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\r\n The old traders’ adage “better to travel than arrive” has been true in 2017. Last year wa...
\r\n President Donald Trump signed on 28 March 2017 an executive order to unravel former President B...
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\r\n Australia’s federal government has announced it will ratify and implement the OPCAT Treaty, O...
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  • SCIENTISTS PLAN CLIMATE CHANGE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

    Scientists are planning a march against President Donald Trump after his administration enforced what is said to be a temporary media blackout on the Environment Protection Agency; actually, the organization’s social media accounts have been silent since the President’s inauguration preventing them from publishing posts and publicizing any research.

    Scientists are viewing Trump’s attitude as a gag order on climate change information and censorship of scientific facts; this is the reason why they will start with a march on Washington hoping to use it as a starting point to take a stand for science in politics.

    According to them, this issue is a non-partisan one which reaches far beyond people in the political-scientific field and concerns anyone who believes in research. Politicians who devalue expertise risk making decisions that do not reflect reality and ignore science to pursue ideological agendas endanger the world.

    They are aware of fighting against a climate change sceptic. Trump considers global warming a Chinese creation so as to make US manufacturing non-competitive, a hoax which makes people lose their money.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Wednesday, 1 February 2017

    (source: The Telegraph)

  • ELECTRIC CARS AND CHEAP SOLAR COULD HALT FOSSIL FUEL GROWTH BY 2020

    According to the Imperial College and Carbon Tracker report, solar power and clean cars are game changers consistently underestimated by big energy. Actually, the falling costs of the projections for the green technologies and the countries’ pledges to cut emissions can halt the worldwide demand for oil and coal by 2020.

    Polluting fuels may lose 10% of market share to solar power and clean cars within a decade; this loss, between 2008 and 2013, was enough to cause the collapse of the coal mining industry in the United States and the loss of 100 bn of Euros in five major European utilities. These ones did not prepare for an increase in renewables.

    This happen because the big energy companies are underestimating the low-carbon transition by sticking to their “business as usual” scenarios, which expect an ongoing growth of fossil fuels and may, as a consequence, see their assets stranded.

    The cost of solar has fallen 85% in 7 years, panels can supply 23% of global power generation by 2040 and 29% by 2050, leaving natural gas with 1% share, and electric vehicles can make up 35% of the road transport market by 2035. Moreover, it will limit the global temperatures rises.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Wednesday, 1 February 2017

    (source: The Guardian)

  • RESEARCH SUGGESTS THAT GLOBAL WARMING WILL CAUSE GLOBAL FOOD SHORTAGES WITHIN DECADES

    New research indicates that global warming could cut yields of crops, like maize, in half by the end of the century. Researchers in the US observed the effect that exposure to temperatures of between 30 and 36 degrees Celsius had on the growth of crops. It was observed that every day of exposure to such temperatures reduced harvest yield by around 5%. They indicate that without a reduction to greenhouse gas emissions, crop yields of Maize could be reduced by 50%, soybeans by 40%, and wheat by 20% by 2100. It is predicted that this will cause food shortages across the globe, which may result in forced migration and war.

    However, the damage to harvest yield was found by researchers to be substantially mitigated when the irrigation of crop fields was increased, and is highlighted as a promising means of adapting to the effects of global warming. The inability of certain regions to further irrigate crops, due to water shortages, is noted.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Friday, January 20 2017

    (Source: The Independent)

  • CHINA MAKES PLANS AT A PROVINCIAL LEVEL TO LIFT MILLIONS OF CITIZENS OUT OF POVERTY BY 2021

    Chinese provincial governments are making plans in order to implement the central policy of reducing povertyhighlighted in the National People’s Congress’ 13th five-year plan the most clear statement of China’s policy objectives for the coming half-decade.

    The province of Hunan, which is particularly poverty-stricken, has developed an initiative which has been emulated in other provinces like Sichuan and Shandong. The initiatives plan to spur growth in e-commerce and industry, improve access to financing, and pursue the construction of new infrastructure projects, in order to bring about sustainable and inclusive development. The initiatives are expected to bring millions of citizens out of poverty.

    Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang has supported sending a team of supervisory experts to ensure that provincial governments follow through with their commitments.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, January 18 2017

    (Source: The BRICS Post)

  • DID THE UK GOVERNMENT ATTEMPT TO REDUCE THE VISIBILITY OF ITS NEWLY PUBLISHED CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT?

    The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Report was recently published by the UK government. Laws require that an assessment be published every five years. This most recent assessment indicates that by 2050, developments in climate change could double the amount of heat-related deaths suffered in the country, bring about shortages to public water supplies, result in increased flooding, and degrade the natural environment.

    Certain commentators, like Greenpeace UK, argue that the report demonstrates the need to treat climate change as a matter of national security. Some who share this sentiment have therefore criticised the government for the lack of visibility provided to the report, noting that its publication was not covered by any major media outlet, or posted about via the Department for Food, Agricultural and Rural Affairs’ official twitter account.

    A government source has responded by stating that a news story about the publication was circulated on the Government website gov.uk, and that this is the standard practice for advertising of reports like the one in question.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Wednesday, January 25 2017

    (Source: The Independent)

  • TENSIONS BETWEEN CHINA AND THE USA INCREASE OVER THE SOUTH CHINA SEA DISPUTE

    White House spokesman Sean Spicer has addressed the South China Sea dispute,giving an indication of how America will handle the issue under a Trump administration. The dispute has arisen as a result of China’s construction of artificial reefs in the area, and conducting of naval patrols in parts of the sea claimed by other nations.

    Previously, the Obama administration had officially remained neutral, but did send military aircraft and naval destroyers through the area in 2016, and built relations with nations neighbouring China that also claim a right to use of the South China Sea. Spicer’s comments are more unequivocal. He states that if China is constructing islands in international waters, America will act to ensure that its interests are not taken over by another country.

    China, via foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, has responded by reaffirming the legality of its actions in the area, and claiming that the issue is not one that America is party to.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, January 25 2017

    (Source: BBC News)

  • TRUMP PREPARES FOR A BUSY MONDAY, PLEDGES NAFTA CHANGES, OTHER EXECUTIVE ORDERS

    President Donald Trump addressed future meetings with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto and possible changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”). NAFTA came into force on January 1, 1994, creating a trilateral trade block in North America between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Although it eliminates many tariffs and was designed to create the freest possible trade, President Trump has not been on board with it since his original campaign speeches. However, if the agreement is reworked large companies such as GM may suffer.

    Many other executive orders have been discussed in relation to this; including shelving the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership with Asian nations. Discussions about changes to healthcare and national security are also on the horizon. Lastly, there is the issue of moving the U.S embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which he has until the end of May to make a formal decision about.

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 25 January 2017

    (Source: USA Today)

  • TRUMP BANS EPA EMPLOYEES FROM GIVING SOCIAL MEDIA UPDATES

    With beginning executive tasks, President Donald Trump has banned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from giving any social media updates on contracts, grants, and inter- agency agreements as the policies stand under upcoming review. His hope is to lift policies for United States environmental regulations to enhance contracts of future pipelines.

    This ban is in hopes to keep future contracts and projects under wraps until further review. It has also been instilled to uphold agency policy that employees under the Department of Health and Human Services are not to speak about public officials. All EPA grants have been frozen until the review of funds and future allocations is complete.

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 25 January 2017

    (Source: The Hill)

  • ISRAEL ANNOUNCES 2,500 MORE WEST BANK SETTLEMENT HOMES

    Israeli right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, have approved a new building program of Jewish settlement homes in the occupied Palestinian territories, the West Bank area, on the heels of the swearing-in of  U.S. President Donald Trump.

    The announcement of 2,500 new housing units is one of the largest in years, marking a comprehensive rejection of December’s UN security council resolution which described settlement building as a flagrant violation of international law and an obstacle to peace; and increases tensions with Palestinians and the wider Middle East, already high over the Trump administration’s proposal to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

    Nabil Abu Rdainah, Palestinian President Abbas’s spokesman, said the move would hinder any attempt to restore security, reinforce extremism and obstacle the path to peace. According to him Israel is exploiting the US administration to escalate its violations and prevent the existence of a Palestinian State. The EU countries denounced the new units as well, while the US remained silent in front of the approval.

    Settlement construction has been a contentious area of disagreement during the Obama years, when the White House condemned it as an obstacle to peace, but Trump has signalled a softer approach closer to Israeli settlers’ plans during the electoral campaign. While now he is playing vague, Netanyahu is under pressure from all the internal and external political sides.      

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Tuesday, 24 January 2017

    (source: The Guardian)

  • FRAGMENTED AUTHORITARIANISM AND STATE OWNERSHIP

    Over the past 40 years, China’s private sector has emerged and become the leader of the world factory of manufacturing exports. Actually, the Third Plenum of the 18th Party Congress in 2013 already declared the PRC’s market a decisive player which has reasserted the dominant position of public ownership.

    The most visible manifestation of China’s public ownership is its state-owned enterprises (“SOEs”), which internally rule sectors such as energy and telecommunications, and externally are the vanguard of the Chinese direct investments. Some of these SOEs are under the administration of the State Council’s State Asset Supervision and Administration Commission (“SASAC”), some report to the Ministry of Finance and some depend from provincial and county-level governments.

    This fragmented model implies a flexible notion of ownership together with the omnipresent desire to consolidate employment/investment rights into an accountable single decision maker. As a consequence, both in private and public companies party cadres muddy any clear distinction between politics and business; companies have close relationships with government but if non-state companies lack formal ownership links to the state, the private ones need to keep the state/party on side.

    It is generally known that representative state-owned enterprises cannot cure Chinese economic maladies. While state ownership creates a conflict of interest between the state as owner and as regulator, turning state monopolies into private ones produces a force for political opposition outside the current political structure and leads to crony capitalism; privatization is not enough since the necessary condition for prosperity is not ownership but that Chinese state intervention proceeds according to a transparent rule of law. 

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Monday, 23 January 2017

    (source: EastAsiaForum)

  • DOES GDP MEASURES GROWTH ACCURATELY?

    According to the World Economic Forum, GDP fails to measures accurately economic performances. In fact, it would be wiser for both developing and developed countries to measure growth through a thorough assessment of living standards.

    The forum representatives have pointed out that globalization and technological progress have fostered inequality and insecurity. This has resulted in a drastic decline of per capita income across advanced economies. The WEF claims that by focusing on “inclusive development”, countries should be able to boost economic growth on the one hand, and on the other they will also decrease social inequality.

    Countries should develop policies that address life expectancy, productivity, and poverty rates to escape a further deepening of social inequality. Such issues are of primary concern to the leaders participating in the 2017 World Economic Forum at Davos. Many of the participants will hold high the principle of “inclusive development,”which has been opposed by both Donald Trump and other European populist leaders. 

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 17 January 2017

    (Source: China Daily)

  • TURKEY LOSES ITS BRAINS

    In the course of the past year, thousands of Turkish scholars have been fired or suspended as victims of the government’s purge following last summer’s failed coup and a dozen universities have been shut down by decree. It is a repressive atmosphere which is eroding the academic independence of the country.

    Academics and intellectuals come to Europe, especially to Germany, complaining about the loss of their home and underlying their fear of a Turkey’s descent into autocracy where a critical mindset is impossible. Actually, before the attempted coup, President Erdoğan vilified the scholars who signed a petition calling for a halt to the government’s crackdown on the insurgency in the Kurdish-majority southeast as terrorist sympathizers.

    In 2002, when Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) rose to power, the country was modernized, the government repealed the campus ban on headscarves, the number of universities doubled and the spirit of democracy spread all over. Now, 15 years later, the same government is blocking every chance for an independent thinking.

    Academics are reported to be disappointed about the current situation; they are worried about their students repeatedly beaten up by ultra-nationalists but they still hope the Turkish academic community will work again as it used to do, without threats and suspensions.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 18 January 2017

    (source:  politico.com)

  • NIGERIA AIR STRIKE: DOZENS DEAD AS CAMP FOR INTERNALLY DISPLACED PEOPLE HIT BY MISTAKE

    Médecins Sans Frontières(MSF) staff reported that at least 200 people had been wounded and 50 people had been killed in Rann, Nigeria, after a Nigerianmilitary jet mistakenly bombed a camp where families displaced during the offensive against Boko Haram militants were sheltering.

    Two blasts are believed to have hit the site close to Nigeria’s border with Cameroon; according to its commander of counterinsurgency operations, Maj Gen Lucky Irabor, the mission was extremely difficult since the area is a very densely populated place hosting about 43,000 internally displaced people, aid workers and Nigerian troops who control people coming in and out the camp. 

    After the strike, on the one side the UN humanitarian air service dispatched a helicopter with four medical personnel and 400 kg of emergency medical supplies, and airlifted eight Nigeria Cross workers injured in the bombing, while, on the other side, MSF’s staff worked to evacuate the wounded.

    This tragedy is the latest to shake the region of Lake Chad which continues to be gripped by crisis. During the past six months 10.7 million people have been in need of humanitarian assistance, malnutrition and mortality have increased, and the war against terrorism has intensified; more and more people will die in addition to the 20,000 killed in the seven-year Islamic uprising which has already driven 2.6 million people form their homes and across Nigeria’s borders.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 18 January 2017

    (source: guardian.com)

  • INAUGURATION BOYCOTT GROWS AS DONALD TRUMP MEETS MARTIN LUTHER KING III

    Connections between president elect’s team and Russia, as well as the despairing remarks about civil rights and veteran John Lewis have left several boycotting Friday’s election. A meeting between president Elect Donald Trump and Martin Luther King III, the oldest child of Martin Luther King Jr. stated that his meeting with Trump was to make it “easier for everyone to vote”.

    Although the supreme court struck down the key elements of the 1965 Voting Rights Act it seems like Trump may be on board with going back to the spirit of it. However, Doris Crenshaw is well on board passing those who will not be in attendance of the inauguration saying that they are “making a true statement against his politics”.

    King’s statement that “things have been said on both sides,” and that “we have got to move forward,” will still not make Cornel William Brooks attend the inauguration. While Trump launched a fierce attack on Lewis saying he was “all talk.” On Monday, Lewis spoke in honor of the MLK holiday at a breakfast in Miami saying he would not be where he was in his career without Martin Luther King Jr.

    Many of those not attending the inauguration are going to the Women’s March instead in hopes to send a message for a bigger movement says Kaylin Whittingham. The idea is that if you are not siding with this movement you are indeed siding with what Trump stands for. On the other hand, many others, such as congressman Mark DeSaulnier, is not going due to his belief of Trumps conflict of interest with his business empire.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 11 January 2017

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • ARE BIG INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS CASTLES IN THE AIR OR BRIDGES TO NOWHERE?

    The big debate about whether infrastructure spending is a good or bad thing continues to haunt us into the 21-century. Infrastructure spending brings on many positives while bringing on negatives at the same time. We like to say that it improves economic efficiency in the large scale, however it often ruins the area in which the new structures are being built. They say that often the cost is short term, but the benefits are long term, yet political leaders face all the upfront heat and none of the aftermath benefit backlash.

    While private investors often fund projects the private sector only gets involved in large scale trends such as the 1840’s railway mania. This leaves the state to fend for their own projects. Private investors often push too far with one foot into the political field completing projects that fail despite ruthless power. Such as Robert Moses’s idea for public transport to the JFK airport.

    So how do we solve the “bridge to nowhere problem”? Maybe we just have to accept the fact that there will be a certain degree of unhappiness and delay with no infrastructure delivery. If the political heat soon disappears we can get rid of the problem of plans that fail to respond to changing economics.

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 18 January 2017

    (Source: Economist)

  • RADIOACTIVE CLOUD OVER BUDAPEST’S BUDGET

    Over the next few years Hungary is to start construction on a $12-billion-dollar (USD) project for new nuclear reactors. This project will be known as Paks II, and is leaving a lot to be questioned about its true final project cost. The EU has warned the country that they are close to breaking fiscal safeguards, however plans to begin the project in 2018 still stand.

    The EU currently sets a limit to spending at 3 percent GDP on the budget deficit, and a 60 percent cap on public debt for all EU countries named the Stability and Growth Pact. While Hungary is not as deeply scrutinize; being a member who currently does not use the euro; there are still some concerns.

    After some investigations by Hungarian MEP Benedek Jávor, the estimated cost of the final Paks project might even require another 10-billion-dollars of hidden costs. On December 6th it was decided to give the responsibility of oversight directly to the Hungarian state instead of the countries regulatory authority, but due to a special law further details on the projects final plans and costs cannot be given for 2018, 2019 or 2020.

     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday,11 January 2017

    (Source: POLITICO)

  • DIVIDING PERSPECTIVES ON CHINA’S GROWTH: THREAT OR BENEFIT?

    China’s development model has always stressed the importance of peaceful relations and international stability, yet there are some that perceive China’s growth as a menace to the current order. Both views fail to address the complex link between geopolitics and economic development. This lack of understanding and proper response to the ever increasing Chinese footprint on the global scene reflect an inadequate knowledge of how China’s economic growth is related to its political power.

    The most recent Chinese economic initiatives were received with skepticism and doubts. By emphasizing economic growth Chinese leaders are attempting to reassure their partners of their commitment towards domestic matters first. In fact, Xi Jinping’s policies have been presented as an organic attempt to promote global stability and prosperity. However, outside China, many accuse Xi’s government of using economic development as a mean to strengthen its leverage both domestically and internationally.

    Over the past few decades, China’s role and growth have progressed considerably. China’s economic development has been remarkable, and its role in international forums has only increased since it joined the World trade organization in early 2000s. It is true that China’s latest economic strategies, for instance the

    One Belt, One Road initiative, might increase the countries leverage over its neighbours. As it is true that countries around the world have started to take actions to counteract their dependency on China. However, researches show that China’s economy itself is still very much interdependent from the global market and the current international order. 

    China’s efforts to influence its neighbours through the strategy of peaceful development have not yet been completely successful, as the example brought by Myanmar’s recent policies towards Chinese investment have demonstrated. Moreover, there is concern towards the possible effect of the One Belt, One road initiative in terms of Sino-Russian and Sino-Indian relations. There are still concern over security matters that trumps the benefits of economic development. Moreover, in the West, some are speculating over China’s intention towards the liberal order – although there is no evidence that China’s threatening the current institutions.

    To deepen the understanding of China’s development and foreign initiatives, one should examine thoroughly the nexus between wealth and power, and development and security. Departing from the traditional focus on just one aspect. Actually, the relationship between Chinese domestic and international policies, as well as its challenges, are essential to unravel what impact China’s economic and political growth will have on the nation itself and the global order. Outdated and overly-formal ways of thinking might leave the world unprepared to face important challenges ahead.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 11 January 2017

    (Source: Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre for Global Policy)

  • IVORY COAST UNREST: CALM REPORTED AFTER TWO-DAY MUTINY

    According to residents and correspondents in Bouake, the second city in Ivory Coast, West Africa, the rebellion over national soldiers’ pay appears to have passed after troops seized the defense minister Alain-Richard Donwahi during negotiations and a deal between them and the government has been struck after two days of unrest.

    The mutiny began in Bouake on Friday, with some soldiers firing rocket-launchers and went on the day after when they took over the army headquarters in Abidjan, the economic capital and largest city of the country. Later, the protests took place in the cities of Man, Daloa, Daoukro, Odienne and Korhogo as well, and raised fears of a resurgence of the violence seen during Ivory Coast’s 10-year civil war which ended in 2011.

    The soldiers demanded bonuses and better working conditions through a rebellion, which has paralyzed the entire country for some days. Moreover, some of them are thought to be former rebels who joined the army after the Civil war and helped the President Alassane Ouattara take power in the same year.

    The President Ouattara, on national TV on Saturday, announced that a deal had been reached since he has agreed to take into account the demands of the soldiers even if he has criticized the “inappropriate” manner of making demands.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Sunday, 8 January 2017

    (source: bbc.com)

  • IS VLADIMIR PUTIN A WAR CRIMINAL?

    Russia’s criminal behavior in Syria is the latest in a long string of crimes perpetrated by the Russian President Vladimir Putin. It may be unwilling to admit it, but Putin is largely considered as a war criminal, a butcher with whom it is essential to deal with.

    Putin has a long record of inhumanity. He has been an agent of the Soviet secret police, the KGB, a criminal institution which goes back to mass killings perpetrated by Lenin and Stalin; he approved the bombings of two buildings in Moscow in 1999 and used bombs to reignite the SecondChechen War where he launched an air and land campaign producing thousands of refugees; he let journalists and opposition leaders to be killed in mysterious circumstances; he supplied the pro-Russian terrorists in eastern Ukraine and his proxies shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight killing 298 people.

    In this sense, according to many Western leaders and human rights organizations, Russia’s bombing of Syrian civilian population and targets is the last criminal act of President Putin. He must be considered as a killer, no different in the breadth and depth of his criminality than the Serbian Slobodan Milošević.

    So, what should world leaders do? First, they should condemn Putin’s behavior and understand their moral standing since silence implies endorsement; second, they should refuse to create the impression they accept his behavior in public; third, they should avoid everything aids his criminal proclivities intensifying sanctions and, fourth, they should defend Russian democrats. One day Putin will be gone and Russia’s democratic opposition will be able to make the country a law-abiding state; otherwise, the world announces that butchery is the new normal.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Saturday, 7 January 2017

    (source: bbc.com)

  • THERE’S NO ‘ONE-CHINA’ ACCORDING TO TRUMP

    Note: This article delves into recent international news regarding the United States President-elect Trump’s denouncement of China’s ‘One-China’ policy, further increasing tension between the world’s two largest economies.

    In a little over a week, President-elect Donald Trump will be sworn into office to become the United States’ 45th President. Although the President-elect has yet to take office, he has been making international headlines since his electoral election in November 2016. First, President-elect Trump was declaring a possible trade war with the world’s second largest economy, China.

    During his campaign, the President-elect had accused China of manipulating the value of its currency and he also called for much steeper tariffs on products imported into the United States from China. Now, the President-elect has further targeted China with denouncing China’s ‘One-China’ policy concerning the often-disputed territory of Taiwan.

    China’s ‘One-China’ policy is the diplomatic acknowledgment of China’s position that there is only one Chinese government. What this means is that Taiwan is not recognized as a country, but rather a territory or a breakaway province of China. Although Taiwan’s government claims it is an independent country, officially called the “Republic of China,” any country that wants diplomatic relations with Mainland China must break official ties with Taipei, the capital and government headquarters of Taiwan. 

    The idea of ‘One-China’ first come into fruition in 1949, following the end of the Chinese civil war, with the United States recognizing this policy since 1979 under U.S. President Jimmy Carter. For nearly forty years, the United States and China have had stable political ties; however, with the new President set to take office shortly, and his remarks concerning this policy, the future political relationship between these two countries is uncertain.

    The dispute between the President-elect Trump and the Chinese government came about way back in November 2016 when President-elect Trump accepted a congratulatory telephone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen following the Presidential election in the United States. In response, China’s Foreign Ministry lodged a diplomatic complaint with the United States regarding this telephone call with President Tsai, which it claimed broke nearly four decades of United States foreign policy.

    President-elect Trump further began to upset the Chinese government when he began to question its ‘One-China’ policy stating. “I fully understand the ‘One-China’ policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a ‘One-China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.” The President-elect further stated that he would not hesitate to anger China until the country comes to the bargaining table on trade and severs ties with North Korea. Many view this as President- elect Trump’s way of holding this long-held policy hostage to future deals with China. These comments triggered numerous furious responses from China’s state-run newspaper, Global Times.

    A day following these remarks, the famous Global Times retorted by stating that the President-elect was as “ignorant as a child in terms of foreign policy” and warned that if President-elect Trump ditched the ‘One China’ policy, it would spark “a real crisis.”

    Additionally, China’s Foreign Ministry spoke out concerning the matter stating that it was “seriously concerned” by the President-elect’s remarks and that bilateral cooperation would be out of the question if the ‘One China’ recognition was “compromised or disrupted” by the United States. 

    More recently, President Tsai met with senior United States Republican lawmakers in Houston, Texas during her stopover this past Sunday en route to central America. During her stop over, President Tsai metwith Texas Governor Greg Abbott, spoke with U.S. Senator John McCain over the telephone, and me with Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

    This past week, Ted Cruz has been spilling details to U.S. media about his meeting with President Tsai. The Texas Senator stated that he and President Tsai discussed upgrading bilateral relations and furthering economic cooperation between the two countries, including increased access to Taiwan markets, which would explicitly benefit Texas ranchers, farmers, and small businesses within the state.

    China explicitly asked representatives in Washington, D.C. not to allow President Tsai to enter the United States and that she not have any formal government meetings under the ‘One-China’ policy. The Chinese consulate went as far as to send letters to Congress members asking them not to meet President Tsai during her stopovers in the Untied States.

    On Monday, January 9, 2017, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang urged “relevant U.S. officials” to handle the Taiwan issue appropriately as to avoid harming China-U.S. ties. Also speaking out on the matter is the Chinese state-run newspaper, whose stance does not equate with government policy, the Global Times.

    A day following this meeting, the Global Times warned the President-elect that China would “take revenge” if he reneged on the ‘One-China’ policy. The newspaper continued to threatened the President-elect by stating that “if Trump reneges on the ‘One-China’ policy after taking office, the Chinese people will demand the government to take revenge. There is no room for bargaining.”

    With a little over a week until President-elect Trump’s inauguration, many eyes are focused on what the then 45th President of the United States will do regarding China and the United States continued recognition of the ‘One-China’ policy. Depending on what the new U.S. President will do, the world could see a possible shift in international relations that will not only affect the United States and China, but the world as a whole.

     

  • Illicit Nuclear Trafficking

    ‘Illicit Nuclear Trafficking: States, Non-State Actors and the Quest for Criminalisation in International Law’, Oil, Gas Energy and Intelligence 11(1): Ricardo Tremolada

    Ricardo Tremolada of the University of Milan begins the following article by describing the reasons for the emergence of the black-market in nuclear materials, and their intended end uses, from commercial constructions to terrorism. It is noted that current deterrents on use of nuclear arms stemming from international treaties on non-proliferation do not hold weight on private non-state actors acquiring materials via black markets.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency is the principal multilateral authority for the handling of nuclear-related issues, including in relation to non-state actors, but its ability to act effectively is identified as hindered by the fact that some states do not recognise the Agency as an ultimate authority, funding issues, and a lack of consensus amongst IAEA member states as to how stringently the nuclear sector should be regulated.

    It is noted that persons cannot currently be convicted under international criminal law for nuclear trafficking, recognising nuclear trafficking as a crime against humanity under the International Criminal Court the ICC is supported since ICC judges may be less likely to submit to threats of retaliation from criminal actors in the event of criminalisation. The possibility of reclassifying all transnational crimes, like nuclear trafficking, as international crimes falling within the ICC’s jurisdiction is also considered. Alternatively, the ability to classify nuclear trafficking as a threat to the peace capable of justifying use of force by third-party nations under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

    Furthermore, the role of United Nations Security Council Resolutions in helping to combat nuclear trafficking is considered. It is noted that the UN mandates nations to enforce their domestic laws on nuclear weapons, but that states are not under binding mandatory obligations for transmitting reports on the issue.

  • A Comparison between Shale Gas in China and Unconventional Fuel Development in the United States

    ‘A Comparison between Shale Gas in China and Unconventional Fuel Development in the United States: Water, Environmental Protection, and Sustainable Development’, Brooklyn Journal of International Law 41(2): Paolo Farah and Riccardo Tremolada

    Paolo Farah of West Virginia University and Riccardo Tremolada of Shanghai JiaoTong University assess the role that shale gas might play in China’s move away from conventional fossil-based energy sources, noting their potential benefits as well as the dangers that come from a lack of strong environmental laws and regulations governing their extraction.

    The article begins by observing the current state of China’s shale gas reserves, potentially the biggest in the world, and the potential risks that extraction harbours- from the direct threat of contamination to freshwater aquifiers to the indirect threat posed to R&D into renewable energy technologies. The threat to water supplies is observed by the authors to be particularly objectionable in China’s context, given the nation’s already problematic clean water supply levels. In light of the risks, it is identified that regulations pertaining to environmental risk, relevant physical infrastructure and pricing mechanisms for the shale gas market should be introduced.

    No laws currently regulate the environmental risks posed by shale gas specifically. Current environmental laws which do apply to the protection of water supplies are regarded by the authors as arguably nontechnical, vague policy commitments rather than enforceable legal statements.

    Enforcement of existing regulations is identified as a pertinent issue. It is noted that many government agencies at a central and decentralised level may have authority over a particular issue and that these overlapping competencies may create friction between the agencies and ultimately render them slow to act. Furthermore, it is noted that regional governmental bodies are subject to lack of funding and incentivised to engage in corruption.

    Regarding reform, drawing from experiences in the USA, it is argued that China should move towards a free market pricing system for shale gas and that financial obligations imposed on foreign investors in the sector should be made less onerous. Furthermore, it is proposed that China’s obligations under the WTO compel it to increase competition between the major state-owned oil companies, observing that none exists between the top three, all of which are centrally controlled by the same body. Furthermore, it is suggested that the ownership rights attaching to underground minerals, which by default all belong to the state, should be reformed in favour of private ownership. It is also suggested that new pipelines will need to be built to meet projected shale gas production rates.

    The political benefits of undergoing said reforms, including reduced reliance amongst nations on oil reserves in the Middle East, is noted.

  • CHINA HAS MORE HIGH-SPEED RAILWAY THAN THE REST OF THE WORLD COMBINED

    Within the span of a couple of decades, China has constructed 20,000km of high-speed railway, and plans to have constructed another 15,000km within the following decade. However, questions have been raised about the distribution strategy of the railways.

    It appears that railways built around current financial hubs have been unquestionably good for the economy. Data suggests that over half of people using high-speed trains to access cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing from nearby, less costly cities would not have made the commute using normal trains, suggesting that they have been highly mobilising for China’s workforce and a creator of opportunity. It has become newly feasible for millions of people to get jobs in these economic megacenters.

    However, concerns have been raised regarding the efficacy of constructing high-speed rail in the more remote parts of China. It is hoped by advocates that construction will result in the emergence of towns around the railway lines, creating new economic hubs.

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, January 11 2017

    (Source: The Economist)

  • EXXONMOBIL MUST RELEASE SECRET DOCUMENTS WHICH MAY DEMONSTRATE KNOWLEDGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE

    Decades ago, ExxonMobil may have had gathered substantive knowledge of climate change and the potential effects of the company’s actions on the surrounding environment, due to an order made by America’s Suffolk County Superior Court. These documents have been kept away from public scrutiny and if true, may lead ExxonMobil to incur liability for consciously damaging the environment.

    ExxonMobil’s planned course of action, and whether the decision will be appealed against, currently remain unclear.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Wednesday, January 11 2017

    (Source: RT News)

  • CHINA PURSUES WEAPONS TESTING IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA

    A fleet of warships, accompanied by China’s aircraft carrier, is scheduled to conduct tests to assess the performance of weapons and equipment. China claims that the planned tests are in accordance with international law.

    Neighbouring nations are more sceptical, and have expressed deep concerns about the implications of the tests on regional politics and freedom of movement within the surrounding vicinity.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, January 4 2016

    (Source: Reuters)

  • CHINA’S POLLUTION CRISIS SPARKS FIRST EVER CODE RED WARNING

    The Chinese government issued a red alert on Wednesday in response to critical levels of pollution affecting northern China.This is the highest level of alert that can be issued under a system introduced in 2013 as an acknowledgement of China’s pollution problems.

    Pollution levels have become so high, that thousands of schools have closed, flights have been delayed, and drivers have been advised to navigate roads with caution.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Wednesday, January 4 2016

    (Source: Daily Mail)

  • China’s Water Environmental Management Towards Institutional Integration

    China’s Water Environmental Management Towards Institutional Integration. A Review of Current Progress and Constraints vis-à-vis the European Experience, Journal of Cleaner Production 113 (2016), Yixiang Deng, Daniele Brombal, Paolo D. Farah, Angela Moriggi, Andrea Critto, Yun Zhou, Antonio Macromini

    Deng et al. provides an overview of the regulatory and administrative structure pertaining to the management of water in China. A lack of coordination between relevant government institutions, and an overlapping of competencies, is identified.  Limitations of government measures to introduce public participation into the forum on water management reform are also considered.

    The authors then outline water management requirements in the EU, as stated under the EU Water Framework Directive. The extent to which these requirements are met under China’s amended Environmental Protection Law. Ultimately, it is concluded that comprehensive environmental protection policies should be implemented into water management laws, that public participation should be enhanced, and that coordination between relevant government bodies should be bolstered. It is also acknowledged that China’s governmental structure renders strict emulation of the requirements set out in the EU Directive unfeasible and undesirable.

  • WHY ISIL FIGHTS IN EUROPE?

    The Islamic State rushed to claim responsibility for the Christmas market attack in Berlin on 20 December 2016 and this eagerness to cash in the propaganda chips is only one indication of how important it is for ISIL to score a hit against Germany. The country stands at the core of ISIL’s strategy for Europe and, so as to think about possible remedies, it is essential to understand why.

    ISIL’s terror campaign in Europe began on 24 May 2014 with the attack against the Jewish Museum in Brussels, before al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself “caliph” and before the US-led coalition started bombing ISIL positions in Iraq and Syria. Actually, there are bigger reasons why ISIL focuses on Europe which go beyond the explanation of bombings and truck attacks as a response to Western strikes in Syraq.

    First, to ISIL Europe is a pool of potential recruits and a dangerous counter-model of enduring coexistence; in this sense, terror attacks are intended to generate internal strife and societal tension so as to encourage young Muslim men to join the Jihadist cause in Syraq and to demonstrate the failure of the democratic alternative to caliphate. Second, Europe shows how communities can live side by side thanks to open door policies to refugees; these ones are betrayers of their countries since they left the true path of the caliphate.

    In the larger picture, the last attacks are part of a new wave of global terror which is bound to the fall of insurgent-held Aleppo. Actually, ISIL is the winner of this turning point in the Syrian war for three reasons: (1) the regime of al-Assad liquidated the forces which had driven ISIL from Aleppo, (2) ISIL took back Palmyra and (3) the international passivity during the siege of Aleppo field jihadist propaganda about an international conspiracy against Muslim civilians.

    As long as Raqqa stands as the operational command center for ISIL terror attacks, Europe will be struck again and again; with the US stuck in Mosul and the Russians mopping up Aleppo, it seems that ISIL could sit comfortably for some time more in Raqqa.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Tuesday, 3 January 2017

    (source: politico.eu)

     

  • TRUMP DERIDES NORTH KOREA

    The US President-elect Donald Trump has dismissed North Korea’s claim to be developing missiles capable of striking America through a tweet, which has derided Kim Jong-un according to whom his country is close to testing long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Moreover, Kim has added that North Korea is a military power of the East, which cannot be touched by even the strongest enemy.

    North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests over the last year, raising fears that it has been making significant nuclear advances. However, the country has never successfully test-fired long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads and the country is still a long way off to field a missile capable of reaching the US.

    It is not sure if President-elect Trump is expressing doubts about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities or if he is planning some preventative action, but the President-elect has berated China for failing to help rein in its ally North Korea. The US President-elect’s tweet “It won’t happen” may mean that he believes that North Korea will fail to make the technological progress, that the regime will collapse or that he will be able to persuade the North Korean President to renounce his nuclear program. 

    The President-elect Donald Trump seems to not take into consideration the military action since neither bunker-busting bombs nor Special Forces operations would be certain to destroy the program. On the contrary, the most likely counter-measures would be infecting computers with disruptive viruses.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Tuesday, 3 January 2017

    (source: bbc.com)

     

  • WTO and Renewable Energy: Lessons from the Case Law

    ‘WTO and Renewable Energy: Lessons from the Case Law’, Journal of World Trade 49(6), 2015

    Authors: Paolo Farah, Elena Cima

    Authors Paolo Farah of West Virginia University and Elena Cima, PhD candidate at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, examine and outline the details of WTO cases within the renewable energy sector which address the issue of what constitutes a government subsidy subject to the WTO’s subsidies discipline under the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (ASCM). A measure may be a government subsidy if a financial contribution is provided and confers a benefit to a recipient. These two conditions are described and examined by the authors. Subsequently, the authors consider whether government subsidies pertaining to the renewable energy sector should be permitted, and argue that relevant WTO agreements do not give due consideration to the particular issues faced by renewable energy consumers, or the importance of their cause. It is argued that the provisions of WTO agreements should be interpreted flexibly to optimally promote the development and protection of the environment.

  • NETANYAHU AIMS TO DISCUSS “VARIOUS WAYS” TO UNDO IRAN DEAL WITH TRUMP

    The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told CBS he hopes to discuss with the US President Trump five different ways, which have not been publicly declared yet, to undo theJoint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known also as Iran nuclear deal, after the president-elect moves into the White House next month.

    The international agreement was signed in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran and the P5+1, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - China, France, Russia, the UK, the US plus Germany - and the EU, and its main points are: the reduction of the Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity and of the stockpile of LEU, the limiting on the R&D work Iran can do on centrifuges, the removal of the Arak reactor, the IAEA’s access to all Iranian nuclear sites for inspections and its investigations in Iran past activities, and the suspension of the financial sanctions and the oil embargo against Iran.      

    Netanyahu has criticized and rejected the agreement because it provides for the monitoring of Iran’s nuclear development in return for a loosening of sanctions related to the program; the deal does not prevent Iran from acquiring and building nuclear weapons within the next decade but paves its path to the bomb, and he has added that President Trump has the right attitude to support the Jewish state and people in this fight.

    Internationally, the support for the deal is strong. US Democrats are urging Trump not to renege on the deal, while the major EU’s leaders keep praising the agreement as useful to neutralize Iran’s aggressive actions in the Middle East. Lastly, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani has stated he will not let anyone dismantle the deal.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Sunday, 11 December 2016

        (source: The Guardian)

  • SUPREME COURT TO HEAR GOVERNMENT APPEAL OVER BREXIT POWERS

    The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union by a margin of 51.9% to 48.1% in a referendum in June and the prime minister Theresa May intends to notify of the intention to leave beginning the two years of talks over the terms of separation by the end of March. Notwithstanding, some campaigners claimed that the government needs Parliament to trigger the process for the UK to leave the EU and appealed to High Court.

    On 3 November the High Court ruled that the government did not have the power to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - that is the one which sets out the constitutional basis of the EU- without an act of Parliament, using its executive powers. As a consequence, the government appealed to the Supreme Court arguing that using its prerogative power is necessary to give effect to the will of the British people and that EU rights and obligations may not only be altered or removed with acts of Parliament.

    It is an unprecedented case since, for the first time, the 11 Judges will decide about the lawful process under the British Constitution for leaving, taking into consideration the Scottish and Welsh governments’ positions, in accordance with the High Court, and that of Northern Ireland which supports the UK government.

    If the Supreme Court will need clarification on the meaning of Article 50 in order to decide the case and refer the matter to the EU’s Supreme Court, there might be public discontent since this one would have great influence on the UK’s future; if the government will lose, it will be necessary to introduce a bill in Parliament and the timetable for Brexit will be blown off.

    The court judgement is expected to be reserved in January. 

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Monday, 5 December 2016

    (Source: bbc.co.uk)

  • CHINA’S ROLE AND CONTRIBUTION IN THE GLOBAL GOVERNANCE OF CLIMATE CHANGE

    Haifeng Deng, Paolo Davide Farah and Anna Wang – ‘China’s Role and Contribution in the Global Governance of Climate Change: Institutional Adjustments for Carbon Tax Introduction, Collection and Management in China’ – Journal of World Energy Law and Business 8(12) 2015. Online: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2695612

    Haifeng Deng, Associate Professor at Tsinghua University, Paolo Davide Farah, Principal Investigator and Research Scientist at gLAWcal, and Anna Wang, PhD Candidate at Tsinghua University, provide a summary of China’s Tax Laws, their relationship with environmental policy, and make proposals for future reform.

    The authors begin by noting how different types of taxation might promote environmentally friendly policies. It is noted that taxes on oil consumption, and, on the other hand, preferential tax policies for use of clean energy sources might incentivise use of said cleaner energies and thus assist in the fight against climate change. Meanwhile, resource taxes on commodities like metals and salt might promote efficient use of said resources.

    The authors comment on the new Draft Environmental Tax Law promulgated in 2015, which imposes new tax reforms which promote environmentally friendly behaviour. It is observed that there is a lack of stipulated supervision procedures regarding the responsibilities which the Draft Environmental Tax imposes upon environmental authorities, leading the authors to doubt whether its implementation will be practically significant. Thus, it is suggested that future reform efforts involve the construction of an overarching committee tasked with handling issues pertaining to environmental tax, and that improvements be made to the transparency of and integration between relevant institutions.

    Furthermore, it is suggested that local governments in China have a strong tendency to pursue maximisation of economic growth, with little concern for how this pursuit may affect environmental interests. However, it is noted that certain developments, such as the implementation by the State Council of an evaluation system that measures provincial governments according to their compliance with air pollution targets, may help to achieve an arguably more appropriate balance between the consideration of economic and environmental concerns.

    The authors note that failure to comply with tax laws in China may result in an offender being subject to penalties of a reputational, financial and/or business-restricting nature. It is argued that the revenue collected from financial penalties should be used by the government to fund environmentally-friendly projects.

  • CHINESE GOVERNMENT RESTRICTS THE FREE MOVEMENT OF XINJIANG CITIZENS

    A recently implemented government policy required local authorities to collect the passports of many citizens residing in China’s Xinjiang province.This measure, which authorities were required to implement by the end of October 2016, is likely to greatly impede the ability of many of Xinjiang’s citizens, many of whom belong to the minority Uighur community, from leaving the province and travelling abroad. Officials have stated that the recall is part of an ‘annual review’ process.

    Local authorities tasked with the recollection of the passports note that whilst they have been given instructions on how to obtain the passports, they have not yet been made aware of how the passports should be returned, and no schedule for their return appears to have been publicised. Some have been instructed to ask citizens who request the return of their passport about why they want the passport to be returned. The implementation of the policy across the Xinjiang province has been inconsistent, and has been viewed as an unnecessary and disproportionate measure by onlookers.

    Human Rights Watch argues that the recall lacks a legal basis, observing that Art.2 of China’s Passport Law prohibits passport recollection by police authorities except where necessary for handling a legal case.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Friday, 25 November 2016

    (Source: Human Rights Watch)

  • WTO Law and the Canadian Legal Order

    Paolo Farah and Giacomo Gattinara – ‘WTO Law and the Canadian Legal Order’ – in ‘The Absence of Direct Effect of WTO in the EC and in Other Countries’, 2010. Online: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2695612

    Paolo Farah, Research Fellow at the University of Milan, and Giacommo Gattinara, Assistant Professor of EU law at La Sapienza University, describe the way in which WTO law was implemented in the Canadian legal regime.

    The authors explain how treaty implementation is affected by Canada’s federal governance structure, and it is observed that controversy sometimes arises when federal institutions purport to implement treaty provisions.

    It is noted that WTO law was incorporated into the Canadian legal system via the World Trade Organisation Agreement Implementation Act, and the structure of the Act is summarised. Also, it is observed that the consent of the Attoney-General of Canada is required if a private party is to be permitted to enforce rights or obligations under the Act.

    Finally, the authors observe that WTO case-law does not have direct effect in the Canadian legal system, but that it might nevertheless be indirectly effective, given that some have argued that the courts have a duty to interpret domestic legal decisions in accordance with Canada’s international obligations as per the WTO.

  • TURKEY: THOUSANDS PROTEST AGAINST PROPOSED CHILD SEX LAW

    Thousands of people protested in Istanbul, Izmir and Trabzon, Turkey, against a bill that would release those men who assault underage girls, without force, threat, or any other restriction on consent, in case they later marry their victims. The bill has been introduced by the President and AKP party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan who underlined the legislation was aimed at dealing with the widespread custom of child marriage.

    More specifically, the government stated that the bill was not an excuse to rape but an attempt to rehabilitate those men who might not have realized their sexual relations were unlawful and to prevent girls who have sex under the age of 18 from feeling ostracized by their community. It can help couples who engaged in consensual sex and want to marry, or children who are born from non-official unions.    

    The protesters claimed that rape could not be legitimized and that minors had to be always protected against any sort of abuse. They are supported by the UN children’s fund, which considers all forms of violence against children as crimes which should be always punished in the best interest of the child, and by the parliamentary opposition, the Republic People’s Party.

    The bill, that follows a controversy after Turkey’s constitutional court in July 2015 annulled part of the criminal code which classified all sexual acts with children under 15 as sexual abuse, has been approved in an initial parliamentary reading and has to be voted on again in a second debate before the Members of Parliament cast their final vote.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Saturday, 19 November 2016

    (Source: bbc.co.uk)

  • The Implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights

    Paolo Davide Farah and Elena Cima, ‘The Implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) in China - Tsinghua Law Review (2:317), 2010. Online: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1679999

    China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2002 has been regarded as a pivotal milestone in the nation’s transition from a planned economy to a “socialist market economy” that began after 1978. However, authors Paolo D. Farah, Visiting Scholar at Tsinghua University, and Elena Cima, Visiting Researcher at Harvard University, observe that the extent of China’s adherence to the terms of its accession to the WTO have disappointed onlookers in the international community. During the negotiations that led to China’s accession, it was agreed that China would be subject to a more intensive review of its policies pertaining to the economy and trade than members of the WTO are typically subject to under the standard WTO Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TRPM) which all members of the WTO are party to. It is suggested that subsequent failures by China to fully comply with these requirements can be attributed to China’s discontentedness with being the subject of specific non-reciprocal requirements, the lack of harmonisation between many domestic Chinese laws and WTO requirements at the time of China’s accession.

    Transparency requirements were introduced upon China’s accession to the WTO which apply to equally to all regions in China, and necessitated structural changes to the country’s administrative law procedures. However, regional governments have proven hesitant to comply with these requirements, and it is suggested that this may be due to fears that said requirements would reduce their ability to control local business deals. Furthermore, it is noted that whilst developments regarding China’s administrative law processes are indicative of progress, transparency issues remain pervasive in practice due to the fact that regional governments are bound to follow a wide range of often conflicting bodies of rules, from “normative documents” which exist outside of the traditional legal and administrative framework, to unpublicised regulations and circulars. Thus, foreign investors into China will typically be uncertain about what rules will apply to them.

    To help improve transparency, the National People’s Congress (NPC) implemented a procedure requiring that local governments provide the public with notice and opportunity for comment on draft laws. However, the authors observe that whilst these requirements have spurred positive developments like the holding of open hearings on draft legislation in municipalities like Beijing and Shanghai, in general comments often only be solicited from specially selected persons or groups. Furthermore, the practices of various government institutions continues to vary significantly, with some publishing all draft measures and regulations, and others failing to make any disclosure whatsoever.

    Farah and Cima provide an overview of the Chinese legal regime for the protection of copyright, patent and trademark laws, and the extent to which they can be regarded as conforming with international requirements that China is bound to comply with by virtue of being party to the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs). Regarding interpretation of the TRIPs agreement, the authors present a case-study of a WTO dispute between the US and China, in which it was alleged that China was failing to satisfy its enforcement obligations as per the agreement. The case was ultimately decided in China’s favour.

    The authors find that after China acceded to the WTO, significant developments have been made regarding China’s intellectual property right (IPR) legal enforcement system. IPR rights are now potentially protectable via administrative, judicial or civil remedies, as well as via border enforcement. Administrative remedies are identified as the most commonly sought, but it is noted that protectionism and China’s large size and decentralised governance structure impede the effectiveness of this avenue of protection for claimants. Meanwhile, it is argued that civil remedies are often unsatisfactory and require the claimant to satisfy an overly onerous burden of proof. Criminal sanctions are similarly regarded as inadequate, and that criminal law enforcement institutions do not coordinate sufficiently with administrative and judicial bodies.

    In light of all of the above findings, the authors conclude that reform is necessary in order to bolster China’s multilateral relations with other WTO members, and to reduce increasing the risk of future disputes.

  • NEW DELHI CONFRONTS DEADLY AIR POLLUTION LEVELS

    Air pollution levels in New Delhi have reached dangerously high levels, resulting in the closure of schools across the city. Citizens have likened their homes to gas chambers, and families are resorting to spending their day in rooms with air purifiers and wearing gas masks outside of this room. The necessity of staying indoors to mitigate exposure to the air pollution has evoked the feeling that the public is ‘under siege’. Even in rooms with air purifiers, it is reported that levels of PM2.5 (the most deadly type of particulate matter) remain five times higher than the level deemed safe by the World Health Organisation. The health implications are serious- it is noted that single isolated cases of bad air pollution have historically been capable of causing of tens thousands of premature deaths. Citizens in New Delhi are currently complaining about irritable eyes, sore throats, breathing difficulties and dizziness.

    Many are angry at the situation, but governmental action is regarded as slow. This perceived slowness is attributed to the fact that dozens of governmental institutions have overlapping authority to take action - which impliedly creates inefficiency- and it is suggested that institutions tend to shy away from being the one who does take action by delegating tasks to other bodies.

     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Friday, 18 November 2016

    (Source: New York Times)

  • Desirability of Commodification of Intangible Cultural Heritage: The Unsatisfying Role of Intellectual Property Rights

    Paolo D. Farah and Ricardo Tremolada – ‘Desirability of Commodification of Intangible Cultural Heritage: The Unsatisfying Role of Intellectual Property Rights’ – Transnational Dispute Management 11(2) 2014. Online: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2472339

    In this article, Paolo D. Farah (West Virgina University, USA; and gLAWcal, UK) and Ricardo Tremolada (gLAWcal, UK) begin by explaining what is capable of classifying as intangible cultural heritage (ICH). Definitional issues, such as the potential for cultural heritage classified as intangible to also classify as tangible, are explored.

    Subsequently, the difficulty of protecting ICH via a regime of intellectual property rights (IPRs) is assessed. It is noted that conventional IPR regimes, including copyright laws, may be ill-suited for this task since their general objective is to protect and reward individual achievements and innovations, whereas protection pertaining to ICH would necessarily be enjoyed by a larger community consisting of all of the individuals who have helped develop and maintain the ICH in question. Furthermore, since ICH is inter-generational in nature, conventional IPRs may provide inadequate protection since they are generally temporal. Copyright laws generally expire subsequent to the passing of a fixed period of time after the death of the right-holder, and patent laws tend to provide protection up to two decades. Additionally, since ICH has typically been developed over a long period of time, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to identify an individual author for the purposes of copyright law, or satisfy the novelty and/or innovation requirements of patent laws.

    Given the apparent inadequacy of conventional IPRs as sources of protection for ICH, the authors explore the possible ways in which Sui Generis systems of protection might fill the void. For example, communities who consider the publication ICHs pertaining to them which they regard as sacred should, according to the authors, be protected under privacy laws. The possibility of relying upon trade secret laws is also considered, but the authors observe that the fact that knowledge constituting ICH tends to be shared amongst various members of the relevant group, making it difficult for protection under trade secret law to be achieved. Also, unjust enrichment laws might be appropriately apply in cases where information is provided confidentially to a third party who then exploits said knowledge to gain undue commercial advantages. If a Sui Generis system is implemented, it is suggested that communities should be able to control access to and use of their traditional knowledge and other ICH.

    The authors conclude by noting that any sui generis legal protection regime should take due account of the fact that the ICHs to which it pertains are part of a continuous, ongoing development process. Supporting the case for providing additional rights attaching to ICH, it is noted that the individualistic roots which underpin traditional IPRs are not consistent with the traditional practices and conventions of some countries across the globe.

  • COP22 in Morroco

    Marrakech the capital of Morroco is hosting the COP of 22, the conference of the parties. The U.N. is talking about climate change. Particularly the conference focuses her attention on the agriculture production in Africa that employs around 40% of population.

     In the high mountains for example it has been reduced the period of the year when the snow is present, consequently has been reduced also the underground water sources. In the last 27 years the rains has taken place 15%-20% than previously.

    When the rain comes, comes in showers and breeds flood. The initiative proposes measures such as improved soil management, water and irrigation management and better weather forecasting and insurance programs for farmers affected by drought.

    The initiative proposes measures such as improved soil management, water and irrigation management and better weather forecasting and insurance programs for farmers affected by drought

    Sources: The Guardian, The World Bank

  • “AMERICANISM, NOT GLOBALISM” – Donald J. Trump

    Mr. Trump’s electoral victory may signal America’s resignation from its position as a leader in furthering global development initiatives.Donald Trump surprised pollsters by securing a comfortable victory in the US presidential elections. State leaders from around the globe have been quick to send their congratulations to Mr. Trump, but many foreign spectators are anxious about the practical implications of the President-Elect’s views towards foreign policy.

    Mr. Trump’s promise to renegotiate the USA’s obligations under the UN Paris Agreement on climate change, and vow to cut tens of billions of dollars in contributions to international global warming initiatives, sharply contrast with the proactive, leading role assumed by the Obama administration during the last two electoral terms. The status of the USA’s defence pact with other parties to NATO has been called into question over concerns that certain states are not providing sufficient economic contributions to the union. Previous attempts to resolve conflicts in the middle-east via primarily political means will be replaced by a series of more hostile, violent actions against Islamic State. These policies, like several others made by Mr. Trump, send a clear message: that America’s foreign policy will be strictly geared towards the promotion of ‘Americanism, not globalism’. Humanitarian projects which do not directly benefit the self-interests of America may no longer be supported.

    Ultimately, it remains to be seen which policies amount to mere “campaign talk” from Mr. Trump, as opposed to policies which his administration will in fact implement.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Thursday, 10 November 2016

    (Source: BBC News)

  • Analysis of the Impact on Sustainable Developments by Investment Regulations in the Energy Charter Treaty

    Qinglin Zhang: ‘Analysis of the Impact on Sustainable Developments by Investment Regulations in the Energy Charter Treaty’ - Journal of World Energy Law and Business, 2015, Vol. 8, No. 6

    Online: http://jwelb.oxfordjournals.org/content/8/6/542.full.pdf?keytype=ref&ijkey=CQd14CZkstoPt3q

     

    In an energy-related legal dispute between a foreign investor and a host state, in which the parties involved are bound by the Energy Charter Treaty 2004, due consideration must be given to both the need to promote the interests of the investor, and the goal of facilitating sustainable development. Qinglin Zhang, Professor in International Economic Law at Wuhan University, argues that these two interests have not been satisfactorily balanced in practice.

    It is noted that energy-related disputes are most commonly resolved via international arbitration. This is often because foreign investors fear that the contracting party in their host state will benefit from protectionism by local courts. However, Zhang suggests that a similar degree of protectionism, this time in favour of the investor and at the expense of host states which are developing countries, is experienced when disputes are resolved via arbitration proceedings.

    This is argued to be the case because arbitrators tend to be trained in developed Western jurisdictions, and are thus arguably predisposed to favour the arguments of investors from developed countries. Case-law supporting this finding is provided. Additionally, Zhang states that arbitrators tend to be accustomed to handling disputes between two private parties, but are generally less experienced and less equipped to adjudicate upon matters concerning public state entities. As a result, Zhang suggests that arbitration panels lack the requisite expertise to provide a fair decision. To the extent that developing countries are the victims of such prejudice, it is suggested that their ability to pursue sustainable development is undermined.

    To resolve this problem, Zhang proposes several solutions. Zhang argues in favour of providing financial assistance to the state via money raised from other member states, so that the state can adequately represent its interests and better position itself to avoid being advised by incompetent lawyers. Furthermore, it is suggested that a special team of arbitrators, who are experts in the fields of both sustainable development and investments disputes, should be made readily available to prospective disputants. Additionally, Zhang concludes that it is necessary for the state of an investor to better supervise their conduct, and take measures to prevent them from avoiding legal obligations or bribing officials in the host state. Finally, it is suggested that the confidentiality which is characteristic of arbitration proceedings should not necessarily apply to energy-related arbitration proceedings involving a state entity. It is implied that the public should be able to access such information so that they can hold the state accountable for its dealings with the foreign investor.

  • Powered by Expertise: Selecting Arbitrators in Energy Disputes

    Fernando Dias Simoes: ‘Powered by Expertise: Selecting Arbitrators in Energy Disputes’ - Journal of World Energy Law and Business, 2015, Vol. 8, No. 6

    Online: http://jwelb.oxfordjournals.org/content/8/6/501.full.pdf?keytype=ref&ijkey=5H7hAAeohsC0cdK

    Arbitration has traditionally been regarded as a relatively niche and uncommon form of alternative dispute resolution. However, its use by parties in disputes has risen dramatically in recent years. Fernando Dias Simoes, Assistant Professor at the University of Macau, documents this trend. Arbitration in energy-related disputes arbitration is particularly attractive to disputants, since courts are generally perceived as lacking the industry-specific experience and knowledge that is required to make an informed and fair assessment of the dispute.

    Professor Simoes explores the problems that parties face during the process of finding suitable arbitrators to preside over their dispute. For the prospective disputant, the ability to select an arbitrator is regarded as one of the key attractions of pursuing arbitration over court proceedings, but it is noted that information about qualified arbitrators and their relevant characteristics is not easily attainable. It will tend to be sourced from small group of knowledgeable persons who provide endorsements for a fairly small circle of arbitrators with extensive previous experience. Since this prior experience is often regarded as one of the key indicators of an arbitrator’s suitability for selection, the circle of recommendable arbitrators can be difficult for newcomers to penetrate. As a result, the author observes that the market for arbitrators is relatively closed and not optimally structured to ensure that disputes are presided over by persons with the highest quality of expertise in relation to a given case.

    The current sources of information which are available to prospective disputants are analysed, and the existence of energy-specific arbitrator lists is highlighted. It is suggested that as informational problems are resolved, the current monopoly on clients that is held by a few arbitrators will be dismantled, and that as a result disputants will be able to utilise the services of the most qualified arbitrators in a particular case.

  • Offshore natural gas resources in the eastern Mediterranean in relation to the European Union

    P. D. Farah, Riccardo Tremolada: Offshore natural gas resources in the eastern Mediterranean in relation to the European Union: a legal perspective through the lenses of Medreg, 8 Journal of World Energy law and Business 6 (2015) 559-580. 

     

     

    The recent offshore natural gas discoveries in Levant Basin, located in the Eastern Mediterranean, constitute a new input towards the establishment of a Mediterranean Energy Community by 2020; since they significantly impact the energy landscape in that region in terms of allocation of gas resources, regional energy production, consumption and trade, and threaten the feasibility of several infrastructural projects which are essential for further efficient exploitation. Indeed, the new energy resources have the potential to alter energy supply dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean region and might lead to a redefinition of the objectives of the European Union’s (“EU”) external energy security by diversifying its supplies, due in large part to the fact that natural gas has a strategic value as alternative to Russian and North African imports. Therefore, a new energy market will require an innovative legal framework for balancing competition and regulatory requirements. However, first, the concerned countrieshave to intensify negotiations to ratify border and maritime delimitation agreements, which are not straightforward.

    The EU has officially recognized energy as a sector to support Euro-Mediterranean cooperation by Directives 2003/54/EC and 2003/55/EC. The model of coordination, while already working for electricity companies through common regional regulators, is still absent for the gas sector. In this complexity, the Association of Mediterranean Regulators for Electricity and Gas (“MedReg”) is viewed as a key actor for energy cooperation in the Mediterranean region and, gradually, for energy market integration of Eastern Mediterranean countries within the European Internal Energy Market (“EIEM”). Founded by the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (“ENPI”), which is a leading financial mechanism giving to European Neighbourhood Policy (“ENP”) countries, it represents an informal tool of networking and cooperation. A close synergy between EU and Eastern Mediterranean countries would be more than beneficial, not only for the energy market, but also for any sustainable development and environmental protection concerns.     

    In this vein, it is necessary to assess the relevance of the EU’s energy policy and its regulatory framework in order to evaluate the suitability to extend Europe’s approach on tackling energy issues in the Mediterranean. Indeed, the Energy Charter Treaty (“ECT”) mainly emphasizes investment protection and does not include Mediterranean countries as full members. Given that, the Authors believe that it is fundamental to look for a much faster integration and cooperative agreements to prevent geopolitical, social and economic conflicts in the Mediterranean region, despite some critics highlighting the need of a step-by-step integration process, starting first with internal agreements and then to neighbouring ones.

    EU practice has delivered a regulatory framework based on directives and recommendations shifting towards a market-based paradigm. In fact, competition rules are recently used to accelerate the transformation of the energy market, since they have not been limited to their traditional ex post corrective role, but have converged with regulatory law. Energy regulation is particularly central to tackle these challenges and to foster socio-economic development. Hence, MedReg is primarily aimed to promoting a transparent, stable and harmonized regulatory framework in the Levant Basin, though Mediterranean countries are not legally bound to apply the EU energy aquis. Its “Concept and Strategy Paper” underlines the parallel between the Energy Community (“EC”) and the MedReg itself. However, the approach adopted is substantially different from the EC’s one, which is mainly “top-down” and widely institutionalized. And in addition to the “bottom-up” approach, MedReg enacts self-regulatory strategy, despite serving as a platform for cooperation with other energy organizations and reflecting most of the EU external energy policy objectives.

    One of the main objectives of MedReg’s efforts is the establishment of independent regulatory authorities in all Mediterranean countries to guarantee stable and transparent administrative procedure and licenses according to the best international standards and practices, implement Third-Party Access (TPA) to energy networks, which is an essential precondition for opening the European Energy Market to competition and creating a non-discriminatory energy infrastructure, and enhance the harmonization of technical rules and advances in technology. Finally, an Ad Hoc Group on Gas is intended to draw up recommendations, guidelines and requirements, in line with EU energy market framework principles, that could lead to the development of an integrated and competitive gas market in the Mediterranean region, clearly demonstrating the relevance of the Levant Basin in this market integration.            

     

  • BRITAIN COULD RISK LOSING ITS STATUS AS A HUB FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES

    Open Europe, a leading European Think Tank, has warned that Britain could risk losing its status as a hub for financial services, unless a deal aimed to maintain UK-based banks rights to sell services freely across the European Union is reached. Thus, “pass-porting rights” have to be made Britain’s top priority in negotiations with the EU, since their failure could have repercussions on the continent; specifically,  “[n]on-EU financial centres are just as well placed to reap the benefits” and banks could decide to move their business from Britain to New York or Singapore. Moreover, the UK’s financial services sector only employs 1.9 million people.

    The Financial Times reported that the British government is currently considering proposals that could see billions of pounds paid into the EU budget in exchange for giving the financial sector continued access to the single market. Indeed, the Think Tank, whose Co-Director, Raoul Ruparel, who recently joined David Davis’s Brexit advisory team, said the government should aim to offer the maximum industry certainty as early on as possible, because some firms may start implementing their contingency plans even earlier than the UK formally exits the EU. Vincenzo Scarpetta, Open Europe’s Senior Policy Analyst, said firms were planning in case the UK was to leave the single market without any kind of regulatory equivalence.

    Calls have come from the City for a transitional deal to be put in place if the UK does not retain single market membership, warning food prices will see a steep hike if the UK reverts to World Trade Organisation tariffs. Under WTO rules, tariffs will also have to be applied to all imports into the UK until a trade deal with the EU is struck. On the other hand, a new poll, commissioned by the Open Britain Campaign, shows that nearly three-quarters of the public thinks the government should seek parliamentary approval for their Brexit plans before Article 50 is triggered. An attempt has been made by a powerful cross-party group of MPs to force a parliamentary vote on whether the government should reveal its plans for the UK’s future outside the EU before negotiations start.  

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 17 October 2016

    (Source: The Gardian)

  • CLIMATE CHANGE IS THE NEW NAZISM TO BE FIGHT

    Professor Hugh Rockoff imagines a scenario where USA establish political actions to fight the climate change similar to those which effected the victory of the Second World War.

    Climate change is a very dramatic problem that impact all the world and it need to be fought.

    The new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper from Hugh Rockoff (economics professor of the Rutgers University) draws parallels between the effects of global warming and the supply shortages during World War II.

    According to the Author what the US policy makers should do today is to set some similar policies to the 1945 ones. This means achieves a massive government spending on infrastructure and technology.

    During the WWII the US economy has been completely converted to satisfy the need of the army. Science has been focused on develop new weapons (such as the Manhattan Project which developed the first atomic bomb).

    Tackling climate change will involve similarly ambitious projects, government could prioritize certain type of production and perhaps support a large-scale solar power installations or reset whole communities away from environmentally-vulnerable areas.

    Even though the WWII lasted only four years, for the US, the fight against global change should be longer and a maybe harder one.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Thursday , 8 September 2016

    (Source: Bloomberg)

  • NEW PRIORITY FOR OCEAN RESORTS: RESTORING REEFS

    Caterina Fattori, a resident marine biologist at Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort, is heading the resort’s collaboration with a local dive team and the German Museum of Oceanographic and Fisheries in an initiative called Outrigger Ozone, a program aimed at rebuilding and re-growing damaged coral reefs off the property’s island.

    In April 2015, the Maldives’ coral reefs started bleaching, thus turning into a ghost reef with pale and stressed corals. This was the latest phenomenon in a series of global warming and human related assaults such as the building of large structures on the beaches, the heavy fishing and the land-based pollution.

    The program, which began in June 2015, has been a joint collaboration by other resorts, such as the Wakatobi Dive Resort in Southeast Sulawesi, the Andaman in Malaysia, Alila Manggis in Bali and Taj Exotica in the Maldives; these ones share the common sentiment that, since beach and island resorts have contributed to erosion and environmental destruction as well, their action is extremely urgent.

    The coral restoration process is similar across all the resorts: broken but still-living coral fragments are attached to a frame, either metal or concrete, and the whole system is secured underwater. They believe that being good neighbors and showing that there is sustainability in tourism is a key point so as to protect the environment and its beauty for the future generations; it does not matter if it is a slow process, with care the reef will regenerate itself on the frames.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Thursday, 2 March 2017

    (source: The NewYork Times)

  • AMAZON DEFORESTATION, ONCE TAMED, COMES ROARING BACK

    A decade after the “Save the Rainforest” movement forced changes that slowed deforestation, activity is roaring back in some of the biggest expanses of forests in the world; this resurgence is rising the specter of a backward slide in efforts to preserve biodiversity and fight climate change. In 2015, for the first time in a decade, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon and across the border in Bolivia, where there are fewer restrictions on land clearance, rose. 

    According to the organization Mighty Earth, in the Brazilian savanna areas called the Cerrado, operates Cargill, an American agricultural giant, that is responsible for 321,000 acres of deforestation between 2011 and 2015; moreover, some months ago the company traveled to Bolivia’s lowlands in the reaches of the Amazon River basin with the offer to buy soybeans from the Mennonite residents, peasants who have been carving settlements for 40 years, so as to increase its purchases of local soy and enhance the bonds with local producers.

    Although a supply-chain mapping is not available in Bolivia, reporters and environmentalists have been witnesses of the severe deforestation which is taking place; the reports come despite the New York Declaration on Forests signed in 2014 by Cargill that aims at eliminating deforestation from the production of agricultural commodities like soy by 2020.

    The company stated that if reports were accurate, it would intervene honoring the obligations and punishing the guilty employees; notwithstanding, it added that it could not solve the issue of deforestation alone, especially if Bunge, the American competitor of Cargill, does not have any commitment at ending deforestation. The world is everybody’s bond and everybody should contribute to safeguard it.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Thursday, 2 March 2017

    (source: The NewYork Times)

  • HOW TO INSTALL SOLAR PANELS AT HOME - TO SAVE THE EARTH AND YOUR BANK ACCOUNT

    The US, and the rest of the world, is facing the challenge of climate change and thinking of the related dangers and solutions. With solar energy becoming cheaper and cheaper, and the state authorities offering tax credits and other incentives, now may be the right time to install solar panels.

    According to some experts, installing solar panels on the roof of a house has some obvious environmental benefits and can make people save money on electric bills. An average, 5-kilowatt system costs about $15,000/20,000, depending on where someone lives and if there is any incentive; in any case, the federalgovernment offers a 30% tax credit and has created some lists with all the policies for renewable energy by state so as to get the information a citizen needs.

    Some states, such as California, have created websites listing incentives, financing options, and tips so as to hire a contractor and install the panels; a good contractor is crucial since a trustworthy installer secures the necessary permits and properly connects the solar energy system to the house and the local electric grid.

    In terms of payment for the equipment and services, a citizen may pay upfront and enjoy its system for the following 20 years. As a owner, he may get a bonus incentive if the state allows him to sell the excess solar electricity to his utility; the money earned shows up as a credit on the bills. On the contrary, the alternative option is to leave the ownership and maintenance of the panels to the installer and pay only for the electricity produced.  

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Thursday, 2 March 2017

    (source: The Guardian)

  • CLIMATE SCIENTISTS SAY LIKELIHOOD OF EXTREME SUMMERS SURGING DUE TO GLOBAL WARMING

    According to a group of Australian climate scientists, New South Wales, which has just experienced its hottest summer on record, is 50 times more likely to experience another similar hot summer and 10 times more likely to experience hot days under climate change.

    At the beginning of 2017, the mean temperature in Sydney has been 2.8C above the average and the three-day heatwave from 9 February 2017 to 11 February 2017 has been the hottest on record from Sydney to Brisbane, breaking the record of 1939. This is the kind of weather event that should be considered a one in 500-year occurrence but, because of the impact of global warming on climate system, has now become a one in 50-year event.

    The weather may make cities like Sydney less livable and unprepared for the knock-on effects of a significant increase in temperatures such as the building codes, the insulation, the double-glazing or the energy regulators which are not equipped to supply enough power to cover the demand from air conditioners. However, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull links the blackouts to renewable energy which, according to him, is unable to hit the country’s energy targets.

    People have already experienced hot days decades ago but these incidences are different since they are getting more and more frequent. For this reason, it is necessary to raise awareness that climate change is impacting in Australia so as to motivate some action by the government.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Thursday, 2 March 2017

    (source: The Guardian)

  • CHINA TAKING CONTROL OF A BIGGER PORTION OF THE WORLD’S SUPPLY CHAINS

    China is taking control of a bigger portion of the world’s supply chains, causing a shift throughout China’s vast manufacturing sector and consequently in the global trade patterns by buying more than 70% of row materials and components from local suppliers and less from abroad. Those supply flows made China one of the top export destinations for years.

    The push to use local inputs for manufacturing is spreading to higher-tech items and contributing to slower global trade growth. Now exports to China, which have risen nearly every year since the 1990s, fell 14% last year, representing the largest annual drop. According to Chinese trade data, the proportion of foreign-made inputs in Chinese exports has been shrinking by an average of 1.6 percentage points a year over the past decade, and last year fell to 19%, from more than 40% in the mid-1990s. 

    To build domestic capabilities, the Chinese government last year announced a plan to raise the domestic content of core components and key materials to 40% by 2020 and 70% by 2025. Indeed, according to national media reports, the country has been spending large amounts on research and development: $213 billion last year, or 2.1% of gross domestic product. As a result, biotechnology, aerospace and other high-tech-related exports to China fell 5% this year through September, while in specialty or higher-end chemicals the amount China’s imports from the U.S. fell 8% in the first seven months of this year.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Monday, 31 October 2016

    (Source: The Wall Street Journal)

  • COLOMBIA PRESIDENT GETS NOBEL PEACE PRIZE FOR FARC DEAL

    The peace deal was voted down in a referendum this week in which a narrow majority of 50.2% to 49.8%, a difference of fewer than 54,000 votes, rejected the plan.

    Santos and the leader of the FARC rebel group, Rodrigo Londoño, known as Timochenko, were both considered leading contenders for the prize after signing the peace deal last month to end 52 years of war.

    The aim of this Noble Prize, according to the Norwegian Nobel committee, is to encourage all parties to continue working towards peace.

    President Santos spoke to the press, after winning the Nobel Prize and referenced being “infinitely grateful for this honourable distinction” and he dedicated the prize to “the millions of victims of the conflict which we have suffered for more than 50 years.”

    The award of the prize to Santos comes as a surprise to many Colombians who believed his chances had been scuttled by the rejection of the peace deal.

    Nonetheless, the two sides, after having recognized the outcome of the referendum, which rejected the deal they had finalised in August, have indicated that the negotiating teams were open to studying other proposals.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, 07 October 2016

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • UNIVERSAL EDUCATION GOAL WILL FAIL UNLESS 69 MILLION NEW TEACHERS WILL BE RECRUITED

    UNESCO figures have shown that nearly 69 million new teachers must be recruited and trained in order to achieve the global universal primary and secondary education demand.

    According to these estimates, the ambition of Universal Education, outlined in the Sustainable Development Agenda, will need 24.4 million primary school teachers and 44.4 million secondary teachers to be recruited.

    Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are the most affected areas for a lack of education.

    Indeed, in order to meet the sustainable development goal,Sub-Saharan Africa would need an additional 17 million teachers within the next 14 years, while South-Asia, which faces the second largest teacher shortage, would need an additional 15 million teachers.

    Giving children the possibility to go to school is the first step, but it will not be enough. A big issue concerns how to keep them at school and how to guarantee them a high level of teaching.

    “Without highly-trained teachers, children will go to school but they won’t have the skills to write, read or add up,”said UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director, Justin Forsyth.

    In order to instruct other educators in a better and more efficient way, the Varkey’s Foundation delivered a project founded by Dubai Cares, which consisted in training teachers through interactive distance learning.

    “The original 40 connected schools allow us to reach 5,000 teachers from our studios in Accra, and the project can be expanded by installing the technology package in further schools,”said the Varkey’s foundation CEO, Vikas Pota.

    “Thanks to this,” he said, “training teachers costs less, and it allows to improve the training and professional development of teachers.”

    A high level of teaching is important, but it is not the only tool to guarantee that a child stays in school; other issues are strictly related with education, such as poverty or lack of appropriate toilets, which is one of the reasons why many girls stop attending schools.

    Summing up, there are a lot of issues, which must to be taken into account in order to meet the 2030 education targets set forth by the Universal Education goal.

     

    gLAWcal team

    LIBEAC project

    5 October 2016

    (source: The Guardian)

  • IS THE UNITED STATES ABLE TO MEET THE TARGET AGREED IN THE PARIS CLIMATE ACCORD?

    According to a scientific study, the United States, which has been a leader in the achievement of the Paris Climate Accord, could miss its’ 2025 target on climate change.

    The Paris Climate Accord, which Trump has promised to exit should he win the presidential election, sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C.

    The United States has been recently overtaken by China as the world’s largest emitters, but it still expels more than 6.8bn tonnes of greenhouse gases a year.

    Even if the United States has made strong efforts to be a leader in this agreement, it apparently does not currently have the right policies in place to meet the target.

    If it really failed, this could have huge consequences on its position as a climate leader, as well as for the global efforts to fight the damages of climate change.

    Jeffery Greenblatt, scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, stated, “I wouldn’t disparage the US’s efforts so far, but we need to do more as a nation and globally to reduce emissions. However we splice it, that’s hard to do. We can’t make small alterations to our economy – we need fundamental changes in how we get and use energy.”

    The targets are ambitious but not impossible; they are just not likely to be achieved with current policies, but the United States could meet them by taking additional measures.

    “The problem is a political problem and an implementation problem. The US, and the world, needs deeper and sooner cuts,” said John Sterman, director of the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative.

    In the past years, cheap gasoline and natural gas prices have been the cause of an overconsumption of fossil fuels, and this has slowed efforts to improve energy commitments.

    “Putting a price on carbon,” Mr. Sterman  said, “would be an efficient measure to meet the 2025 target.”

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Thursday, 29 September 2016

    (Source: The guardian)

  • THE SIDE EFFECTS OF GROWTH IN PASSIVE FUNDS

    In the recent financial capitalism, passive investment vehicles have soaked-up enormous amounts of cash. Since 2008, in America, about $600 billion in holdings of actively managed mutual funds have been sold off, while $1 trillion has flowed into passive funds. And now these funds hold ownership stakes in large American firms. A number of critics argue that the outcome of this phenomenon derives from  a centrally planned economy.  

    The big problem with concentrated ownership may be that firms are too mindful of the interests of their biggest shareholders. Martin Schmalz, of the University of Michigan, and other authors have investigated the anti-competitive effects of concentrated ownership. A fund with a stake in just one firm in an industry sector wants that firm to out-compete its rivals, while big asset managers, which take large stakes in nearly all of the dominant firms in an industry sector, will probably not adopt the same perspective. In theory large asset-management firms might be quietly instructing the firms they own not to undercut rivals, boosting profits across the portfolio as a whole.

    Such findings should alarm regulators in the authors’ view. Limiting the ownership stakes of the large, passive asset managers might boost competition, but it would undercut the cheapest and most effective investment strategy available to retail investors. Indeed, common ownership is not the only barrier to competition in the American economy.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Tuesday, 29 September 2016

    (Source: The Economist)

     

  • THE CRISIS OF THE SHIPPING BUSINESS

    After the failure of Haijing Shipping, the world opens its eyes to the crisis of the shipping business
    On August 31st 2016, the colossus Hanjin Shipping, a South Korean container line, filed for bankruptcy leaving 66 ships, carrying goods worth $14.5 billion in the sea.
    This  is not an isolated instance, since of the biggest twelve shipping companies that have published results for the past quarter, eleven have announced huge losses. And even the strongest, likeMaersk Line, is suffering.
    The reason  for this great loss of profit lies in the ebbing of world trade since the financial crisis and in the overcapacity of the container market that creates a huge reduction of shipping costs.
    Eyes are trained on the industry leader Maersk Group. In June, Maersk Group’s chairman, Michael Pram Rasmussen, fired Nils Smedegaard Andersen, its CEO, and replaced him with Soren Skou. Mr. Skou seeks for a review on the company on how to rule the Maersk Group’s subsidiaries.
    Maersk Group’s big new idea is to make its existing ships smarter and more technological. The Danish firm’s three-year-old analytics team has also worked on discovering the optimal speed and course for its ships to save money and fuel.
    What Maersk is doing in digitalization his business is likely to be followed by its’ competitors. It is true that this digitalization alone won’t save the industry from the crisis of the sector, but it may prepare it better for the next one.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Friday, 30 September 2016

    (Source: The Economist)

  • INDIA QUESTIONS JAPAN STRINGENT AND TIME CONSUMING REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS

    At the 12th Trade Policy Review (TPR) of Japan, India raised specific concerns faced by its industry, particularly in the pharmaceutical and Information Technology (IT) sector of the Japanese market.

    Brushing aside their strong trade and economic ties, Indian official stated at the meeting that stringent and time consuming regulatory requirements are creating a difficult situation for Indian companies to access the Japanese market. In particular, an official pointed at the requirement to have a joint venture with a Japanese company and the need of commercial presence for applying to Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency.

    Further attention was drawn to the stringent requirements forchemical, agro-chemicals and additives for food products regarding maximum residue levels. India complaints with such requirements within the competitive industry those often end up as tertiary service providers despite their competitive strengths in this sector.

    Cited that there are currently 16 investment agreements under negotiations, a senior Japanese trade official assured members that it is “committed” to further trade liberalization. The WTO further praised Japan for pursuing bold economic policies to revitalize its economy and reverse deflation including their “three arrows” strategy.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 11 March 2015

    (Source: Live Mint)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

  • INDIA MANAGES TO DEFEND ITS RAW SUGAR EXPORT SUBSIDY PAYMENTS AT THE WTO

    Several WTO members including EU, Australia and Colombia have accused India of going against its commitment at the WTO’s Bali Ministerial in December 2013. They are critical of India’s export subsidies for raw sugar announced in February 2014.

    India has managed to ward off criticism for its raw sugar export subsidies by once again claiming that it has not made any payments under the programme. However one of the officials was quoted saying that the Ministry of Food and Public Distribution is now sanctioned to pay off Rs. 200 Crore ($32 million) to the raw sugar export for the period.

    India is a major producer of raw sugar in the world and members apprehend that such export subsidies could distort global market. Another official of the Ministry of Commerce was quoted saying that such subsidy programme is justifiable on the ground of encouraging sugar producers to diversity from refined to raw sugar.

    The domestic demand is pegged at 24.8 million tonnes for this year, whereas the sugar mill association estimate total production at 26 million tonnes.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, 09 March 2015

    (Source: Business Line)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

  • INDIA, CHINA REJECTS US EFFORT TO INTRODUCE 'DIFFERENTIATION' CONCEPT IN WTO FARM TALKS

    In what seems to be a backlash to the recent furore at the WTO over the issue of food stockpiling for food security purposes as well as the calculation of AMS, the US wants to introduce the concept of 'differentiation' of developing countries in the WTO negotiations on agriculture.

    The ‘differentiation’ approach which has already been rejected by India and China makes a distinction between developing countries that have existing domestic support programmes in agriculture that could influence global trends and other developing countries which do not have such schemes. 

    Moving away from existing Doha mandate of special and differential treatment for developing countries, US referring to recent studies said in the WTO General Council meeting that it would have to make significant cuts in its outlay for domestic support under the present draft modalities and termed it as "blood for water" or "blood for air". 

    The farm lobbies in the US are relying on study of Washington based DTB Associates accusing China, India, Brazil, Turkey and Thailand of providing trade distorting subsidies illegal under their respective WTO pledges.  

    India and China said that it is important to protect policy space and global trading system being highly inequitable there was a need for a level-playing field. 

     The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, 22 February 2014

    (Source: Economic Times)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

  • AMERICA’S WHEAT INDUSTRY ACCUSED INDIA OF OFFERING WTO INCONSISTENT SUBSIDIES

    Continuing its attack based on a recent study conducted by Washington-based DTB Associates, US Industry accused India and China of providing export subsidies to their farms that are illegal under their WTO pledge.

    In a media release, US Wheat Industry said "Increasing support levels gave Indian farmers an artificial incentive to produce more wheat. In fact, India's wheat production increased by 35 per cent over those seven years (2005-06 to 2013-14) to record levels. That buoyed world wheat supplies and increased pressure on prices that hurt wheat farmers in other countries," It further alleged that India’s used faulty tactics in it’s recently notifications to the WTO.

    The study relied to base to these allegations further state that the governments of India, China, Turkey, Brazil and Thailand have over the past 10 years have dramatically increased trade distorting subsidies for wheat, corn or rice production exceeding their pledges under WTO agreements. 

     

     The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, 22 February 2014

    (Source: Economic Times)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

  • US BACKS OFF FROM DOHA MANDATE, SEEKS SIMILAR COMMITMENTS FROM INDIA, CHINA

    Undermining the existing negotiations under the aegis of Doha round, Washington wants India and China to cut farm subsidies as a condition to undertake similar commitment. Further, it also wants India and China to give enhanced market access for five products: beef, pork, poultry products, wheat and corn.

    The demand was made by the US trade envoy ambassador Michael Punke, in a closed door meeting by the chair of Doha agricultural negotiations ambassador John Adank, with a group of 10 select countries.

    India rejected the US demand as New Delhi did not required to take any commitments in the Doha round in the amber box (producer subsidy) as it has not taken commitments under the Uruguay Round. On the other hand, US which has made previous commitments is required to reduce its trade distorting subsidies under the Doha mandate. However US, Europe and Canada are maintaining that Doha mandate is irrelevant due to changed conditions.

    Earlier in January, Modi and Obama had come to an understanding to cooperate on the finalization of the Post-Bali Work Programme in the spirit of the Doha mandate. However, in wake of the sudden demand it needs to be seen whether India agrees.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, 06 February 2014

    (Source: Live Mint)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

     

  • STOCKHOLM POWER GOES GREEN AS BIOMASS OUSTS COAL

    Swedish power generationfrom coal is now switching into biomass input like waste and residue from wood to leftover food and cow dung, to produce energy. Ulf Wikstroem, an environmental manager at Fortum, said: “We plan to have the whole plant running on biomass by 2030 at the latest.”

    The Fortum’s project of value 550million will generate enough heat to warm 30 percent of Stockholm’s 900,000 homes as well as meet as much as 8 percent of the city’s electricity consumption, according to data from Fortum and Statistics Sweden.

    Stockholm the Nordic’s area biggest metropolis wants to be fossil-fuel free by 2040, said Katarina Luhr, the vice mayor overseeing environmental issues. After have surpassed its 2020 European Union target of 49 percent renewable energy in 2012, Sweden is seeking to increase the rate to 57% by 2030.

    The movement is widening inside Nordic countries. In 2013, more than 6% of the Nordic region’s power was generated by burning biomass. It is possible to note the same at the European and also U.S level. The E.U. renewable energy target to 2020 is 20% from 14% in 2012. Obama’s government is trying to get 05 of its energy from renewable at the end of this year. China, the world’s biggest energy user, plans to generate 15 percent of its needs from non-fossil sources by 2020.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Tuesday, 10 February 2015

    (Source: Renewable Energy World.com)

  • AUSTRALIA’S TWO BIGGEST ENERGY RETAILERS MOVING INTO SOLAR MARKET

    Origin Energy and AGL Energy, two biggest Australian’s are investing millions into building up substantial solar teams that will focus on the household and business markets, offering leases and power purchase agreements in order to dominate the rooftop solar market, which is now nearly at 4GW across Australia.

    Two main strategies are taken in considerations to target the achievements: first to fight against a growing competition of companies offering solar products. Some of these rivals, however, are substantial, and include the likes of Macquarie Group and US heavyweights SunEdison and SunPower, along with a host of new and smaller players. The other challenge that the strategy should take in consideration is to improve customers loyalty as 25% of them are switching providers each year in a ritual of discount seeking.

    Origin Energy and AGL Energy will use them huge balance sheet to provide lease solutions and power purchase to its customers, the retailers will also remain owners of the rooftop solar systems.  The retailers hope to lock their customers in for 10 - 15 years or more.

    The changes at the executive level have concerned: Phil Mackey who is heading up the Origin’s LPG business.  JP Ross, one of the first executives of Sungevity, an US solar leasing company, has been appointed head of “mass markets”, targeting the household and the growing commercial markets; he is also responsible for helping develop Origin’s solar strategy. The merry-go-round of solar executives in AGL Energy is less relevant.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Tuesday, 10th February, 2015

    (Source: Clean Technica)

  • DANONE AND MARS LAUNCH £79M FUND FOR SMALLHOLDER FARMERS

    The world’s largest food multinationals Danone and Mars announced its intent to invest €120million over the next decade in an investment fundaimed at increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers, and also for secure their supply to the growing world population which is projected to be 9 billion in 2050.

    The main priorities will be Danone and Mars keys crops, such as vanilla, cocoa, sugar and palm feature among the “obvious areas”, and will gradually include milk, fruits and peanuts. Mars and Danone hope to attract investment from both the public and private sector for the non-farmer benefits generated through its sponsored projects.

    The two are seeking to raise funds for the project, and all the return from the project will help to payback debts and reinvest the reminders in future projects. The project is thought to work through best-of-class non-profits organizations with proven experience of implementing smallholder programmes, says Frank Riboud, chairman of the board of directors at Danone.

    What makes the project viable or sustainable are the following characteristics: the more connection to the supply chain, the target is not just riches farm owners, increases in farmer incomes, improvements in farmer livelihoods and benefits to the environment (especially carbon emissions mitigated or sequestered through reforestation). The further factor of success it’s the fact that Danone and Mars have in the past, launched similar projects.

    Mrs Tamir of Oxfam said: “To truly create opportunity for smallholder farmers, the food industry must shift more value from the traders and manufacturers back to the people and workers who grow their food”.

     

                                                                                                                     The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    9 February 2015

    (Source: The Guardian Sustainable Business)

     

  • CASTOR OIL HELPS FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY IN MADAGASCAR

    Germany’s International Cooperation Agency (GIZ) and Research and Technology Exchange Group (Gret) are backing Ambroy villagers (Androy Region) in growing castor oil crops, which is more sustainable and profitable than maize field. The region is facing strong drought, very low level of rainfall and extremely expensive cultivation equipment (beakers of seeds), taking Ambroy villagers, inside strong food insecurity and hunger.

    The move from maize field to Castor oil plantation will soon change the landscape of 8 million persons under food insecurity in Madagascar and 83% of Androy who living in the hardest hit area.

    In the concerned area, rainfall does not exceeds 600ml a year, but the local castor oil seeds which are suit to local constraints regarding soil, climate and pests, thanks to their high genetic diversity, have failed in front of local natural challenges. They spoil very fast and require quantities of water, fertilizer and pesticide, which Malagasy farmers cannot possibly afford.

    Fabrice Lhériteau of GRET, with two selected varieties of castor-oil plant that combine good drought resistance with a much higher, allow for yield 3 times larger than other local species – 700kg of seeds per hectare, as against 250, the amount of cultivate lands is doubled.

    The relevant social effect of castor oil cultivation is a big increase in population living under food security. During the first year of the scheme, 6,000 Androy households (30,000 people) may be lift out of food insecurity.

     

                                                                                                   The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

     9 February 2015

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • CIVIL SOCIETY URGES POLITICIANS TO TRANSFORM THE FINANCE SYSTEM

    In January, 11 Civil Organizations have deployed manifesto to urge UK government to create a finance system that serves society, the environment and the wider economy. The statement supported by 11 organizations, including Share Action, NEF, Positive Money, Finance Innovation Lab and FoE, will set out the five major changes that the next government should put in place to create a more fair finance system. The mentioned changes are the following

    §  more diversity in banking, using the Competition & Markets Authority investigation

    §  more responsibility in financial markets, encouraged by joining the EU Financial Transaction Tax

    §  more transparency in savings and investment

    §  more sustainability through the expansion of the Green Investment Bank. 

    §  more democracy by asking the Bank of England to carry out a review of all monetary policy options available to government and central banks to influence the allocation of credit in the interests of the whole of society and the economy, and a debate over these options in parliament.

    Alternative finance businessessuch as peer-to-peer lending, values banks and community finance have been growing deep with a rate of 150% every year, and were worth £1.74bn in 2014. While investment industry which looks after all pensions failed due to the opacity in the operations.

    Organizations such as ShareAction and True & Fair advocate legal safeguards to correct these market failures. Groups such as Green Alliance, Aldersgate Group, IPPR and E3G have called for this to change call UK Government to strengthen the borrowing power of the Green Investment Bank and the British Business Bank, as a key players in their own financial markets to take on long-term risks and lever in private capital, as KFW in Germany acting in renewable energy and improving the energy efficiency of their housing stock.

    NEF and IPPR have made specific proposals for credit guidance and strategic quantitative easing, to solve the problem of moneyallocation between financial assets and real productive businesses.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    February 7, 2015

    (Source: The Guardian)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

  • JAMAICAN PRIME MINISTER CALLS FOR UNITY TO ADVANCE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

    During the Diplomatic Week 2015, under the theme “Building Partnership for Sustainable Development”, Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller addressed the members of the diplomatic corps recognizing that a collective response in the global spirit of international cooperation and concern for each other’s welfare will ensure that a sustainable legacy is left.

    Jamaican Governmentvalues its partnership with all countries as being critical to achieve sustainable development.

    In spite of the challenges, there have been some encouraging developments within the international arena, including further signs of recovery from the financial crisis and a decline in global oil prices.These developments, Simpson Miller said, call for renewed partnership between Jamaican Government and all stakeholders and with the public and private sectors.

    The Prime Minister also reiterated her call for the international community to look to Jamaica as a viable place to invest, due to the gains being made under Jamaican economic reform programme. Jamaican Foreign Minister, AJ Nicholson, said Jamaica continues to place a high value on the relations it enjoys with its international partners, saying that the country's partnerships in foreign trade remained essential to the local economy.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Friday, February 27, 2015

    (Source: Jamaica Observer)

  • THE NEW CHALLENGES FOR THE UN’S POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA

    2015 marks the end of enforcement of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), set by world leaders 15 years ago to counteract poverty and climate change and to achieve a more equal global society. The new purposes, to be known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), fix a new way to face world’s most pressing issues until the next critical deadline in 2030.

    Despite there has been significant progress in meeting the MDGs targets, numerous challenges persist. 805 million people are undernourished, living in poverty. 73 million young people are looking for work and many are trapped in exploitative jobs. Meanwhile, populations continue to suffer due to some of the world’s deadliest conflicts.

    Mr Richard Jolly, a former UN Assistant Secretary-General and member of the UNICEF, analysed the progresses in meeting the MDGs targets, defining the differences between MDGs and SDGs and introducing what are the new global challenges to meet until 2030.

    The SDGs are universal: nations are really recognizing that all countries need to make an effort for all peoples. Secondly, the SDGs are integrating sustainability and climate change. Twelve of the 17 goals highlight the importance of sustainable development in key areas, such as urban planning, and economic growth, acknowledging the need to take action to combat climate change implications. Besides, notwithstanding the gains made by the MDGs, economic problems, such as the crisis’ after-effect, pose potential problems for the SDGs roll-out.

    The SDGs and the MDGs have historical significance: nations are realizing there is a single global system; national and international bodies are taking action to tackle poverty and to contrast climate change effects.

    Mr Jolly did not make any forecast for the success of the SDGs, but he admitted that as international community devotes the next 15 years to realizing them, the mobilization of global support and awareness alone would qualify as a major achievement.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Thursday, 26 February 2015

    (Source: UN News Centre)

  • INDIA PROMOTES SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

    On Monday the 23rd February 2015, Prakash Javadekar, India’s environment minister, announced that the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has turned into a facilitating ministry for sustainable development, under National Democratic Alliance’s rule.

    Until now the MoEF was considered an obstructionist ministry, but now things will change: the ministry would work as a facilitator in reaching sustainable development goals, bringing transparency and promoting people’s participation.

    Sustainable development, green growth and poverty elimination will be the main principles of ministry’s activities. The MoEF planned to launch several public campaigns for turning degraded lands into urban greens and restoring lakes and rivers

     The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Wednesday, 25 February 2015

    (Source: New Indian Express)

  • FAIR TRADE USA SUPPORTS SMALL FISHERIES IN INDONESIA

    On 24 February 2015, Fair Trade USA announced a new partnership with one of world’s largest food and drug distributors, to launch Fair Trade certified seafood into the North American market.

    After four years of research and meetings with industry experts, Fair Trade USA advanced the Fair Trade Fisheries programme. Starting with wild-capture tuna from small-scale fishermen in Indonesia, this programme aims to address both social and environmental responsibilities around the world. The main goal is to develop resilient livelihoods in impoverished coastal communities, improve working and living conditions, and strengthen an environmental-friendly resource management.

    Similarly to other Fair Trade certified products, like cocoa, coffee, and tea, the Fisheries programme requires small-fishermen to source and trade products accordingly to standards which help to protect human rights, to prevent forced child labour, to establish safe working conditions, and to enable responsible resource management. Fair Trade is also promoting collaboration between fishermen communities, previously isolated. For every Fair Trade Certified tuna sold, they gain ten per cent of the dock-side price, which they can collectively invest in community projects, like education and healthcare.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, 24 February 2015

    (Source: 3bl Media)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

  • MARS CHOCOLATE MAKES A STEP TO SUSTAINABLE SOURCED COCOA

    Launching Fairtrade Fortnight 2015, Mars Chocolate UK announced that all cocoa used in the UK manufactures of its Mars bars will be Fairtrade by autumn 2015.

    The agreement between the Fair Trade Foundation and Mars underlines the company’s commitment to sustainable and ethical sourcing. The programme pursues giving cocoa farmers a big opportunity to sell their products on Fairtrade Terms, receiving fairer rewards for their efforts and improving farmers’ living standards.

    Mars Chocolate UKis the first company to engage to the new Fair Trade cocoa sourcing programme represents a crucial step in Mars’ global engagement to certify that 100% of the cocoa used has been produced in a sustainable manner by 2020.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, 23 February 2015

    (Source: Marketing Magazine)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies 

  • EPA: KEYSTONE XL WILL IMPACT GLOBAL WARMING

    Obama’s Administration fights against the Keystone XL pipeline extension.  Because the oil price is getting lower and lower, Obama’s administration assumes that the expansion of the Canadian-American oil supplier will conduct to the oil demand growth. The fear is on expansion of Canadian tar sands, and then the increase in greenhouse gas emission.

    The construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is dividing Canadian and American authorities. It is thought that the result is going to be an increase of the oil demand and worsening of the greenhouse gas emission, because oil will be extract from tar sands, and this process creates more pollution than others.

    The further US argument is that in 5 years, oil price is going to fall down with 2 possible negatives effects. First, the increase of the oil supply will further decrease the oil price. Second, the low price of the oil makes hard a realization of profits. From January to June 2014, prices of benchmark West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil vacillated between about $90 and $110 per barrel.

    Then they fell off a cliff, dropping to about $50 per barrel as the U.S. energy boom injected huge amounts of the oil into a market already crippled by weak demand from a sluggish global economy.

    The pipelines opponents think that it is less expensive to ship oil through pipeline than by trucks or rail. And they suggest to American oil refineries to send their daily orders of 8 or 9 million barrels to the Canadian producers instead to the gulf producers.

     The Environmental Protection Agency published its statement informing that “There should be no more doubt that President Obama must reject the proposed pipeline once and for all.”

     

                                                                                                                            The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

                                                                                                                        Tuesday, 3 February 2015

    (Source: U.S.News)

  • OBAMA: CLIMATE CHANGE A GROWING NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT

    The Obama administration raises attention to the climate change. U.S. Government think that rising seas, worsening droughts, melting Arctic ice and extreme weather events rank among the most potent threats to U.S. national security. According to the administration climate change can raise public health crises and dangerous radical groups.

    Obama said: “No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change”. Both home and abroad, concerted actions have been taken to confront the dangers posed by climate change and to strengthen our energy security. Energy security and reliable access to electricity – both for the U.S. and its allies – are also named key imperatives. Even the Defence department has got inside the movement by advocating the use of solar power for its equipment and infrastructure. 

    Since then and even before, the armed forces have examined how renewable energy and 3D printing might enhance combat readiness; how climate change might increase instability in Africa and the Middle East; and how military installations have already been affected by floods, wildfires and drought.

    The Environmental Protection Agency is trying to finalize the first-ever federal limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The regulation of methane, smog and stricter fuel economy standardsare also instituted. Energy Department have spent billions in clean energy projects, from plug-in electric cars to centralized solar plants. Obama also has called for $3 billion for a new U.N. Green Climate Fund to help developing nations mitigate and adapt to the effects of global warming.

     

                                                                                                                            The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

                                                                                                                    Tuesday, 3 February 2015

    (Source: U.S.News)

  • A NEINVER AWARD FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY

    NEINVER has been certified ISO 50001 for energy efficiency by the certification body TÜV Rheinland. It is an award for commitments in sustainable business.

    The event took place in Madrid, Sabel Torres, and has awarded the ISO 50001 certified companies with particular emphasis on "the strong commitments of NEINVER towards the sustainable management of an ongoing contribution to the improvement of the management".

    It is the third ISO certification received by NEINVER; in Europe, it is the first to obtain up to 3 certifications. The first two were ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. NEINVER has also achieved the OHSAS 18001 for Health and Safety at Work.

    Committed under the program of Corporate Social Responsibility NEINVER, sustainability is one of the key criteria in the performance of various business activities. Others projects considered in this area might increase the renewable energy share in the overall energy mix that have doubled between 2012 and 2013, from 15% to 30%, and then might reduce gas emission.

    In raw data, NEINVER have reduced gas emission to 22%, with its expansion, the emission rate falls to 12,2%. We can find the NEINVER reports which indicates its improvement in different point of view: not only economic and commercial, but also social, environmental, employment and governance. The report is fully searchable in the section of the website of NEINVER: www.neinver.com/csr.

    NEINVER is a leader in the development, investment and property management. Since its foundation in 1969, and has consolidated its position in the European retail market with 565 100 m² of retail space, 2,000 stores and more than 1,200 of the best brands. Between the values ​​of NEINVER, there is the responsiveness of its operations to the principles of sustainable development and social responsibility.

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

     Friday, February 6, 2015

    (Source: DailyGreen)

     

  • QATAR ASKS FOR TIME TO IMPLEMENT LABOUR REFORMS

    Qatar needs more time to address problems of employees at the mercy of their employers before his 2022 World Cup.

    Qataris are on the way to take the country far from the past practices and to provide to their citizens the human rights they ever had up to now. Mr Al-Khater, one of the most forthright statements to date by a Qatari official, said that “the Kafala System has been instituted a very long time ago and I think there’s a recognition that it does not work anymore and is not suitable in this day and age”.

    The impulse comes from criticism addressed to Qatar because of the fact the employees are at the mercy of employers, and therefore it is necessary to withdraw the rights to organize the 2022 World Cup.

    The Gulf State’s has received attacks from every part. Theo Zwanziger, the FIFA executive committee member in charge of monitoring Qatari progress on the labour issue, Wolfgang Niersbach, German football federation president, and Sepp Blatter, FIFA president, have warned Qataris about the failure to establish an independent monitoring committee that had been proposed by a Qatar-sponsored study conducted by law firm DLA Piper, and they said they should allow groups like Amnesty International or the International Trade Union Confederation to monitor labour conditions on World-Cup construction sites, because human rights would be a criterion in awarding World Cup hosting rights.

    Supreme Committee communications director Nasser Al-Khater and Qatar Olympic Committee secretary general Sheikh Saoud Adulrahman Al-Thani argued that Qatar was aware of cultural and legal changes which would have to embrace as a result of its winning bid, and that contract is contract, if all the requirements were decided with consensus in contract terms with FIFA, Qatar should respect it. But to do that, they need time.

    Qatar is a young country with just 40 years history. He took several years to rich countries to get developed. Al-Khater argued: “just like any other country in the world when you change a law it takes time. You can’t close your eyes and say: Tomorrow we’re going to change the law or you will have so many chain reactions after that”.

    There is anyway one controversy. People from Qatar fear of the huge influx of foreigners needed to build and operate the country that they risk to lose their identity and control of their state.

    The gLAWcal Team

    The 4th of February 2015

    (Source: Daily News Egypt)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

  • MEXICO'S HISTORIC OIL REFORM

    Mexico is trying to bring life to a moribund industry. Mexico’s energy sector has experienced a hobbled production since 10 years, because of public monopoly. Pemex is the sole oil and gas producer, and Federal Electricity Commission controls the electricity production and distribution. The government is seeking to approve a law to bring in, private and international companies to invest in oil and gas and electricity generation.

    Mexico is the third-largest exporter of petroleum to the U.S. and it is among the world top producers. In 2013, oil revenue funded 34% of national budget, and, in the last quarter of the year, 50 per cent of Pemex’s revenue ($16 billion) was paid in taxes to the government. According to some estimates, the reforms will add 1% on forecasted GDP of 2018. Private investors, like U.S. companies, might bring technology and capital, allowing also the country to generate jobs and profits.

    Even though, the benefits that the reforms could bring, there are some controversies because in 1938, President Lázaro Cárdenas have nationalized the oil industry. The opinion is currently divided between who wants the state to keep owning the sector, and who do not.

    President Peña Nietoannounced the reform in 2013 and it suddenly pasts to the Congress due to his pact with some opposition parties: the National Action Party on the right and the Party of the Democratic Revolution on the left. Then, 31 states legislatures signed it, now a package of 21 regulations that govern the nuts and bolts of how the reform will be implemented in debate. The government is going to hold its first auctions in this year. However, the Democratic Revolution would like to delay the launch of the reform.

    The gLAWcal Team

    February 12, 2015

    (Source: U. S. news)

    This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.

  • INDIA: IMPROVING THE HEALTHCARE

    Health services are either provided by the government as service (in countries like UK, Italy and other European countries) or by private entities (in countries like the US). In India, it’s a mix of private and public products and services.

    The private medical sector remains the primary source of health care for households in urban areas and also in rural areas. Reliance on public and private health care sector varies significantly between states. Several reasons are cited for relying on private rather than public sector.

    The main reasons at the national level are: the poor quality of care in the public sector, the distance of the public sector facilities, long waiting times and inconvenient hours of operation. The study (published in 2013 and conducted by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics across 12 states in over 14,000 households) indicated a steady increase in the usage of private healthcare facilities over the last 25 years for both Out Patient and In Patient services, across rural and urban areas.

    The government of India has never worried about its citizens’ health. India currently spends only 1.2 per cent of its GDP on publicly funded health care. This is considerably less than most other comparable countries. The total Indian health spending is conventionally estimated at a little over 4 per cent of GDP.

    The public health care system has been strengthened since the start of the 21st century by initiatives such as the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). But it still suffers from significant limitations in areas such as the (free) provision of essential medicines to the 400-600 million poorest Indians. In fact, it can be said that rural healthcare is almost non-existent.

    Dr Devi Shetty (Founder & Chairman of Narayana Health) underlines the dearth of medical specialists: the country has close to 50,000 undergraduate medical seats but only 14,000 PG seats (while the US has 19,000 undergraduate medical seats and 32,000 PG seats).

    What are strategies for the future to win the crucial healthcare challenges of the nation? The country needs medical educational institutions in order to provide diploma/graduate courses in fields like anesthesia, gynecology and pediatrics. The lack of PG seats entails a shortage of specialists, which means negative consequences on the ground (such as high maternal mortality rate and diseases).

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, 31 March 2014

    (Source: The Health Site, health.india.com)

  • OBAMACARE’S MARCH 31 DEADLINE EXTENDED

    US president Barack Obama's signature of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, requires most Americans to be enrolled in health coverage by March 31 or pay a penalty. It has not been clear how much a potential applicant would have to make in order to qualify for a special enrollment period.

    Monday is the deadline for enrollment in order to have coverage for this year under the Affordable Care Act. The White House administration will allow some flexibility for those who encountered problems in signing-up trough Healthcare.gov.

    The White House is trying to meet a goal of enrolling 6 million people. As of mid-March, 5 million had enrolled. The administration has been engaged in an exhaustive effort to not only enroll as many people as possible but also to increase the percentage of young adults who apply to help balance the makeup of those insured.

    The administration said major increase in traffic to HeatlhCare.gov has been recently seen. On Monday, website registered 1.1 million visitors.

    Federal officials confirmed that the consumers who have begun to apply for an insurance on HealthCare.gov, but who will not finish it by Monday, will have to ask for an extension until about mid-April. The goal is to help people whose applications have been held up due to the website’s technical problems, or who haven’t been able to get the system to calculate subsidies to help them pay for coverage.

    The extra time will not change the deadline but will create an ample category of people qualified for a special enrollment period under the new rules and any penalty will not apply to them. 

    Applicant will have to indicate he/she tried to sign-up before the deadline. This method will be based on affidavit, which means that the government will not be able to clarify if the declaration of person is truthful.

     

    The gLAWcal Team
    Friday 28 March 2014
    (Source: Washington Post)

  • AMERICAN SHALE GAS FOR EU AS A WAY TO REDUCE THE DEPENDENCE ON RUSSIAN OIL AND GAS

    President Barack Obama has announced a free trade agreement to promote American export of gas to Europe, in order to reduce the energetic dependence on Russia. The energy and gas itself represent important issues in the current geopolitical context. Moreover, according to the US policy, energy is a central topic due to its significant impact on the global economy.

    The Energy Ministers of the G7 have pledged to find a way to diversify the energy sources of the European Union to cope with the difficulties related to crisis in Ukraine; in addiction, US president Obama has highlighted the willingness to export shale gas to European countries, to limitate the current dependency on Russian oil and gas.

    Regarded to that situation, the US and EU have decided to discuss stronger sanctions against Russia in case of  further incursions into Ukraine; they have affirmed that the annexation of Crimea has violated the principles of international law.

    Moreover, president Obama has expressed his favor of the European sanctions, including visa bans and frozen bank accounts, previously taken against Russia and number of Russian officials. These consequences were taken after Russian forces moved in to annex Crimea: accordingly, Russia should be penalized again with deeper sanctions in case of other similar events.

    In the turbulent frame of Ukraine crisis, the US and EU have agreed on a strong, robust and powerful package of trade, economic and financial sanctions, creating a collective defense to tackle the controversial matter of energy.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, 28 March 2014

    (Source: Huffington Post)

  • REPORTS WARN SMARTPHONES CAN HARM HUMAN HEALTH

    A doctor in Granada warns about the injuries that can result from using instant messaging services, after he has treated a 34-year-old pregnant woman  diagnosed: "WhatsAppitis". It’s possible to do a comparison between WhatsAppitis and a repetitive strain injury diagnosed in heavy Nintendo users in the 1990s: Nintendinitis, or Nintendo thumb.

    Following the rise of use of smartphones and tablets, microwave pollution is a serious assault on our health. Cell phones may cause brain cancer. The World Health Organization issued a report (based on published studies) putting cell phones on the list of carcinogens, the list also includes: pesticides such as DDT and gasoline engine exhaust.

    Smartphones may cause infertility: numerous researches on mice, rats, and men have found a link between cell phones and sterility. Studies have shown how phones that aren’t powered up can cause damage, too. Smartphones and tablets are a germ magnet, that’s a big issue for many hospitals.

    According to a study of the American Journal of Infection Control, cell phones carried by patients and visitors to hospitals were nearly twice as likely to carry pathogens as the mobile phones of health workers. Patients’ phones also showed higher rates of multidrug-resistant bacteria, including methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Damage to the eyes, hearing damage, disturb  of the natural hormone for sleep are other smartphone’s use’s consequences.

    In October 2012, the Italian High Court granted an Italian businessman (Innocente Marcolini) a pension for occupational disease, as they found a causal link to mobile phones and cordless phones, that the businessman had used for six hours a day during twelve years.

    The case is described in “Get It Out Of Your Head”, a book written by the Italian journalist Riccardo Staglianò. The writer underlines the frustration that comes not only from several cases of disease, but also from many scientists’ indifference caused by conflicts of interest. They speak about the non-risk of radio waves, contradicting their previous studies, due to their relationships with corporations, telephone companies and media.

    These professionals’ neutrality should be questioned. Are there too many economic interests behind the fact that cell phones and cordless phones industries haven’t decided to put on the package “harmful to health” yet? The main antidote would be the recognition of scientific knowledge in defense of health and the environment, which requires the participation and awareness of everyone.

     

    The gLAWcal Team
    Friday, March 28, 2014
    (Source: The Guardian)


     

  • NHS: A RESIDENCE-NON CITIZENSHIP-BASED SYSTEM

    The NHS provides medical care in United Kingdom without discrimination between countries. In fact, even if each state has a separate funding and administration, there is no discrimination when a resident of one country of the United Kingdom requires treatment in another. It includes free treatments for emergencies, short and long term hospitalization, specialized assistances such as dental services and ophthalmology.  

    The treatment of people not resident in the United Kingdom is mostly subject to uniform arrangements made by or delegated to the UK Department of Health, rather than any individual health service.

    Britain spends far less on health care than the United States. It’s 9.3 percent of GDP in Britain compared to 17.9 percent in US. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States spends a higher portion of its gross domestic product on health care every year than any other country.

    Higher prices and  massive use of expensive medical technology are the causes of that spending (in line with the analysis authored by David Squires of the Commonwealth Fund - a New York based group that supports independent health-care research).

    Not every NHS treatment in England is free: non-UK residents will also be charged for hospital treatments and overseas visitors to the UK may be charged for some treatments (NHS is a residence - not citizenship - based system). In fact, last year, Prime Minister David Cameron said that NHS is a free National Health Service, not a free international health service.

    After falling off a horse, Frances Stead Sellers (the Washington Post's editor for health-science-environmental coverage) was hospitalized in UK:  the bill came to be £3,464 ($5,572.54).

    The $5,572.54 British bill might have been more expensive in US, because of higher prices and greater use of more expensive medical technology. So, she realized how fortunate she was to have received the care that Britain provides for all its people, even if she didn’t expect to be billed.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 27 March 2014

    (Source: Washington Post)

  • AMERICAN HOSPITALS: ONE IN 25 PATIENTS HAS AN INFECTION ACQUIRED DURING THE CARE

    Health promotion is a core dimension of quality in hospital services, along with patients’ safety and clinical effectiveness. With the rise in diseases, the provision of health promotion services has become an important factor for sustained health, quality of life and efficiency.

    Many hospitals argue that health promotion is not their duty, but the concept goes much further than traditional health promotion. Hospitals are obviously not the main agents in health promotion but as institutions with a large number of workers and service users, they can reach a large section of the population and, as centers of modern medicine, research and education that accumulate much knowledge and experience they can influence professional practice in other centers and social groups.

    The CDC’s 2011 overview of 183 American hospitals showed that an estimated 648,000 patients suffered 721,000 infections: such as pneumonia, surgical site infections, gastrointestinal infections, urinary tract infections and bloodstream infections (according to the New England Journal of Medicine’s study). 75,000 of them died, even if it is impossible to understand from the data how many deaths could be ascribed to the acquired infection.

    Even if in 2009 the infection rate declined (compared to the results of 2007), CDC is fighting a battle against this serious problem, because people go to the hospital to recover themselves: unfortunately it doesn’t happen very often, one in 25 patients in U.S. hospitals has an infection acquired during his or her care.

    The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the problem is related to the antibiotic usage in hospitals. A proposed White House budget contains $30 million (the money would be available in fiscal year 2015) for antibiotic stewardship programs, considered a key step in reducing the threat of antibiotic resistance and also of infections.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 27 March 2014

    (Source: Washington Post)

  • EGYPT: FOR THE FIRST TIME A DOCTOR WILL BE PROSECUTED TO HAVE PERFORMED A FGM

    The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that, universally, about 140 million girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM). The partial or total removal of external female genitalia, such as clitoridectomy, excision, infibulations, ispracticed in 28 African countries, parts of  Asia and the Middle East. FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. FGM is usually done on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, occasionally on adult women. The practice is often motivated by cultural, religious and social convinctions within families and communities.

    It constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the children’s rights. The practice also violates a person's rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and the right to life when the procedure results in death.

    In Egypt, Dr. Raslan Fadl will face trial for performing - at a private clinic - a female circumcision operation that killed a teenage girl in 2013. Although banned in 2008, female genital mutilation is still rampant in Egypt, especially in rural areas where many believe it is part of their faith.

    The support for the practice is slowly falling down, but FGM still has a high consent in areas with a lower standard of education.
    More than 18% of the globally FGM is performed by health care providers and the trend towards medicalization is increasing. According to UNICEF, 91% of married Egyptian women aged between 15 and 49 have been subjected to FGM, 72% of them by doctors.

    It's the first time that somebody in Egypt will be prosecuted for this crime, because most cases don’t get to the attention of the prosecutor, unless the girl suffers health consequences. It should be a lesson for every clinician, Suad Abu-Dayyeh, Equality Now's regional representative said.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 26 March 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • WHO ALARMING DATA. AIR POLLUTION CAUSES THE DEATH OF 7 MILLION PEOPLE EVERY YEAR

    The World Health Organisation has release a shocking report:about 7 million people are killed by air pollution every year and half of these fatalities are caused by the fumes of indoor stoves.

    The research highlights that air pollution has become the biggest environmental health risk, determining about one in eight deaths.

    Without a doubt, it is impossible to live without breathing. In this way it is very difficult to try to avoid the negative effects of pollution. Irritation due to tiny particles that gets into the lungs is now one of the main negative effects of air pollution. In addition, the report shows how the air pollution may be the cause of problems such as heart inflammation heart, chronic problems or heart attacks.

    WHO has indicated that about 4.3 million deaths in 2012 were caused by indoor air pollution, for example by the use of wood and coal stoves, and other  3.7 million deaths were determined by outdoor air pollution in 2012. What is also significant is that about 90 per cent of these events happened in developing countries. Moreover, research has explained that many people were exposed to both kind of pollution.

    The new data are more than twice as big as the previous figures, thanks to better information about the effects of pollution on health and to stringent detection methods. Recently the WHO's cancer agency has defined the air pollution as a real carcinogen, explaining the link between dirty air and lung and bladder cancer.

    Furthermore, the WHO research reveals that women and children are mainly at risk, they pay the heaviest price because they spend a lot of time at home, thus breathing smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood stoves.

    In this frame, experts have higlighted that it is essential to undertake control measures to oppose the negative consequences of pollution. Governments have the important aim to cut pollution levels with instruments, such as legislation.

    One of the measures that have been proposed is to move power station far from big cities and also to propose cheap alternatives to indoor wood and coal stoves. In the same way, people could also reduce the daily impact of pollution on their health chosing smaller roads or avoiding to travel in rush hours.

    Some measures have already been taken, like the use of face masks in big cities as Beijing and Tokyo, but they don't represent an adequate solution to such an alarming problem. Also the use of masks could suggest the wrong message. We can't live and coexist with pollution accepting its negative results, but we all have to change our lifestyle in order to achieve better conditions and live reducing the polluting impact on health.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 26 March 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

     

  • MOROCCO: 2015 MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS- IMPROVE MATERNAL HEALTH

    Morocco is one of the 9 countries in WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region to have adopted a national plan to accelerate progress on maternal and child health. The government has placed high priority on safe motherhood in recent years and has devoted substantial attention and funds to its national health plan.

    The Moroccan plan, launched by the Moroccan Minister of Health (Dr El Houssaine Louardi) and WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region (Dr Ala Alwan) on 13 November 2013 in Rabat, is really close to the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs 4 and 5) deadline. This plan is going to make a real difference for women and children who live in areas of the country where the implementation of the health services is lacking.

    In Morocco, the most important causal factor related to maternal death remains poor access to care. More than half of maternal deaths are associated with substandard care in hospitals.

    The Moroccan plan addresses regions that have lower coverage for maternal and child health services due to difficulties in having access to health services in remote areas and a scarcity of trained health workers. It aims to raise mothers’ and children’s access to high-quality services at hospitals.

    The level of sub-optimal care in hospitals is alarming and the commitment of practitioners is essential to improve the quality of care. The plan permits free services, better equipment and infrastructure, trained health workers.

    Communities will be involved as an interface between the population and health services and transportation systems will be improved, so that pregnant women can travel safely from home to hospital, and those with complications will be able to get caesarean sections.

    The taken measures  include investments in health facilities at all levels, supply of essential drugs, the availability and skills of doctors and midwives, and the development of procedures for ensuring quality of care and managing obstetric complications.

    The challenge is to ensure continued provision of material resources to facilities and continue to improve health workers’ skills to ensure high quality care. It’s essential to create a balance between primary health care facilities and maternity hospitals to ensure rational provision of routine and emergency obstetric care.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 26 March 26, 2014

    (Source: WHO)

  • SUPPORT OF THE UK GOVERNMENT TO SHALE GAS EXPLOITATION TO ACHIEVE ENERGY DEPENDENCE

    The UK Prime Minister David Cameron has again re-emphasized policy of support to the development of shale gas industry in UK, underlining the lack of a full understanding of the phenomenon at the base of the opposition to this policy.

    Energy security is one of the most significant geopolitical challenges of our time.

    Cameron has highlighted that the use of shale gas reserves could significantly reduce the European reliance on exports from Russia.

    The current Ukraine crisis has shown that it’s very urgent and fundamental for Europe to find alternative sources of energy, also in light of Russia’s great influence  on oil and gas supplies for the continent.

    According to Cameron’s view, UK will become more energy-independent with the exploitation of shale gas reserves. Moreover, functioning shale gas wells will be able to address people’s worries about shale gas effects, directly involving the local communities, showing them that shale gas could be a good technology for the country and explaining the correct process of fracturing and its results.

    The European Union has affirmed its intention to create astronger policy for energy security, in the wake of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

    According to this, the UK government has specified its aim to achieve the energy independence and to complete the goal of better conditions for a single energy market, important for Europe's global competitiveness.

    Although Britain is not totally reliant on Russian gas, some countries are almost 100% reliant on Russian reserves. To reach this objective, the UK government has also pointed up that many areas as in south-east Europe and potentially in Poland and the Baltic states have good quantity of this unconventional gas.

    Dependence on foreign energy is a broader challenge that, as in the case of Ukraine, can have very tangible consequences for  Europe.

    In relation to this, Cameron has indicated that the energy independence and the use of  different sources of energy is an absolute primary aim in the agenda, in order to reduce Europe's high energy-dependency rates.   

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 26 March, 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • EZEKIEL J. EMANUEL: “THE END OF EMPLOYER-SPONSORED INSURANCE”

    During the Second World War, employers were limited in giving employees raises, so many decided to reward workers with heavily subsidized health care instead.
    Employer-sponsored health insurance is paid for by business on behalf of their employees as part of an employee benefit package. The average employer costs for health benefits vary by firm size and occupation.

    Most of the private (non-government) health coverage in the US is employment-based, all large employers in America offer group health insurance to their employees.

    Even though workers are paid less than they would be, because of the cost of insurance premiums to the employer, employer-sponsored health insurance offers a number of benefits to workers, such as reduced income taxes and economies of scale.

    Ezekiel J. Emanuel, who now teaches health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, helped to draft the Affordable Care Act. He expects the law to produce an unexpected change: a decrease in the number of employers who offer coverage to their workers.

    For the moment, 60 per cent of private-sector workers get health care from employers (the employer-provided insurance market currently serves an estimated 149 million people), but Mr. Emanuel thinks that the percentage of private-sector workers who receives health care from employers will fall below 20 percent by 2025.

    Although companies with 50 per cent or more workers have to pay a penalty of $2,000 per employee in case they do not provide health care, many large companies spend far more than that to ensure coverage. As a result, Mr. Emanuel sustains that they will be able to pay the penalty, give workers a raise and send them to the public exchanges.

    His previous colleagues in the White House assert that companies will continue to consider health coverage as a competitive way for attracting the best employees.

    It’s not to be ruled out that the employer-sponsored health insurance’s disadvantages include disruptions related to changing jobs, the regressive tax effect and increased spending on healthcare. In fact, Mr. Emanuel said that replacing employer-based health insurance and programs like Medicare would improve efficiency and provide cost control for the health-care system.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, 24 March 2014

    New York Times

  • UN WARNS OF ‘WATER-ENERGY’ CRISIS

    In conjunction with special events sponsored for the World Water Day on March 22, the UN has published a report shining a light on the critical issue of fresh water resources and its links with energy. The 2014 World Water Development Report (WWDR) states indeed that the growth of population and economy in the developing world will cause a double crunch in demand for water and energy in the coming decades.

    Forecasting that water use for energy will rise to 20% by 2035 and global water demandis likely to increase by 55% by 2050, the reports highlights the close connection between water and energy.

    The increasing need for energy will almost entirely come from countries outside the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and especially from the growing economies of China, India and Middle Eastern countries.

    "Demand for fresh water and energy will continue to increase over the coming decades to meet the needs of growing populations and economies, changing lifestyles and evolving consumption patterns, greatly amplifying existing pressures on limited natural resources and on ecosystems" the report says.

    According to the UN, about 90% of energy production today uses water-intensive techniques and many issues are associated with the less conventional oil and gas production - including tar sands, fracking and biofuels - which requires large amounts of water. The report thus calls for smart and coordinated solutions within the energy sector - which is more politically influenced - and the water industry, since, as the director general of UNESCO explains, “there will be no sustainable development without better access to water and energy for all.”

    Even if some important results have already been achieved - as the realization of the millennium development goal to have the amount of people without access to improved water sources - "the overall picture is one of a major divide: abundance, even excess for some, yet scarcity, or even complete absence of safe water for others. Those on the wrong side of the divide face a daily struggle," the report says.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Saturday, 22 March 2014

    (Source: the  Guardian)

  • DIMINUTION OF WORKING POVERTY GETS STUCK

    Working poverty has drastically fallen worldwide over the last decade, but progress stalled in 2013. Last year, an estimated 375 million workers lived on  less than US$ 1.25 a day, compared to 600 million in the early 2000s, which is,on average, a 12 percent drop per year. Although this is a considerable achievement, progress stalled in 2013, as the number of workers in extreme poverty decreased by only 2.7 percent globally.

    Based on the definition of International Labour Organization (ILO), vulnerable employment is the sum of own-account workers and contributing family workers. The recent trend reached a peak in vulnerable employment, as the number of this type of workers expanded by 1 percent in 2013, well above the 0.2 percent growth rates during the years prior to the financial crisis.


    The urgent problem is that for many people in the developing world, vulnerable and informal jobs represent the only working opportunity. Moreover, in most of the cases, low wages, limited job security, poor working conditions and little or no social protection are incorporated in those jobs by definition.

    “Bringing more workers out of informality remains crucial in order to improve working conditions and generate tax revenues that governments need to strengthen social welfare systems. In this regard, further reductions in working poverty will be tightly linked to declining rates of informality,” the ILO’s Research Department’s report says.

    In spite of the regional differences, informal payment is far-flung in most developing countries. The most distressed area is South-East Asia, where informality rates are especially high,  reaching 90 percent of total employment in some countries. Despite the progress achieved in reducing poverty, the incidence of informal employment is likely to develop an impediment on the sustainable reduction of poverty.

    As a consequence, the creation of decent jobs in these areas is essential and should be prioritized. It should be a part of the development agenda’s core when the international community constitutes the New Development Goals for the post-2015 period. Reducing employment vulnerability and informality are the key aspects to surmount poverty in a sustainable way.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, 24 March , 2014

    (Source: ILO.org)

  • RENEWABLE ENERGY REVOLUTION. HOW TO CREATE ENERGY FROM LAKES AND RIVERS

    A revolutionary system that could cut household bills by 20 per cent has been presented: millions of homes could be heated by a carbon-free technology taking energy from lakes and rivers.

    In the frame of insecurity caused by the current Russian situation, and also related to UK renewable energy policy, this innovative system has been described by the Energy Secretary  as a challenge.

    This new system employs water-sourced heat pumps and will procure hot water for houses. It has been estimated that 500 tons of carbon emissions will be cut every year.

    The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has shown that any body of water, including tidal rivers and standing water such as reservoirs and lakes, can be used as long as they are in the open and heated by the Sun. 

    The goal of the Government is to create 4.5 million heat pumps across Britain, using both heat from air as well as water. Scientists have thus described this program as a combination of heat pumps and low carbon electricity and as the future of building heating.

    This will represent the first system of this kind on a large scale: water-source heat pumps have been used on individual domestic level in Japan and Scandinavia, although they did not generated sufficient hot water for everyday use.

    This zero-carbon technology will be developed at first in south London. The government has decided to allocate subsidies for domestic renewable heat production, the so called "renewable heat incentives". In this way, the costs for this kind of program could be lower.

    In this system, the water will be drawn from two metres below the surface of the Thames, where thanks to the Sun is kept at around 8C to 10C all year round. The water will be filtered twice and led through a pump, where the low-grade heat is harvested by heat exchangers, while the cooler water is pumped back into the river. The heat exchangers transfer the heat to a series of condensers, which boost the 8C to 10C heat to 45C hot water using a process of reverse refrigeration. This will be used to heat domestic water for nearby homes, and a small amount of electricity will be used to power the system.

    The Energy Secretary  explains how this innovation, using renewable heat from the River Thames, could reduce the Britain’s future reliance on gas. Moreover this new development will represent a strategic challenge to safeguard the security of UK and Europe energy sources, an urgent need as shown by Ukraine’s crisis these days.

    The main aim is to conciliate energy security and action on climate change. This constitute a long-term objective, to achieve the reduction of carbon emissions and the reliance on imported fossil fuels.

    This strategy is also linked to the current policy about the freezing of the carbon tax on energy-intensive industries.

    According to the Government’s aim, climate change action and renewable policy represent the main goal to achieve, related to the EU tasks of climate and environment protection.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, 24 March, 2014

    (Source: The Indipendent)

  • IMPROVING THE CANADIAN PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE

    The health care system in Canada, for the most part publicly founded, covers basic services, including primary care physicians and hospitals,  but there are many services that are not covered. These include things like dental services, optometrists, and prescription medications. Most of Canadians have some form of supplementary private health insurance, which are usually offered as part of employee benefit packages in many companies.

    Health-care economists say that about 60 per cent of Canadians are covered by private health insurance for health-care services such as prescription drugs.
    Michael Law, author of the study of the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, has observed a change in the gap between the premiums people paid and the benefits that got paid back to them: Canadians were paying  a dollar and getting 92 cents back in 1991, they were paying a dollar and getting 74 cents in 2011.
    These costs are basically handed down to Canadians directly through higher premiums or indirectly through lower salaries, which means the increasing inefficiency of private health insurance.

    Health Insurance Association said that there would be more pressure on scarce public resources without private insurance coverage. In fact, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information,  Law’s team continues to view  private health coverage as a crucial support, particularly for prescription drugs, dentistry and optometry.

    Governments should improve the situation: substitute private insurance with more efficient public alternatives, or impose new regulations on the private insurance sector. The U.S. can provide a good model (Obamacare), Americans are now actually doing better than Canadians in terms of how much they're getting back out of their health insurance plan, Law said.
     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, 25 March 2014

    (Source: CBC)

  • THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN: NEXUS BETWEEN FRACKING AND THE USE OF WATER

    US EXPERIENCE CAN SHOW US THE WAY TO FOLLOW

    Nowadays the fracking industry is experiencing a widespread development, especially in US. For this industry water represents a key resource, at the same time raising debates for its crucial role.

    The theme of fracking and its impact is often mentioned by media, but is still uncertain and not well understood by policymakers, the business community, and other stakeholders who are affected by the industry's widening presence.

    While countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East are analyzing their shale energy resources’ viability, issues as water sourcing and pollution still represent an increasing problem for the environment and the industry’s viability, too.

    Data shows that more than 60% of the countries with the largest shale oil and gas reserves as China and South Africa are placed in areas with medium to extremely high competition for water resources.

    In this frame, oil and gas companies, regulators and NGOs can learn from the US shale gas experience

    First of all, the main question is related to the use of limited water resources for the fracturing process. Secondly, the risks of surface and groundwater contamination from surface accidents, and spills and poor wastewater management play a significant role. The specific location, the sources and the competing uses of water highly influence the importance of these matters.

    The fracking industry has rapidly developed in the US. Despite stringent regulation about shale gas and oil, water use effect represents a central  theme, above all in arid areas with competition for limited water.

    In this way, the questions of the industry’s interest should be related to the needed quantity  of water and its origin, and trying to find a way to recycle it. Moreover important issues should be related to the use of alternatives sources and, most important, to the impact on local hydrology and also to the effects on water users. Recent researchers highlight challenges from the US experience that regulators and stakeholders can learn from.

    Fracking and subsequent oil and gas extraction produces a great volume of contaminated wastewater, so disposal represents a key question. In the US, most of the wastewater returning to the surface is released into streams after treatment, injected into federally regulated disposal wells or recycled, a popular strategy due to its low cost.

    In UK and EU, the coexistence of the EU directives and the possibility of an "unconventional fuels directive" may preclude such low cost and speedy disposal of large quantities of oil and gas wastewater. In addition to this, another significant challenge is the loss of groundwater resources: studies have shown that groundwater levels are falling and that recharging those aquifers can take years. Moreover,  localised impacts are another concern: in the US the actual extraction is well concentrated in some counties, avoiding the dispersion of sites.

    Thanks to the US example, co-operation to scale and increase regional recycling operations and using non-potable water resourcesmanagement about differences in site geology and hydrology represent the way to follow and the objectives to achieve.

    In conclusion, as the fracking industry is globally expanding its presence, it is essential that water security continue to stay under the spotlight  as a precious commodity for everyone to preserve.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, 25 March, 2014

    (Source: the Guardian)

  • CLIMATE CHANGE ALARM: WORSENING OF CHINA’S ENVIRONMENT

    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that Asia is now facing an alarming water crisis.

    The increase of water demand due to rising populations and living standards will add the current scarcity of fresh water for large portions of Asia.

    Researchers focus on the adaptation and vulnerability to the climate change, that will worsen all aspects of life in China.

    In the frame of a growing population and an expanding water withdrawal, the decrease of  rainfall and snowfall will intensify water scarcity, especially in northern China.

    Scientists say that warming temperatures will affect rice and other crops . Data shows how the most vulnerable regions will be western Japan, eastern China, the southern part of the Indochina peninsula and the northern part of south Asia.

    On the other hand, warmer nighttime temperatures and higher precipitation could increase winter wheat yields in some areas; however maize yield could decrease by 25% by the 2080s in the North China Plain. According to reports, Asia’s population will increase by 1.4 billion and will represent over 50% of the global population: in this field climate change will exacerbate effects of rapid urbanisation, industrialisation and economic development.

    Flood risk will play a central role. A large number of people in Asia lives in low elevation coastal zones that are particularly at risk from climate change hazards, including sea-level rise, storm surges, and typhoons. Moreover,  many Asian cities are threatened by events  such as cyclones with high risks for people and infrastructure.

    Health experts highlight that climate change will deteriorate drinking-water quality, with a consequent increasing of diseases such as dengue fever and malaria. Flooding could be also the main cause of contamination of urban water supplies. Vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, children, and poor people will be the first to be hit by the effects of warmer temperatures.

    Scientists explain the consequences of climate change on ecosystems.  Shifts in the timing of blooming, growth rates and the distributions of plant species are just some of the negative impacts of climate change on territorial system. In this way, scientists report significant changes not only in seasons but also on the complete surrounding environment.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, 21 March , 2014

    (Source: Chinadialogue)

  • HEALTHCARE.GOV: THE GOAL IS TO REACH SIX MILLION SIGN-UPS BY THE END OF MARCH

    The White House is pushing young people to buy health coverage trough Healthcare.gov, a health insurance exchange website organized by the United States federal government under the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The exchange facilitates sale of private health insurance plans to residents of the United States and offers subsidies to those who earn less than four times of federal poverty line.

    The website also assists people who are eligible to sign up for Medicaid, and has a separate market place for small businesses. The deadline to sign up for coverage is the last day of March. The subjects of this propaganda, promoted also by Denis R. McDonough (the White House chief of staff and a foreign policy expert), are -especially- young people (African-Americans and Latinos). In fact, the portal shows young people the benefitsof health insurance, thanks to videos and interviews of superstars and athletes.

    Insurance companies need healthy people as customers in order to keep premiums reasonable for everyone; this is the reason why the goal is to reach young men and minorities, with a particular focus on Hispanic and black youths - two important groups that are more likely to be underinsured - throughmedia interviews on popular black and Hispanic radio programs.

    Michelle Obama, the first lady, persuaded people to sign up in an appearance at a health center in a black neighborhood in Miami;  Obama asked the Pastors to do whatever they could do to urge members of their churches to sign up. The original evaluation of signing up was seven million people, but officials have reshaped it to six million. However, more than one million sign-ups will be needed to reach the reduced goal by the end of March.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, 21st March 2014

    (Source: New York Times)

  • PROPOSAL TO CREATE FRACK-FREE ZONE TO PROTECT UK ENVIRONMENT

    Conservation groups suggest to create "frack-free zones" to protect the environment from shale gas extraction, to preserve rivers from pollution and valuable wildlife sites.

    The report commissioned by the National Trust shows how more than 500 sites designated by the government for their importance to wildlife are located within areas currently under licence to fracking companies and others will be affected in the next licensing round. The question about the hydraulic fracturing or fracking is quite controversial because there is little knowledge about its full consequences on underground or surface waters in UK.

    The technique of fracking involves pumping sand, chemicals and water underground to extract shale gas trapped in rocks. An alarming result of this practice could be the contamination of water and ground due to the leakages of methane caused by the failure. Shale gas extraction could add to the current problems of water pollution.

    Moreover, this situation highlights a lack of regulation on shale gas exploitation calling for a more stringent control on industries. Researchers say that commercial-scale fracking would threaten wildlife and the water environment.

    They report the lack of significant government decision to face these risks, with a great impact on climate, countryside and wildlife. For these reasons they suggest to create protected wildlife areas, nature reserves and national parks, to safeguard the environment from pollution caused by fracking, as was reported in the US.

    Although UK government says that current laws are strong enough to address the risk, there are special favours  granted to the industry, including tax breaks, a quick route through the planning process and no requirement to take out insurance against pollution that make easier for industry to surpass environmental rules.

    To address these critiques, the chief executive of the UK On Shore Operators Group proved  how US has managed to cut emissions and energy prices maintaining investment in low-carbon technologies such as renewables and increasing investment in manufacturing industries.

    Environmental friendly groups specify that the use of water in the UK shale gas industry could worsen pressure on rivers and wetlands, threatening also fish populations. The only way to avoid these risks is to strengthen the environmental protection and regulatory frameworks before the water pollution and groundwater contamination become irreversible.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 19 March 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • REPUBLICANS STRUGGLE TO FIND CONSENSUS FOR HEALTH CARE LEGISLATION

    Finding a better approach to develop healthcare than Obamacare. Senior House Republicans are planning to test ideas in April at town-hall-style.

    Republicans say they have listened to Americans in order to find an efficient way to improve the federal health care and replace the Affordable Care Act. Three proposals appear in all of the bills: expanding tax-free health savings accounts to help individuals pay for private health insurance, augmenting federal or state “high-risk pools” where people with pre-existing medical conditions could seek insurance with government assistance and allowing small businesses to pool together to purchase health plans.

    Many of the bills also include provisions limiting medical malpractice suits and judgments; guaranteeing renewal of health plans when people change jobs, regardless of their health; and allowing people to purchase insurance plans across state lines.

    They are keen to propose these projects in April at town-hall-style, because the “House ObamaCare Accountability Project” is still far from achieving the form of a concrete legislation. It’s not to be ruled out that, without the consensus of Democrats and Conservative Republicans, it will be difficult to reach a reform plan.

    Representative Kevin McCarthy of California thinks it’s essential to find a better approach to develop healthcare than Obamacare, but Representative Tim Griffin- Republican of Arkansas- say that it’s not a choice between Obamacare and nothing, it’s –in fact- necessary to discuss about several concrete proposals in order to find an agreement. Republicans believe that their ideas could really help health care consumers, allowing them to save money and cut extra costs.

    Even if they are talking about reforms since they have taken control of the House in 2011, no improvements have been adopted yet: legislating on important issues has been evasive for House Republicans for years.

    Last April, the Democrats have declared that millions of Americans would be exposed to economic danger with the abrogation of the Affordable Care Act. The Republican solution: moving billions of dollars from Affordable Care Act to state-based high-risk pools for sick people seeking insurance. The spokesman for Mr. McCathey says that the goal should be to think in terms of portfolio, which is why Obamacare has failed.

     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 20 March 2014

    (Source: New York Times)

  • CHINA’S NEW PLAN TO REALIZE URANIUM - FREE NUCLEAR PLANTS

    China is planning a new program of nuclear power plants with the aim to cut its dependence on coal and to reduce the level of air pollution.

    The Chinese government has decided to hasten by 15 years the goal of reaching a new design for nuclear power plants using the radioactive element thorium instead of uranium, trying to reduce the number of coal-fired plants. Researchers from Shanghai have shown that China has to develop this program in 10 years, instead of 25. This would represent the creation of the world's first nuclear power plant of this kind.

    The government is now strongly interested in such program to address the alarming problem of smog and not only to face energy shortage as in the past, scientists say.

    In an effort to achieve the plan, the Chinese Academy of Sciences has recently created an advanced research centre to realize an industrial reactor using thorium molten salt technology.

    The World Nuclear Association’s data (WNA) shows that China has  20 nuclear plants in operation nowadays and is planning another 28 reactors, all uranium-fuelled. With the aim to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, China is importing large quantities of uranium.

    However  the WNA highlights that thorium is much more copious. The government is strongly supported the project; in this way nuclear power and thorium are  considered the best way to reach the planned aim.

    Scientists also indicate that the problem of coal has become too important: the country will be suffocated by polluted air if the energy consumption increases.

    According to this, China has a challenging nuclear-generation program with a plan to generate 60 gigawatts of nuclear energy by 2020 and up to 150gw by 2030.

    In this frame thorium plays a significant role. Although it is not widely known, many studies are now carried out all over the world.

    After the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, in Japan, some Chinese citizens are taking position against the nuclear program, calling for more security.

    To address this opposition, the national nuclear safety administration has guaranteed that the safety of China's nuclear power plants would be assured thanks to stronger controls in order to prevent similar event.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 20 March 2014

    (Source:the guardian)

  • BIOFUELS PRODUCTION INCENTIVES ARE PRESENTING MULTIPLE ECOLOGICAL PROBLEMS

    Thousands of hectares of the best land in Britain are being taken out of food production and used for gas instead.

    Biogas is produced by the anaerobic digestion of micro-organisms used to digest biodegradable materials such as food waste, sewage, animal manure and crops. Instead of leaving them to decay in the open air, releasing methane which contributes to global warming, they are used to produce energy.

    However, what in theory appears as a powerful solution, it has been presenting many problems. Far from tackling climate change, most biofuels emit the same amount of greenhouse gases of the fossil fuels they were designed to replace. What is more, incentives for the biogas industry are encouraging farmers to grow crops for biofuels production instead of food’s one. The main reason relies on the fact that purpose-grown crops are much more productive than animal manure.

    Since maize has a high productive yield per tonne in terms of biogas, it is regarded by the farming press as the biogas “core crop”. The area of arable fields taken out of food production and used for the growth of maize for biofuel production is expanding at a rapid pace (according to the National Farmers Union (NFU) in the UK it will rise to 125,000 hectares by 2020) and maize farming is damaging the fertility of the land and causing many ecological harms as loss of biodiversity, deforestation and soil erosion, among others.

    Particularly worrying is the fact that the UK government has not only decided not to apply stringent rules to maize’s growth but has also excluded maize from the rules - contained into the Guide to Cross Compliance in England, 2014 - which farmers must follow in order to receive their subsidies and which regulate other crops.

    For all these reasons, it seems necessary to forbid all purpose-grown crops and provide bigger subsidies for the conversion of waste into energy, in order to make biogas a practicable solution, even if that will imply some extra costs.

     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, 14 March 2014

    (Source: the  Guardian - George Monbiots blog)

  • PALMER UNITED PARTY SUPPORTS THE EXISTING RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET (RET)

    Zhenya Wang, Palmer United Party’s candidate in the Western Australian Senate, stated that "the renewable energy target (RET) must be maintained”, describing it as “the right scheme for maintaining and improving Australia’s environment”. PUP’s stance thus seems to undermine the attempt by the Abbott government to review the existing policy.

    The current review of the renewable energy framework associated with the carbon tax is headed by senior business and climate change skeptic Dick Warburton, supported by the former head of the agricultural research bureau Abare, Brian Fisher. They are releasing the Terms of Reference for a change into the Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme that will consider the contribution of the RET in reducing its impact on power prices.

    Among the renewable industry, a strong concern about the possible cut or even dumping of the RET scheme by the government is being raised. However, in order to do that the renewable energy framework has to be reviewed by legislation. The imminent Senate Election in Western Australiaon April 5 is particularly important since the result could potentially change the composition of the crossbench votes which the Abbott government needs to get the enactment of the RET reviews.

    Since the Labor Party, the Greens and the independent senator Nick Xenophon have already shown their support for renewables, Palmer United Party would use its influence on the balance of power in the Senate from July to obstruct Coalition plans of repeal to the RET policy and Wang’s statement suggests indeed that the possibility that changes to the RET would pass the upper house is very limited.

     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Tuesday, 18 March 2014

    (Source: the  Guardian)

  • CLIMATE CHANGE WILL REDUCE CROPS YIELDS: A PESSIMISTIC SCENARIO DEPICTED

    Researchers show how crops harvests will decrease due to climate change, threatening food security.

    A new study has shown that climate change will cut crops yields more than what was previously thought, threatening food security.

    Australian, British and American scientists explained that the situation will be worse in the second half of the century, especially for tropical areas. The research found that harvests, including maize rice and wheat, will drop by 2% each decade, based on a 2C rise by 2050. Moreover the situation for wheat and maize in tropical areas could worsen, with a decrease of 40%, if temperatures reach 5C warmer than pre-industrial levels.

    To address this alarming data, governments have established a target to limit the increase of temperature to 2C above pre-industrial levels. However scientists forewarn that the planet could experience a 4C or even 5C rise: the only way to face it is to drastically cut carbon dioxide emissions.

    Researchers advise that temperature levels and rainfall scenarios show how the current global situation is more serious than what was previously expected.

    Due to the increasing temperatures, crops yields will drop in future decades. These consequences will damage not only Maize, which is the most sensitive, but also wheat and rice grown in tropical regions.

    For these reasons, climate change will affect food supplies causing insecurity and great damages on rainfall patterns.

    Scientists suggest to change planting times and irrigation to address also the growth of consumption and population. This solution could determine the benefit of a 10-15% increase in global yields  providing food to 500 million to 1 billion people around the world.

    In this way, the adaption path is considered the best way to achieve a better climate than the one we currently have, reducing its impact on environment.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Wednesday, 19 March 2014
    (Source: the Guardian)

  • AAAS WARNS AGAINST IRREVERSIBLE CLIMATE CHANGE

    Curtail the burning of fossil fuels as our primary energy source and the release of C02 in the air, in order to avoid a climate catastrophe: the AAAS warns US to slow down their emissions.

    A few weeks ahead the meeting of the United Nations’ climate science panel, organized in Yokohama (Japan), where data about changes in rainfall and heat waves, sea level and the oceans, fisheries and food security will be shown, the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) has publicly suggested Americans to reduce their environmental impact, in order to avoid a climate catastrophe.

    The Association claimed that it’s very important for all American citizen to understand that their actions have serious consequences on climate change. Despite the warning, Americans do not seem to value the commitment of climate debate, and have yet to restrict the effects of climate warming, caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
    The society will commission some scientists to open a debate in order to avoid a climate catastrophe and control the risks of unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes.

    The rate of climate change is faster than in the past and may be increased in a future scenario, causing extreme weather events (8F rise), like 100-year floods, droughts, heat waves, large scale collapse of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, collapse of part of the Gulf Stream, loss of the Amazon rain forest, die-off of coral reefs, and mass extinctions.
    As the scientists said, it is necessary to reduce the burning of fossil fuels as our primary energy source and releasing the C02 in the air, otherwise the risks of such events would have strong disruptive impacts on earth, entailing irreversible changes in the climate system.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Wednesday, March 19, 2014
    (Source: The Guardian)

  • CONTROVERSIAL DAMNS PLANNED IN INDIA

    A plan to build 160 dams in India could represent an important asset for India's development, but critics highlight the negative impact on environment and local culture.

    A plan to build 160 dams in the region of Assam, the northeastern part of India that is considered by politicians India’s future "powerhouse" and a turning point for the country's dam building program, and also in the mountainous state of Arunachal Pradesh, harnessing  the waters of the strong Brahmaputra river and its tributaries, has been recently announced.

    New Delhi has highlighted the benefit of the program: in total more than 60,000 MW of electricity will be generated from these dams.

    The issue of damn building is quite complex and also controversial. Critics indicate the negative effects that could be originated by planned dams due to particular geological and ecological factors, describing the alarming impact of climate change in the region. Data shows the increase in intense rainfall events that are accelerating the consequences of soil erosion and landslides in mountainous regions, affecting also the levels of temperature and glaciers.

    In addition to this, the Brahmaputra is a mighty, potentially violent river system:  waters rise dramatically during monsoon season, causing flooding, erosion and misery for thousands of mostly subsistence farmers, that have to face the consequences of this force of nature.

    Moreover experts discourage to plan dams in such a seismic area, as India is, in particular focusing on the geological structure of the Brahmaputra river basin.

    The Indian government strongly supports new dams because of the power that could be generated, reducing India's dependency on coal, a negative cause of pollution.

    Critics skeptically accuse the government that most of the power produced will be exported to other parts of India and not used to foster local industries.

    Last but not least, tribal concerns are playing an important role in the controversy: opponents say that indigenous people will be negatively influenced by dams establishment. Local culture will be laid on the line, with the increasing deforestation also threatening peculiar India’s most important wildlife habitats.

    The lack of adequate plans, due to the absence of specific deals on managing the Brahmaputra's waters denounced by opponents resulted in an increase of protests about dams.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Tuesday, 18 March 2014
    (Source : The Guardian)

  • PROGRESSIVE ATTITUDE TOWARDS AGRICULTURAL BUSINESS AID IN TIMOR-LESTE

    An East-timorian experiment shows how an International Labour Organization (ILO) project can contribute to the improvement of the farming practices of local communities, help developing their market access, create jobs and facilitate the establishment of small and medium-sized enterprises.

    Maubisse, a small sub-district in southwest Timor-Leste, benefits from natural resources and suitable weather conditions which makesit a perfect place for vegetable production. Cool climate, high rainfall levels and fertile soil are the essential farming factors that characterize this area.

    Growing vegetables haven always been the main way of sustenance in this sub-district of about 22,000 dwellers. People have been working on this land for generations, and now it has become  possible for them to enjoy a stable flow of income from farming. As one local farmer emphasized it, "We no longer need to go and find money. Money finds us!"

    However, this process did not look so rosy a few years ago. Farmers faced several problems when trying to sell their vegetables. In spite of generations of farming experience, agricultural workers were fettered by limited market access, obsolete practices and the lack of agricultural supplies, which made earning a living harder.

    However, due to the collaboration between local farmers and a horticulture company, called Josephina Farm, the situation began to change in May 2012. Within the confines of a program launched by the company, vegetable seeds were provided and novel techniques were taught by the company which, moreover, showed how people can grow organic vegetables and make organic compost. Among other benefits, they helped farmers during harvest time and paid them on-site while delivering the vegetables directly to supermarkets to be sold.

    As a consequence, now the range of products is diversified, the income of farmers has increased and has become predictable. Additional improvements can be detected, for instance, the level of education has become higher. This remarkable transition could not have been accomplished without the support of the International Labour Organization. The ILO established a partnership with the government-run Institute for Business Support and founded the Business Opportunities and Support Services project. This project runs together with the Irish Aid and New Zealand Aid Programme, which facilitates the improvement of economic development in rural areas, the creation of quality employment for local people and the development of small and medium-sized companies.

    This project could become exemplary and contribute to an emerging model of aid policy, as the achievements are considerable and definitely could serve as an example for a fair and decent life in poor areas.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Tuesday, 18 March 2014
    (Source: ILO.org)

  • CULTURAL HERITAGE: RESTORING THE TRUE IDENTITY

    Spain’s success in recovering part of its national heritage from a private company is just one example of last decade’s trend.

    The last decade has been characterized by a rising number of episodes of sunken archaeological treasures' plundering, driven by profit. To fight this phenomenon, the United Nations hosted a convention on protecting underwater cultural heritage in 2001, which was however met with lukewarm enthusiasm, as the ratification by only 15 states worldwide testifies.

    One of the biggest cases of archaeological plundering happened in 2007, when a commercial operation from Florida, Odyssey Marine Explorations, managed to haul tons of gold and silver from a ship considered to be the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes galleon, a Spanish vessel sunk by the British fleet near the coast of Portugal in 1804. The company claimed ownership of the finding, prompting the quick reaction of Spain, which announced legal actions, affirming a sovereign nation's right over its cultural heritage. After a five-year court battle,a U.S. federal judge awarded the treasure to Spain in February 2012 and ordered Odyssey Marine to relinquish the treasure to Spanish authorities, on the ground that the ship remained the property of Spain.

    The case, however, was interesting also because many suggested a possible intervention by Peruvian authorities, under the ground that the gold was mined in the country's mines during the Spanish conquest of South American. While technically Peru was not independent in 1804 (just a part of Spanish Empire), other episodes suggested that such a course of action could be undertaken, claiming that the Spanish had taken the gold by force and without the consent of the local population. In 2005, the Italian government returned to Ethiopia the 1,700-year-old Axum obelisk, stolen during the Fascist regime; moreover, it promised to return a second-century Roman statue of Venus to Libya, where it was pillaged during the Italian occupation.
     
    Spain’s success in court will probably pave the way to several State-based claims, hoping to restore invaluable parts of their national heritage, which was either lost for centuries underwater or pillaged by other nations during the wars of the Modern Age.
     

    The gLAWcal Team
    Friday,14 March 2014
    (source: the New York Times)

  • CHINESE WAR ON POLLUTION

    Alarming data show how widespread pollution is affecting China.

    Thinking about Beijing,  the first image that comes to mind these days is a smog-wreathed Tiananmen Square or the iconic headquarters of China Central Television that dominated the reports of alarming levels of pollution in China.

    According to the reports, in Beijing citizens faced 60 days of pollution above emergency levels. This is considered a real “airapocalypse”.  Trying to face this emergency, people had to buy air purifiers and masks. Moreover the government authorities adopted restrictive measures to address pollution effects, including the destruction of open-air barbecues and a crackdown on fireworks for Chinese new year.

    However, Beijing is not the most polluted Chinese city.  Analysis shows shocking data: nine other Chinese cities suffered more days of severe smog than the capital in 2013.

    The worst situation was recorded for Xingtai, a city of more than 7 million people in the south-west of Beijing, which was hit by 129 days of unhealthy air , representing threshold at which pollution is considered at emergency levels.

    Researches demonstrate how widespread this problem really is. There are now millions of Chinese people living in cities with air pollution above emergency levels for a third of the year, while other urban areas have gone a whole 12-month period with a lack of enough days of good-quality air.

    Just a few days ago, under public pressure to reduce the air pollution that blankets Beijing and cities across China, the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang  “declared war on pollution" as part of a commitment to overhaul its unsustainable economic model, to achieve better conditions for health and environment.

    He described pollution as "nature's red-light warning against the model of inefficient and blind development”.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Friday,14 March 2014
    (source: the Guardian)

  • CAN GM CROPS ADDRESS UK RISK OF FOOD SUPPLY?

    UK's official science adviser suggested to rethink EU regulations on GM crops as a challenge to guarantee food supply for the future.

    "We take it for granted that because our supermarket shelves are groaning with food, there are no problems with the food supply, but there are". With these words, the UK government's chief scientific adviser has encouraged to modify the restricted EU regulations on GM crops that could put at risk future food supplies.

    David Cameron’s official science advisers suggested to change EU regulation for the use of GM crops as a forefront solution to face problems such as rising global population, limited farmland and climate change that are now the main threats for the UK food supply.

    According to extensive studies, science experts argued that genetically modified crops could be more nutritious than naturally produced and that there is no scientific evidence suggesting that such crops are dangerous to humans or the environment. Scientists could add nutrients to the genetic make-up of plants, making them even more beneficial to health.

    In this way, scientists recommended that farmers should start planting GM crops to strengthen secure future food supplies, creating a benefit to UK’s economy. Moreover, making plants more resistant to many types of diseases, will reduce the need for pesticides and will be positive for the environment.

    Even if only one GM crop has been approved in Europe since 1998, other regions are planting more GM crops each year. Most of the world's cotton and soy are genetically modified and other crops including papaya, maize and rapeseed are benefiting from this new technology.

    Scientists suggesting the use of GM crops highlight the contradictory fact that Europe has been significantly importing GM animal food, meaning that animals are safe eating GM food, unlike humans who don’t get this option.

    On the other hand, despite encouraging scientific reports that express the lack of risks for humans, part of the public opinion still have doubts about the benefits and the possible damages for health.

    To discourage this skepticism, scientific promoted a global strategy for agriculture to integrate the best of biotechnology with traditional elements, to account the needs of large and small farmers and to stay open-minded to address future problems of food supply in the specific climate situation of the UK.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Friday,14 March 2014
    (source The Guardian)

  • SHALE GAS RESTRICTIONS NOT INCLUDED IN NEW EU DIRECTIVE: SIGNS OF A SETBACK?

    The decision of excluding shale gas has raised different answers in the way to reduce the negative efforts of climate change on the environment

    On Wednesday, March 12th, the European Parliament approved a new Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)  that impose tougher rules for oil and conventional gas exploration to reduce the impact of climate change, in particular on biodiversity.

    This decision represents a significant headway in the fight of climate change’s negative efforts. It establishes specific rules on biodiversity and climate and imposes greater transparency in the procedure to facilitate public participation through the creation of a central portal and new rules on conflict of interest. Moreover, this new assessment creates penalties for violations of the rules resulting and a stronger limitation of the possibility of use exemptions.

    However this directive excludes the new restrictions on the imperativeness of environmental impact assessment on all systems of extraction and exploration of shale gas. Which is now one of the main themes within the debate on climate change.

    This proposal has been welcomed by the industry because it allows more flexibility and avoids unnecessary restrictions on the imminent projects.

    In the same way, Shale Gas Europe’s spokesman said that “Shale gas could potentially play an important role in meeting Europe’s acute energy challenges.”

    On the other hand, Green politicians disapproved immediately. The decision to leave out shale gas as a negative step backwards would not only open the way to the acceleration of the fracking process but would also be a great risk for health and the environment. In this sense, the environmental impact assessment procedure must be the absolute minimum at the forefront in the environment safeguard.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Thursday, 13 March 2014
    (source: the Guardian)

     

     

  • SHOULD CHINA'S RICH EMIGRANTS PAY A TAX TO ENJOY CLEANER AIR?

    It is questionable if rich emigrants fleeing from Chinese polluted cities should pay an environmental tax and if this situation could determine a real emigration-deficit.

    In China an increasing  trend of rich people that are fleeing from big cities and their pollution, searching for water safety, is being recorded. To address this tendency  Chen Guoen, a professor at Wuhan University, proposed to impose levy to rich emigrants, also encouraged in their choice by some investment-for-citizenship, due to the environmental effects of these leakages.

    Pollution and environmental problems have become the main reasons, especially for the middle class, to abandon the chaotic and crowded bigger cities to enjoy the cleaner air of smaller cities as Dali, Sanya and Weihai.

    The Chinese Academy of Governance’s Institute of Ecological Civilisation drew attention to the probable reversal of urbanization that could arise in the next few years if a large number of people decide to move from big cities to rural areas, as a preferable way of life to achieve wealth.

    These finding were supported by Chinese International Migration 2014, a report referring to a 2013 survey by New Fortune magazine, that has highlighted as pollution and healthcare factors were the most mentioned as the principal causes of emigration by the respondents. This study also has evidenced the significant difference in numbers of people who  are leaving and moving to China that could produce a real emigration deficit, with air pollution as main starting factor.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Wednesday, 12 March 2014
    (Source: Chinadialogue)

  • PROTECTING SYRIAN HERITAGE SITES: THE BLUE SHIELD BESEECHES OBAMA

    The feared allied intervention is Syria pushed many organizations to ask President Obama to ensure the safety of Syria's various cultural sites.

    During the most intense period of the Syrian Civil War, when the military intervention of Western powers was considered impending, many American and international organizations, spearheaded by the Blue Shield, asked president Obama to protect the country's archeological sites, considered to be some of the oldest on Earth. This group of organizations hoped to convince the President to issue an executive order that would force federal agencies to ensure that allied and rebel force would refrain from damaging any cultural site during the military assaults; some of the locations date back 6.000 years to the Neolithic Age, while others contain artifacts and remnants of buildings from Roman, Hellenistic, Hittite, Byzantine and Babylonian periods.

    The Blue Shield, which can be considered the equivalent of the Red Cross for the protection of cultural heritage worldwide and which was founded in 1954 during the Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property during Armed Conflict, underlined the richness and diversity of Syria's cultural heritage, from medieval religious sites to sculptures and Islamic manuscripts contained in museums and libraries. This valuable patrimony has been already been wounded and scarred since the beginning of the conflict, in 2011: last April, an internationally protected site at Ebla, in western Syria, featuring ancient tombs and 5,000-year-old cuneiform tablets, was occupied by rebels and turned into a stronghold, while looters entered the sites and raided them. Moreover, Unesco used satellite images to show how many sites in Aleppo had been ransacked and the artifacts contained were smuggled in the black market.

    The plea was not the first acknowledgement of the importance of cultural protection: ever since the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Defense Department began to integrate such goal with the normal training of American forces: war games that simulate battles on archaeological sites and decks of “cultural heritage awareness playing cards”that introduce soldiers to the ruins they might encounters during the campaigns are some of the techniques adopted.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Tuesday, 11 March 2014
    (Source: The New York Times)

  • WATER-SAVING PROJECTS IN CHINA: FINANCING INNOVATION IN INDUSTRIAL WATER

    To face the severe water scarcity crisis that China is experiencing,  International Finance Corporation (IFC) is developing and financing projects to save valuable freshwater, in particular in the textile sector to achieve the best industrial water efficiency.

    As a consequence of a rapid urbanization and a high climate change impact, China is experiencing a severe water scarcity crisis, in connection with the increase of environmental pollution of major river systems and lakes that determined a lack of good quality freshwater.

    In this alarming frame, International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of the World Bank Group, is playing an important role championing financing innovation to reach industrial water efficiency, also helping the private sector to address water risks, cut production costs, and grow sustainably.

    The first project developed by IFC concerns China’s textile sector that represent the 50% of the global production, and in particular focuses on the dyeing and printing (DAP) operations that can have great environmental  effects due to their intensive use of water and energy. To understand that impact we can just reflect that the textile DAP sector alone uses nearly 8 billion tonnes of freshwater .

    As measures to achieve these results IFC is trying to motivate factory managers to invest in this kind of projects to avoid the waste of water, with an approach aiming at combining the use of water and energy, as something that needs to be put in connection. IFC also persist that in this background is not only a question of changing technology and hardware but above all modifying attitude and mindset, to reach completely the goals for an energy-water nexus.

    In this way IFC had involved many global brand like Ikea and Adidas as some domestic companies to mark a significant turning point. The problem of water scarcity can’t be solved by a single institution so IFC is trying to reach out local government agencies, NGOs, financial institutions, and other interested stakeholders to improve the benefits of the water-saving projects, to carry on water efficiency initiatives, also with longer-term plans to expand the program into other water-intensive sectors in China.

    To explain the importance of the IFC programs we can refer to a project created for one of the largest Chinese producers of degummed ramie used as a raw material for high-grade textile products. Thanks to the new project the company will use an alternative technology based on enzymes able to save water, energy and chemicals, replacing the previous chemical-degumming process; in this way the company willimprove its metering systems, implement condensed water recycling, and modify its wastewater treatment plant as part of the factory upgrades. This innovation will save more than 6 million m3 of freshwater and avoid 30,000 tonnes of GHGs per year, in addition to a social advantage due to an increase of additional jobs for local ramie farmers.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Tuesday, 11 March 2014
    (source: Chinawaterrisk onine)

  • A BASTION FOR CULTURE: SAVING THE FUTURE BY PROTECTING THE PAST

    The 40th Anniversary of the World Heritage Convention saw Unesco increasing its efforts against the destruction of cultural heritage, which causes deeper wounds that it seems.

    Recent conflicts worldwide are severely endangering ancient locations, imbued with cultural importance, which are all Unesco World Heritage Sites: the city of Timbuktu, for example, has been occupied by Tuareg rebel forces, which opened fire near the city's Grand Mosque on multiple occasions. The monument shares this dreadful fate with the ancient citadel of Madiq and the surrounding villages in the North of Syria, where the civil war continues and such areas are often heavily bombed with explosive shells. Even though it may seem exaggerate to call for actions against cultural crimes in a period plagued by economical and geopolitical crises, the protection of the traditional heritage is strongly entwined with those problems: any attack against a cultural landmark of a certain society is an attack against its very identity, bringing the conflict to an escalation and making any hope for reconciliation much harder in the future, since the destruction of a particular site will be a constant visual reminder of the violences of the past. As such, positive actions need to be undertook now, while tension are high, in order to hope for a future and stable peace.

    Successful projects have been launched in the past, like the rebuilding (sponsored by Unesco) of the Old Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, destroyed during the war in the 1990s, or restoration of the Koguryo tombs complex in North Korea, supported by South Korea (a sensational event, considered the traditional hate running deep between the two bordering countries). The concept of shared responsibilities and cooperation is at the heart of World Heritage's notion itself, which stems from the international campaign to save the Nubian monuments and the Abu Simbel temples, launched in 1960. The symbolic meaning of this project was glaring: only a decade after the horrors of World War II, global solidarity saved a group of statues, pursuing a concept of fraternity through them.

    2012 marked the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention, which was met by Unesco with renewed intensity in its efforts to involve national and supranational actors in the fight for worldwide cultural protection, focusing in particular against pillaging and smuggling of cultural treasures. As such, Unesco increased its cooperation with national authorities, the World Customs Organization and Interpol, and the International Council of Museums, as well as auction houses.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Monday, March 10 2014
    (Source: the New York Times)

  • THE GROWTH OF CLEAN ENERGY

    In 2012, according to Eurostat, the production of clean energy represented half of the global energy produced by Europe, with France and Germany as leaders in the field. 

    The energy produced by the 28 Members amounted to 794 million tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe) with a preponderant role of nuclear energy that reached a 29% share. In this frame the clean energy production represented a 22% share, including the use of biomass, hydropower, geothermal energy, wind energy and solar energy.

    This represented an important outcome, in relation to the previous goal expressed by Europe to achieve the target of  27% of renewable energy by 2030, trying to reduce the gas emission levels of 1990. In this context France played a leading role and, together with  Germany, the UK, Poland  and the Netherlands, produced 64% of total energy in the EU in 2012.

    In particular France and Germany not only played the main role in Europe for the nuclear energy production, but also they were in the van for the renewable energy within other European states. To explain this situation we can just think that 19% of Europe’s renewable energy was developed only in Germany.

    As a positive consequence of this tendency in 2012 the consumption of  inland energy by 24 out of 28 member states had decreased, returning to the levels of  the early 1990s. Despite this positive feedback, the EU members dependence had not been eliminated standing at a level of 53%. Malta was still completely reliant, with an importing of its energy around a 100% share. In this sector the state that stood out was Denmark, that we could consider a net exporter of energy.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Monday, 10 March 2014
    (Source: The Climate Group)

  • 20 YEARS OF FAIR TRADE MOVEMENT IN THE UK: ACHIEVEMENTS MADE AND FURTHER STEPS NEEDED

    In order to remain relevant, Fair trade must return to its founding goals and make actions to challenge growing corporate power.

    It has been 20 years since the first Fair trade Foundation mark appeared in British stores. The founders could celebrate a certification system which fulfilled the early expectations. However, it is also time to reassess the results of one of the founding goals, namely how Fair trade has challenged corporate power.

    The fair trade mark has evolved during many campaigning years warning us that millions of people who make the products we consume earn starvation wages and work under shocking conditions. For the next generation fair trade symbolizes one aspect of a strive against an economic model dominated by a craving for profit which ignores the right to live in a decent world. Fair trade is not able to offer a holistic solution to the shortcomings of an unfair trade system, but it can make a real difference by guaranteeing minimum price and community investment.

    In spite of the achievements, there is a concern that the Fair trade mark has adapted to the companies the movement was originally set up to challenge. For instance, Fairtrade International established an alternative Fair trade mark for companies which uses only partially Fair traded ingredients in their products. Further questions  regarding the future of Fair trade movements have emerged. Should Fair trade only strive for a greater market access under slightly beneficial terms for workers? Or should it be a forerunner of an alternative economic model that can produce and sell goods differently? Even though we should put pressure on the companies to pay their workers above starvation wages, this measure does not create an alternative economic model. The world has changed since the 1980s, when the fair trade movement surfaced. For example, the urgent problem of global warming, which should challenge the export-led growth model, has become conspicuous. New ideas, movements and more specific solidarity products have been emerging, stemming from land workers, small-scale and local retailers, which should deserve more support in the ongoing fight against corporate exploitation.

    Some fair trade movements have caught up with this changing world and try to redefine fair trade, striving for acceptable standards rather than lowering them. “Fair trade based on small-farming, co-operative models and long-term relationships is especially important. But we have to go further." Corporate power and control over our world has grown in the past 20 years, and if fair trade is to be effective in restraining the exploitation of an unjust trade system, it must face these problems.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Tuesday, 5 March 2014
    (Source: TheGuardian)

  • HELPING WITHOUT INFLUENCING: HOW TO GIVE A VOICE TO LOCAL COMMUNITIES

    The EU-funded Cobra project aims to help local communities finding the best solutions for themselves, without any external influence.

    When it comes to assisting local communities in their development, everyone agrees that a long-term plan that helps them become self-sufficient is much better than addressing a temporary crisis with a quick fix, as summed up in the old saying "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”. However, most of the times these top-down approaches are imposed on the community without letting its members decide if it’s the best for them and without giving them the opportunity to adapt it to their customs and traditions – something that would make such suggestions a byproduct of the community itself – thus wasting a precious chance to influence neighbouring communities and, above all, to show governments the importance of self-management.

    The Royal Holloway University of London has launched the EU-funded Cobra project, closely working with indigenous people in the Guiana Shield region of South America for the past two years: the tribes of Makushi and Wapishana were encouraged, through open meetings and visually interactive methods, to assess the most useful practices they can employ to survive in an increasingly challenging environment. The final goal of the project is to present such practices to the national and international level, in order to integrate them in a global environmental policy.

    The biggest risk that lies in this type of approach is that the line between empowerment and manipulation is thin and blurred, so researchers have to behave in an extremely transparent way, never hiding the impact of their importance to the locals and trying to make sure that any designed solution comes from the community and is perceived as “their own” by its members. Projects like this are not only extremely important for the self-development of local communities, but represent also a precious source of information for developed countries: in a world increasingly threatened by environmental hazards and lack of resources, solutions coming from small, isolated groups that have managed to survive for generations in extremely challenging conditions would be useful to tackle the biggest issues of our time.

    Of course, the most delicate (and potentially influencing) part of the project is choosing the best way to communicate these solutions to NGOs, governments and international organizations: to reach the maximum impact they need to be structured in a certain form and, as such, free rein to participants must sometimes be denied. It is of the utmost importance, then, to convince the local communities of the final purpose of such “unjustified influence” by researchers.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Monday, 3 March 2014
    (Source: The Guardian)

  • THREE IN A ROW: WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM RANKS WATER AS A TOP 3 GLOBAL RISK

    The latest report of the Forum underlines the growing threat of water crisis, describing the width of its effects worldwide.

    For the third consecutive year, the World Economic Forum has put water crisis in the list of convulsive planetary threats of greatest concern (behind debt crises in key economies, and persistent unemployment), for its potential of causing social disruption, stop business supply chains and alter food and energy production. The latest Global Risk Report (a project launched in 2006), moreover, has put 3 risks directly related to water in its top ten: the failure to adapt to climate change, the rising number of disastrous floods and droughts, and water pollution as a cause of food contamination. The report goes on stressing how the dimension of the emergency has become so gargantuan that no actor, be it a government or a group of companies, may hope to tackle it alone, thus urging a stronger cooperation between the public and private sector; this also made necessary by the far-reaching consequences that water issues have worldwide, despite being generally viewed as localized problems.

    A massive 5-year long drought in Siria, for example, was responsible for the abandon of farms and a surge in the urban population, which obviously magnified social and economic tension and was considered to be one of the key factors that led to the civil war. In 2010, a series of droughts forced Russia – one of the major grain exporters in the world – to set exports restrictions, causing a rise in the bread’s prices worldwide and possibly adding more fuel to the following Arab Spring protests. Should solutions not be adopted, the scenario drew by the report is dreadful: entire coastal regions (600 million people also live in areas less than 10 meters above sea level) would be engulfed by the sea, while continental interiors would be plagued by droughts and floods, which would destroy crops and homes and reduce rivers’ capacity, thus cutting hydropower production and denying cooling water to power plants in general.

    The structure and focus of the report have greatly changed over the years: while macroeconomic risks still rank high, environmental hazards are starting to be perceived as more and more menacing, something due also to the widening of the interviewed subjects’ age (more and more young adults are being involved in this project). After collecting relevant data on global warming and temperature issues, the proposed solution is a radical change in international cooperation (the lack of which is perceived as one of the strongest causes of environmental issues), due to the growing power of China, the weakening of US’ position and a dishomogeneous group of countries in the middle.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Monday, 3 March 2014
    (Source: Circle of Blue)