The UK’s largest coffee chain Costa Coffee is to launch a recycling scheme in all of its stores to ensure that as many as possible of its own takeaway cups – and those from its competitors – are recycled.

In a move designed to reduce the millions of used disposable cups that end up in landfill, the chain’s customers will be encouraged to leave or return them to a Costa store, where they will be stored on a bespoke rack. Costa’s waste partner, Veolia, will transport them to specialist waste processing plants which have the capacity to recycle takeaway coffee cups – potentially as many as 30m a year from Costa alone.

Following a successful trial in more than 45 stores across London and Manchester, Costa is rolling out the recycling racks in all 2,000-plus stores at the end of January with a clear message that “we recycle any paper takeaway cup, no matter what brand”.

It was revealed earlier this year that only 1 in 400 coffee cups are recycled in the UK because they are made of a difficult-to-recycle mix of paper and plastic. That prompted calls for a charge on takeaway cups by prominent figures including chef and campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

November 25, 2016

Conservation in palm oil is possible

25 November 2016 / Commentary by Erik Meijaard

Whereas most oil palm concessions are associated with the destruction of orangutan habitat, at least one company, PT KAL in West Kalimantan, stands out for protecting some 150 orangutans in its concession. Important lessons are to be learned from this case.

The oil palm sector is often blamed as one of the biggest threats in tropical conservation. Much of the critique of the sector is justified. Oil palm plantations at industrial and small-holder scale have displaced large areas of tropical forest and their increasingly threatened wildlife. As was shown in a recent study on Borneo, the rate at which this happens is still increasing. So what to do?

There are several possible strategies for reducing the impact of the oil palm sector on nature. The favored strategy over the past few decades for many in the environmental sector has been to reject palm oil, with some organizations calling for a total ban on palm oil. Because of the strong public and political support for oil palm development in major producing countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, such bans have remained largely ineffective in slowing the expansion of the industry.

Other organizations have called for more sustainable practices in the industry, such as those prescribed through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). It remains to be seen whether RSPO certification has resulted in much improved environmental and social practices but the fact that NGOs such as the PanEco Foundation are withdrawing support from RSPO is a concern for the sustainability claims of the platform.

Read more at MONGABAY.

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category : Topics

November 24, 2016

Timber trading platform aims to increase transparency, legality

An online tool now allows timber traders to verify the sustainability of their purchases from important tropical timber countries such as Brazil and Indonesia.

More than ever before, global consumers are demanding products made from responsibly sourced timber, and importers are increasingly being asked to account for where their timber and wood products come from under statutes such as the EU Timber Regulation and the Lacey Act in the US. To help buyers and traders stay in step with those trends, the BVRio Environmental Exchange unveiled the Responsible Timber Exchange on Wednesday.

“This is the first vehicle that promotes legality [and] sustainability,” said Pedro Moura Costa, the founder and president of BVRio.

The BVRio Institute, a nonprofit organization founded five years ago to come up with market-based solutions to boost environmental compliance, hosts the Responsible Timber Exchange.

Moura Costa said that in the past couple of years, BVRio had been asked by certified timber companies working in Brazil to help them operate more efficiently and economically.

“The illegal operators have such an advantage,” Moura Costa said, making it difficult for more ethically minded timber producers to compete.

Read more at MONGABAY.

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category : Topics

November 24, 2016

Tesco to phase out microbeads from its products by end of 2016

Adam Vaughan
Thursday 24 November 2016 12.51 GMT

Tesco will have phased out microbeads from all its own brand cosmetics and household cleaning products within a month, it was announced on Thursday.

While UK ministers recently said personal care products containing these tiny pieces of plastic will be banned from sale by the end of 2017, it is not clear yet whether the ban will extend to other types of products that rely on their abrasive properties.

But Tesco said that it was listening to customers’ concerns and in the spring it had instructed suppliers to either cut microbeads from products such as toothpaste entirely, or to use natural alternatives such as ground coconut shell in face scrubs.

The supermarket will also make “do not flush” labels much bigger on the front of its own brand wet wipes, which campaigners and water companies say are clogging up sewers and causing pollution. And the company’s own brand “flushable” wipes will soon be manufactured to break down more easily.

Tesco admitted it had been “behind the game” on issues affecting the oceans and marine life before.

Microbeads are pieces of plastic less than 0.5mm in diameter and have been commonly used in health and beauty products to provide an exfoliating effect. But they have been blamed for harming marine life’s ability to reproduce, and experts say more research is needed on their potential human health impacts.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

November 24, 2016

Sustainable consumption: An untapped opportunity in Asia

By Clelia Daniel
Thursday 24 November 2016

The concept of sustainable consumption incites us all to consume less and to consume better. Perhaps less obviously, it also encourages the world’s poorest people to increase their consumption. The implication therefore calls the private sector to keep consumption levels to within the carrying capacity of the world, but also to make space for those currently in poverty who will inevitably consume more once out of poverty.

While companies meticulously and in great detail plan how to reduce their own social and environmental footprint, they tend to put much less emphasis on the impact of their products once in the hands of the consumers.

This is understandable as the behavior of their customers it is not under companies’ direct control. However, consumption might have the same or an even greater impact on the environment and society than expected.

Many global brands have rethought their products in a way that promotes sustainable lifestyles, i.e. Patagonia, Interface, Nike, Heineken among many others. Since sustainable consumption is at the heart of Sustainable Development Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, we can expect to hear more about it from Asian companies as well.

In the age of transparency, it is important for companies to send a clear message about their purpose, which can no longer be just selling more products and services with negative environmental and social impacts. By 2030, the Asia-Pacific region will account for 48 per cent of global consumption, urging the region to start thinking seriously about its consumption patterns.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

November 22, 2016

Germany wakes up to the issue of waste with reusable coffee cups

The thought of 2.8 billion disposable coffee cups a year being dumped in landfill sites across Germany is enough to leave a bitter taste in the mouth of any consumer.

With 320,000 "to go" coffees delivered over the country's counters every hour, according to the German environmental aid forum, the impact of this growing trend is extensive.

To tackle the issue, the university city of Freiburg has come up with a pioneering scheme aimed at reducing waste.

The "Freiburg Cup", made from dishwasher-proof plastic and obtained from cafes and bakeries for a deposit of one euro, can be reused hundreds of times ‒ or returned.

The cups, which are provided by local councils, are washed in the cafes and bakeries that have signed up to the scheme before being reused or redistributed.

So far 16 outlets have agreed to take part in the "Freiburg Cup" experiment in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, including cafes in the university libraries.

Read more at BBC News.

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category : Topics

November 22, 2016

New funding platform launched for sustainability projects in Asia

By Hannah Koh
Tuesday 22 November 2016

Sustainable projects in the areas of the circular economy, sustainable energy or social impact in Asia now have a new potential source of funding in the Sustainable Finance Collective (SFC) Asia.

This funding platform, launched on Tuesday morning by ING Bank at the Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development in Singapore, will offer funding to projects that meet the criteria and approval of its two committees: the Funding Panel and the Expert Panel.

Comprised of banks Credit Suisse, FMO, and ING Bank as well as the UNDP-UN Social Impact Fund, the Funding Panel will offer project managers a range of funding options through a single source including debt, equity, and guarantees.

Gerrit Stoelinga, CEO for ING Wholesale Banking Asia, said in a statement that sustainability is key to ING’s purpose of empowering people and businesses.

“We want to encourage businesses to become more sustainable and we hope to see applications for game-changing sustainability projects that will have a positive impact in Asia.”

Projects applying for funding must be about one of the three themes: circular economy, sustainable energy, or social impact. The first two themes should require minimum funding of US$15 million, while grant applications for social impact projects start at US$5 million. Capital will be allocated on a case-by-case basis with no cap to the amount available for funding in total.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

November 21, 2016

Beijing bans highly polluting cars during smog alerts

Reuters
Monday 21 November 2016 11.45 GMT

Next year, Beijing will ban highly polluting old cars from being driven whenever air-quality alerts are issued in the city or neighbouring regions, according to its environmental protection bureau.

China has adopted various measures over the years to reduce the smog shrouding many of the country’s northern cities in winter, causing hazardous traffic conditions and disrupting daily life.

From 15 February, vehicles that don’t meet the government’s current standard on emissions (those more than 10 years old) will be banned in Beijing’s main urban area whenever orange or red alerts are issued in Beijing or neighbouring Hebei province and Tianjin city.

Vehicles breaking the restrictions will be fined 100 yuan (£11.75) every four hours they are on the road, the bureau added.

Cars at the National 1 or National 2 emissions standards, which the rules are aimed at, only account for 8% of the cars in the city, but they account for more than 30% of smog causing nitrogen oxide emissions, the bureau said.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

November 20, 2016

COP22: Nations Hold Fast to Paris Climate Accord

MARRAKECH, Morocco, November 20, 2016 (ENS) – Countries fast-tracked the political and practical aims of the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement and accelerated global climate action at the 2016 UN climate change conference that concluded in the early hours of Saturday morning in Marrakech.

The 22nd Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP 22, hosted by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, saw nearly 500 heads of state or government and ministers attend.

By the end of the two-week climate summit, more than 100 countries, representing over 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, had formally joined the Paris Agreement.

On November 15, Marrakech also hosted the first official meeting of Parties to the Paris Agreement, its top governing body, following the accord’s early entry into force on November 4, less than a year after it was adopted last December.

The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep a global average temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The November 8 election of climate denier Donald Trump as president of the United States sent shock waves through the gathering, but it did not deter participants from moving forward in a spirit of determination.

The United States, Canada, Germany and Mexico announced ambitious climate strategies out to 2050, reflecting the long-term goal of the Paris Agreement to achieve climate neutrality and a low-emission world in the second half of this century.

Read more at Environment News Service.

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category : Topics

November 18, 2016

New toolkit helps local authorities contribute to SDGs through Fair Trade

18 November 2016

The Fair Trade Advocacy Office launched the toolkit Localising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through Fair Trade at a recent ceremony in Brussels (Belgium), highlighting the key role that local authorities have in contributing to the new global Agenda 2030 for sustainable development through Fair Trade.

The toolkit provides guidance and best practices across different policy areas at local level, such as public procurement, local economic development, international cooperation, awareness raising, and multi-stakeholder engagement. It provides international examples and is meant to serve as a companion for local officials working on the implementation of the SDGs at local level.

Joakim Reiter, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) stated in the foreword: “This publication is timely and welcomed. It serves as a practical tool for cities and towns to learn from the experience of other local authorities in contributing to the 2030 Agenda via Fair Trade.”

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Platform.

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category : Topics

November 18, 2016

How2Compost Label Aims to Facilitate Proper Packaging Disposal

November 18, 2016
by Libby MacCarthy

With private and municipal composting programs becoming more mainstream, as well as more companies turning to more sustainable packaging designs, composting is now easier than ever. The next step in the crusade to reduce waste? The Sustainable Packing Coalition (SPC)’s launch of the new How2Compost label program.

How2Compost is an on-package label that informs consumers that packaging is certified compostable, offers directions on appropriate composting, and includes the URL how2compost.info for further information.

The How2Compost label was developed by SPC in conjunction with the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), the leading compostable packaging certification program. By looking for the How2Compost label, consumers can now more easily identify packaging and products that are certified to compost in industrial composting facilities. Every package featuring How2Compost is either certified compostable by BPI, or contains a certified product so consumers can trust that it has gone through required testing and is third-party verified in accordance with standards related to industrial composting facilities.

How2Compost is an extension of the How2Recycle program. Like the How2Recycle label, the How2Compost label is a next generation labeling system that brings harmonization and precision to recovery claims on packaging and is designed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's guidance over environmental marketing claims. Companies can choose to become a member of How2Compost in order to feature the label on their BPI-certified packaging, to provide additional consumer clarity on the compostability of the various packaging components and related products.

Read more at Sustainable Business.

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category : Topics

November 17, 2016

New Platform Helps Companies ‘Trase’ Deforestation in Their Supply Chains

November 17, 2016
by Hannah Furlong

Commodity production drives two-thirds of tropical deforestation worldwide, and tracing those commodities has proven difficult. With this in mind, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) have launched an interactive online platform called Trase – Transparency for Sustainable Economies – that allows companies, financial institutions, governments and others to explore data on the flows of globally-traded commodities such as palm oil, soya, beef and timber that are driving deforestation and other environmental and social impacts worldwide.

“We see Trase as the start of a data-driven revolution in supply chain transparency,” said Javier Godar, a Senior Research Fellow at SEI and one of the platform’s founders. “The blanket transparency offered by Trase can help catalyse improvements across the board: in production practices, procurement and investment policies and the governance of supply chains by both producer and consumer governments.”

Trase dynamically maps and visualizes the movement of commodities from their municipality of origin to the exporters, importers and ‘consumer’ countries. For now, the platform only covers Brazilian soy, but Trase expects to include all Latin American soy by 2017, followed by beef in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, and then other major commodities such as Brazilian timber and Indonesian oil palm. Over the next five years, Trase aims to expand to cover over 70 percent of total production in major forest risk commodities.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

November 17, 2016

Indonesia ships first containers of timber under EU legality scheme

JAKARTA — The first containers of plywood certified as legal under the EU’s anti-illegal-logging action plan were shipped out of the Indonesian capital on Tuesday, a milestone in the fight against blackmarket timber in one of the world’s most heavily forested countries.

Of the 15 nations that have agreed to take part in the scheme, Indonesia is first to succeed in establishing a national system for verifying the legality of its timber — a considerable achievement for a country where unscrupulous loggers pocketed a presumed $60.7-81.4 billion from illicit sales between 2003 and 2014, according to the nation’s antigraft agency. Indonesia lost nearly $9 billion in state revenue from unreported timber sales during the same period.

“This signifies Indonesia’s commitment to combat illegal logging and the illicit timber trade,” said Rufi’ie, a director at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

Rufi’ie, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, added that 36 certifications had already been issued under the scheme, known as Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). He said he hoped Indonesia’s compliance with the program would increase the value of its exports.

With the adoption of the scheme, EU timber importers will not have to perform their own due dilligence on certified shipments from the archipelago country, increasing the competitiveness of Indoensian timber vis-a-vis other producers.

Read more at MONGABAY.

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category : Topics

November 17, 2016

RBF goes zero waste for 2016

By Hannah Koh
Thursday 17 November 2016

Say goodbye to business cards, printed programmes, and even meat dishes at this year’s Responsible Business Forum (RBF) on Sustainable Development, whose organisers have pledged to make it the first zero-waste, zero-emissions conference in Asia.

Tony Gourlay, chief executive of Global Initiatives, which runs the Responsible Business Forum, said his team wants to “walk the talk” as they engage the business community to do more for the sustainability agenda.

“We also want to get everyone thinking about how much each single plastic cup, plane ride, conference badge actually impacts the earth,” he added.

Running from November 22 to 24 at the Marina Bay Sands (MBS), the conference is the first United Nations Development Programme business forum in Asia to focus on the Sustainable Development Goals, and now wants to be Asia’s first event without waste or emissions.

With help from MBS, no trash will be generated during the three-day event, and 100 per cent of all remaining unavoidable emissions will be offset.

Going paperless, the forum will rely on digital signage at the event and encourage attendees to use the RBF event app, which contains programme information, allows digital scanning of business cards and comes with a voting function for use during sessions.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

November 15, 2016

What factors are influencing electric vehicle purchases in China?

WASHINGTON, D.C., November, 15, 2016 -- Many Chinese cities are suffering from deteriorating environmental quality -- particularly due to air pollution that contributes to fog and haze. Air pollutant levels now far exceed "safe" limits established by the European Union, and one of the main culprits behind it is the rapid increase in automobile ownership and usage.

These rising environmental concerns are driving the development of new energy vehicles (NEVs) -- aka plug-in electric vehicles -- as a way to help mitigate the environmental problems associated with automobile usage. But sales of NEVs are still relatively low. In 2014, the 74,763 NEVs sold accounted for only 0.3 percent of total automobile sales in China that year.

So, a group of researchers from the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at Beijing Institute of Technology, the Collaborative Innovation Center of Electric Vehicles in Beijing, and the Sustainable Development Research Institute for Economy and Society of Beijing set out to find out what motivates or influences consumer to purchase electric vehicles within seven cities in China. They report their findings this week in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, from AIP Publishing.

Read more at EurekAlert!

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category : Topics

November 15, 2016

Pilot project aims to produce new workwear from old clothes

15 November 2016

Can used clothing be turned back into its component materials and then used to create more clothing? Dutch waterways, public works and environment authority Rijkswaterstaat (RWS) is coming to the end of a unique pilot project that trialled this concept. As part of the project, around 50 lock stewards – who spend their days on the Netherland’s waterways - were issued with caps, polo-shirts, raincoats and fleece jackets made of 100 per cent recyclable polyester materials.

Supplied by innovative manufacturer Dutch aWEARness, the season’s uniforms are handed in following use to be ‘dematerialised’ into their component raw materials. According to the manufacturers, this ‘new from old’ process could be repeated up to eight times. The benefits of this approach are significant: no new raw materials (or perhaps very few) are needed for new workwear, and no waste has to be burned.

Read more at Sustainable Procurement Platform.

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category : Topics

November 14, 2016

UK to investigate human health impact of microplastics

Press Association
Monday 14 November 2016 09.11 GMT

The government is to conduct an investigation into the impact on human health of microplastic particles found in shellfish and other marine animals.

The study by the chief medical officer for England, Prof Dame Sally Davies, is to be carried out as part of a wider, year-long review of the health effects of pollution.

The move follows the announcement in September that the government is to ban the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetics and toiletries after the Commons environmental audit committee raised concerns about their effect on the marine environment.

In its official response to the committee’s findings, the government acknowledged there was “little evidence” available on the impact to human health of microplastics - defined as particles smaller than five millimetres.

It said that research had however shown high concentrations could cause physical harm to marine worms and microplastics could transfer along a “simple” food chain - such as from a mussel to a crab.

In its report, the committee said someone eating six oysters was likely to have consumed 50 particles of microplastics and that the human health impacts should be a “priority subject for research”.

Committee chairwoman, Mary Creagh, said: “It’s welcome news that the chief medical officer will investigate the impact of microplastics on human health.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

November 14, 2016

COP22 Low-Emissions Solutions Conference countries, cities and companies meet to scale-up solutions

Marrakech, Morocco, 14 November 2016: The Paris Agreement is now in force, and as of today, for the first time in COP history, the COP22 Low-Emissions Solutions Conference (LESC) will provide a match-making function between countries and the companies, sectors and platforms on the latest innovative solutions and technologies that can help countries hit their NDC targets.

Taking place in the Blue Zone at Marrakech from 14-16 November, the conference puts innovative technological solutions at the heart of COP22 and of the climate agenda. This can help boost the impact of national commitments – a vital step as the focus of the world moves to implementation.

Today, the LESC will host a Ministerial Roundtable on Innovation led by the United States Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz; Peter Bakker, CEO and President of WBCSD, and 10 Ministers (from across the EU, India, Mexico, Brazil and China).

he successful implementation of the Paris Agreement will depend on the deployment of low-emissions strategies and on innovative solutions. This three-day Low-Emissions Solutions Conference (LESC) is aimed at global co-creation and troubleshooting of the latest technological developments.

Effective and innovative mitigation solutions exist, but need scaling up, which is why collaboration between all stakeholders is critical. LESC embodies this collaboration and reinforces this cooperation towards implementation and upgrade of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Read more at the WBCSD News.

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November 10, 2016

Shoppers must use their purchasing power to lead green products revolution

Bruce Watson
Thursday 10 November 2016 23.07 GMT

Whenever the battle against toxic chemicals makes headlines, it’s usually linked to huge, sprawling disasters like Flint’s poisoned water or BPA-laden plastics – the kind of thing that involves large scale poisoning and disease and defies an easy solution. And, on those rare occasions when a happy chemistry story breaks – like the ban on antibacterial ingredients like triclosan, or the reauthorization of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which will expand the government’s ability to regulate chemicals – the combination of confusing chemistry and bizarre political maneuvering makes the story almost incomprehensible for anybody who isn’t already an expert.

It’s easy to imagine the battle for greener chemistry as a titanic struggle between goliath industries and sprawling governments, with consumers watching from the sidelines as their lives and health hang in the balance. But this perspective – and most stories about toxic chemicals – ignore a key part of the equation: consumer demand. For all the much-discussed push of government policies and industry innovations, it’s the pull of consumers and the market that ultimately fuels the biggest changes.

The experts at the Guardian’s Green Chemistry Conference in New York in November highlighted the need to help consumers recognize the pull that they exert. On the government side, they’re focusing on policies and infrastructure projects that address voter concerns; on the consumer side, they’re bringing safer, greener products to market, often in the face of resistance from entrenched industries. In both cases, they’re being tugged along by the increasingly vocal desires and demands of voters and consumers.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

November 10, 2016

Collect Earth: Google and FAO launch new forest tool

By Vaidehi Shah
Thursday 10 November 2016

Technology giant Google and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation on Tuesday unveiled a new digital tool that will allow countries to track land use change and calculate emissions reductions from avoiding deforestation more accurately.

Called Collect Earth and presented at the United Nations climate change conference (COP 22) in Marrakesh, Morocco, the tool is the result of a partnership between Google and FAO inked last year, and will provide access to large collections of free, high-resolution satellite imagery and cloud computing services.

The tool, which offers countries an accessible yet technically advanced way to track land use change, account for carbon, and develop forest and land use policies, is one of a dozen new initiatives to promote the protection and sustainable management of forests launched at COP 22 as part of the UN’s Forest Action Day, a part of the Global Climate Action Agenda.

This is an initiative by France—which hosted last year’s climate conference in Paris—and Morocco to promote deeper partnerships between governments, cities, businesses, investors, and citizens to tackle climate change.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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category : Topics

November 8, 2016

Commission won’t regulate toasters or hairdryers after Hoovergate scandal

By James Crisp | EurActiv.com

The European Commission today (8 November) defended its decision not to consider hairdryers and toasters for green regulation, but admitted that negative headlines about meddling Brussels bureaucrats had influenced the executive’s thinking over Ecodesign rules.

EU rules governing the energy efficiency of vacuum cleaners sparked huge debate over perceived excessive red tape from the Commission.

Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said the ‘Hoovergate’ headlines had stirred up Euroscepticism, after controversies in EU countries such as Germany and the UK.

“They have been very influential,” Timmermans said, after revealing that while hand dryers and kettles would be analysed for potential EU regulation, toasters would not.

“We are very sensitive to what we have seen in the past,” he said. The College of Commissioner had held two fully-fledged debates over which products to regulate he said.

“What we are doing is evidence-based. We want the products with the highest energy yield. That is why kettles are on the list and toasters are not on the list. The only way I can be convinced – I was very sceptical when I joined – is by evidence.”

The list of proposed products to be scrutinised over a three-year period was delayed until after the UK’s Brexit referendum in June.

Read more at EurActiv.com.

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November 8, 2016

Study: Recycling scrap steel offers environmental and competitive benefits

By Nicole Sagener | EurActiv.de | Translated By Samuel Morgan

The market for scrap steel is weakening, but the circular economy may offer a ray of hope. A new study claims that old steel products will become increasingly important to the industry. EurActiv Germany reports.

The steel recycling industry continues to come under pressure, firstly because of China’s dumping practices and secondly because of the drop in iron ore price, which lets new steel be made more cheaply, according to the Federation of German Steel Recycling and Waste Management Companies (BDSV).

In 2015, the price of certain types of scrap fell by up to 40%, making it unattractive financially. As a result, demand decreased by 7.5%.

Europe-wide, it looks bleak for the industry: In eight years, the use of scrap has fallen by nearly a quarter to 90 million tonnes. In the past, Europe could count on Turkey to deal with, but in 2015 it bought 20% less scrap than it did in 2014.

But there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. A study produced by the Fraunhofer Research Institute UMSICHT reveals that the steel recycling sector will become increasingly important to the steel industry’s value chain.

Read more at EurActiv.com.

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November 8, 2016

€220M European Commission Investment Spurs 144 New Circular, Low-Carbon Projects

November 8, 2016
by Libby MacCarthy

The European Commission has approved an investment package of €222.7 million from the EU budget to support Europe's transition to a more sustainable and low-carbon future. The EU funding will spur additional investments leading to a total of €398.6 million, which will be used to finance 144 new projects in 23 member states.

The support comes from the LIFE Programme for the Environment and Climate Action, the EU's funding instrument for the environment and climate action. €323.5 million will go to projects in the field of environment and resource efficiency, nature and biodiversity, and environmental governance and information.

The projects illustrate the Commission's ongoing commitment to its flagship circular economy package. A significant number of awards have already been and will continue to be granted to EU member states to help make the transition to a more circular economy. Examples of recognised projects in 2016 include new, energy-saving, hydrogen-electric garbage trucks in Belgium; technologies for reducing the health risks of sludge in wastewater, pioneered in Italy; and a project to help Greek municipalities, such as Olympia, increase recycling rates.

In the field of climate action, the investment will support climate change adaptation and mitigation, and climate governance, and information projects totalling €75.1 million. Selected projects support the EU's target to reduce GHG emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030, contributing to the shift towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy. In 2015, such projects included restoration and carbon storage in peatlands in five EU countries (Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland), demonstration of the production of low-emission cement and concrete products in France, enhancing the climate resilience of vineyards in Germany and implementing adaptation measures in urban areas in Cyprus.

Read more at Sustainable Business.

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November 7, 2016

UN released two million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2015 latest ‘Greening the Blue’ report shows

7 November 2016 – In the latest edition of the United Nations report on the organization’s greenhouse gas emissions, the world body announced that it emitted two million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent in 2015 and that a total of 28 UN system entities took systematic approaches to improve their environmental performance, all part of its commitment to become climate neutral by 2020.

“As I prepare to step down as Secretary-General, I am encouraged by how far we have come in ‘walking the talk,’ thanks to the enthusiasm of the staff of the United Nations for Greening the Blue, said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his introduction to the report, which was released today.

The UN chief said he was also pleased to see growing staff commitment to climate neutrality and sustainability in the workplace, as well as consistent support for initiatives such as World Environment Day and Earth Hour.

The report includes important updates on the progress of the Climate Neutral UN Strategy, which in 2007 committed all agencies, funds, and programmes to move towards climate neutrality and requires UN bodies to estimate their greenhouse emissions and undertake efforts to reduce and offset their emissions before 2020.

This year, 66 UN entities and 284,482 personnel around the world are included in the report. As of 2008, there has been a 38 per cent increase in the number of agencies reporting their emissions and a 37 per cent increase in the number of staff covered by the inventory.

Read more at UN News Centre.

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November 4, 2016

A historic moment: Cement Leaders celebrate the Paris Agreement entering into force

Members of the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) welcome the Paris Agreement entering into force as a key milestone in establishing a stable regulatory framework to enable the business community to scale up the implementation of low-carbon solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Geneva, 4 November 2016: Today, the Paris Agreement adopted on 12 December 2015, will enter into force, thirty days after the date (5 October) on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention (UNFCCC) accounting in total for at least an estimated 55% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

This represents a historic moment. For the first time in UN history, a worldwide ambitious, legally-binding treaty has been ratified by enough Parties to enter into force in less than one year after its official adoption. This demonstrates a clear change in the Parties’ commitment, consistent with the level of urgency for all stakeholders to fight against climate change and its impacts.

The CSI and its members welcome this achievement and congratulate the Parties and all the stakeholders that have contributed to the development, agreement and ratification of the Paris Agreement. This long-term, permanent framework, set up by the agreement, has been expected by the private sector for years.

Read more at WBCSD News.

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November 4, 2016

Paris Agreement enters into force – celebration and reality check

By Patricia Espinosa and Salaheddine Mezouar
Friday 4 November 2016

Humanity will look back on November 4, 2016, as the day that countries of the world shut the door on inevitable climate disaster and set off with determination towards a sustainable future.

The Paris Climate Change Agreement – the result of the most complex, comprehensive and critical international climate negotiation ever attempted – came into force today.

The Agreement is undoubtedly a turning point in the history of common human endeavour, capturing the combined political, economic and social will of governments, cities, regions, citizens, business and investors to overcome the existential threat of unchecked climate change.

Its early entry into force is a clear political signal that all the nations of the world are devoted to decisive global action on climate change.

Next week’s UN climate change conference in Marrakech represents a new departure for the international community, and the first meeting of the Paris Agreement’s governing body, known as the CMA, will take place during it on November 15.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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November 3, 2016

Your carbon footprint destroys 30 square metres of Arctic sea ice a year

Damian Carrington
Thursday 3 November 2016 19.00 GMT

The average westerner’s carbon emissions destroy 30 square metres of Arctic sea ice every year, according to new research.

The work indicates that, even with current efforts to cut emissions, the Arctic will lose all its ice in summer within about 20 years.

Plummeting Arctic sea ice cover is one of the most obvious signs of climate change and is increasingly linked to extreme weather events such as storms and floods in Europe and severe cold snaps in the US.

The new study revealed a linear link between emissions of CO2 and the loss of Arctic sea ice, which has shrunk by half in the last 40 years. The link enables people to understand their own contribution to climate change, according to the leader of the work, Prof Dirk Notz, at the Max-Planck-Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany.

“It allows us, for the first time really, to intuitively grasp how we all individually contribute to global warming,” he said. “The observed numbers are very simple. For each tonne of CO2 that a person emits anywhere on this planet, three square metres of Arctic summer sea ice disappears.”

“So far the global warming debate has always been about very large numbers like billions of tonnes of CO2 or very small numbers like 0.1C of temperature change,” he said. “Our study allows us to understand that it is really our own individual actions, every day, that contribute to ongoing global warming.”

The research, published in the journal Science, analysed the declining extent of Arctic sea ice from 1953 to 2015 and found it tracked the emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel burning and other human activities. The relationship fits well with the underlying physics.

As a result, it is possible to calculate how much Arctic sea ice is lost as a result of an individual’s emissions. The average annual emissions of a citizen of the 35 rich nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is 10 tonnes per year, leading to 30 sq m of ice being lost. Citizens of the US, Canada and Australia have a higher carbon footprint - about 16 tonnes - each causing almost 50 sq m of ice loss per year. In the UK, the average emissions are 7.5 tonnes per year, meaning 22.5 sq m of ice loss.

Read more at The Guardian.

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November 2, 2016

GreenS Steering Committees promote the power of green public procurement

Steering Committees comprised of municipal authority staff and procurement experts have been set up by the GreenS project in seven European countries with the aim of driving uptake of green public procurement (GPP) at local and regional level. The project aims to use GPP to help meet the EU’s goal of a 20 percent reduction in energy use in Europe by 2020.

The newly established Steering Committees in Italy, Cyprus, Spain, Latvia, Sweden, Slovenia and Bulgaria play an important role in institutionalising GPP in these countries, helping with the development and implementation of GPP strategies, including influencing GPP standards. These committees will promote training and consultation for relevant officials, and will discuss barriers and challenges with procurers in each region.

Read more at ICLEI Europe News.

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