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  • TRUMP’S VICTORY MAY FORCE CLIMATE LEADERSHIP ROLE ONTO CHINA

    During the Obama administration, the United States and China have become vital partners in climate negotiations during two critical meetings in November 2014 and September 2015. They continued the cooperation started with the Kyoto Protocol signing the Paris Agreement, strengthened it in areas such as carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS), and methane capture, and built a relationship from high-level policy to joint technology development.

    This joint interest has led to the major initiative Clean Energy Research Centers (CERC) which were supposed to be focused on building efficiency, clean vehicles and advanced coal technologies, promoted clean energy innovation through joint research projects, and introduced new products on the market so as to reduce 275 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2025.

    Moreover, the two partners agreed on a Joint announcement in November 2014, which included the Clean Power Plan so as to establish common emissions controls and efficiency measures, and the Joint statement in September 2015, which included the launch of a Chinese cap and a trade program for green finance.

    Nowadays this legacy may be endangered by President-elect Trump’s rejectionist administration who called climate change a “Chinese hoax”; the Chinese are critical of this position and it is becoming clear that the US may be the player that needs to be pushed in the international process. Not only is climate change no Chinese hoax, but China’s seriousness may be the world’s best hope.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Monday, 14 November 2016

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • COP 22 AND AGRICULTURE

    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 its attention on the agriculture production in Africa that employ around 40% of the population.

    For example, in the high mountains, the period of the year where snow is present has been greatly reduced. Additionally, underground water sources have seen a reduction as well. In the last 27 years, the rains has been between 15%-20% lower than previous years.

    When the rain does come, it comes in showers and breeds flood. the initiative proposes measures to improve 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.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Tuesday, 15 November 2016

    (Source: The Guardian & The World Bank)

  • CHINA STRENGTHENS ITS COOPERATION WITH CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES

    On the occasion of the 5th Summit of China and Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) held on 5th Nov. in Riga, Latvia, a cooperative agreement named “Riga Guidelines for Cooperation” has been signed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and by the Premiers of Latvia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovak Republic and Montenegro.

    The agreement focuses on the theme of “Connectivity, Innovation, Inclusiveness and Common Development” with a view to enhancing existing cooperation, fostering pragmatic cooperation in new areas, and affirming its implementation in compliance with respective laws and EU regulations.

    The participants commit to creating a mutually favorable investment environment and market access for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) so as to facilitate better networking, deepening exchanges and bilateral relations, and developing synergies in the fields of transport, health, logistics, energy, science, technology, agriculture and forestry.

    This “16+1 Cooperation” underlines the participants’ willingness to realize mutual benefits and win-win results, to bring increasing advantages to the peoples involved and to enforce their contacts through forums, dialogue meetings and workshops.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Sunday, 6 November 2016

    (Source: Xinhua)

  • WHAT WILL TRUMP'S FOREIGN POLICY LOOK LIKE?

    So what now? The election of Donald Trump presents Britain with many challenges and some opportunities.

    The president-elect is the son of a Scot, he owns property and golf courses north of the border, and says nice things about Britain when he visits. "Britain's been a great ally," he said in May. "With me, they'll always be treated fantastically."

    He supports Brexit and makes positive noises about Britain securing a trade deal with the US. He said: "I'm not going to say front of the queue, but it wouldn't make any difference to me whether they were in the EU or not. You would certainly not be back of the queue, that I can tell you."

    Mr Trump has also shown himself eminently flexible on policy, a point that former President Jimmy Carter made when he visited Britain earlier this year. This means that in some areas of international policy there will be opportunities for the UK to engage and to influence.

    So there will be something for British diplomats to work with. And, of course, the longstanding intelligence, military and diplomatic relationships between Britain and the US will endure, regardless.

    And yet the challenges are huge. There are many policies that Donald Trump supports that Britain opposes.

    He wants to tear up the deal constraining Iran's nuclear ambitions that the UK worked so hard to secure. He wants to withdraw from the Paris climate change deal. He wants to tear up some of America's free trade agreements and instinctively leans towards protectionism.

    He wants to shift the focus in Syria towards fighting the Islamic State group, rather than seeking a political end to the civil war without President Bashar al-Assad. He wants to engage with President Vladimir Putin of Russia - whom he describes as "a hero" - rather than confront a leader that many in the West see as a growing threat.

    And above all he has said that America's allies in Europe and Asia must do more to pay for and provide for their own defence, even suggesting that the US might not come to the aid of a NATO country if it fails to pay its bills. This will worry the Baltic states no end.

    Those are what another Donald, Donald Rumsfeld, might describe as the known knowns. But it is the unknown unknowns that worry diplomats just as much.

    "He is an unknown quantity," said one. "No-one knows what he is going to do." They say Mr Trump's advisers make a distinction between what they call "campaign talk" and actual policy. "They don't recognise campaign rhetoric and promises as something they feel bound by," another official said.

    So there will be an unpredictability to the Trump White House that will worry Western leaders. But more than that, there is also the sense that his focus will be on America's domestic problems rather than its interests overseas.

    "Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo," Mr Trump said as he accepted his nomination at the start of the contest. Diplomats say this means the president-elect does not believe in the Pax Americana, the idea that an internationalist United States at least tries to make the world a better place.

    Instead, they say he sees foreign policy as transactional, a process of improvised ad-hoc deals rather than the projection of US values and interests. Mr Trump's slogan was: "America first," they point out, and he means it.

    The most pessimistic diplomats talk about a fracturing of the post-War international consensus. They dismiss comparisons with Ronald Reagan, saying the former president had governed a major state, that he inspired rather than galvanised, that he unified rather divided.

    Much will depend on whom Mr Trump appoints as his secretary of state.

    Names in the frame include:

    §  senator Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, who is heading up the Trump national security transition team

    §  John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the UN

    §  Richard Haas, head of an influential foreign policy think tank in Washington

    §  Stephen Hadley, a former national security advisory to the first President Bush

    And of course, there is always the possibility that Nigel Farage might find a role in the new administration - he has modestly suggested he might enjoy being Mr Trump's ambassador to the EU.

    The fear among some Western diplomats is that the Trump election will not only provide a vacuum in which other countries can expand their global influence - such as Russia and China - but at the same time encourage other populist, anti-establishment politicians across Europe and the world.

    The Italian prime minister is facing a real threat in a constitutional referendum next month. The Netherlands, France and Germany are braced for tricky elections next year.

    One senior diplomat said: "What does this mean for Marine Le Pen?" - a reference to the far-right party leader in France. Little wonder she was one of the first foreign politicians to congratulate Mr Trump.

    As if all this was not enough of a challenge, some UK policymakers have a few bridges to repair with the Trump administration. In January, MPs from all sides of the House of Commons lined up to attack the president-elect as they debated a motion to ban him from travelling to the UK.

    Last year, the nowadays Prime Minister, Theresa May, said Mr Trump's promise to ban Muslims from the US was "divisive, unhelpful and wrong", it was "nonsense" to suggest there were no-go areas in London, and he did "not understand the UK and what happens in the UK".

    Inevitably, the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, went even further. He said: "Donald Trump's ill-informed comments are complete and utter nonsense. Crime has been falling steadily in both London and New York - and the only reason I wouldn't go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump."

    And this year in May, before he became Foreign Secretary, Mr Johnson broke the cardinal rule of not intervening in another country's election. "I am genuinely worried that he could become president," he said. "I was in New York and some photographers were trying to take a picture of me, and a girl walked down the pavement towards me and she stopped and she said, 'Gee is that Trump?' It was one of the worst moments."

    So some humble pie will have to be eaten, and the special relationship is going to be tested as perhaps never before.

     

    Sources:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37924137
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-37920142

    http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37891711
    http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37918242

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

    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)

  • Qinglin Zhang: ‘Analysis of the Impact on Sustainable Developments by Investment Regulations in the Energy Charter Treaty’

    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 for 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; thus, are 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.

    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

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

  • CHINA DRAFT COUNTERTERROR LAW STRIKES FEAR IN FOREIGN TECH FIRMS

    China is weighing a far-reaching counterterrorism law that would require technology firms to hand over encryption keys and install security "backdoors". A parliamentary body read a second draft of the country's first anti-terrorism law and is expected to adopt the legislation by the end of 2015.

    The initial draft, published by the National People's Congress late last year, requires companies to also keep servers and user data within China, supply law enforcement authorities with communications records and censor terrorism-related internet content. Its scope reaches far beyond a recently adopted set of financial industry regulations that pushed Chinese banks to purchase from domestic technology vendors.

    The implications for Silicon Valley companies, ranging from Microsoft to Apple Inc., have set the stage for yet another confrontation over cybersecurity and technology policy, a major irritant in U.S.-China relations. The Obama administration has conveyed its concerns about the anti-terrorism draft law to China; although the counterterrorism provisions would apply to both domestic and foreign technologies, officials in Washington and Western business lobbies argue the law, combined with the new banking rules and a slew of anti-trust investigations, amount to unfair regulatory pressure targeting foreign companies.

    Beijing has argued the need to quickly ratchet up its cybersecurity measures and in December 2014, China's banking regulator adopted new rules that outlined security criteria that tech products in 68 categories must meet in order to be considered "secure and controllable" for use in the financial sector. To attain the designation, source code powering operating systems, database software and middleware must be registered with the government if they are not domestically developed.

    James Zimmerman, Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, said the latest rules, if implemented, would likely limit opportunities for U.S. companies, but could also backfire on China.

    The National People's Congress did not respond immediately to a request for comment and Apple and Google declined to comment on the proposed law, while Microsoft was not immediately available for comment. China is drafting the anti-terrorism law at a time when Chinese leaders say the country faces a serious threat from religious extremists and separatists: hundreds of people have been killed over the past two years in the far western region of Xinjiang in unrest the government has blamed on Islamists who want to establish a separate state called East Turkestan.

    The gLawcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    (Source: Reuters)

  • HONG KONG LAUNCHES DOMAIN MONITORING SERVICE TO PROTECT ONLINE BRANDS

    Hong Kong Internet Registration Coporation(HKIRC) has launched the first .hk domain name monitering service for brand owners.

    The domain name is .hk WATCH, which is now open for all brand owners. It monitors ".hk" domain names, yet is does not imply the search label must be ending with ".hk". By using this method, customers with other Top Level Domains (TLDs) can find out all .hk domain names which are identical, similar or feature common misspellings of their search label (s), also those combining prefix/suffix 'wildcards'.

    The .hk WATCH service closely monitors .hk domain names to identify those which are identical, similar or feature common misspellings of a name, trademark or service mark, as well as those combining prefix/ suffix “wildcards” with trademarks, effectively tackling possible attempts of .hk domain names being used for cybersquatting and typosquatting activities.

    This service also provides an initial report for subscribers, showing existing .hk domain names which resemble the brand name(s) or mark(s). The search runs daily, checking for newly registered .hk domain name that meets the search criteria. It keeps brand owners updated in a timely manner, alerting them if there is malicious activity.

    The gLawcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    (Source: Asia IP Law)

     

  • ONE YEAR ON AFTER “WAR” DECLARED ON POLLUTION, BEIJING AIR SCARCELY IMPROVES

    Air pollution levels in and around Beijing remained dire last year, underlining the scale of effort that will be needed to win the self-declared “war on pollution".

    The area surrounding Beijing accounted for the worst air pollution in China, with Hebei home to six cities judged to have the country’s worst air quality.

    Given the scale of the problem, few will have expected China to make a big improvement to its air quality in just a year since premier Li Keqiang said that tackling chronic air quality would be a national priority. But the figures show that heavily-industrialised areas surrounding the capital are still churning out harmful particulates on a massive scale despite  the announcement of policies last year aimed at curbing coal use. 

    Hebei's reliance on heavy industry, particularly iron and steel, means that targets on cutting pollution and coal use could stoke unemployment and migration to nearby Beijing, and local officials want more economic aid and subsidies to cushion the blow. 

    Experts argue China is still underfunding its “war on pollution”. In 2013, China’s environmental spending fell by almost 10% despite premier Li Keqiang’s much-publicised commitment to tackling pollution.

    This falls far short of what is needed to address problems of air pollution, much of which stems from the burning of coal for power generation and heating, and fuels used in cars and trucks.

    Dealing with pollution was a major theme at the National People's Congress in Beijing in March 2015, when Communist Party officials discussed how measures to clean up China's air, soil and water can be integrated in the 13th five-year-plan.

    The MEP data shows that only eight out of 74 big cities managed to meet national standards last year on a series of pollution criteria, including PM2.5 and sulphur dioxide levels.

    The gLawcal Team

    POREEN project

    (Source: China Dialogue)

     

  • CHINA’S TOP COURT MAY LEAN ON LOCAL GOVT TO ENFORCE ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

    The official newspaper of China’s Supreme Court has castigated local officials in Wuhan for not doing more to protect the city’s residents from two-recently built waste incinerators. Critics say the incinerators are located near schools and water treatment facilities that are in breach of environmental laws.

    A lack of enforcement by central government will lead to challenges to the new environmental protection law, damaging the credibility of the law. The judiciary is positioning itself more clearly and increasing awareness of its independence, rather than dependence on the government. Previously, courts would not risk holding local officials to account, making it difficult to enforce environmental laws. China’s courts have long been subordinate to the authority of the Communist Party but the central government, mindful of the political impact of environmental breaches, has approved a more independent track for the judiciary to prosecute wrongdoers. But in the case of the Wuhan waste treatment plants, no legal hearing has been scheduled. That means that the responsibility of pursuing the Wuhan incinerator cases rests with local courts rather than the city government.

    The two facilities, located side-by-side, are close to two kindergartens, an elementary school and homes to 30,000 people. Although the household waste plant was temporarily closed at the end of 2013 after the Hubei Environmental Protection Department found its operation illegal, it soon started operating again despite no approval having been given by environmental protection authorities.

    China’s new environmental law, which came into effect on 1st, January 2014, is intended to beef up protection for residents against breaches of environmental controls. But during its first month, activists have expressed worries about its implementation, in particular, local governments have put pressure on courts to be lenient, or even ordered them not to accept cases. The Wuhan case has highlighted this problem.

    In August 2014, a court in Wuhan declined to hear a case brought by five residents living near the controversial waste treatment plants. According to an investigation, both incinerators are illegally releasing harmful substances, but local residents protesting against the plants have been detained.

    This case shows that environmental cases are often complex: government failings and misconduct are often the main reasons for pollution caused by companies; relocating the incinerators would be a huge problem for the local government, and so is claimed to have interfered with the court’s handling of the case.

    The main problem is that environmental problems are common, but judicial redress is largely unavailable.

    The successful implementation of the new environmental protection law will depend on local government: to solve China’s environmental problems requires balancing the needs of protecting the environment and fostering economic growth, and it is often local government that has to find that balance, but implementation of the new law will be extremely difficult, mainly because of the close links between business and local government.

    The gLawcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    (Source: China Dialogue)

     

     

  • MINISTRY: SUBSIDIES COMPLY WITH WTO RULES

    China's measures to offer subsidies to manufacturers in certain industries is in conformity with World Trade Organization rules and will help the country ship more quality products to the world market.

    The comment came after the Office of the United States Trade Representative challenged China at the WTO, claiming that the Chinese government offers subsidies for the exports of seven industries through "demonstration bases" that receive free or discounted services from suppliers. .

    Given current global economic conditions, building model manufacturing bases and public service platforms to offer subsidies to cash-starved domestic companies is a practical way for them to seek and gain new market growth points, as well as improving the technical content and environmental protection standards of their products. The ministry expressed its regret over the matter and said all disputes will be resolved under the WTO rules and the analysts said the US' chances of winning its complaint at the WTO over alleged Chinese export subsidies to seven domestic industries are mixed, that subsidies cited by the US resemble in part tax breaks that local, state and the federal governments hand over to American firms.

    The seven sectors of the Chinese economy involved with the subsidies cited by the US complaint are textiles, apparel and footwear; advanced materials and metals (including specialty steel, titanium and aluminum products); light industry; specialty chemicals; medical products; hardware and building materials, and agriculture.

    This case will directly affect negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership since China is not a participant in the talks. TPP is a proposed free-TRADE deal covering the US, Canada and 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific region (not including China) that has been under discussion since 2005.

    Last year, the WTO sided with the US in at least two trade disputes. In June, the WTO found that China breached WTO rules by imposing extra duties on US cars and sport utility vehicles. In August, the WTO found that China breached WTO rules by imposing duties and quotas on exports of rare earths, tungsten and molybdenum. Those export restraints promote China's own industry and discriminate against US companies using those materials.

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    (Source: China Daily)

     

  • CHINA AIMS TO DOUBLE PATENT APPLICATION IN FIVE YEARS

    China is becoming a superpower of innovation and Beijing has set an agenda to double the number of Chinese patent applications in the next five years.The number of patent applications is expected to reach 14 per 10,000 habitants by 2020, compared with six this year and four in 2013.

    Improving the country's agricultural technologies, especially in grain production, is a major priority during the period, along with having more globally competitive enterprises with overseas patents.

    The announcement comes after the easing of curbs on importing genetically-modified corn from the United States, with the two countries reaching an agreement in trade talks last month that would lift a ban on certain varieties of genetically modified organisms, which had been approved by the US but not by China.

    The number of Chinese patent applications rose 26.4 per cent in 2013, representing more than 32 per cent of global submissions. In contrast, Japan and Europe posted a decline for the same period.

    At this regard, the director general of WIPO, Francis Gurry said China was on a journey to becoming "created in China" from "made in China".

    The gLawcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    (Source: Asia IP Law)

     

  • SAFEGUARDING FOOD PRODUCTION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE NEEDS URGENT MEASURES

    Rising temperatures are sure to have a big impact on China’s grain output and food security over the next 20 to 50 years.

    Climate changehas two main positive effects on grain output; northward migration of crops and less frost damage. By lifting average temperatures above 10°C for more of the year, climate warming has lengthened the growing season, and the biggest change is being felt in the middle latitudes of the North China Plain, a major region for wheat, maize and dry-rice farming.

    Climate warming has already moved crop boundaries north to varying extents. Benefits are visible in Hebei, where a more northerly boundary for winter wheat planting has raised yields by roughly 25% in wheat growing areas and furthermore, rice farming has also moved north.

    Warmer weather is also reducing frost damage to crops, and the area suitable for late-maturing crops will expand. However, it is not all good news. Extreme weather linked to climate change could cancel out the effect of increased yields, resulting in lower grain harvests.

    When it comes to negative effects, drought is the prime culprit. Climate expert Zhang Cunjie has predicted that total precipitation in northern China will fall over the next 10 years. Although small localized increases may take place in some years, overall north China will remain dry. Meanwhile, south China will suffer crop damage from high temperatures and worsening summer droughts. Although the south enjoys plenty of precipitation, it is not evenly spread over the year, or geographically.

    Moreover, in recent decades, China has suffered frequent regional floods due to heavy rainfall, though uncontrolled deforestation has also played a role, with consequent financial losses.

    Widespread outbreaks of pests and diseases are another problem of warmer weather as it helps them survive, breed and spread. Agricultural pests and diseases currently affect 20 billion hectares of land each year and cut grain output by about 9%. Climate warming itself will also affect the growth and quality of crops. Without new, adaptive technologies, crops will grow faster, and will be lower quality, stripping away some of the positive effects of a longer growing season. For example if temperatures increase by 1°C, rice needs 2 weeks less to grow. One outcome, less tilling time, would mean fewer, smaller grains of rice, and a lower overall harvest. Wheat and corn would be similarly affected.

    Several measures can be taken to counteract these problems. Technological improvements and crop strains that are more resistant to high temperatures, drought, floods, disease and pests are essential. More construction of agricultural infrastructure, and research and popularization of water-saving in agriculture are also needed.

    Higher temperatures will mean that double cropping can be carried out further north, and wider application of double cropping will help increase rice harvests. The introduction of new crop varieties, and technological advances would result in more significant increases in national grain output. In a scenario of comprehensive adaptation to climate change, by 2020 China’s grain output will have increased by 28.6%. Growth will be seen in five grain-growing areas, with particularly large increases in the north and north-east, where grain harvests as a percentage of national totals will increase from 31.1% in the base year to 39.4%.

    The gLawcal team

    POREEN project

    (Source: China Dialogue)

     

  • SHALE GAS: UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT FOR ITS CONSEQUENCES ON WATER AVAILABILITY

    Today, shale gas represents one of the central issues of the political agenda in many countries.  The shale gas revolution began nearly 10 years ago in the United States: experts stress that it is prone to spread across the globe.

    According to experts, shale gas could reinforce energy security of many countries while cutting emissions. However, shale gas raises concerns and doubts. Many experts recognize that unlocking this massive resource entails a significant environmental riskaccess to freshwater for drinking, agriculture, and industrial use.

    Experts outline thatdrilling and then hydraulic fracturing each shale gas well means the use of large volumes of water for short periods of time: between 7 million and 25 million litres (1.2 million and 6.6 million gallons).

    A recent report, called the Global Shale Development: Water Availability & and Business Risk, has revealed a series of water availability-related challenges that could represent a limit for shale resource development on six continents.

    Experts highlight that three countries can be a good example in order to understand the complex issues that shale gas entail: China, Argentina, and the United Kingdom.

    Chinarepresents the world’s largest energy producer and consumer. Data show that China has the world’s largest technically recoverable shale gas resources. However, these resources are located in areas of highest water stress. Additionally, studies indicate that over 60 per cent of Chinese shale resources are in areas of high to extremely high baseline water stress or even arid conditions.

    In this context, the government and energy companies are already working to establish concrete measures to overcome the difficulties.

    China’s two largest energy companies have recently upgraded their forecasts for shale investments, even as the Chinese government has significantly reduced its shale gas production targets earlier in August. China is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, data say. In relation to that, Chinese shale resources could represent a key strategy to address climate change related issues. Despite this possibility, experts stress to focus on water issues: China must address water concerns, experts stress.

    In relation to that, reports show that the government and energy companies are trying to undertake a good way to balance their large reserves and limited water availability.

    Moreover, Argentina is South America’s largest natural gas producer and consumer, with the world’s second-largest technically recoverable shale gas resources. With low or medium stress over 72 per cent of its shale resources,competition for water is less concerning to Argentinian plays overall. However, 28 per cent of the resources are in arid areas, so the country will need to focus on water-related constraints if shale development progresses. Studies indicate that 28 per cent of the resources in Argentina are in arid areas: in this way, the country will have to address water-related issues if shale development progresses.

    The U.K. represents Europe’s third-largest natural gas producer. Data stress that industrial water use accounts for more than 30 per cent of the nation’s total water demand: however, those withdrawals have been reducing for the past 10 years as natural gas and oil production declines.

    In this framework, the U.K. government is offering tax breaks in order to foster shale development. Experts highlight that the government will need to manage water-related risks with stronger measures if shale drilling and hydraulic fracturing expands. In this way, the use of water for shale gas process is increasing both public concern and conflicts around hydraulic fracturing. 

    Shale gas entails significant social, environmental and financial challenges. In the next future, competition for water as well as public concerns over hydraulic fracturing will increase as shale development expands internationally and global temperature and precipitation patterns shift, experts say.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Saturday, 8 November 2014

    (Source: ChinaWaterRisk)

  • CLIMATE CHANGE AND INCREASING LIGHTNING STRIKES

    A new research from the University of California, Berkeley, published in the journal Science, has shown that warming conditions would result in 50% more lightning strikes by the end of the century.

    The new study has found that lightning will strike far more frequently due to climate change. However, researchers can still not predict exactly where or when those strikes will happen.

    David Romps, a researcher at the University of California has alarmingly argued that for every two lightning strikes at the beginning of the century, we will have three at the end of the century.

    Researchers have proved for some time that climate change produce more lightning strikes and those fatalities, especially in developing countries, have increased in recent years.

    In this context, the new study establishes a number on that rate of increase, using data from federal government scientific agencies.

    Lightning strikes would increase by about 12% for every 1°C of warming, resulting in about 50% more strikes by 2100, scientists outline.

    However, the scientists are unable to predict exactly where or when those strikes will occur.

    For example, in the continental US, lightning strikes are especially common in the mid-west and the Tampa Bay area of Florida, so-called lightning alley.

    Researchers stress that the uncertainty about where those increases will occur in the future represents one of the main problem.  In this way, it could be regions that get a lot of lightning strikes today will get even more in the future, or it could be that parts of the country that get very little lightning could get much in the future. We just don’t know at this point.

    Moreover, the study provides further evidences that climate change is having strong effects on weather patterns.

    Lightning strikes are also one of the main causes of wildfires, responsible in the past for some of the most devastating blazes in the south-west, experts say. To make an example, the deadliest wildfire in 20 years, which killed 19 hotshot fire-fighters near Yarnell, Arizona, was caused by a lightning strike.

    This study was based on data from federal government agencies in order to establish the relation between warming temperatures, energetic storms, and increased lightning strikes, and combined the findings with 11 climate models, experts explain.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Thursday, 13 November 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • A NEW PROJECT TO SOLVE THE CHALLENGES OF INDUSTRIAL-SCALE ENERGY STORAGE

    Renewable energy represents one of the key issues of the political agendas, at the center of many debates. Experts show that, across the world, many countries are reinforcing their efforts to improve the way we store and distribute energy. We are moving towards more sustainable forms of energy generation, such as wind and solar power.

    In this context, experts stress that improving the way we store energy is a key element for the UK’s energy security, allowing us to separate energy generation and its usage.

    Finding a better way to store energy will represent a good starting point to save energy when it’s generated, and use it when it’s required.

    In this way, we could overcome the main disadvantages of our system, where generation has to match the demand in real time, experts inform.

    Experts have explained that the UK’s first two-megawatt lithium-titanate battery will be connected to the energy grid, as part of a new project: the research will try to tackle the challenges of industrial-scale energy storage.

    This project tries to test the technological and economic challenges of using giant batteries to provide support to the grid, experts say.

    According to the researchers, the lithium-titanate battery was chosen since it is faster to charge, last longer and is used safer than its common alternative, lithium ion, especially in terms of the reduced fire risk. Additionally, it will represent the largest battery of its type installed in the UK, experts stress.

    Data reveal that some companies are willing to consider the installation of large batteries in their own premises, mainly for storing excess electricity from renewable sources.

    However, the high capital costs and the uncertainties over how they might work commercially have meant that the use of this technology is still very slow. In relation to this, the researchers outline that the study has the objective to answer some of these concerns, proving the viability of the new technology.

    The scale of this project will allow to record results at the industrial scale, as opposed to typical laboratory prototypes, experts outline. In this way, the research will try to fill the gap between academic research and industrial needs.

    Additionally, this project will be in operation from February 2015.

    Experts highlight that large scale batteries could reduce the need to keep energy generators on standby to respond to peaks in demand.

    However, there are concerns and doubts how this might be best managed commercially.

    The research will explore also the advantages of grid-connected energy storage in a typical operating environment, without commercial constraints. Researchers will try to show how the technology fits in our existing energy structures, improving faster adoption by the sector in order to enhance how the grid functions and its overall stability. According to the researchers, these projects could represent a good model for businesses in future.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Friday, 14 November 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • FOSSIL FUEL EXPLORATION SUBSIDIES

    Although there are evidences that use of fossil fuels must be reduced in order to fight  climate change, data show that rich countries are subsidising oil, gas and coal companies by about $88bn (£55.4bn) a year to explore for new reserves.

    A study on global fossil fuel subsidies has revealed that the US government has provided companies with $5.2bn for fossil fuel exploration in 2013. Australia has spent $3.5bn, while Russia $2.4bn and the UK $1.2bn.

    Additionally, the study has outlined that most of the support was in the form of tax breaks for exploration in deep offshore fields.

    According to British think-tank the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Washington-based analysts Oil Change International, the public money was given to major multinationals as well as to smaller ones who specialise in exploratory work.

    Moreover, the report has proved that Britain represents one of the most generous countries: in the five year period to 2014. It gave tax breaks to French, US, Middle Eastern and North American companies to explore the North Sea. Additionally, data have indicated that over $1.2bn of British budget went to two French companies, GDF-Suez and total ($450m) went to five US companies including Chevron, and $992m to five British companies.

    According to the report, Britain also spent public funds for foreign companies to explore in countries such as Azerbaijan, Brazil, Ghana, Guinea, India and Indonesia, as well as Russia, Uganda and Qatar.

    These figures represent the first detailed analysis of global fossil fuel exploration subsidies: the US spends $1.4bn a year for exploration in Columbia, Nigeria and Russia, while Russia is subsidising exploration in Venezuela and China, which in turn supports companies exploring Canada, Brazil and Mexico.

    Experts have stressed that this study describes the insanity of this system that diverts investments from economic low-carbon alternatives such as solar, wind and hydro-power, undermining the prospects for an ambitious UN climate deal in 2015.

    In this way, the report plays an important role showing how the issue of reforming fossil fuel subsidies is critical for climate change, as experts say.

    The Oil Change International director Steve Kretzman has argued that despite these evidences, governments are spending billions of tax dollars each year to find more fossil fuels.

    The study also criticizes the G20 countries for providing over $520m a year of indirect exploration subsidies by way of the World Bank group and other multilateral development banks (MDBs) to which they contribute funds.

    Furthermore, the report has highlighted that in parallel with the rising costs of fossil-fuel exploration and production, the costs of renewable-energy technologies continue to fall rapidly, and the speed of growth in installed capacity of renewables has outperformed predictions since 2000. 

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Tuesday, 11 November 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • IS GM FOOD SAFE FOR HUMAN HEALTH?

    A Russian group has recently announced that they are working with scientists to launch a long-term health study on a GM food. According to the researchers, this $25m three-year experiment will represent the world’s largest and most comprehensive study about the safety of GM food.

    The group has explained that this study involves scientists that will test thousands of rats which will be fed differing diets of Monsanto GM maize, and the world’s most widely-used herbicide that it is created to be grown with.

    This project will investigate the long-term health effects of a diet of GMmaize developed by US seed and chemical company Monsanto, the researchers say.

    Elena Sharoykina, a campaigner and co-founder of the Russian national association for genetic safety (Nags), the co-ordinator of the experiment, has outlined that the study will try to find out if GM food, and associated pesticide, are safe for human health.

    Experts stress the importance of this project: the experiment will try to understand whether the GM maize and its associated herbicide cause diseases as cancers, reduce fertility or cause birth defects.

    The GM foods were introduced in 1994: this issue has raised strong debates and doubts about the possible consequences on human health. However, many experts have highlighted that while there have been many  studies that show the absence of health risk, government regulators have not required evidence of long-term safety.

    Huw Jones, senior research scientist at Rothamsted Institute, the Britain’s largest GM research centre, has recognized that if the science, conducted according to OECD guidelines, will show that there are risks with a particular event, then the public will receive the feedback.

    In relation to that, the scale and format of this study will allow us to create a comprehensive data set on the mechanics of the impacts of a GM diet on the health of living organisms over the long term, the deputy science director at the Sysin research institute of human ecology and environmental health has indicated.

    Moreover, from a scientific point of view, this project is highly ambitious. In this way, the study will be very interesting for both the public and for the scientists involved.

    In addition to that, experts have argued that thecultivation of herbicide resistant crops is widespread in the US, and the use of the herbicides to which these crops are resistant has increased many-fold in the decades since they were introduced.

    However, there is a significant lack of data on their safety, as well as data on the safety of the increased use of herbicides with which they are grown.

    In this context, researchers stress that the previous studies have raised concerns for various reasons: choice of animal, insufficient statistics, duration of tests, research parameters, and researchers’ connections to the anti-GMO movement or the biotech industry.

    In relation to that, the study will represent a significant step ahead, experts say. The project will try to remedy the situation, considering all of the points of disagreement surrounding this matter.

    The experiment will be conducted in Western Europe and Russia. Although it was cautiously welcomed by both GM sceptics and proponents of the technology, experts have recognized the importance of this project that will try to reach a clear answer about the safety for human health of GM food.

    According to Greenpeace, this study can be an important attempt in order to fill some of the major gaps in our knowledge about the impact of GM glyphosate resistant maize and glyphosate on health.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Tuesday, 11 November 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • CHINESE WATER PROJECTS: PLANS TO ENCOURAGE PRIVATE INVESTMENTS

    Data show that China has boosted its water investment budget by 7 per cent this year. In this context, the government  has launched its plans to attract private capital to major water projects using financial enticements.

    According to the deputy head of the investment division under the National Development and Reform Commission, China will encourage investment allowing private investors to buy special licenses or take stakes in water projects.

    The deputy has shown that the government has established a plan to prioritize investment support on projects that have private investors, by injecting capital and offering subsidies or loans with preferential terms. In addition to that, experts have said that China will improve the way in which water project prices are set.

    Water represents one of the most challenging issues that Chinese authorities are trying to overcome. Studies reveal the complexity of the current situation.

    In this framework, data indicate that China is organizing to start construction of 172 major water projects by 2020. Experts have shown that total investment for the proposed projects could amount to about 600 billion yuan ($98 billion).

    Moreover, the spokesman for the NDRC, China’s top economic planning agency, has suggested that the government has planned an investment budget of 76.7 billion yuan for water projects this year.

    In relation to that, encouraging private investments in water projects represents one of the main priorities of the Chinese political agenda.

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Friday, 7 November 2014

    (Source: Businessweek)

  • THE MAIN CHALLENGES OF THE CHINESE AGRICULTURE

    China is facing several problems in many fields. Agriculture represents one of the most challenging areas, experts say.

    At a recent meeting on grain and food safety held in Beijing, experts have discussed the problems and the difficulties that the government need to overcome.

    According to the deputy head of the office for the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs, Chinese agriculture has to faces three challenges to achieve sustainable growth.

    Water shortages, degrading farmland and rising labour cost represent the main challenging issues, the deputy suggests.

    The current Chinese situation is complex for many aspects.  First of all, China is suffering from water shortages. Additionally, there is a strong conflict between urbanization and agricultural growth. The deputy has explained that the proportion of agricultural water consumption against the total water consumption will continue to drop, along with urbanization.

    In this framework, experts stress the importance to undertake concrete agricultural policies. The new strategies need to foster water use efficiency in order to save water. This is the most urgent issue that the Chinese government has to address, experts add.

    Moreover, pollution represents another serious matter that undermines Chinese safety in many ways.

    In relation to that, experts have highlighted that the farmland quality has been degrading, with about 2.9 per cent of farmland suffering from medium and serious pollution.

    Furthermore, labour cost has increased. In the United States, the situation is different: labour cost takes less than 10 per cent of the overall cost in agriculture, but the figure is between 30 to 35 per cent in China, researches show.

    In this context, science and technology innovations need to play a key role in order to achieve sustainable agricultural growth.

    In this way, China needs to strengthen its efforts establishing sustainable strategies to promote its growth.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Saturday, 8 November 2014

    (Source: China Daily)

  • CLIMATE CHANGE THREATENS CITIES ALONG THE USA EAST COAST

    Recent studies have revealed an alarming future scenario for many cities along the US East Coast.

    This situation is also confirmed by the last report on the expected increase in tidal floods in 52 cities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, realized by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

    According to the director of the non-profit Wetlands Watch, this summer there were four occasions on which the city had to basically shut down until the water had drained off the land.

    These events increase the sense of urgency in coastal communities: citizens stress the importance to act now with concrete strategies rather than face the severe consequences later.

    For instance, Norfolk, a city of 250,000, home to the US Navy’s second fleet and the world’s largest naval base, is working to keep the water at bay, elevating roads and building storm surge gates.

    In this context, experts stress the urgency to establish effective measures and strategies, in order to guarantee that new developments are not built on flood-prone land, and that building plans leave enough open space and green infrastructure.

    Additionally, the 2013 report by the Nature Climate Change identifying the cities at the greatest economic risk of flood losses, described that Miami was ranked second only to Guangzhou.

    The city is built on porous limestone, allowing floodwater to seep into the ground and resurface inland.

    The high tides earlier in October were a test for several newly installed storm pumps in Miami Beach with a capacity to pump 50,000 gallons of water per minute back into the bay.

    Apart from some brief road flooding and some puddles around the drains, the trial run ended with a success.

    Over the next five years, the authorities in Miami Beach have planned to spend US$300 million on about 60 pumps to upgrade the drainage infrastructure that was built more than half a century ago.

    Moreover, a Sea Level Rise Task Force has recently urged the Miami-Dade county government to increase its investments in flood control. Experts have suggested to boost the efforts in the face of predictions that flood insurance losses in Southeast Florida could reach US$33 billion by 2030.

    In relation to that, experts have also suggested to create an adaptation plan, in case, the region wants to safeguard its “insurability and financial support in the future”.

    In this context, the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, a partnership between several counties and non-profit organizations sharing resources and experience, represents a good model for coordinating the response to climate change at a local level, experts say.

    Local participationalso plays a central role in order to achieve good results.

    In addition to that, while the region around Miami can rely on many years of direct experience with rising sea levels, other regions are newer to the discussion. According to the UCS report, the US capital Washington D.C. has to expect up to 400 floods a year by 2045, becoming the city with the highest increase in tidal floods.

    To address these issues, the city has hired a team of consultants to help protect private property, government buildings and cultural sites. Also, the Pentagon is working on its own assessment of the vulnerability of its facilities by flooding events, experts say.

    Furthermore, the city of New York has planned to invest US$19.5 billion to reinforce its defences with a large network of sea walls and levees, similar to the system installed in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Additionally, New York hopes to use federal relief funds received in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to pay its plan. On the other hand, New York has so far opposed suggestions from scientists and engineers to build a massive, eight kilometres long, and storm protection barrier across the New York Bay, similar to the longer structure off the coast of Saint Petersburg.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Monday, 3 November 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • CHINESE COMPANIES FAIL TO UNDERTAKE CONCRETE MEASURES TO ADDRESS WATER RISKS

    According to CDP’s annual water survey based on data supplied by big companies worldwide, China falls behind global counterparts in terms of addressing water risks.

    The research show that companies operating in China reported a wide range of negative impacts on their businesses due to water, including property damage, brand damage and higher operating costs.

    However, experts stress that the companies with headquarters in China have failed to evaluate how water will affect operations and to establish water-related targets or goals in relation to these problems.

    These results are startling, experts say. Data reveal that China is struggling with dwindling water supplies and that 70% of fresh water resources are polluted to some degree.

    Recent scandals have further undermined this difficult situation, damaging also the reputation of big business. Top clothing brands have been linked to devastating water pollution in the Chinese textile industry. Additionally, other companies were involved in a water contamination accident, raising strong public opposition.

    CDPs annual Global Water Report, based on data supplied by 174 Global 500 companies, has recently and alarmingly revealed that while water risks to business are growing on global level, companies fail to provide information about these risks.

    Although a growing number of companies reported impacts from droughts, pollution and other water related problems, almost half the businesses failed to disclose transparent water risk assessments to investors, expert say.

    According to the head of CDP’s water program, this decrease in disclosure rate represents a serious matter.

    On the other hand, experts highlight that there are also some positive signals: a growing number of companies are reporting water risk at a board level. However, researchers argue that there is still some way to go.

    In this context, more companies worldwide are requiring their suppliers to reveal information about how they are addressing water risks.

    According to the report, companies in the energy sector remain the least transparent. This is an alarming issue, given the relation between water and energy.

    Moreover, expert stress that water challenges for companies in China are doomed to grow.

    In this framework, the lack of water has already forced the closure of coal-fired power stations in arid regions of the country and will undermine the development of alternative energy sources in the future.

    Experts stress that Chinese government need to undertake stricter measures on polluters and water waste establishing higher penalties and tighter targets in order to solve the main challenges. For instance, in 2012 the government closed down 200 companies that it judged energy inefficient or excessively polluting.

    Additionally, public opinion and activists play a central role in this situation. Some projects have been forced to stop due to increasingly active public movement in China. This means that the consumers can play a crucial role driving significant changes.

    Furthermore, without government action, it will be difficult to achieve a real change, experts suggest.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Wednesday, 6 November 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • CHINA: NATIONAL PARKS TO PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE FOR THE ENVIRONMENTAL SAFETY

    Chinese governmentis reforming the way in which major tourist attractions are managed. In relation to this, the government has established plans to create a unified national parks management system in order to halt environmental damages within national parks.

    Experts outline that this new unified system will overtake the local and departmental interests of existing operators, to guarantee that parks can be managed to benefit the public.

    According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the new system will be tested in seven of the Chinese most famous tourist spots, including the Great Wall, the colourful mountain lakes of Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan, and the needle-like rock formations at Zhangjiajie in Hunan province.

    Experts show that the current Chinese system is complex and fragmented.

    The Chinese system became fragmented after the creation of the first Chinese national park in 2006, when the Tibetan prefecture of Diqing created Shangrila Pudacuo National Park using local legislation. However, local governments did not actually have the right to declare a park “national”. Additionally, in 2008, the Ministry for Environmental Protection and the National Tourism Administration approved the Heilongjiang Tangwang River National Park in Manchuria. Also, the Ministry of Construction renamed its “National Scenic Areas” as “national parks” in English translation.

    Consequently, today China has many so-called national parks, managed by different bodies. By February 2009, there were 710 national forest parks, wetland parks, geo parks and archaeological parks. However, experts argue that they have failed to stop environmental degradation. Additionally, this situation has raised public concerns.

    In this context, the establishment of a national park system was proposed in the 2013 as “Decision of the CPC Central Committee on Comprehensively Deepening Reforms” in order to solve the problems.

    Experts have suggested creating a body for overall management of national parks and reserves, removing the existing regional and departmental divisions and creating a comprehensive management system. This new strategy should improve environmental protection, experts say.

    In addition to that, the reform will require state funding to succeed in changing the management system, researchers of the Social Development Department of the State Council’s Development Research Centre show.

    Moreover, the situation is complex, experts argue: although China’s nature reserves cover 20% of its land, the environment is still worsening.

    According to the WWF, the main problem for wildlife conservation in China is habitat fragmentation. Mining, road construction and hydropower undermine and destroy habitats, damaging wildlife and plant populations. In this way, national parks need to be able to link the fragmented habitats of animal populations.

    In this framework, public participation should play a key role in environmental protection, experts say: national parks can be good examples to improve environmental education.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Friday, 4 November 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • CLIMATE CHANGE COOPERATION TO REINFORCE THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE USA AND CHINA

    According to experts, climate change cooperation can help to reduce tensions between China and the USA.

    With Obama’s administration, the US government has become more active in its approach to climate change: experts suggest that Obama has established a clearer strategy of environmentalissues. Obama has understood the importance to foster environmental policies, in order to expand American influence and to compete with the EU for influence over public opinion, expert say. In this way, the US government has strengthened its ability to drive the debates on the theme of climate change.

    In 2009, there were some signals of the improved relations between the US and China, and in comparison with the Bush’s administration there was less pressure on China to act on climate change. However, at the Copenhagen climate summit, Obama expressed great criticism in relation to the Chinese environmental policy.

    Data show that today China represents the world’s largest CO2 emitter. In relation to that, we can see a significant change: the government is stressing its environmental commitment. China has undertaken positive measures at the national and international level, boosting its efforts to fight climate change.

    Experts outline that in 2012, the cooperation between China and the US on climate change has achieved good progress.  However, over the past four years, strategic conflicts between the two governments have become more pronounced in many fields. In this way, working together on climate change represents a key issue for their political relationship.

    Cooperationon the economy, finance and climate change represents a good strategy to prevent a further deterioration in relations, experts say. Additionally, while there is antagonism over strategic issues, cooperation on finance, international security issues, and also on dealing with climate change, can play a crucial compensatory role: implementation of agreements on climate change and bilateral investments can be concrete strategies to start.

    With Obama, the government has significantly increased its interest on climate change related issues. However, the administration doesn’t have the political strength to foster climate change policies, experts stress.

    On the other hand, the Chinese situation is different. The Chinese government is determined to establish concrete measures to face climate change. The government has highlighted that China should strongly contribute to global problem-solving. Although there are still some problems, China is taking more seriously its environmental situation.

    Experts describe tensions between the US and China over climate change: the US government argue that China need to reinforce its efforts to reduce emissions. However, experts suggest that this situation is now improving.

    In emissions reduction, clean and efficient use of coal, nuclear power, wind power and the green economy, the US has better technology and knowledge. In recent years, many of those technologies have been imported to China. Also, China is reinforcing its green industry, and has started to develop its own advanced technologies. As the government invests more in the US, the country will be able to achieve good results for the US response to climate change, and for global efforts.

    In this context, experts have stressed that climate change should be a central issue of the political agenda. Governments should cooperate, focusing on their environmental strategies in order to reduce global emissions.

    Moreover, experts show that the EU has played a key role stressing the urgency to undertake concrete measures to address environmental issues, and enhancing the relationship between China and the US on the matter.
     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Tuesday, 4 November 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • JAPAN: A NUCLEAR POWER PLANT TO FOLLOW STRICTER SAFETY RULES

    A local governor has recently approved a plan to launch again a nuclear power plant in southern Japan. The plant’s host town – Satsumasendai - has already voted to restart the plant. The governor’s endorsement completes the required process of local consent.

    This decision represents the first attempt to resume operations in the country, under new safety rules imposed after the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi accident caused by an earthquake and tsunami. According to the authorities, the restarting of the two reactors at the Sendai power station would go ahead despite the concerns of residents.

    In July, Japanese nuclear regulation authority approved the power station under stricter safety requirements required after the Fukushima meltdown.  All 48 workable reactors in Japan have been offline for safety checks or repairs since the 2011 disaster, except of two that have temporarily operated for about a year.

    In this way, Sendai would be the first to restart under safety rules imposed after the Fukushima crisis.

    The Japanese prime minister has stressed the importance to restart some reactors. A prolonged shutdown could undermine the economy in Japan, which is heavily dependent on imported sources of energy, the prime minister said.

    On the other hand, many citizens have strongly criticized this program, showing their concerns about the consequences of this decision. In particular, citizens have raised some doubts about the several active volcanoes around the plant.

    In this framework, the minister of economy, trade and industry has highlighted that gaining local residents’ understanding represents a challenging issue, and a crucial question.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Friday, 7 November 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • CLIMATE CHANGE: GLOBAL WARMING DAMAGING FLOWER POLLINATION

    A recent scientific research has shown, for the first time, that climate change threatens flower pollination which underpins much of the world’s food production.

    This study has used museum records stretching back to 1848 to show that the early spider orchid and the miner bee on which it depends for reproduction have become increasingly out of sync, as spring temperatures rise due to global warming.

    According to the research, rising temperatures are causing bees to fly before flowers have bloomed, and making pollination less likely. However, while rising temperature causes both the orchid and the bee to flower or fly earlier in the spring, the bees are affected much more, leading to a mismatch, experts say.

    This study has demonstrated that plants and their pollinators reveal different responses to climate change and that warming will expand the timeline between bees and flowers emerging. Moreover, if replicated in less specific systems, this could have severe implications for crop productivity, the study shows.

    This research represents the first clear signal of the climate change’s potential to undermine critical pollination relationships between species. Long-term data support this study.

    Data show that three-quarters of all food crops rely on pollination. Unfortunately, many studies reveal that bees and otherpollinators have already suffered heavily in recent years from various diseases, pesticide use and the widespread loss of the flowery habitats on which they feed.

    In this context, the research team has argued that there will be progressive disruption of pollination systems due to climatic change. This alarming situation could lead to the breakdown of interactions between species, experts add.

    Scientistshave identified other timing mismatches caused by global warming between species and their prey: oak tree buds are eaten by winter months, whose caterpillars are in turn fed by great tits to their chicks, but the synchronicity of all these events has been disrupted.

    Additionally, suspected mismatches have occurred between sea birds and fish, such as puffins and herring and guillemots and sand eels. The red admiral butterfly and the stinging nettle, one of its host plants, are also getting out of sync.

    Furthermore, the temperature effects can be subtle: in this way, experts need to collect data over a long period: this represents the main challenge, experts say.

    In this framework, the UK government has recently announced its national pollinator strategy. The pesticide trade body, the Crop Protection Association and the National Farmers Union have welcomed this plan. On the other hand, the chair of parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee has criticized this strategy, saying that it is in contrast with the European ban on pesticides, linked to pollinator declines.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Thursday, 6 November 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • STRATEGIES AND CONCERNS OF FRACKING

    A new report has found that fracking can pollute the air with carcinogenic formaldehyde.

    Tests around shale gas wells in the US have found that levels of benzene were up to 770,000 higher than usual background quantities. The quantities were up to 33 times the concentration that drivers can smell when filling up with fuel at a petrol station. Additionally, levels of hydrogen sulphide were up to 60,000 times an acceptable odour threshold.

    The study has alarmingly revealed that the exposure a person would get in five minutes at one Wyoming site is equivalent to that living in Los Angeles for two years or Beijing for eight and half months. Tests have warned that one hour of exposure to chemicals at that level would cause diseases such as fatigue, loss of appetite, headache, irritability and poor memory. In relation to that, studies suggest that both benzene and formaldehyde cause cancer.

    The UK Government has argued that gas can play an important role in fighting climate change by replacing coal-fired power plants. Also, experts have forecast that the new energy source could guarantee more than a third of the nation's gas supplies within 20 years.

    On the other hand, some communities have criticized the plans for fracking, warning that chemicals used to fracture rock to extract the gas could seriously damage the environment.

    According to the professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Earth Observation Science at the University of Leicester, the studies indicate significant emissions of a wide range of volatile compounds from shale gas extraction. Many of these compounds are damaging air quality and human health. However, the situation in the US is not directly transferable to the UK due to the different legislative regulation regime and the different nature of UK shales. In addition to that, recent work has shown lower concentrations of these air toxins as benzene in the UK.

    Many experts have stressed that this situation is very complex. The Senior Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow has added that the government need to establish higher environmental standards than current objectives for shale gas projects in North America. This question represents one of the key difficulties faced by the incipient UK shale gas industry. Additionally, UK shale gas wells will have to capture and process all gases released rather than venting them as is customary in the USA and Canada.

    Also, the question about the water used for fracking entails strong debates and doubts. In order to achieve concrete results, experts suggest that in all UK sites the water required for fracking will have to be stored, between fracking operations, in enclosed tanks.

    In this framework, experts highlight that insufficient regulation can result in locally elevated concentrations of atmospheric pollutants in many urban and industrial situations.

    Moreover, industrial emissions are regulated with effective measures in the UK and these regulations currently apply to those who have been producing conventional oil and gas in the UK for many years. In relation to that, experts hope the government will apply these rules to any future producers of shale gas.

    In order to face to the main critics, the chief executive of UK Onshore Oil & Gas (UKOOG) has indicated that in the UK sites of shale gas, air quality will be monitored before, during and after any activity, with stricter controls on emissions overseen by the Environment Agency.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Thursday, 30 October 2014

    (Source: The Telegraph)

  • THE ALARMING SITUATION OF THE TIBETAN PLATEAU

    A recent research paper published by scientists at the Kunming Institute of Botany has warned that large areas of grasslands, alpine meadows, wetlands and permafrost will disappear on the Tibetan plateau by 2050, entailing serious implications for environmental security in China and South Asia.

    Experts have stressed that warming temperatures, with a dramatic infrastructure boom, a growing population and over grazing will damage the fragile ecosystems. Consequently, this situation will undermine the region's ability to provide key environmental services such as water and carbon storage to the rest of Asia, experts add.

    The Tibetan plateau plays a key role being the source of Asian major rivers that support about 1.4 billion people downstream. The plateau also regulates regional climate systems, including the monsoon.

    Data show that the Himalaya and Tibetan plateau are warming three times faster than the global average. Studies have revealed that rising temperatures have caused the melting of snow and glaciers and the degradation of permafrost (perennially frozen layers of soil which provide essential carbon and water storage).

    According to experts, by 2050 there will be a rough 30% decrease in the ecosystems. Plants and animals that are living there today will be no longer present or will be present in reduced numbers, experts explain.

    Recent reports outline that scientists are currently observing a range of climate change impacts from the region such as longer growing seasons, increased number of frost free days, more cloudy days and more frequent heavy rainfall. For example, in the eastern Himalayas alpine meadows have significantly reduced, with the loss of rare medicinal plants.

    Additionally, other studies have revealed that around the sacred Mount Kailash region almost 40% of ecosystems will shift to a new state by 2050, representing a significant loss of rare alpine biodiversity.

    However, these climate projections have raised concerns and uncertainties. Experts suggest that all these uncertainties and regional variances will not undermine the policymakers' ability to tackle climate change related issues on the Tibetan plateau.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Friday, 31 October 2014

    (Source:ChinaDialogue)

  • EFFORTS TO INCREASE PUBLIC AWARENESS ON ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

    Seafood has a special role in the Chinese luxury dining scene. Inviting people at a big seafood banquet is a way to strengthen social relationships with important partners in a professional context. For these reasons the high ranked people in government or the private sector often attend banquets as part of their work obligations. Seafood dishes served at banquets include lobster, giant geoduck clams, crabs and abalone, shark fin, sea cucumbers, and reef fish.

    Data show that the country’s per capita consumption of seafood is increasing as Chinese middle class expands and incomes rise. However, this situation entails some concerns and problems.

    The live reef fish for food trade represents one of the main fishery industries in Asia Pacific: major source countries are Indonesia and the Philippines, and the most of the exports go to Hong Kong and China.

    Among reef fish, napoleon wrasse is the most lavishly priced, costing from 80 to 2000 yuan for 500 grams, followed by mouse grouper, a delicately mottled grey and black fish, scarlet leopard coral grouper, and other groupers.

    Experts explain that the price represents the main attraction of these fish in Chinese seafood banquets: ordering them is a way of showing your guests that you value them and honour them. The price plays a more important role that the taste and attractive appearance of fishes.

    On the other hand, environmentalists have raised doubts and concerns about the impact of the fish trade on fish stocks and the health of coral reefs across Southeast Asia. Environmental groups did fight for many years to establish stronger controls to regulate the trade. Additionally, these experts have highlighted the urgency of the situation: the napoleon wrasse is endangered, several other species are threatened, and the cyanide that is often used to catch them damages coral reefs.

    Also, tuna and salmon are popular as sushi and sashimi, prepared a la Japanese style, and puffer fish is also a high status dish: studies show that marine fishes are preferred over freshwater fish, viewed as common and cheap. At the international level, shark-fin soup is the best-known seafood dish in these banquets. However, restaurant representatives have reported a significant decline in the consumption of shark fin: in recent years environmentalist campaigns have heavily publicized cruelty of harvesting shark fin, raising awareness of this issue among consumers.

    Due to multiple food safety scandals and crimes in recent years, trust in the food system is extremely low.

    Moreover, in recent years there have been significant policy developments that have had a significant impact on luxury seafood consumption. Governments have launched a widespread crackdown against all forms of government excess: government banquets were one of the main targets. For example, the government has recently announced a ban on shark fin at state banquets within few years.

    In this framework, experts have stressed the importance to establish stronger measures in order to improve a stricter regulation.

    According to experts, the strategies to achieve concrete results should include commitments for greater forms of traceability within the Chinese seafood market, the adoption of certification schemes, the use of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as a conservation instrument for endangered species consumed in China, and the development of consumer awareness campaigns.

    In this way, reinforcing public awareness of environmental issues among consumers will play a crucial role as a driver of reduced consumption of unsustainably sourced seafood in Chinese banquets.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Thursday, 30 October 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • THE OBJECTIVES OF THE CHINESE 13th FIVE-YEAR-PLAN

    According to experts, in the nation’s 13th Five-Year Plan, the Chinese leaders should establish that protection of the public’s health and the nation’s water, air and other criticalnatural resources has the same importance as economic prosperity.

    In this way, the explicit linking of economic growth with protection of the public health and environment would represent a powerful statement and symbol for the Chinese citizens.

    To achieve concrete results, leaders need to foster sustained implementation and enforcement of the various health and environmental laws that China has adopted, including the recent revised Environment Law.

    Additionally, the 13th Five-Year Plan might include some measures such as a national coal cap, maximum daily pollution restrictions and strict limits on small particulate matter (PM 2.5) for all Chinese cities.

    Moreover, a stronger mandate for citizen collaboration in solving the nation’s water and air-pollution problems will be a concrete instrument to protect the public health and environment, experts add.

    In this framework, citizen engagement will take two forms: implementation and enforcement.

    The 13th Five-Year Plan should direct regional and local governments to increase public participation by individuals, non-governmental organisations and academic research institutions, in order to ensure the implementation of the projects. In this way, the plan will help to determine the best local anti-pollution strategies.

    Once local priorities are set, the plan should require that the public is authorized to cooperate with the government to identify violators in the community, in order to remedy violations.

    In addition to that, the plan should introduce stronger incentives to encourage local officials to strengthen environmental and public-participation standards.

    Also, the 13th Five-Year Plan should require that all polluting companies install pollution monitoring equipment releasing monitoring data, as a concrete strategy to facilitate effective citizen involvement in addressing local pollution. In this way, these important data would be accessible to the public.

    This strategy should also require a broader diffusion of pollution survey data compiled by the Ministry of Environmental Protection: these data could be used by citizens at courts, as evidence of pollution violations. In relation to that, citizens and non-governmental organizations should encourage to bring public interest of environmental lawsuits against illegal polluters. Additionally, courts should hear these pollution cases in a timely manner.

    In this context, regional and local governments are working on new clean air plans established in the 12th Five-Year Plan and in the State Council Directive in September 2013. Authorities could host public participation events inviting public comments.

    With concrete measures, the public would play a significant role, being a crucial ally to local government officials charged with redressing excessive pollution.

    In this framework, experts stress that local governments and local communities cooperating together can play a central role to solve Chinese pressing pollution challenges. In relation to that, the 13th Five-Year Plan should undertake an environmental protection system to guarantee that local governments collaborate with the public.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Thursday, 30 October 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • THE IPCC STRESSES THE HUMAN IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE

    According to a new report from the UN's expert panel on climate science, there is conclusive scientific evidence that humans are changing theclimate. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has argued the urgency to undertake stricter actions to stop the severe and irreversible impacts of climate change.

    Such actions should involve greater uptake of renewable energy, which should provide 80 per cent of the world's electricity by 2050, up from the 30 per cent it currently represents. Moreover, the IPCC has called for the phase-out of fossil fuels without carbon capture and storage (CCS) by the end of the century.

    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the climate change summit in New York has urged the importance to establish urgent and immediate action. In this context, leaders must take effective policies in order to achieve concrete results. Scientific evidences have highlighted the urgency of the current situation.

    According to Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, this plan represents the most comprehensive assessment of climate change. This means that we must act on climate change now.

    As the IPCC report has shown, the period from 1983 to 2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1,400 years.

    An increase in global temperature of 2°C would determine a serious climate catastrophe, experts say.

    In this framework, the IPCC has estimated that an annual investment equivalent to 0.06 per cent of the global economy would represent a good strategy in order to avoid the impact of climate change related issue.

    In this way, we could see a rise of 5°C without concerted efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the near term, the IPCC suggests.

    We can't afford to burn all the fossil fuels we have without dealing with the waste product which is CO2 and without dumping it in the atmosphere, Professor Myles Allen from Oxford University adds.

    Renewable energy plays a central role. A recent study of the German Fraunhofer Institute said that the cost of solar energy was falling quicker than previously anticipated. To make an example, in the US, solar is on track to replace other energy sources by 2016, experts indicate.

    Additionally, Denmark, where the IPCC talks were held, has stressed its commitment to ban coal use by 2025 introducing a wide range of green energy measures.

    In this context, the UN delegates will meet in Paris in December 2015 to decide how to tackle climate change.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Saturday, 1 November 2014

    (Source: The Independent)

  • AFRICA: GREEN SOLUTIONS TO FACE CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACT

    The planting of many millions of trees and bush seedlings has prevented an environmental catastrophe in Abrha Weatsbha in the Tigray region. The surrounding environment is unrecognizable: wells that were dry have been recharged, the soil is in better shape, fruit trees grow in the valleys and the hillsides are green again.

    Data show that fifteen years ago, the villages around Abrha Weatsbha in northern Ethiopia were on the point of being abandoned: the hillsides were barren, and the communities, plagued by floods and droughts, needed constant food aid. Additionally, the soil was being washed away.

    This project of “re-greening” of the area, that has achieved in few years important results, will be replicated across one sixth of Ethiopia, an area the size of England and Wales.

    This plan will try to significantly reduce soil erosion, increasing food security and adapting to climate change. Moreover, experts have stressed that this ambitious plan will increase the amount of food grown in this area prone to drought and famine.

    Researches have explained that vast areas of Ethiopia and the Sahel were devastated by severe droughts and overgrazing by animals in the 1960s and 1970s. People have faced an alarming drop in rainfall, compelled in this way to extend the land they cultivated, leading to massive destruction and an environmental crisis across the Sahel. The project in the Tigray region, where over 224,000 hectares of land has now been restored, stresses that recovery of vegetation in dry-land areas can be very fast.

    In order to obtain concrete benefits, the farmers have turned to “agro-ecology” to combine crops and trees on the same pieces of land.

    Also, the plan has involved communities building miles of terraces and low walls, or bunds, to hold back rainwater from slopes, including the closure of large areas of bare land to allow natural regeneration of trees and vegetation. Tens of thousands of kilometres of rock bunds and terraces have been constructed, often on steep slopes, experts say.

    The Ethiopian commitment to restore 15m hectares of degraded land represents the largest project established at the end of UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon’s New York climate summit last month, where governments, companies and civil society groups agreed to restore 350m hectares of deforested landscapes, an area the size of India, by 2030.

    Other countries such as Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Colombia, Guatemala and Chile have followed the Ethiopian example. Additionally, many other states are expected to follow before the Paris climate talks in December 2015. Also, the restoration of degraded land is expected to qualify for carbon credits.

    In this context, Africa, with help from the World Bank, the UK government and development groups as Oxfam and World Vision, has been defined as the leader in restoring the world’s estimated 2bn hectares of degraded lands.

    A recent report by the International Food Policy Research Institute has shown that the result has been extra 500,000 tonnes of food grown in this country facing the fastest growing population in the world. In addition to that, the plan has resulted in an increase in biodiversity and incomes.

    There are a lot of inspirational examples in Africa. Studies have also revealed that in Burkina Faso food production has grown about 80,000 tons a year: enough to feed an extra 500,000 people, experts add.

    According to the director of International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) nature-based solutions group in Geneva, these examples show that well-managed ecosystems represent concrete and effective solution for biodiversity and food security, as well as water supplies and climate change.

    Furthermore, the Green Belt Movement (GBM) international director has argued that these measures will be vital both for feeding fast-growing populations and adapting to climate change: the re-greening projects could play a key role for the solution to these problems.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Friday, 31 October 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • OZONE HOLE: IS RECOVERY ON TRACK?

    New data from NASA have alarmingly shown that the Antarctic ozone hole, which was expected to reduce in size with the emission cuts, is remaining the size of North America.

    The hole in the thin layer of gas helps shield life on Earth from potentially harmful ultraviolet solar radiation that can cause diseases as skin cancers, grows and contracts throughout the year. Data has revealed that this hole has reached its maximum extent in September when monitors at the South Pole showed it to cover 24.1m square km. This is about 9% below the record maximum in 2000 but almost the same as in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

    In relation to that, scientists have raised concerns about the reasons why the hole has not reduced more since the Montreal Protocol agreement was signed in 1987. Experts stress that this global agreement represents one of the world’s most successful instrument. This treaty bans the use of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), substances that were widely-used in household and industrial products such as refrigerators, spray cans, insulation foam and fire suppressants.

    According to the chief scientist for atmospheres at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, the ozone hole area is smaller than what we saw in the late-1990s and early 2000s. Studies have suggested that chlorine levels are decreasing. However, there are still strong doubts about whether a long-term Antarctic stratospheric temperature warming might be reducing this ozone depletion.

    Dr Jonathan Shanklin, professor at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, is one of the three scientists who discovered the hole in the 1980s. We are on track to achieve good results, but the efforts to reduce the impact of the CFCs require programs and measures in the long term, the professor said.

    Moreover, the interaction between climate change and the ozone hole is very complex. The professor has highlighted that this link has undermined and slowed the achievement of short-term results.

    Additionally, the ozone hole itself is affecting the climate of Antarctica and Australia, and is being affected by it. Also, the ozone hole is changing the wind systems.

    Furthermore, experts have argued that over the next 50 years the effects of climate change will increase. In this way, we will see different patterns of climate change.

    In this framework, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) have recently suggested that there were positive signals that the ozone layer was on track to recovery: however, experts have warned that it might take a further 35 years or more to recover to 1980 level. The Montreal Protocol has played a crucial role: without its targets, the ozone hole could have increased tenfold by 2050.

    The UNEP has stressed that, by 2030, the treaty will have prevented two million cases of skin cancer annually, averted damage to human eyes and immune systems, protecting also wildlife and agriculture.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Friday, 31 October 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • THE IPCC WILL SHOW US THE HUMAN INFLUENCE ON GLOBAL WARMING

    The world’s top climate scientists warn that humanity’s influence on the climate is unequivocal, with wide-ranging impacts across the planet, from rising seas to melting ice.

    The UN’s climate science panel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is currently working in Copenhagen to undertake the final wording of its report that will represent the most comprehensive account of the state on climate science in seven years.

    This work will be a summary of three major reports that have already been published over the course of the last 13 months: one on the physical science of climate change, one on its impacts on ecosystems, our food supply and how we adapt, and one on the solutions, as the reduction of emissions from power plants, factories, cars and farms.

    The report will highlight the importance to take into account the human role in global warming. According to experts, human influence on the climate system is evident: recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history as data show.

    In relation to that, the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen, experts say.

    Studies reveal that over the past decade, emissions grew at twice the rate of the previous 30 years.

    In this context, governments must take action undertaking concrete measures to achieve the substantial emissions reductions necessary to tackle climate change related issues. Moreover, governments need to take into account projects on the long term, in order to meet the targets.

    Data indicate that the warming isn’t evenly spread: the tropics and higher latitudes have got hotter faster than other regions.

    In addition to that, the draft report has outlined the urgency of the current situation saying that since the mid-19th century, the rate of sea level rise has been larger than the rate during the previous two millennia.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Friday, 31 October 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • ANTARCTIC MARINE RESERVES: GEOPOLITICAL INTERESTS AND ENVIRONMENT

    Russia has recently been accused of blocking the creation of the world’s largest marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean. Negotiators stress that diplomatic tensions over the war in Ukraine have undermined the attempt to create the world’s biggest marine protected areas.

    Delegates to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) have stressed the complexity of this situation, saying that the Russian position on conservation in the Antarctic represents a negative backward step.

    Consequently, the commission has failed again to reach an agreement on protecting more than 2.5 million sq km of sea off the coast of Antarctica.

    The MPAsare split over two regions of the Southern Ocean, the Ross Sea and the seas off eastern Antarctica. Russia was particularly opposed to the Ross Sea MPA, which would contain a 1.25 million sq km no-take zone.

    According to the commission, scientific advice has shown that the protection of Antarctic marine ecosystems from overfishing represents a key step in preserving the health of the world’s oceans.

    CCAMLR is a consensus-based organization: in this way, Russian objection to the MPAs is sufficient to block the proposals.

    Fishing nations that have been sceptical of the proposals in the past, such as Ukraine and Norway, were willing to accept the projects this year. On the other hand, China, previously neutral, has joined the Russians to form the last bloc of resistance to the plan.

    Global tensionshave played a crucial role in the Russian decision, Antarctic activists and participants at the meeting said.

    Additionally, some delegates have criticized this position, adding that the Ukrainian situation was a convenient excuse for Russia to push the negotiations back, in order to protect its pro-fishing agenda.

    As the director of Southern Ocean conservation at Pew Environment has explained, this deadlock has strongly undermined the commission’s purpose of concrete and secure environmental stewardship, damaging its conservation project.

    In this context, Greenpeace oceans campaigner Richard Page has outlined that this failure is symptomatic of a dangerous global trend: geopolitical interests override genuine efforts to protect the oceans for the sake of future generations.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Friday, 31 October 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • UAE: LABOUR LAWS REFORM NEEDED TO PROTECT DOMESTIC MIGRANT WORKERS

    The abusive conditions of migrant domestic workers represent one of the most challenging issues of the international agenda. A recent report of the Human Rights Watch has outlined the alarming situation of migrant domestic workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), compelled to face severe abuses by employers.

    Recently, the UAE authorities have modified the standard domestic worker labour contract establishing a weekly day off and 8 hours of rest in any 24-hour period.

    However, the revisited contract does not address other important issues as limits on working hours. Additionally, this contract represents a weaker instrument than labour law protections for other workers that are enforceable by judicial authorities.

    Data show that the UAE authorities have reformed some aspects of the kafala system in order to face difficulties in recent years, but these changes do not achieve concrete results for domestic workers.

    Experts highlight that this situation represents a complex issue. Workers who seek compensation must overcome various legal and practical obstacles, particularly in pursuing court remedies for contract breaches or less extreme abuse.

    In addition to that, many workers have to face an administrative offense for leaving an employer without consent before the contract ends.

    Reports also show that in some cases employers filed trumped-up theft charges against workers who fled.

    According to workers’ depositions, migrants had to face further abuses if they turned to their recruitment agencies for help. Other migrants reveal that agents forced them to return to abusive employers, forcing them work for new families against their will, confined to their agency residence and deprived of food.

    In this context, some labour-sending countries have established temporary bans on migration to the UAE for domestic work in recent years. Many countries as Philippines, in order to safeguard workers, allow their citizens to travel to the UAE as domestic workers only if their UAE employers and recruitment agencies agree to minimum salaries and conditions. Moreover, the Philippines has stressed that the new contract did not establish sufficient protection for migrant workers.

    In this framework, experts call for stronger measures saying that countries need to cooperate together to require reforms in the UAE, reinforcing also their own protection measures. The UAE needs to make labour rights a reality at home, including for migrant domestic workers, in line with the ILO Domestic Workers Convention.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Friday, 24 October 2014

    (Source: HumanRightsWatch)

  • A STRATEGY TO BOOST CHINESE FOREST RESTORATION

    According to experts, a more sustainable landscape-level approach to forest restoration with planted monoculture forests failing in many parts of the country will help China to meet present and future needs.

    Experts explain that near Beijing, a project to restore a diversity of trees to a variety of land uses in the watershed of the Miyun Reservoir Basin is testing the potential of this alternative approach. This project has the objective to produce self-sustaining forests and parkland, welcoming a variety of tree species back to a variety of land uses, tailored to the local landscape, experts say.

    The Chinese government has invested more than 500 billion RMB (US$70billion) in forest protection and restoration in the last ten years, creating more than eight million hectares of new forested land.

    Data show that 60 per cent of Chinese forests, on a land area basis, are newly established.

    Researchers outline that most of the restoration in China has occurred through the establishment of monoculture plantations that lack the diversity required for a fully functioning ecosystem.

    This issue has raised doubts and concerns. Many critics have argued that monoculture plantations will not be resilient to climate change. Additionally, some experts have stressed that monoculture plantations will not provide the required services, as cleaner air and water, and natural forests.

    In this contest, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has commissioned a final report that will show a full account of the health of Chinese monoculture forests.

    Researchers have highlighted that pursuing afforestation through monoculture plantations will guarantee significant benefits including faster progress, easier planting, and simpler progress evaluation. The project will achieve durable and high-quality forested landscapes, experts add.

    Studies show that Beijing is facing severe water shortages: it has lower per-capita water availability than some Middle Eastern countries. Also, over the last few years, Beijing’s water tables have decreased, so existing wells cannot tap them.

    In this framework, a watershed-scale analysis of the Miyun region in partnership with Beijing Forestry Society and the international NGO Forest Trends will help to understand if restoring diverse trees across the landscape could increase the filtration, and potentially flow, of water heading for taps in Beijing.

    Working with the dynamic nature of healthy ecosystems, and welcoming back trees within varied land uses, including in agricultural fields, protected forests, and alongside pastures, rivers and wetlands will play a central role. This aim will maximize the natural benefits of a restored landscape through a variety of different interventions, experts suggest.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Saturday, 25 October 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • CHINESE ENVIRONMENTAL TRIBUNALS: TOP LEVEL TRIBUNALS IMPROVE LOWER COURTS

    Figures indicate that China has 365 environmental protection courts, collegiate panels and circuit courts. However, the number of cases heard is low. For example, data show that in Jiangsu province, home to the Yangzte River Basin industrial belt, over 50,000 environmental complaints and petitions were made, but only 85 cases were resolved through the courts. In this context, at the 4th Environmental Justice Forum, local courts have complained of a lack of cases to hear.

    In order to overcome these problems, the Supreme People’s Court has launched a program to foster specialization in the administration of environmental justice. The Supreme People’s Court has founded a Tribunal specialized for environmental cases, appointing Guo Xuelin to lead this Court.

    According to Guo Xuelin, the Supreme People’s Court’s has the objective to improve the handling of environmental cases, in order to achieve an ecologically-civilized society. Moreover, lower level courts have been encouraged to establish systems for hearing environmental cases.

    Furthermore, Guo Xuelin has explained that interpretation plays a crucial role in promoting environmental public interest cases. The Civil Procedure Law and Environmental Protection Law establish special rules on environmental public interest cases; in this way, a local court handling such a case for the first time might not know how to proceed as there’s no specific procedure or way of making judgment.

    This system entails that the provincial courts has a task to institute their own environmental protection systems. Then, the subordinate courts had done the same in line with the needs of the province, establishing jurisdictions across regional and local administrative boundaries.

    However, the situation is complex. There are a lot of complaints and petitions that don’t reach the judicial system. The reasons are various. Firstly, it’s not easy to bring a case: the legal procedures are confused, and a court that accepts a case might not know how to proceed.

    In this framework, setting up bodies as environmental courts represents an important aspect of the specialization of environmental justice.

    For environmental justice, the best system is to have a dedicated environmental court, such as in Australia and New Zealand. Another key option is a dedicated body to hear environmental cases, as an environmental tribunal. Also, in locations without many cases, the third option is a dedicated collegiate panel. In this way, specialized personnel will play a central role: environmental public interest cases involve criminal, civil and administrative law, creating overlaps and complexity, requiring specialized staff.

    Additionally, most environmental cases heard by local courts are resolved through mediation rather than judgment. This fact represents a crucial issue. The new system entails that courts will publish the content of mediated agreements before they are issued: public interest cases are not just a matter of the interests of the two parties and cannot be decided between them. Consequently, the court must examine the agreement.

    In conclusion, the administration of justice and judicial verdicts will play a guiding role: the creation of bodies hearing environmental and resource cases will help compensate for a lack of environmental law enforcement.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Saturday, 25 October 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • EU: TO REINFORCE THE FIGHT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE AND TO CUT EMISSIONS

    Despite deep divisions among countries over how to produce energy, the leaders of the European Union have agreed on targets for protecting the climate and generating green power.

    The commitment to reduce emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030 has been the key element of the debates.

    According to the German chancellor, the new target guarantees that Europe will play a crucial role also for future binding commitments of an international climate agreement.

    This accord represents a significant step ahead. This decision makes the European Union the first major global emitter to put its position on the table, before the important United Nations climate meeting in Paris at the end of 2015, experts say.

    The president of the European Council has welcomed this deal as the most ambitious and cost-effective climate policy that governments had established before.

    Moreover, experts have hailed this target as an important incentive to reach a global agreement next year in Paris, encouraging also others countries such as China and the United States to cooperate and limiting the warming of the planet.

    Events show that most European countries agree on reducing their energy dependence on countries outside the bloc, like Russia. However, experts recognize that sharply conflicting energy choices in Europe represent an obstacle to cooperation.

    In this context, the European Union has established a target of generating at least 27 per cent of its energy from renewable sources. This objective will be binding at the European Union level but not the national level. In relation to that, critics argue that these targets raised questions about their enforceability.

    The objective to cut the emissions that contribute to climate change has been one of the main issues of the European debates for a long time. Policy makers have frequently stressed how their industries and citizens emit lower levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide than those of the United States and other industrialized countries.

    In addition to that, the situation is even more complex if we take into account other factors. To make an example, the strong downturn in Europe created by the sovereign debt crisis has significantly undermined funding for green projects. Additionally, the rapid growth of technologies to tap cheap shale gas has damaged prospects for renewable alternatives.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Saturday, 25 October 2014

    (Source: The NY Times)

  • AUSTRALIA: GREENS STRESS THE URGENCY TO REINFORCE CLIMATE POLICY TO REDUCE EMISSIONS

    European Union has undertaken a significant deal to cut emissions by at least 40% by 2030, stressing the importance for the Australian government to reinforce its efforts for greenhouse gas cuts. European leaders have arranged one of the first major commitments to post-2020 emissions cuts before the meeting in Paris next year.

    In this context, the Australian government has established a target of a 5% cut in emissions by 2020, based on 2000 levels. According to the foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, the Australian plan represents an ambitious goal. However, the independent Climate Change Authority has criticized this program as inadequate, calling for a reduction of at least 15%.

    The EU has also established additional 27% targets for the renewable energy market share and the increase in energy efficiency improvement by 2030. Australian renewable energy target indicates that 41,000 gigawatt hours of the energy must come from renewable sources by 2020.

    According to the Environment Minister, the government welcome all progress with the aim to reduce emissions, reinforcing the efforts to meet its targets for 2020.

    In this context, the Greens stress the importance for the Coalition to undertake stronger measures because Australia’s current emissions target is disastrously inadequate. The Coalition needs to show ambition for deeper cuts, the Greens say.

    Christine Milne, the Greens leader, has strongly criticized the government’s policy, highlighting that is important to take into account that we are in the midst of a global energy revolution. In this way, the government must shift towards a clean energy policy to achieve concrete results.

    The decarbonisation of the energy sector must represent a key objective of the political agenda, the deputy chief executive of the Climate Institute said. Renewable energy must play a crucial role in this field, rather than basing the target around short-term industry interests. In relation to that, Australian power sector needs to continue decarbonising over this and coming decades.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Friday, 24 October 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • THE URGENCY TO REFORM THE KAFALA SYSTEM

    Human Rights Watch has interviewed many women outlining the stories of abuse of domestic workers migrating to the Persian Gulf in hopes of improving their lives.

    Data show that almost 150,000 female domestic workers are employed in the UAE: most are Asians, but increasing numbers are also from East Africa.

    The situation witnessed in the reports is very complex. Workers have to face the UAE’s labour laws and restrictive immigration policies. These factors, coupled with unethical recruitment in home countries, drive to an environment that is ripe for exploitation and abuses.

    Domestic workers are compelled to face long working hours with little or no rest, confinement to the household, with inadequate food or living conditions, and physical abuse. Additionally, employers have the possibility to confiscate the passports, so workers are literally trapped in their homes.

    Reports describe this alarming situation: under the kafala system, domestic workers cannot transfer employers before the end of their contracts without employers’ consent. Moreover, what is even more alarming is that the UAE excludes domestic workers from its labour laws.

    To address these difficulties and overcome the legal gap, the UAE authorities have recently modified the standard employment contract for domestic workers, requiring a day off per week and at least eight hours of rest in any 24-hour period.

    The question of forced labour and human rights abuses has been a crucial issue of the political agenda for long time.

    The UAE has tried to reinforce its commitment to face this plague, starting to address this problem with migrant workers in other fields, as construction, requiring employers to pay them electronically through their bank accounts with verifiable receipts.

    Furthermore, the UAE has established some precedents for accountability. For example, a UAE court has recently confirmed a 15-year prison sentence for an Emirati employer accused of torturing two domestic workers.

    In this framework, experts stress that also Asian countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka are trying to improve protections, in order to assist and safeguard domestic workers.

    Experts highlight that ending abusive recruitment, promoting safe and voluntary migration, and ensuring decent working conditions represent the main concrete ways to protect workers from human rights abuses.

    These important measures include rigorous monitoring of recruitment agencies, reforming the kafala system and bringing labour laws in line with the International Labour Organisation’s Domestic Workers Convention.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Friday, 24 October 2014

    (Source: HumanRightsWatch)

  • A SIGNIFICANT TURNAROUND: THE CHINESE COAL USE DROPS FOR THE FIRST TIME

    A recent analysis of official statistics has shown that the amount of coal burned by China has fallen for the first time in this century. Chinese rapid growthin the use of the coal in last years has been the main factor to fast-rising carbon emissions that drive climate change, experts say.

    According to Greenpeace, the amount of coal burned in the first three-quarters of 2014 was 1-2% lower than a year earlier. This decrease contrasts with the 5-10% annual growth rates seen since the early years of the century, the analysis reveals. In relation to that, experts of Greenpeace have argued that this increase in coal consumption had undermined the efforts to fight climate change related issues.

    Consequently, this change represents an important and a concrete opportunity to bring climate change under control. Additionally, this turnaround could determine a positive impact on the major coal exporting countries such as Indonesia and Australia that have profited from China’s demand for the fuel.

    At the UN climate change summit in New York, the Chinese government has recently highlighted its commitment to significantly reduce the excessive degree of carbon emissions in the near-term. Although there are concerns and doubts, this change is the first signal that China is moving away from coal, Greenpeace says. Furthermore, the study of Greenpeace has shown that despite the current drop in coal use, economic growth had continued at 7.4% at the same time.

    In addition to that, data reveal that not only coal consumption for electricity is decreasing, but experts indicate that there is a very slow growth of steel and cement and a drop in both coal imports and domestic coal production.

    In this framework, Chinese statistical agency has noted that economic growth is increasingly aiming at the service sector instead of heavy industry, as well as new renewable energy such as hydropower and wind power, stressing the objective of the Chinese government to tackle climate change.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Thursday, 23 October 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • CAMPAIGNERS AND ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS DISAPPROVE PLAN TO CUT SOLAR FARM SUBSIDIES

    Recently, the British Environment Secretary, Liz Truss, has been strongly criticized for the announced plan to cut subsidies for new developments. The Environment Secretary has launched a program to ensure that more agricultural land is dedicated to crops and food: in that way, farmers will no longer be able to claim subsidies for filling fields with solar panels.

    Campaigners have strongly criticized this announcement stressing the importance to reinforce renewable energy policy with concrete instruments. According to Ms Truss, solar farms represent important and innovative instruments to boost development and green energy. However, these instruments represent a big problem if we use land that can grow crops, fruit and vegetables, the Secretary add.

    The director of policy at the London School of Economics’ Grantham Institute has criticized the new plan highlighting that this decision represents an echo of the previous environmental policy in contrast with renewables. Additionally, experts argue that the new Secretary should focus on the risks of climate change which are one of the most challenging and even urgent issues of the political agenda.

    In this framework, environmentalist groups hope that the Minister will change her view about renewables, undertaking measures to achieve a sustainable society, and abandoning the previous policy aimed to promote fracking.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Wednesday, 22 October 2014

    (Source: The Independent)

  • THE IMPASSE OF WTO IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE TRADE FACILITATION AGREEMENT

    The impasse in the negotiation for the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (hereinafter “TFA”) is now a serious reason of concern for the Director-General Roberto Azevedo’s.The WTO ‘s General Council meeting scheduled for the 10-11 December is going to be of crucial importance for the implementation of the FTA and all the remaining Doha issues.

    In particular, the conflict between the USA and India brought to a serious block, because New Delhi refused to go on with the implementation of the TFA due to the lack of progress in the field of another Bali core decision, concerning the development of a permanent solution to public food stockholding.

    The way this decision affects the global process of implementation of the core elements agreed in Bali is undeniable. Other members of the WTO started to explain their position in order to find out a solution to the impasse created which is even close to bring back the re-opening of the Bali package.

    If the actual situation does not permit a quick solution of the issue, a new scenario has been recently considered by some of the members of WTO: a plurilateral implementation of the FTA among those members willing to do it.

    However, first of all China and the EU are still tending to prefer a multilateral approach. Indeed, according to them is the only way to ensure a stronger and longer in time implementation of what agreed and in order to move further on the rest of the Doha Development Agenda.

    As a consequence, the next WTO’s General Council shall be of crucial importance in order to understand the further developments of the WTO itself.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC team

    Friday, 6 November 2014

    (Source: International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development)

  • MORE SECURITY FOR CHINA WITH A COUNTER ESPIONAGE LAW

    China passed a counter-espionage law aimed at tightening state security and helping build a "comprehensive" national security system.

    The law will allow authorities to seal or seize any property linked to activities deemed harmful to the country; authorities can also ask organisations or individuals to stop or modify any behaviour regarded as damaging to China's interests.

    As China has already made broader laws governing state secrets and security, it was not clear what to extent the new law would enhance policing powers.

    The revised security law followed a Communist Party meeting that promised to allow courts more independence and curtail officials' influence over legal cases, though the vows were criticised by some as lacking in substance.

    The defendants in these legal cases would be fined or detained if they “force a plaintiff to withdraw the suit through illegal means such as threats or fraud”.

     

    The gLawcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Saturday, 1 November 2014

    (Source: Reuters)

     

  • EUROPEAN DEAL TO REDUCE EMISSIONS BY 2030

    New European Union energy and climate-policy targets have boosted hopes for a global climate deal next year, maintaining affordability and competiveness. However, the Ukraine crisis has created a new priority: to reduce energy dependence on Russia.

    The history of international agreements from nuclear disarmament to free trade shows that countries have to be convinced of the benefits before they cooperate, and build trust in each other step by step. The main objective of an international climate agreement in Paris next year must achieve trust. EU leaders have agreed three headline targets for 2030: to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 40% compared with 1990 levels, to get 27% of all energy from renewable sources, and to cut energy consumption by 27% compared to projected levels.

    EU emissions are already about 19% below 1990 levels, helped by the financial crisis and two Eurozone recessions. The new emission target may be more stretching. First, EU countries were allowed to meet the 2020 target by buying international carbon offsets. The new target refers to “domestic reduction” alone. Second, an EU impact assessment shows that, without new policies, it would only achieve emissions cuts of about 31% in 2030.

    Under the renewable-energy target, EU states must get 27% of their energy from renewable sources, compared to 20% in 2020. This target looks too easy. First, it is not binding on individual member states, and so may be difficult to enforce. In the overall international context, however, the EU offer is a good one; a Paris agreement above all else will succeed on a willingness to participate, where the EU has once again led the world in taking the first step.

    The three main domestic energy goals which the 2030 package must achieve are: investment in the region’s energy infrastructure, security of supply, and cost reduction.

    The recent New Climate Economy report did a good job of trying to clear this up. The weakness of the new renewable-energy target reflects cost concerns, and the fact that some countries like Britain are pursuing nuclear power as an alternative low-carbon technology. The weakness of the energy-efficiency target is disappointing, as one of the EU’s main opportunities to drive competitiveness, given its extraordinary dependence on energy imports (at 54% of consumption); high power prices; and strength in innovation. EU leaders agreed to review the efficiency target by 2020, with a view to strengthening it; they are well advised to do that.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Monday, 27 October 2014

    (Source: China Dialogue)

  • NEW TEST FOR CHINA AND THE FIRST MOON MISSION WITH A RETURN TO EARTH

    China launched a spacecraft to test technologies to be used in the Chang'e-5, a future probe that will conduct the country's first moon mission with a return to Earth.

    The test spacecraft separated from its carrier rocket and entered the expected the orbit shortly after the lift-off; the whole mission will take about eight days. Developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the spacecraft will fly around the moon for half a circle and return to Earth.

    The mission is to obtain experimental data and validate re-entry technologies such as guidance, navigation and control, heat shield and trajectory design for a future touch-down on the moon by Chang'e-5, which is expected to be sent to the moon.

    The test orbiter is a precursor to the last phase of a three-step moon probe project, a lunar sample return mission.

     

    The gLawcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Friday, 24 October 2014

    (Source: China Daily)

  • OPEN INNOVATION HELPING CHINA TO BECOME A DEVELOPED COUNTRY

    During the opening ceremony of an international forum themed "Open Innovation" in Moscow, Chinese Premier Li Keqiangsaid that all countries need to work together to achieve multiplication of knowledge and value through innovation cooperation, so as to solve development problems and promote common prosperity, because the world calls for innovation in large scale and at deep level.

    Open innovation includes innovation cooperation not only in the fields of technology, but also in structure and mechanism. Creative and innovative vitality can only be stimulated when technological innovation is combined with structural reform, and only under these circumstances, the world economy can recover steadily with a powerful impetus.

    Chinahas opened up to the outside world and kept on raising the degree and level of its opening-up, which in return promotes reform and improves competitiveness the ability of innovation. However, China remains the biggest developing country in the world, and to achieve the goal of becoming a developed country by the middle of the century, Beijing needs to further emancipate minds and stick to the path of reform and innovation.

    China has been devising a mechanism to promote innovation; it will carry on reforming the scientific and technological system and improving the distribution mechanism for scientific achievements. China has been creating an environment that protects innovation: improving its legal system, regulating the market and creating an inclusive environment to attract more innovators, listing China's efforts in protecting intellectual property rights.

    Furthermore, it has been supporting its entrepreneurs to innovate technologies and administration among others, developing an innovation-driven economy.
    On China-Russia ties, Beijing is ready to cooperate with Russia on major strategic projects, deepen people-to-people and local communication, support the cooperation between medium- and small-sized companies, and work out a mechanism that promotes innovation cooperation.

    The gLawcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Thursday, 16 October 2014

    (Source: Intellectual Property Protection in China)

  • THE CHINESE PROJECT AGAINST ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS: A NEW FOREST RESTORATION

    A project to restore a diversity of trees to a variety of land uses in the watershed of the Miyun Reservoir Basis takes place in north of Beijing. The purpose of this project is to produce self-sustaining forests and parklands by welcoming a variety of tree species back to a variety of land uses, tailored to the local landscape.

    China’s forest restorationefforts have been immense and impressive and the Chinese government has invested more than 500 billion RMB (US billion) in forest protection and restoration. Today, roughly 60 per cent of China’s forests are newly established.

    However, the gains have been tempered by a focus on quantity over quality. Most of the restoration in China has occurred through the establishment of monoculture plantations, which lack the diversity required for a fully functioning ecosystem.

    At the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), China has been trying to do this for one of the most vital forested lands in the world: the rolling hills of the Miyun region, the primary source of clean drinking water for Beijing’s population of 21 million people.

    Beijing suffers chronic and severe water shortages. Over the last few years, Beijing’s water tables have dropped so low that existing wells cannot tap them. To help to tackle this problem, in partnership with Beijing Forestry Society and the international NGO Forest Trends, China carried out a watershed-scale analysis of the Miyun region to see where restoring diverse trees across the landscape (rather than in monoculture plots) could increase the filtration, and potentially flow, of water heading for taps in Beijing.

    China assessed 136 water basins for priority restoration status based on numerous socio-economic and bio-physical factors (such as current land use, and their potential to conserve water). China selected two sites, one in Miyun district and one in Fengning County, in neighbouring Hebei province, to start large-scale restoration.

    Now, with the support of central and local government agencies, and local leaders, we are now preparing an action plan for restoration in these sub-basins for the next three to five years. It will determine what trees should be planted, where and when, and how to train landowners to plant, care for and monitor them.

    Such a landscape approach to restoration will invariably help China to meet its commitment to increase forest area as a national response to climate change and other environment and development challenges.

     

    The gLawcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Tuesday, 21 October 2014

    (Source: China Dialogue)

  • EBOLA: CHINA WILL DONATE $82 MILLION TO AFRICA

    China has decided todonate 500 million yuan ($82 million) to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to battle Ebola, the deadly virus that has killed more than 4,800 people since its worst epidemic on record began earlier this year.

    China has sent hundreds of aid workers to Africa to help fight the Ebola outbreak and so far has contributed about $40 million in aid to fight the disease, including $6 million to the World Food Programme.

    China's corporations and billionaires have lagged behind in contributions to fighting the Ebola epidemic in West Africa despite vast economic ties to the region said the World Food Programme.

    Sihuan Pharmaceutical Holdings Group Ltd., a Chinese drug maker with military ties, has sent several thousand doses of an experimental Ebola drug to Africa and is planning clinical trials there.

     

    The gLawcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Friday, 24 October 2014

    (Source: Reuters)

  • FACEBOOK STRATEGY TO (RE)ENTER INTO CHINA

    Mark Zuckerberg is trying to amend the blocking of his social network in China and finally enjoy the enormous business perspectives in the most densely populated country of the world. Unlike other colleagues, Facebook’s CEO has decided to act discreetly and he took part to an event organized in Beijing at Tsinghua University.

    If Facebook succeeds in his struggle, there would be meaningful implications, not exclusively for the US company. By opening the doors to one of the most used western social networks, China would, without particular effort, support global economy making it more dynamic and it would do an easy step forward to improve its global image, marked by years of censorship and hostility towards foreign enterprises.

    After rumours about the establishment of a Facebook office in Beijing have nourished speculations on its imminent come back into the Chinese market, now analysts hypothesize the birth of a partnership between Zuckerberg and Tsinghua University by reporting that Tsinghua's School of Economics and Management has appointed the US businessman as an advisory member.

    It’s absolutely true that Tsinghua aims at entering business with international corporate companies, as well as Facebook has already failed to close other opportunities to re-enter in China, nonetheless there are other prestigious names in Tsinghua advisory members list and there are many other aspects that the US giant will have to face in order to achieve its goals.

    For the time being, there’s nothing left to do except waiting to see if the parties involved will take the opportunity to actualize this win-win situation.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 5 November 2014

    (Source: Gurufocus)

  • SINO-US RELATIONSHIP TO BE SMOOTHED AFTER CYBER-ATTACK CLAIMS

    Lu Wei, Chinese Minister of Cyberspace has declared that China is the world’s largest victim of hacking attacks. Only in the past month, the number of Chinese websites hacked amounts to over 10.000, especially governmental-linked websites and the attacks have been tracked down to come from USA.

    On the other side of the ocean, US authorities deny these accusations and claim the opposite.

    US networks suffer from internet espionage and attacks originated from Chinese hackers, many of whom have strong relationship with the government.

    To smooth the relationship between the two countries, Mr Lu Wei counts on showcasing the last 20 years of Chinese internet development in a world conference that will be held late this month at Wuzhen. This global summit will see the participation of Chinese government leading figures, popular Chinese IT company chairmen - such as Baidu’s, Alibaba’s and Tencent’s - as well as many US representatives.

    Interviewed about censorship allegations, the Chinese Minister of Cyberspace didn’t confirm the practice and elude the answer by stating that he is not aware of US blocked networks and that Chinese government priority is obviously to protect and foster its domestic market.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Tuesday, 4 November 2014

    (Source: Financial Times)

  • SINGAPORE AND CHINA STRENGTHEN IP COOPERATION

    On the occasion of the 11th Singapore-China Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation meeting, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed by the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of China and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) to reinforce their efforts to guard intellectual property (IP).

    The agreement promotes collaboration by fostering the exchange of ideas and experiences, especially related to IP law and policy implementation, financial IP products development and IP valuation and appraisal.

    The two countries have also launched a 5-years pilot programme to raise awareness on IP usage and related issues whose origins are to be found in the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) agreement, a previous Sino-Singapore partnership directed to illustrate cost-effective ways to businessmen and innovators in order to protect their works in both countries.

    The objective of this bilateral cooperation also covers the ambitious project of transforming Guangzhou in an IP modern hub; a model zone for IP cooperation, officially called the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City, that will involve the establishment of an advisory panel, activities addressed to companies to help them in their IP commercialisation and development, as well as study visit and other exchanges to build cutting-edge skills.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Monday, 3 November 2014

    (Source: The Business Times)

  • DIGITAL TOOLKIT SUPPORTS WOMEN’S RIGHTS CAMPAIGNS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

    The Dutch NGO Tactical Technology Collective has launched a new resource to help developing and promoting campaigns in support of Women’s rights. Toolkit official name is “Women's Rights Campaigning Info-Activism Toolkit”, it’s available in different languages and has been released under creative commons license so that it would be easier to adapt content and better adjust it to local area needs.

    The project includes 20 women-specific campaign examples and other digital tools that can assist in jump starting new projects that aim at raising awareness on women-related issues, providing innovative strategies and effective ways to deliver messages and reach their objectives.

    The toolkit currently supports English, Arabic, Bangla, Swahili, Hindi and counting; these languages have been chosen in collaboration with local partners that are already operating in critical areas and that will print and organize informative workshop to spread content created by Tactical Technology Collective. An example is CREA’s “New Voices / New Leaders: Women Building Peace and Reshaping Democracy” project which is campaigning in the Middle East, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Friday, 31 October 2014

    (Source: Global Voices)

  • MEDIA SELF-CENSORSHIP IN HONG KONG

    The Hong Kong revolution is putting journalists to the test. From pepper sprays to police assault because not-distinguishable from students, media crews have repeatedly risked injuries to cover the umbrella movement; but the worst and most difficult challenge is for journalist to go back to their offices and fight with their editors to be able to publish their articles.

    Besides demonstrating in the same streets occupied, Beijing supporters are also operating on a different frontline: many newsrooms can’t cope with central government pressure and retaliation perspectives, therefore many newspapers and broadcasters prefer to censor themselves justifying their decisions behind the risk of bearing impactful advertising revenues losses.

    Meanwhile, independent journalists and news websites, such as inmediahk.net, SocREC, USP and Local Press, have issued a joint statement accusing police body to intentionally target reporters in order to intimidate them and bend to Beijing power. For the very same reason they argue that central-government supporters in front of pro-democracy Apple Daily’s headquarters were backed by police who took no action to disperse them and de facto helped them in their obstructionism.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Thursday, 30 October 2014

    (Source: Global Voices)

  • FREEDOM OF SPEECH CURTAILED IN ETHIOPIA

    Three years ago, Ethiopian writers and journalists launched a blog called Zone9 to denounce censorship practices in Ethiopia. The name refers to a jail in Addis Ababa where prisoners were divided depending on the crime committed; since zone8 was destined to political prisoners, bloggers created Zone9 to allude to their whole country as a virtual prison.

    Zone9’s nightmare started after launching their blog when, ironically, a blogger is arrested due to an article where he reported the government habit of arresting journalists that criticise its conduct. After this event, other six Zone9 bloggers are charged with terrorism and related activities.

    Unfortunately, they are not the only bloggers and journalists behind bars. All over the world, the number of nations with an authoritarian approach to internet issues is dangerously growing. They often overreact justifying their conduct with public order concerns while it’s often an excuse to hide their fears of losing power. Recently examples are media conviction and policy developments in Syria, Egypt, North Korea, Cuba, China and, unexpectedly, even certain e-surveillance regulations of western countries such as the United Kingdom.

    Ethiopia is just an emblematic case. The government has amended the law so that it’s easy to fall under provisions originally born to fight terrorism and be accused of illegal activities. Back to Zone9 situation, bloggers have been alleged with various crimes including attending technical trainings on how to use software to circumvent e-surveillance laws and accusations of having established a secretive organization - contradicted by the public nature of the blog.

    To strictly control access to internet, Ethiopian executive operates a state-monopoly on telecommunication networks so to practice an efficient, pervasive and massive surveillance on his citizens. People who want internet access have to afford incredibly high fares or have to connect through controlled internet cafés; this has pushed an increasing number of people to buy technologies able to protect and anonymise their online traces.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 29 October 2014

    (Source: Global Voices)

  • WIKIPEDIA’S LAST PROJECT TO SUPPORT ACCESS TO KNOWLEDGE IN INDIA

    Wikisource, Wikipedia’s free library, has launched a new language database that collects public domain books for odia speakers. Supporters are promoting the initiatives among authors and publishers, trying to engage them and contribute to expand this archive of education resources.

    Although odia counts, more than 40 million speakers - the majority living in the state of Odisha, India - online it’s an underrepresented language; indeed, odia’s alphabet is composed by characters that haven’t been digitized in unicode text and this is why search engines are not able to find related content online and why the project is unique.

    Many hard-working local volunteers of Wikisource community patiently transcribes word after word all books content, sometimes relying on optical character recognition (OCR) tools to speed their job up.

    Partnering with local ONG such as Pragati Utkal Sangha and the National Institute of Technology Rourkela, many volumes are already available online, but unfortunately they consist of scanned pages that prevent users from completely enjoy many features.

    This is what encouraged Wikisource to test this project for two years that involved important collaborations with the Wikimedia-funded Centre for INternet and Society’s Access to Knowledge and the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) to guarantee quality results.

    Odia Wikisource is not only a way to protect local culture; it will also allow basic education granting free access to knowledge which, together with government reform, could effectively boost Indian economy.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Tuesday, 28 October 2014

    (Source: Global Voices)

    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.

     

  • HUAWEI AGAINST NET NEUTRALITY

    Chinese ICT giant Huawei has recently stated that net neutrality is an obstacle to internet service development. The company strongly supports how providing different levels of services is the best way to meet different customers’ needs; indeed, charging content providers would allow Internet Service Providers (ISP) to offer higher quality connection. A shining example is Netflix case: additional fees would permit to allocate greater bandwidth to support video streaming, leading to a higher quality of the service.

    Net neutrality advocates argue that this approach would cause the system to split into a two-tiered internet frustrating the fight against digital divide and, generally, open internet principles. Nonetheless Huawei insists this is an old mind-set that can’t be supported anymore since the situation has evolved and consumers nowadays have different service demands.

    And it’s exactly through consumers that Huawei tries to carry a point: European regulators are focusing their concerns on creating a competitive market rather than addressing customers’ new requirements. In UK, Royal Mail’s monopoly on postal services hasn’t prevented logistics firms such as FedeX to enter the market, meet different customers’ demands and they actually encouraged competition.

    What is happening now in the broadband market is precisely the same. This is the reason why Huawei has started to discuss the issue with other carriers such as BT and TalkTalk explaining how its approach has already been proved to work with China Telecom.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Monday, 27 October 2014

    (Source: Tech Week Europe)

    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.

     

  • EVERNOTE TO CIRCUMVENT CHINESE CENSORSHIP

    Mainland Chinese people have found a new tool to circumvent censorship on news and information about the umbrella revolution: Evernote. During Hong Kong protests Chinese government has repeatedly intervened to keep public order by blocking access to sensitive content on popular social platforms such as Weibo and WeChat. Nevertheless, these provisions haven’t stopped many internet citizens from searching new ways of communication; this is how the idea of using a co-working app popped up.

    Evernote is a Californian application that conquered the market thanks to its task management features that include the creation of personal to-do lists, clipping web-pages and, especially, sharing notes with other users. This last feature has allowed to copy and paste notes links in WeChat messages able to go unnoticed by key-words-based algorithms used to block content. The escamotage effectively works and it permits mainland people to read incisive articles of blast concerning government behaviour such as a witty editorial that accuses Chinese censorship for brainwashing the country’s youth.

    Since demonstrations started an impressive number of social networks have undergone censorship treatment due to government awareness of not having the power to control and select content shown; just to mention a few: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and counting. The reason why up to now Evernote hasn’t been considered a real threat is because it’s been conceived as a digital workspace rather than a sharing platform.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Friday, 24 October 2014

    (Source: Quartz)

    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 DRAFT INTERNET OF THINGS POLICY

    India has started working to draft a policy on Internet of Things. The topic on everyone’s lips has the potential to create a $15 billion market by 2020; Companies are already investing to try inserting themselves into this sprouting market and the government is determined to take its chance in laying the foundations to make it happen.

    After a productive workshop that actively involved stakeholders from academia and related industry experts, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) has developed a first draft. The document is focussed on the best standard and governance to adopt, as well as other five core components: demonstration centres, capacity building and incubation, R&D and innovation, incentives and engagements and human resource development.

    Furthermore a budget to sustain IoT expansion has already been allocated to implement about a hundred of smart cities to offer services such as smart parking, intelligent transport system, telecare, woman safety, smart grids, smart urban lighting, waste management, smart city maintenance, and digital-signage and water management. To improve the policy, DeitY has invited public opinion to send feedback on the work already done.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Thursday, 23 October 2014

    (Source: The 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.

     

  • USPTO & SIPO TO LAUNCH A FREE DIRECT ELECTRONIC PRIORITY DOCUMENT EXCHANGE SERVICE

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) together with the State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO) have worked together and launched a brand new free service that allows both offices to exchange directly and electronically documents related to patent application priority.

    This service has drastically impacted the procedure simplifying, accelerating and cutting costs once borne by applicants. Indeed, under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, applicants can file a patent in a member country and decide, within 12 months, to look for the protection of the same patent filing in another member country and obtaining priority back to the first filing date.

    Up to the present day heavy bureaucracy has sometimes hinder this mechanism, especially since applicants have entirely to bear the expenses.

    This free service provided by USPTO and SIPO will definitely help, not only the applicants, but the whole global system to protect Intellectual property.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 22 October 2014

    (Source: IP Watchdog)

    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.

     

  • BRICK CARVINGS ADDED TO BEIJING INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE LIST

    Beijing Municipality has recently added to its ICH list the traditional brick carvings that can be admired in many historic buildings in the mainland. The first appearance of these carvings dates back to Eastern Zhou dynasty (770-256 BC); during Ming dynasty (1368-1644) represented the owner’s wealth and power. From Qing dynasty (1644-1911) onwards, many residents started to use them to decorate their courtyard. They constituted a sort of ancient business card as by the carvings was possible to understand the owner’s identity. The immense value of the carvings lies in the fact that they embody Chinese philosophical, aesthetic, literary and artistic ideologies.

    In 2001, Zhang Yan has been awarded by the local government with the official title of brick carvings inheritor and he is committed to keep alive this precious form of ICH.

    Zhang Yan is not alone; his daughter strongly supports him and decided to devote her life to the same mission. She started by establishing a youth organization at the Communication University of China; the Youths Advocating the Protection and Inheritance of Intangible Cultural Heritage promotes ICH protection and awareness among schoolmates, organizes workshops with knowledgeable craftsmen to help them spreading their art and recently filmed an educational documentary to show inheritors’ lifestyle.

    Zhang Yan’s daughter is so engaged in keeping alive traditional brick carving that has planned her academic career in order to have a 360 degrees preparation. She will indeed study to pass national examination and become an ICH state official and work at the department for the protection of intangible cultural heritage under the Chinese National Academy of Arts.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Tuesday, 21 October 2014

    (Source: Women of China)

    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.

     

  • INTERNATIONAL IP COOPERATION WITH CHINA TO BRING GLOBAL BENEFITS

    International cooperation to build an efficient global IP system can effectively help to boost trade and investments, especially in a country like China where foreign companies are eager to establish their offices but hesitate to do it.

    When China started opening its market it became the objective of foreign businessmen tempted by the idea of expanding their trade; unfortunately many of them decided to quit, worried by the hard task of protecting their intellectual property rights in a totally different and apparently hazardous legal framework.

    Despite China’s praiseworthy efforts and achievements in developing solid IP policy consistent with WIPO treaties, foreign companies remain distrustful even though they admit the current situation is more appealing. Therefore the only way to dispel all doubts is strengthening international cooperation so to reassure overseas entrepreneurs, but also to develop Chinese commercial relations.

    Examples of this approach are the recent partnership between Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and China-Britain Business Council or Shangping.com that teamed up with British retailer TopShop to better fight against counterfeiting.

    UK IP Minister Lucy Neville-Rolfehas echoed this strategy stating that foreign companies shouldn’t restrain their business ambitions due exclusively to IP protection issues and by way of confirmation she highlighted how cooperation programs jointly organized with China will bring substantial benefits to both parties.

    Chinese progress on IP issues is incrementing and remarkable; only in the past few years China has shown its engagement signing an agreement with UK Copyright Licensing Agency; launching a program to foster patent examinations when applicants file the same patent request in both countries; collaborating with the European Union to establish IP desks with the objective of assisting small and medium enterprises to broaden their business.

     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Monday, 20 October 2014

    (Source: ECNS.cn)

     

    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.

  • ELECTRONIC WASTE RECYCLING: AIHUISHOU.COM CAN HELP YOU

    Two Chinese graduates, Sun Wenzhouand Chen Leifeng, have turned to e-commerce to help tackle the country’s mounting piles of e-waste, launching Aihuishou.com (which means in Chinese “love recycling”).

    This is the first Chinese competitive customer-to-business e-commerce site focused on electronic products such as mobile phones and laptops. The site has its own logistic staffs, which collects the used devices. Recycling firms then bid to buy them in batches, before processing the items for recycling or disassembling them as electronic waste.The key is the competitive bidding by recycling companies.

    By working with Aihuishou.com, recycling companies can obtain reliable and tested devices, while the phone’s original owner gets the best price. The phones are sent to legitimate companies for recycling, to be disassembled, or for metals processing. Mobile phone recycling, until now scattered around China’s cities, is being brought onto a single e-commerce platform. 

    The sidebar of the website features a constantly updated list of completed deals, giving the time of the transaction and type of phone, and shoppers can trade in their old phones for new ones, and Aihuishou gets more customers and phones. There are similarly large markets in China for flat-screen TVs, laptops and digital cameras.

    According to data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, China had 1.24 billion mobile phone users, with 100 million phones discarded annually, less than 1% of these are recycled. It’s not easy to recycle mobile phones, and poor quality recycling pollutes the environment and harms public health. In fact, these devices are made mostly out of plastic and metal; plastics do not break down naturally and when burned release noxious gases: copper, lead and zinc can be toxic and if not properly handled pollute the soil, groundwater and the environment.

     

    The gLawcal Team

    POREEN project

    Thursday, 23 October 2014

    (Source: China Dialogue)

  • HOW POLLUTION AFFECTS CHILDREN’S HEALTH

    How are China’s schools dealing with smog?Right after China’s long National Day holiday, a blanket of air pollution descended on Beijing and other Chinese cities that had been forced to raise its alert from yellow to orange, the second highest level.

    There is confusion about how to deal with smog, particularly when it comes to young children.  In fact, they are weaker than adults: their respiratory and immune systems are not fully developed, and they have less of the nose hair that helps filter pollution. As the Natural Resources Defense Council explains, they also breathe a proportionately greater level of air than adults and are more likely to be involved in vigorous activity. This is believed to make them more vulnerable to the effects of pollution.

    Long-term exposure to pollution makes children more likely to develop respiratory infections and asthma, and even increases the risk of lung cancer. Actually, a third of China’s 30 million known asthmatics are children.

     

    The gLawcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Tuesday, 14 October 2014

    (Source: China Dialogue)

  • CHINA: KOREAN COMPANY CONTAMINATES FARMLAND

    In 2011, Liu Yuying found a large number of opened bags filled with an unidentified grey powder dumped on local farmland in Miyun, near Beijing.The waste came from KB Autosys, a Korean company producing sets of auto brake pads.

    At first, the company promised to test the soil, compensate Liu, and clean up the waste. But, these promises were denied. In early 2012, authorities fined the company ¥180,000 (€22,487), but Liu was not compensated.

    After a preliminary sampling study of metals, the results showed antimony levels in wastes 640 - 990 times higher than regulatory limits in China. The exposure to antimony causes skin irritation, fertility problems, and lung cancer, and the USA State of California classifies antimony trioxide as a carcinogen.

    This story is just one example of the challenge China faces in cleaning up its polluted soil. According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection, 10 million hectares or 8.3% of farmland in China is polluted.

    The dumping of wastes containing high concentrations of toxic wastes on farmland violates Chinese and the Solid Waste Law.

    Public right to know is a key principle of chemical safety but neither the landowner nor the community was ever informed about the identity or possible danger of hundreds of tons of toxic metal waste openly dumped on farmland. Public access to plant emissions including waste should be regularly provided via an accessible, free, pollutant release and transfer registry.

    Another key aspect to information disclosure is the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report of the KB Autosys facility. According to Chinese law, this report should be freely available to the public, however so far, neither the company nor the local Environmental Protection Bureau has agreed to provide it after requests from Nature University.

    Moreover in the Miyun case, the court did not require the KB Autosys (the defendant) to take responsibility to disapprove the causal relationship between the pollution and damage and it did not designate a body that could do the evaluation. This improper action blocked the ability for the plaintiff to receive compensation from a pollution case and this problem applies to many other cases in China. Clearly, the company should pay for its waste dumping, both to the landowner and the authorities who spent public money cleaning up the company’s dumped waste.

    KB Autosys was contacted, but declined to comment.

     

    The gLawcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Friday, 17 October 2014

    (Source: China Dialogue)

  • HONG KONG: THE PROTEST DOES NOT STOP

    On Saturday, Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrators recaptured parts of a core protest.

    The protests have been going on for three weeks and pose one of the biggest challenges for China since the crushing of pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing in 1989. It is also the gravest governance crisis to be faced by Hong Kong's government since the 1997 handover to China, with no clear resolution in sight.

    Hong Kong Police Commissioner Andy Tsangbroke three weeks of public silence saying his force had been “extremely tolerant” but had failed to stop protesters becoming more “radical or violent”. According to him “these illegal acts are undermining the rule of law, undermining (what) Hong Kong has been relying on to succeed”.

    The protesters, led by a restive generation of students, have been demanding China's Communist Party rulers live up to constitutional promises to grant full democracy to the former British colony which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

    Hong Kong is ruled under a “one country, two systems” formula that allows the thriving capitalist hub wide-ranging autonomy and freedoms and specifies universal suffrage for Hong Kong as an eventual goal.

    But Beijing ruled on August 31 it would screen candidates who want to run for the city's chief executive in 2017, which democracy activists said rendered the universal suffrage concept meaningless. The protesters ask for free elections for their leader.

    The street battles come just hours after Hong Kong's pro-Beijing leader Leung Chun-ying offered talks to student leaders next Tuesday in an attempt to defuse the three-week long protests. Despite this offer of talks, few expect any resolution without more concrete concessions from authorities.

     

    The gLawcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Saturday, 18 October 2014

    (Source:Reuters)

    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.

     

  • IPR’s PROGRESS BETWEEN CHINA AND EUROPEAN UNION

    For many years, the issue of protecting IP rights has been one of the biggest problems for foreign companies to overcome when thinking about entering Chinese market. While significant progress has been made in China, some Western countries are still worried about IP protection.

    Regarded to that, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. signed an agreement with the China-Britain Business Council and it has removed millions of knockoffs after receiving complaints. Other companies are taking similar initiatives, such as ShangPin.com.

    Such progress is being hailed by British business circles. In the United Kingdom, laws covering patents, trademarks, copyrights and designs have been formulated to help companies large and small. Working with the British side can improve China's IP protection in the UK as well. An agreement between the UK Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) and the China Written Works Copyright Society was signed in Beijing.

    CLA is a non-profit organization that has authorized many organizations and publications to copy and use copyright works while obtaining fair rewards for rights holders. Now, the agreement will place Chinese written works in the British market, including books, articles in newspapers and magazines and academic papers, under the protection of the CLA.

    Since 2004, China has been working with the European Union. During, the meetings have enabled both sides to share information on multilateral IP issues, tackle shortcomings and find ways to improve, as well as set up a China IP desk to assist European small and medium-sized enterprises in the protection and enforcement of their IP rights in China.

    China and the UK launched a program enabling companies to benefit from accelerated patent examinations when making the same application in both countries. This type of cooperation can make it harder for criminals to undermine consumer safety and damage legitimate businesses.

    A consistent global IP system is good for business, innovation and society, and cooperation on IP protection issues is an important step to achieve this.

     

    The gLawcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Thursday, 16 October 2014

    (Source: Intellectual Property in China)

    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.

     

  • THAILAND’S STRATEGY TO DIGITAL ECONOMY

    Thai government is determined to change country’s mind-set in order to switch low-end manufacturing economy to digital economy; concentrate all the energy in promoting innovation and high technology has been proven not to be enough.

    Many citizens consider governmental digital agenda to be just propaganda than an honest and a feasible plan, but ICT minister Pornchai Rujiprapa, aware of the enormous efforts envisioned, prefers to emphasize how this switch will allow Thailand to boost its economy, provide healthy competitiveness, create job opportunities and, more importantly, it will bridge gaps that are currently dividing Thais, spreading social, education and health benefits.

    Taking Thailand into web economy is not a new government mission, but to the present day it’s been merely words; to effectively achieve the goals set into the digital agenda Thai executive aims at realizing a unity of command that will be able to guide each ministry and government agency through its duties and responsibilities under the same umbrella.

    Doing this, it will possibly to intervene and harmonize players’ action.

    Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam has explained that a new policy body will be established to govern digital economy, the parliament will work to amend laws so to increase ICT ministry’s competences, fund digital infrastructure investments and launch a national broadband network to give everyone total access to internet at a lower cost.

    The whole project will probably not be completed within a year, but the government intends to shake country’s situation and lay solid foundation to support throughout the reform.

    The toughest task will consist in changing mind-set of citizens, business operators and government officials; the executive is indeed conscious that switching to digital economy is crucial, but if they don’t do it right, all the effort will be futile. Because of this digital literacy programs will be the starting point.

     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Friday, 17 October 2014

    (Source: Bangkok Post)

    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.

     

  • FACEBOOK TO HELP INDONESIA EXPAND ACCESS TO INTERNET

    Indonesian president’s success in giving access to his country excited Facebook founder and encouraged him to take part of this project. Mark Zuckerberg landed in Jakarta to hold a speech at one of the developer summit - scheduled in his internet.org initiative - to render assistance in providing easier and cheaper internet access and to promote useful free services regarding health, education and basic financial services.

    During his staying, he had a long chat with Indonesian president Joko Widodo where the two discussed in-depth about social media campaigning directed to unleash the archipelago economic potential and illustrate benefits and opportunities of the digital revolution.

    In Indonesia, internet penetration only amounts at 20% of the population, but if we consider mobile data plans, this percentage grows up to 85%. This is the reason why substantial intervention will be focused on developing mobile friendly websites and apps, besides pushing phone carriers to offer cheaper data plans. As far as technical issues are concerned, the major problem remains how to technically connect a complex of more than 17000 islands: building a solid physical infrastructure will be a top priority.

    The parts know that it will be simply challenging, but both the country and Facebook have much to gain from this partnership. To show his engagement Zuckerberg is also collaborating with the Swedish company Ericsson, providing support for app development and testing, recreating Indonesian network conditions in a specifically dedicated lab.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Thursday, 16 October 2014

    (Source: The Wall Street Journal)

    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.

     

  • CHINA TO DRIVE THE INTERNET OF THINGS

    The Internet of Things (IoT) is the interconnection of a wide variety of tech devices within the existing Internet infrastructure enabling new applications, services and opening up yet to explore markets; and analysts have solid arguments to say the driving force of this incoming tech revolution will be China.

    First of all, as far as manufacture is concerned, China is peacefully considered the centre of the world. The national market is constantly expanding, tackling more and more foreign markets, and Chinese dominant position is clearly remarkable from the fact that they control from beginning to end the whole supply chain.

    Second, Chinese retail brands are growing their popularity and escalating positions on global markets. Despite the high tech business might appear overstocked, Chinese companies are silently finding their way to sneak in and revolutionize it as the US titans like Apple and Google did at their time.

    In the third place, it should not be underestimated that IoT is vital to China (as well as other OECD emerging economies) in order to sustain its economic growth and population transition to urban centres. Indeed, IoT will allow China to cut air conditioner emissions and consumptions; avoid gridlock by implementing streetlights with sensors and smartphone with up-to-date traffic information; maximize crop yields and monitor irrigation.

    Finally, the speed that will characterize China in its adoption of IoT devices will definitely be higher comparing to other competitor such as Latin America, Africa and other countries in Asia, and this is due to the fact China is already evolving.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 15 October 2014

    (Source: Venture Beat)

    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.

     

  • IBM TO GUIDE DIGITIZATION IN KENYA

    To support Kenya digitization US tech giant IBM is partnering with the Information Communication Technology Authority (ICTA) to build a national ICT architectural model to be gradually implemented at all levels: from ministries to country governments. IBM strongly believes in Africa’s potential and it’s showing to be keen to invest in it.

    This project is either part of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals, either of Kenyan development agenda “Vision 2030” and it has seen IBM experts side NGO and government agencies to illustrate up-to-date best practices, especially related to automation of data, donor tracking websites, social media and marketing strategies in order to develop better health services; improve data mining, analysis and department processes; follow youngster through vocational training; refine inter-ministerial performances and revitalize international trade.

    Thanks to these pro-bono activities IBM deploys teams of its most talented people on projects aimed at driving social and economic development. Recent initiatives of this kind also involved: a collaboration with Amref Health Africa, where they automated the existing manual process for data reporting that enabled the NGO to deliver higher quality clinical and diagnostic programmes; assistance to the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce (KNCCI), with the objective of enhance its communication strategy by the establishment of a virtual information centre and by the use of business analytics aiming at opening up traditional and new markets; at last, IBM joined the SOS Technical Training Institute (SOSTTI) realizing an ICT eLearning platform to make student stand out in the marketplace.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Tuesday, 14 October 2014

    (Source: All Africa)

    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.

     

  • WHAT IS EXPECTED OF CHINA’S IP SPECIALIST COURTS?

    China has recently established IP specialist courts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong that are planned to be operative within the end of 2014. There is also stated in the government blueprint that the outcomes of this establishment will be monitored by the Supreme People’s Court and reported in detail to the National People’s Congress in three years.

    The creation of a Chinese Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) judicial body is not brand new; in the 90s judges and academics widely stood in favour of this idea. After years of heavy research the government decided to drop the project claiming that it would have brought excessive changes to the various court organisation legislations and it would have put political capital through the mill. Nonetheless the past years have seen lively discussions intensify and the new bill passed.

    Specialists advocate that this is a strong sign of government pro-IP policy and they hope this path will open the door to a general overhaul of Chinese judicial system.

    These expectations might need to be reshaped in case some disappointing aspects of the current reform expand their impact. Indeed, Chinese IP courts have been introduced at the intermediate level with no powers to pass final sentences. The possibility that (non-specialised) higher courts could reverse what previously declared appears to contradict the same objective of establishing special courts with the aim of ensuring alignment on this complex topic.

    In any event, there’s no doubt China has a growing interest to enforce IP policy; it has indeed launched pilot projects around the country in order to increase qualified support staff for judges, improve budgeting and effectively grant judges independence.

    The establishment of the IP specialist courts is consequently warmly welcomed, appearing to be the first sign of a large-scale implementation of these local programmes and the new litigation trends expected to take place are: considerably increased damages against IP infringers, more assertive preliminary injunctions and evidence preservation measures in trade secret cases.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Monday, 13 October 2014

    (Source: Managing Intellectual Property)

    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: PROBLEMS ON THE PLAN TO CLEAN UP ITS HOLY GANGA RIVER

    During his election campaign for Prime Minister, Narendra Modi swore to clean up most sacred river in India, the Ganga. Now, after five years, the Modi-led government is finalising a plan to restore the river, one of the most polluted in the world.

    The government has submitted a blueprint to India’s Supreme Court outlining its plan to clean up the river within 18 years. This project comes shortly after the Supreme Court criticised the government for not taking enough measures on the issue.      

    The government’s plans lack any new or innovative ideas. It relies on spending more money on new sewage treatment plants, following the earlier Ganga Action Plan, which ended in complete failure.

    The plan includes measures for upgrading existing sewage treatment plants; improving sanitation in towns along the Ganga; conservation of animals; afforestation, investments in sewerage infrastructure and the ban of open defecation. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will also enforce a zero liquid discharge policy for heavily polluting industries located in the Ganga Basin.

    The government has promised to tackle pollution in Kanpur, a city in Uttar Pradesh infamous for its polluting leather industry, which discharges toxic waste straight into the river.

    But some criticize the government's action, because “despite the Ganga Action Plan, the situation has in fact worsened,” said Rakesh Jaiswal, who heads the Kanpur-based NGO Eco Friends. “It has been a total failure. In 1986, there were 170 tanneries on the banks of Ganga but now there are 400 and they discharge toxic wastewater directly in the river. What little gets treated doesn’t even conform to the standards set by the CPCB" he added.

    The problem is that most of the sewage treatment plants installed along the river are not linked to the drainage system and as a result the wastewater gets dumped into the river unchecked. In 2013, inspecting 51 of the 64 existing sewage treatment plants along the Ganga and were found that less than 60% of the installed capacity was being used and 30% of the plants were not even functioning.

    In the light of this, environmentalists say that the Modi government’s new plan is unlikely to rejuvenate the Ganga. According to Bharat Jhunjhunwala, a water activist, "it is a disastrous policy. The government should put a system in place to involve private players to treat the sewage and the government should purchase that treated water which can be used for irrigation. If recycled water is used for agriculture, it will reduce the amount of water being diverted from the river. But today the Ganga hardly has any water in it.”

    The long-term plan for the rejuvenation of the Ganga will be based on the Ganga River Basin Management Plan (GRBMP), currently being prepared by a consortium of seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). The Modi-led government has now opened the Clean Ganga Fund for voluntary contributions from Indian citizens and Indians living abroad.

    But at the same time, the government has announced an Inland Waterway project called “Jal Marg Vikas”, which will allow 1,500 tonne vessels to navigate a 1,620-kilometre stretch of the Ganga. Environmentalists have raised their concerns, arguing the project will require massive amounts of dredging, which will threaten fishes and other aquatic biodiversity.

     

    The gLawcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Thursday, 16 October 20014

    (Source: China Dialogue)

  • CHINA AND BRAZIL: NEW ONLINE ALLIANCE

    China's Baidu,the world's No. 2 Internet search engine, has taken control of Brazilian online-discount company Peixe Urbano, the latest step in a push to expand its business in Latin America.

    Baidu will let Peixe Urbano's management team operate autonomously within Baidu's corporate structure.

    Both firms declined to give the size of Baidu's stake in Peixe Urbano. The Chinese company started operations in Brazil in November, but its shares fell 1.2 per cent to $214.69 in early afternoon trading on the Nasdaq.

    The purchase of Peixe Urbano's controlling stake will help Baidu expand in a country where the e-commerce market is expected to grow an average 18 per cent annually by 2016. According to Johnson Hu (Baidu's head of global business), the “international expansion is a priority for Baidu and, as part of that strategy, Brazil stands out as a key market”.

    Peixe Urbano has more than 20 million customers in Brazil, with more than 30,000 companies as merchant partners. Since the establishment of the company, in 2010, more than 30 million discount vouchers were sold; generating about 3 billion has risen in estimated savings for Peixe Urbano users. Yet several issues linger for online retailers in Brazil, which are grappling with intense competition.

    At this regard, Baidu is actively investing in rival technology firms to upgrade its services and grow market share in segments such as e-commerce and mobile social network companies. The company expects that the entirety of its product and service portfolio will be used by half the world's population by 2019.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Thursday, 9 October 2014

    (Source: Reuters)

    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.

     

  • FILM COPYRIGHT TRADE: NEW PARTNERSHIP ON ASIAIPEX

    Distrify, a distribution platform for filmmakers, distributors, producers and rights holders, which help them to find an audience for their film and generate sales, has recently discussed with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) to pursue a partnership on AsiaIPEX to create an online platform. This platform will include an online catalogue of films; this project aims to increase the exposure in the Asian markets.

    Distrify will soon set up their regional headquarters in Hong Kong in November. The Chief Executive Officer Andy Green shares that one of the factors motivated Distrify to choose Hong Kong, indeed, is the city's advantages as Asia's IP trading hub. Hong Kong can be the connection of IP trading between Mainland China and overseas.

    According to the HKTDC, the idea of a direct, instant online distribution platform as well as the free system have offered the rights holder’s additional control over their own products and valuable market research data across global markets.

    The potential partnership with Distrify demonstrates the advantage and effectiveness of the AsiaIPEX being a valuable online IP trading platform and an excellent promotion channel. 

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Friday, 3 October 2014

    (Source: Asia IP Law)

    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.

     

  • CHINA NEEDS MORE FOREIGN EXPERTISE

    According to the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the government will continue to create an open, transparent and predictable institutional environment and enhance protection on intellectual property rights.

    In his speech, he said that China needs more foreign expertise, and China has entered into an era of innovation and its economy is at a key stage for upgrading to better quality and efficiency.


    It will be a government commitment to provide good service and support to foreign experts working in China, hoping they will bring advanced technology, managerial expertise and their own cultural experience to China.

    The Chinese government conferred the Friendship Award to 100 foreign experts from 25 countries this year. This is an annual award issued by the Chinese government to honour outstanding foreign experts in China. The scheme was established in 1991.

     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 1 October 2014

    (Source: Intellectual Property Protection in China)

    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.

     

  • TELECOMS DEAL BETWEEN CHINA AND EU

    China and the European Union are closing in on a deal to resolve a long-running telecoms dispute by the end of the October.

    The aim of the deal is monitoring the market share of Chinese telecoms companies in Europe and European companies in China. They would also cooperate on industrial research and standardization in the telecoms sector.

    The bilateral relationship could dramatically change resolving the telecoms issue. In fact, Europe is China's most important trading partner and for the EU, China is second only to the United States. A successful telecoms agreement could pave the way for a wider free-trade accord in the future.

    According to an EU document, Huawei and ZTE have applied prices that are 18 per cent below those of EU producers, hurting the profitability of European manufacturers.

    Chinese Premier Li Keqiangmeets senior EU officials at a summit in Milan on October 16-17 and this issue is discussed. Failure to reach a deal could potentially see the EU executive launching an anti-subsidy procedure imposing punitive levies on Chinese telecoms equipment exports.

    A successful deal hangs on Beijing agreeing to change its practices on export credits. Major economies abide by rules set down by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that place limits on export credits. They include minimum interest rates and maximum repayment terms, as well as transparency about the credit process.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 8 October 2014

    (Source: Reuters)

    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.

     

  • AUSTRALIA: TONY ABBOTT BEGINS A MOVE TO REPEAL THE CARBON TAX

    The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, introduced a repeal of the carbon tax on November 13th. According to Abbott,this should be the first economic reform of the new elected parliament. In order to respect the will of the Australian people expressed at the September election, the carbon tax goes, he said.

    The introduction of the repeal bills was disrupted by protests from the public galleries and procedural motions proposed by the opposition.  However, the government succeeded in introducing the repeal bills.

    Christine Milne, the Greens Leader, stated that Australia is not only renouncing any real ambition to decrease emissions, but it is also expressing its unwillingness to support developing economies in mitigating and adapting to climate change. While the government has the numbers to pass the carbon tax repeal in the House of Representatives, the opposition, with the support of the Greens, is requiring a four-month inquiry into the cost and effectiveness of the Coalition’s Direct Action Climate Plan.

    The same day, the Canadian government released a formal statement acclaiming the introduction of a legislation to repeal Australia's carbon tax. The Australian's initiative will send a signal all over the world and propel an important message, that other countries should not go through with their climate change commitments, the statement declared.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Thursday, 14 November 2013
    (Source: The Guardian)

     

  • BASIC COUNTRIES CALL ON DEVELOPED COUNTRIES TO OFFER CLIMATE FINANCE SUPPORT

    The BASIC countries, which consist of Brazil, South Africa, India and China, called on developed countries to provide support to developing economies in terms of financial and technology assistance in the fight against climate change. The joint statement came just before the 19th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, taking place from November 11th to November 22nd in Warsaw, Poland.

    The BASIC countries required developed economies to comply with their commitments in a quantifiable and demonstrable way, as reported by Su Wei, director of climate change at the National Development and Reform Commission. A commitment of funding from 2013 to 2020 must be planned in order to achieve the aim of providing $100 billion per year by 2020, he said.

    In 2013, $359 billion were allocated globally to climate change finance, a plateau well below the estimates of investment needed, according to a report released by Climate Policy Initiative on October 22nd.

    The joint statement, issued at the conclusion of the 17th BASIC Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change, points out how public finance should be established as the key source of global climate funding. As long as developed economies are taking the lead in undertaking more ambitious emissions reduction targets, the private sector can also understand the market orientation and invest accordingly, noted Xie Zhenhua, China's top climate change official.

    The joint statement finally argues that developedeconomies should make more effective efforts in relation to their "historical responsibilities" and the scientific evidence. The Ministerial Meeting recognises that the commitments of developing economies in emission reduction targets are far more significant than that achieved by developed economies. If the developed countries had complied with a reduction target of 40 percent below the 1990 levels by 2020, the current mitigation gap would not have occurred.

     

    The gLAWcal Team
    Tuesday, 12 November 2013
    (Source: China Daily USA)

  • ENGOs IN CHINA: AMENDMENT TO ENVIRONMENTAL LAW WOULD LIMIT THEIR ACTIVITIES

    Under the third review of the amendment to the Environmental Protection Law, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress discussed the criteria that NGOs should have to file an environmental public interest lawsuit. Environmental NGOs expressed concerns, maintaining that the proposed amendment effectively prevents them from engaging in public litigation.

    Litigants must be vironmental organisations legally recognised under the Ministry of Civil Affairs, being active for at least five years and maintaining a "good reputation", as stated by the vice-chairman of the NPC's law committee, Zhao Mingqi. Professor Cao Mingde, China University of Political Science and Law, argued that these criteria would restrict the number of prospective plaintiffs to about 13 organisations, all affiliated with government bodies, while numerous NGOs are currently registered with local governments.

    Even if a fourth review of the draft amendment is scheduled for December, the possibilities to expand the criteria seem narrow as observed by Wang Canfa, Professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, and Director of CLAPV (Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims).

    Although the central government is currently engagedin supporting the development of non-governmental organisations, it seems uncomfortable about allowing environmental organisations to involve in such litigation. According to Professor Wang, Beijing might fear that grassroots organizations are linked with “overseas forces".

    Environmental NGOs would be likely required to change tactics if the proposed amendment was approved.

     

    The gLAWcal Team
    Tuesday, 12 November 2013
    (Source: South China Morning)

     
  • SHALE GAS IN CHINA - OUR LATEST PUBLICATION

     

    A Comparison between Shale Gas in China and Unconventional Fuel Development in the United States: Health, Water and Environmental Risks

     
    China is appraised to have the world's largest exploitable reserves of shale gas, although several legal, regulatory, environmental and investment-related issues will likely restrain its scope. China's capacity to successfully face these hurdles and produce commercial shale gas will have a crucial impact on the regional gas market and on China’s energy mix, as Beijing strives to decrease reliance on imported oil and coal, while attempting to meet growing energy demand and maintain a certain level of resource autonomy.
     
    The development of the unconventional natural gas extractive industry will also endow China with further negotiating power to obtain more advantageous prices from Russia and future liquefied natural gas (LNG) suppliers. This paper, adopting a comparative perspective, underlines the trends learned from unconventional fuel development in the United States, emphasizing their potential application to the Chinese context in light of recently signed production-sharing contracts between qualified foreign investors and China.
     
    The wide range of regulatory and enforcement problems in this matter are accrued by an extremely limited liberalization of gas prices, lack of technological development, and political hurdles curbing the opening of resource extraction to private investors. These issues are exacerbated by concerns related to the risk of water pollution deriving from mismanaged drilling and fracturing, absence of adequate regulation framework and industry standards, entailing consequences on social stability and environmental degradation.
     
     
    The gLAWcal Team
    October 2013
  • ENERGY TRADE AND THE WTO - OUR LATEST PUBLICATION

     

    Energy Trade and the WTO: Implications for Renewable Energy and the OPEC Cartel

    Energy has become increasingly important in international trade relations. However, the World Trade Organization (WTO) does not deal specifically with this sector, and this creates several problems when it comes to regulating trade in energy goods and services. The situation is further complicated, on the one hand, by the need to foster the diffusion of renewable energy to address the current environmental concerns and, on the other, by the total and overwhelming control exercised by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) over the oil market.

    It is true that, recently, the WTO has shown an increasingly open approach towards environmental issues. However, free trade is still the backbone of the Organization and trade liberalization its main goal. This explains why the WTO Panel and Appellate Body are still reluctant to justify measures adopted to support the renewable energy sector that may conflict with international trade law.

    Different might be the case with fossil fuels, the main competitor of renewable energy. OPEC exploits several strategies to control oil prices, which, at least in theory, clash with international trade rules. However, whatever the reason, such practices have never been challenged in front of the WTO. The way WTO provisions are interpreted and applied by the Panel and the Appellate Body when environmental concerns are involved can be used as a starting point to forecast a hypothetical judgment in case OPEC’s practices were eventually challenged.

    http://jiel.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/09/02/jiel.jgt024.abstract

     

    The gLAWcal Team
    September 2013