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  • HOW SCOTLAND IS FACING AIR POLLUTION

    Data reveal that Glasgow is not expected to comply with air pollution safety limits until 2025, while Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and other conurbations won't meet the limits until 2020.These findings show that Scotland is failing to reach the objectives posed by air pollution law.

    Related to that, environmental groups has warned about the alarming consequences of this situation, stressing the lack of adequate measures to address climate change related issues.

    Estimates point out that toxic particles from vehicle exhausts are caused the death of at least 1600 people a year in Scotland, and 166,000 a year across Western Europe. These dangerous particles can provoke heart attacks, aggravate lung diseases and cause infections, experts say.

    The UK government approved an air pollution law that required to reduce the levels of nitrogen dioxide gas in cities, below safety limits by 2010. Thus, due to severe difficulties to meet this target, the government applied for extensions until 2015. However, it is likely that these results will not be achieved.

    In this context, the European Commission has launched a legal action against the UK in February.

    Furthermore, official projections of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) show that the Glasgow urban area is not expected to comply with pollution standards until 2025, worsening the UK situation.

    In this way, environmentalists suggests that the government need to undertake stricter measures and concrete actions to tackle pollution from road traffic, reducing the risks for human health.

    To address these critiques, the Scottish Government has explained its commitment to cut air pollution, stressing its strong cooperation with local authorities to significantly improve air quality.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    The EPSEI project

    Friday, 25 July 2014

    (Source: Herald Scotland)

  • THE LASTING THREATH OF CHILD EXPLOITATION

    In recent times, child rights are often under the spotlight as one of the main challenging issues of the international agenda.

    In this context, Bolivia represents the first country that has legalized child labor, reducing the minimum age of employment from 14 years old to just 10.

    The new law violates the International Labor Organization's minimum working age protocol: this situation represent the abandonment of a child's right to a childhood.

    The new law includes some mechanisms of protection: for instance, children between 10 and 12 years old must be supervised by a parent while they are at work. However, the supervision is inadequate to control the respect of these protections.

    Although the new law was designed to break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy, it appears to increase the negative consequences of these phenomena. Additionally, experts warn that the new legislation could drive to a greater regional acceptance of child labor, decreasing the possibility to eradicate this plague.

    Unfortunately, Bolivia is not an isolated example. Data show that since 2005, the number of child slaves remains at about 5.5 million. These findings stress that child exploitation still represents one of the most urgent issue that governments need to overcome.

    Some experts also have argued that fostering economic progress will remove the main causes of child labor and slavery. In line with this, strengthening the establishment of a robust legislation will be a crucial factor in the aim to fight child labor.

    However, ending child exploitation and slavery were not included in the millennium development goals, only tangentially mentioned in proposals for the sustainable development goals.

    In this framework, policymakers should cooperate with governments to establish new approaches, trying to eradicate these practices with concrete measures including universal access to education and helping families to keep their children in school, rather than prematurely moving them into work.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    The LIBEAC project

    Friday, 25 July 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • CALL FOR STRONGER LOCAL FOREST RIGHTS TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE

    Recent data suggest that governments are failing to take advantage of a potent opportunity to fight climate change by strengthening local land rights and laws.

    Studies suggest that about 10-20% of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by deforestation each year. Experts also argue that in areas formally supervised by local communities, deforestation rates are dozens to hundreds of times lower than in areas overseen by governments or private entities.

    A report also explains that governments, donors and other climate change stakeholders tend to undermine the contribution that strengthening communities forest rights can give to address climate change related issues.

    For instance, in areas such as Guatemala and Brazil, strong local tenure resulted in deforestation rates 11-20 times lower than outside of formally recognized community forests. Additionally, in parts of the Mexican Yucatan, the findings were even 350 times lower.

    In this framework, experts warn that the climate implications of these forests are significant. However, the rights to protect forests are weak, increasing the risks to lose the potential benefits of these forests.

    Thus, policymakers and the donor community should undertake concrete environmental policies to link land rights with momentum on climate change, strengthening these efforts through instruments as finance mechanisms.

    In this context, the international community needs to focus on the recognition of local forest rights. In this way, boosting local forest rights will represent a key issue in order to reduce the consequences of climate change and poverty.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    The EPSEI project

    Friday, 25 July 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • CALL FOR NUCLEAR POWER AS LOW-CARBON TECHNOLOGY

    According to the Nuclear Industry Association, nuclear power represents one of the cheapest low-carbon technologies. Additionally nuclear power can play a significant role as part of a cost-effective portfolio of technologies to decarbonize the power sector.

    Some experts have outlined that investing in nuclear would be costly gamble because of rising renewable energy output. In relation to that, some experts have shown that the UK needs a mix of low-carbon sources of energy, including nuclear energy. Renewable energy cannot provide sufficient power to the grid even though the UK gets as much as 15% of its electricity from these sources. Consequently, the government should focus on a combination of both sources of energy, establishing a cost-effective portfolio of technologies.

    In this context, an ambitious plan for building new nuclear plants could represent the adequate mechanism to guarantee a greater proportion of the electricity needed in the UK. In addition to that, nuclear can furnish a continuous supply to the electricity grid: unlike renewables that will be reliant on the elements.

    Studies from the government have calculated that by 2025 the UK will need 60GW of new electricity generating capacity and the adequate infrastructure to run it. Estimates show that 5GW would come from renewables and 25GW would come from other sources, including nuclear power.

    Furthermore, the government has outlined the other possible benefits determined by these policies: for instance, the establishing of this new nuclear capacity will mean thousands new jobs.

    Thanks to this new program, the UK will boost its secure low carbon electricity generation, in parallel to renewables. In this way, the country can continue to decarbonize its energy supply, contributing to economic growth and high quality jobs.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    The EPSEI project

    Saturday, 26 July 2014

    (source: The Guardian)

  • THE UK CLIMATE POLICY: PROPOSALS AND CONCERNS

    The UK climate policy is under the spotlight as one of the most challenging issue.

    In this context, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron has repeatedly stressed the importance for the EU to complete its internal energy market and foster actions on climate change.

    The European Commission has recently met to decide the possibility to undertake further investigation of two of the UK proposed Electricity Market Reform instruments: Contracts for Difference feed in tariffs, and Capacity Market payments for both new and existing fossil fuel power plants.

    In this context, the UK government has also announced the decision to reinforce its commitment to reduce emissions in 2025 by 50% from 1990 levels. This decision represents a positive signal in the realm of fighting climate change. According to the country’s Committee on Climate Change, this challenging objective will require a concrete change through stronger actions.

    On the other hand, environmental groups have expressed their concerns in a significant report showing that the UK has nine of the top 30 biggest CO2 emitting power plants in Europe. The study explains that existing power plants represent the main cause of increased emissions. Additionally, the low price for carbon in the EU’s Emissions Trading System plays a significant role, the study says.

    In this framework, experts have highlighted the urgency to take stricter actions on existing coal to overcome the consequences of climate change.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    The EPSEI project

    Thursday, 24 July 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • STRONG DEBATES ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN REPEAL OF THE CARBON PRICE

    The recent Australia’s repeal of the carbon price has raised a strong debate and a negative reaction overseas. The former US vice president Al Gore has defined this decision as a “disappointing step”. According to Gore, the abolition of the mechanism means that Australia is falling behind other major industrialized nations in the growing global effort to cut carbon emissions.

    In this way, experts have shown that the decision could strongly undermine the efforts to address the consequences of the current climate crisis. Additionally, Gore has stressed the importance for Australia to adopt an emissions trading scheme, to foster stronger environmental policies.

    In this field, the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Climate Change Authority are playing a central role in order to undertake adequate measures to fight climate change.

    In relation to that, also the European Union’s climate commissioner has criticized the carbon price repeal. According to the EU, pricing carbon represents the most cost-effective way to reduce global emissions.

    The European Union has launched an emissions trading scheme in 2005. The scheme, that covers around 45% of total greenhouse emissions from the 28 EU countries, was due to be linked to Australia’s own emissions trading scheme. However, this project will not be realized.

    Consequently, the repeal of the carbon price means that the country now has no primary mechanism designed to reduce carbon emissions.

    On the other hand, the Australian government has stressed its effort to implement its voluntary Direct Action scheme, which will hand around $2.5bn to businesses for emissions-lowering projects.

    However, the government has not yet undertaken any concrete measures to support this assertion.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    and

    the team of University Institute for European Studies (IUSE), Turin, POREEN project

    Friday, 18 July 2014

    (source: The Guardian)

  • ENVIRONMENTAL RESTRICTIONS TO STOP THE DEVELOPMENT OF MINES IN ALASKA

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently launched a plan of restrictions that will prevent the development of a controversial copper and gold mine in Alaska, described as disastrous for the state’s largest salmon fishery.

    According to the EPA, the mine would have a severe impact on the environment, taking up an area the size of Manhattan. Additionally, the mine would harm a fundamental ecosystem that supports an ancient fishing culture and an economic powerhouse, causing irreversible damages to one of the world’s last intact salmon ecosystems, experts show.

    On the other hand, supporters of the mine argue that the EPA’s decision, that sets stricter environmental restrictions, will significantly undermine the potential economic development of the region.

    The mine, located in south-west Alaska near Bristol Bay, would have been one of the largest opencast mines in the world. The EPA argue that the project was unacceptable for the environmental safety, for those who rely on the salmon in Bristol Bay for work, and for the Native community who consider the area  integral to their way of life.

    In 2011, the EPA, petitioned by Alaska Native tribes and others to protect Bristol Bay, initiated a review that culminated in the finding earlier this year that large-scaling mining in the Bristol Bay watershed posed significant risks to salmon and Alaska Native cultures that rely on the fish

    Related to that, the EPA is strengthening its efforts in order to undertake concrete measures to develop a healthy economy. In this context, environmental groups have strongly suggested that protecting Bristol Bay represents a challenging and a crucial issue.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    and

    the team of University Institute for European Studies (IUSE), Turin, POREEN project

    Friday, 18 July 2014

    (source: The Guardian)

  • CALL FOR GLOBAL EFFORTS TO ADDRESS INCREASING POVERTY AND CLIMATE CHANGE RELATED ISSUES

    According to Graça Machel, widow of the late South African statesman Nelson Mandela, policymakers need to focus on sustainable development in order to address the consequences of increasing poverty. Additionally, without adequate and concrete measures, military conflicts will significantly increase.

    A letter to Cameron signed also by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the rock star Bono, the Nobel peace prize WINNER Muhammad Yunus, the billionaire entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim and the 17-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, has stressed that the prime minister should  take the lead on an international UN framework agreement on climate change in 2015. Thus, the prime minister should reinforce its policies in order to achieve a concrete agreement on new tighter UN millennium development goals.

    Moreover, the letter focuses on the growing insecurity caused by unequal access to scarce natural resources. The letter highlights that these alarming issues could lead to tragic conflicts in many areas.

    Furthermore, the letter calls for a global movement to foster development, climate and human rights campaigns. In line with this, a campaign called Action/2015, backed by hundreds of organizations from around the world such as Amnesty International and Save the Children, will be launched in January 2015.

    The letter affirms that this global movement represents a turning point, inspired by the words of Nelson Mandela: “Like slavery, like apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is manmade and it can be overcome by the actions of human beings. Climate change too can and must be remedied by the actions of human beings.”

    According to the authors of the letter, this global effort will represent a concrete opportunity for a significant change in order to empower citizens of the global south to demand and receive vital life-saving and life-changing health, education and infrastructure services from governments.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    and

    the team of University Institute for European Studies (IUSE), Turin, POREEN project

    Friday, 18 July 2014

    (source: The Guardian)

  • A NEW STUDY: TO ACHIEVE SUSTAINABLE MEASURES TO FEED THE WORLD’S GROWING POPULATION

    A new study has recently shown that the world’s existing cropland could feed at least 3 billion extra people with a more efficient planning. In line with this, experts has outlined that the large increases in population expected in the next three decades need not result in widespread hunger.

    According to the study, more than half of the fertilizer currently poured on to crops in many countries is wasted. Experts show that about 60% of the nitrogen applied to crops is not needed, as well as about half of the phosphorus: data also indicate that the sources of these elements are alarmingly diminishing.

    Experts have found that between one-third and a half of the viable crops and food produced around the world are wasted in the developing countries due to a lack of adequate infrastructures, and in the rich world because of wasteful habits. Recent forecasts has estimated that the world population will amount to more than 9 billion people by 2050, compared with 7 billion people today.

    Related to that, the study has stressed the importance to focus on staple crops such as wheat and rice in strategic countries, such as China, India, the US, Brazil, Indonesia, Pakistan and Europe, in order to achieve concrete solutions to produce the adequate quantity of food needed for the world’s growing population.

    In this context, also water related issues are playing a central role. The study has indicated that between 8% and 15% of water currently used for irrigation could be saved with appropriate programs. The authors has suggested that governments and policymakers should strengthen their efforts in order to increase agricultural productivity in crucial areas as Africa, where the actual crop yields lag severely behind their potential.

    Additionally, politics should reinforce their commitments to undertake basic measures in order to look after food supply. According to the study, feeding people in a sustainable way represents one of the most challenging issues of the international agenda.

    The gLAWcal Team

    and

    the team of University Institute for European Studies (IUSE), Turin, POREEN project

    Thursday, 17 July 2014

    (source: The Guardian)

  • STRONGER COOPERATION BETWEEN CHINA AND USA ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES

    Recent talks in Beijing have focused on climate and energy related issues. Chinese President has recently met the new White House counselor on climate change and energy policy and US energy secretary as part of the sixth US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

    Chinese environmentalists have highlighted the importance of these debates as a significant breakthrough in order to protect and safeguard the environment. The debate has stressed the urgency to undertake a global response to climate change. Additionally, policymakers have shown the need to reinforce communication and international cooperation.

    According to experts, there is a good channel of dialogue between the US and China. However, governments should focus on reaching a genuine agreement and concrete actions, especially through environmental cooperation. In this way, experts have argued that a stronger cooperation between these countries could represent a crucial instrument to establish adequate and effective climate and energy policies.

    Furthermore, the dialogue between China and US is a strategic measure to foster a globalsustainable development. Climate change, energy and the environment are key elements of the Sino-US strategic dialogue, representing also some of the most challenging issues at the center of the international agenda.

    In this framework, experts of the US Natural Resources Defense Council show that both Chinese and US government are strengthening their efforts to cooperate on nuclear safety and clean coal technology.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    and

    the team of University Institute for European Studies (IUSE), Turin, POREEN project

    Tuesday, 15 July 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • INDIAN MIGRANT WORKERS SUBJECTED TO EXPLOITATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES

    According to Amnesty International India, the lack of effective regulation of visa brokers and recruiting agents makes Indian migrant workers vulnerable to serious human rights abuses.

    The new report focuses on migrants from the Indian state of Kerala working in Saudi Arabia: the study describes cases of migrant workers from Kerala who were deceived about their jobs, wages and working conditions by Indian visa brokers and dishonest recruiting agents. Many workers were compelled to face a range of abuses in Saudi Arabia, including forced labor, the report says.

    In relation to this situation, the Chief Executive of Amnesty International India has strongly highlighted that Indian authorities have the duty to protect migrant workers from abuses with adequate instruments.

    The report has documented that recent events in Iraq represent a harsh reminder of the risks that Indian migrant workers can face in the countries they work in, showing also that visa brokers and recruiting agents play a central role in the exploitation and deception of migrants.

    The study is based on interviews with migrant workers deceived by visa brokers and recruiting agents, who ended up working in Saudi Arabia in jobs different from the ones they were promised. Additionally, in some cases they were not paid for several months.

    The report reveals that migrants were forced to work for 15 or 18 hours without a day off, without being compensated for overtime, and subjected to threats and beatings by their employers.

    Although the Indian Emigration Act governs the recruitment of Indian migrant workers, Amnesty International India found evidences of emigration laws and policies’ violations, causing severe human rights abuses.

    In this alarming context, the report suggests the urgency to undertake stricter measures in order to protect the rights of migrant workers.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Saturday, 5 July 2014

    (Source: Amnesty International)

  • CALL FOR STRONGER COOPERATION IN ORDER TO SOLVE WATER RELATED ISSUES

    Experts have recently argued that disputes over water continue to worsen tensions between countries in South Asia. Data show that large parts of India and Pakistan already suffer from water stress and these pressures are likely to increase in the future.

    A new report provides a snapshot of the current situation of water management. Events such as industrialization and population growth has played a crucial role, aggravating the consequences of pollution and declining per capitawater availability. Experts have also stressed the role of climate change in the region.

    In this context, the report highlights the importance to undertake adequate instruments in order to overcome the problems related to water management: lacks of coordination between ministries, under-investment and poor data collection represent the main challenging issues to solve.

    The report documents that India and Pakistan are facing internal conflicts between states and provinces over water management and rivers development.

    Despite concerns and debates about water related issues, the study reports that many governments are working on innovative demand management and storage projects in order to create new approaches to international water issues, such as rainwater harvesting, basin management and community participation in decision-making. However, experts continue to emphasize that shifting the over-arching approach to water management, both domestically and internationally, requires a stronger political commitment fostering dialogue at different levels.

    In this framework, dialogue, that plays a central role, need to focus on specific factors related to water, from health to environment, livelihoods and fisheries, driving insurmountable conflicts of interest into regional dialogue and cooperation around shared challenges.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    and

    the team of the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE), Turin, POREEN project

     

    Thursday, 3 July 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • THE CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS NEED PROTECTION FROM CLIMATE CHANGE, EXCESSIVE COSTAL POLLUTION AND TOURISM

    A new report has alarmingly warned that most Caribbean coral reefs will disappear within the next 20 years without adequate actions, especially due to the decline of grazers such as sea urchins and parrotfish.

    The study, based on more than 35,000 surveys conducted at nearly 100 Caribbean locations since 1970, shows that the region’s corals have decreased by more than 50%.

    According to the study from the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the United Nations Environment Program, restoring key fish populations and improving protection from overfishing and pollution could help the reefs recover, making them more resilient to the strong impacts of climate change.

    Researches have outlined that climate change and the resulting ocean acidification and coral bleaching does not represent the only threats for the environmental safety of the region. In this context, local pressures such as tourism, overfishing and pollution play a central role, posing the main problems.

    These factors have caused the loss of the two main grazer species, with significant consequences in the marine ecosystem.

    The Caribbean have 9% of the world’s coral reefs, but only one-sixth of the original coral cover remains. The reefs, that span 38 countries, are essential to the region’s economy, generating more than US$3bn annually from tourism and fisheries and much more in other goods and services.

    Although the alarming situation of the Caribbean corals, experts positively suggest that governments have the possibility to undertake the adequate instruments in order to immediately address and overcome the problems with concrete measures, among which reducing excessive coastal pollution, tourism and coastal development.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    and

    the team of the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE), Turin, POREEN project

     

    Wednesday, 2 July 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • WATER REPRESENTS ONE OF THE STRONGEST WEAPON TO CONTROL COUNTRIES IN RECENT CONFLICTS

    According to security analysts in London and Baghdad, control of the region’s dwindling water supplies plays a crucial role in the outcome of the Iraq and Syrian conflicts.

    Experts outline that rivers, canals, dams, sewage and desalination plants are now all military targets in the semi-arid region that regularly experiences extreme water shortages. Moreover, control of water supplies is a strategic instrument over cities and countryside. Water represents the main tactical objective of all groups in Iraq, being an essential element in this conflict.

    Reports show that Islamic rebels now control most of the key upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates on which all Iraq and much of Syria depends for food, water and industry.

    In this framework, experts highlight the importance of controlling water supply. Rebel forces are targeting water installations to cut off supplies to the largely Shia south of Iraq, causing great sanitation and health crises.

    In addition to that, increasing temperatures and severe droughts are key factors in the political destabilization of Syria.

    Researchers stress that the wide use of water as a strategic weapon means that Syria’s essential services are on the brink of collapse under the burden of this continuous assault on critical water infrastructure. Additionally, these factors may drive to a water and food crisis that would escalate fatalities and migration rates in the country’s conflict.

    The Euphrates River, the Middle East’s second longest river, and the Tigris, have historically been the main element at the center of conflicts: there has never been an outright war over water but water has played an important role in many Middle East conflicts.

    Control of water supply is currently one of the main challenging issues of the international agenda. Experts warn that water will be the key instrument to control arid countries as Iraq in future.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    and

    the team of the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE), Turin, POREEN project

     

    Wednesday, 2 July 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • CHINESE MILESTONE ON THE WAY TO A NATIONAL EMISSION TRADING SYSTEM

    China has made remarkable progress adapting emissions trading to the Chinese context. The proposed system represents the world’s largest carbon market after the EU, being a real step forward in the global effort to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, establishing a more ambitious climate policy and a stricter cap on the Chinese fast growing emissions.

    With this project, the Chinese government has stressed its commitment to undertake stronger measures to safeguard the environment.

    China is the world’s largest emitter: the government is gradually taking on the responsibility that comes with its growing role of a major world power.

    Moreover, China is one of the world’s largest energy user: the government increasingly faces concerns of energy security, efficiency and competitiveness. In addition to that, the high levels of air pollution alarmingly show that the country is approaching its environmental limits, stressing the urgency to overcome environment related issues.

    In this context, policymakers have decided to move towards an alternative market approach in order to control greenhouse-gas emissions. The project involves some regions, selected to serve as emissions-trading pilots. This program means that central government provides only a few general design guidelines, leaving the pilots with a high degree of flexibility to come up with a system that best suits their contexts.

    Although the plan represents a significant breakthrough, the system requires stricter instruments to overcome the main challenges. The lack of reliable emissions data, the inadequate capacity to integrate carbon trading into business models, and the restrictions with regard to the development of derivatives and futures markets are just some of the main problems that affect the system.

    In relation to that, the completion of the first compliance cycle in the coming months will give policymakers, companies and observers the opportunity to take stock of this first exercise with emissions trading in China. In this way, the government will be able to undertake the adequate measures to improve the market designs.

    In this framework, laying the legal foundation and creating the administrative capacity for a national system are important further aims to reach.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    and

    the team of the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE), Turin, POREEN project

     

    Tuesday, 1 July 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE WORLD ECONOMY

    The World Bank has recently announced that tackling climate change would help grow the world economy, adding up to $2.6tn a year to global GDP in the coming decades.

    The report has found a number of key policies that would drive to global GDP gains of between $1.8tn and $2.6tn a year by 2030, meaning new jobs, increased crop productivity and public health benefits.

    According to the World Bank’s findings, the pro-climate measures and tax incentives would also deliver nearly a third of the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions needed to keep warming below the 2C threshold for dangerous climate change.

    The results of this study play a significant role halting the debates and the concerns about the cost to take actions against climate change.

    In relation to that, the study provided solid data on the effects of pro-climate policies, showing the smart choices that will improve local and global economies, the World Bank said.

    The report has focused on the effects of specific policies in six regions, Brazil, China, the European Union, India, Mexico, and the United States, that are both leaders in the world economy and global emissions.

    Economists used computer modelling to analyze the effects of specific measures, such as installing dedicated bus lanes in India or clean cook stoves in China, or introducing more efficient air conditioning and other building systems in Mexico.

    Additionally, the annual benefits of the pro-climate policies would have other knock-on benefits including avoiding 94,000 deaths a year caused by air pollution, the Bank said.

    In this context, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has strongly invited world leaders to reinforce their commitment in order to achieve an adequate global climate change deal.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    and

    the team of the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE), Turin, POREEN project

    Saturday, 28 June 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • CAN THE LAND GRABBING INCREASE MALNOURISHMENT AND POVERTY IN AFRICA AND ASIA?

    A new research has found that the land grabbed in some of the world’s hungriest countries by foreign governments and corporations could feed up to 550 million people.

    According to the research, the crops grown on grabbed land are usually exported, or used to produce biofuel. Experts argue that these crops could represent a solution to end malnourishment in those countries if used to feed local people.

    Data show that since 2000, 31m hectares of land has been acquired by overseas investors seeking to secure food supplies or increase production, a process known as land grabbing. Areas such as Africa, particularly Sudan, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea have been most affected by this phenomenon. On one side, proponents suggest that the foreign investment can increase yields providing development and employment. On the other hand, critics say that the grabs often happen without the consent of those on the land.

    Experts of the research team have stressed the importance to take into account the magnitude of the phenomenon. Even accounting for the crops used for biofuels, the grabbed land could support 300- 550 million people if yields were raised to the levels of industrialized western farming, the study calculates.

    Related to that, the research suggests that if this food were used to feed the local populations it would be sufficient to strongly stop malnourishment in each countries, even without investments aiming increase yields. Moreover, the study suggests that policymakers need to undertake measures to implement these results.

    In line with that, the head of policy for food and climate change at Oxfam has indicated that investments in small-scale farming and more sustainable agricultural practices could play a crucial role in reducing hunger for the poorest people.

    Additionally, the study has stressed that many large-scale land grabs are occurring in areas facing hunger problems and in great need of food aid. For example, in Cambodia land grabs are causing the conversion of rice fields to sugar cane plantations and the relocation of peasants to less fertile land.

    In this context, establishing adequate policies to prevent investors from exporting the crops produced in the acquired land represent one of the most challenging issue to overcome.

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, 27 June 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • URBAN AGRICULTURE: A NEW WAY TO FOSTER CHINESE URBAN SUSTAINABILITY

    Studies estimate that over the next decade and a half, 350 million people, more than the entire population of the United States, will become urban residents in China.

    While Chinese urbanization is set to continue at a swift pace, data show that one-fifth of China’s arable land is polluted and three-quarters of the surface water flowing through urban areas is unsuitable for drinking or fishing.

    In this context, the government is trying to undertake stricter measures to achieve a more human-centreddevelopment in order to emphasize social inclusiveness and environmental improvements alongside rational economic growth, rather than being dominated by it.

    Urban agricultureis the practice of incorporating farming into city areas through mixed land use and innovative techniques allowing cultivation to occur on much smaller area of land. This phenomenon has become popular in China as an instrument to foster urban sustainability and resilience by bringing food production closer to consumers and reducing its environmental foot-print. Additionally, urban agriculture has been welcomed as a way to encourage awareness of food safety in response to major health incidences and to promote environmental safeguard.

    New technologies, as sensors linked to automatic irrigation systems, are playing a central role with the rise of urban agriculture. In this way, farmer cooperatives have new opportunities to coordinate with one another to buy stock, specialize their production and market their products.

    In this framework, Beijing represents one of the early pioneers for integrating urban agriculture into its strategic development programs stressing the importance of urban agriculture to sustainable urban development. In the late 1990s, the government launched an official plan to encourage multi-function urban agriculture in peri-urban areas by supporting the development of “agro-parks”, in order to produce food and to attract tourism. Furthermore, in recent years Beijing has devoted significant resources to apply new technologies to the urban agriculture sector to strengthen efficiency and to rationally utilize scarce water and land.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Saturday, 28 June 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH REPORTS THE ALARMING WIDESPREAD OF TORTURE

    A report from Human Rights Watch has revealed that in several countries across Asia, torture is used on a regular basis. Inflicting pain by using physical force, breaking people's will, trying to annihilate their personality are the forms of treatment that fall under the definition of torture.

    Torture is a crime under international law. However, governments in many countries around the world systematically use it as an instrument to stifle even the slightest dissent.

    In this context, Human Rights Watch has stressed that the international community still has a long way to go to achieve the goal of eradicating torture altogether.

    In Asia, human rights organizations strongly accuse countries such as North Korea, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Japan, of habitually using torture. Additionally, in many of these countries, there is apparently broad immunity for government officials who use torture, Human Rights Watch says. The report outlines that police forces across Southeast and South Asia, as well as East Asia, regularly use torture as a standard interrogation techniques in order to exact confessions.

    In this framework, the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on human rights abuses in North Korea has played a crucial role launching long overdue action on one of Asia's worst human rights abusing governments.

    According to Human Rights Watch, torture represents an expanding scourge in Asia. In this way, the international community has the duty to re-double its efforts to fight and to end this cruel treatment: the prohibition against torture is a fundamental human right that governments cannot derogate from because it tears apart people's lives, and those of their families, in the most brutal way possible.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, 27 June 2014

    (Source: Human Rights Watch)

    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.

     

  • UK: STEPS FORWARD FOR GREEN TECHNOLOGIES

    The new statistics of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has revealed that one fifth of all electricity was generated in Britain by green technologies as windfarms in the first three months of the year. Data show that the produced power was enough for about 15m homes during the quarter.

    This result has been welcomes as a breakthrough by the wind industry, which alone provided 12% of the overall power produced, stressing the fundamental role of renewables in the energy mix.

    On the other hand, these findings could rise concerns and debates. The cost of gas to householders rose by 4.8% between the first quarter of 2013 and the same period of this year, while average gas prices to business customers, including the climate change levy, were 5.2% lower.

    Although the scale of renewable energy subsidies remains controversial, data highlight the important advances realized by the industry to significantly reduce Britain's carbon emissions.

    Moreover, recent studies has outlined that in 2013 only 5.2% of final energy consumption, including heat and transport, came from renewable sources, far from the a target of 15% by 2020 set by EU directives.

    In line with that, the lobby group Renewable Energy Association (REA) has argued that the government should undertake stricter policies, especially in the field of green heat and transport biofuels. According to the chief executive of the REA, the progress in electricity is encouraging, but growth is not yet strong enough in renewable heat and transport to meet the government's objectives.

    According to recent government statistics, the UK continued to be highly reliant on coal for its power. While the UK's own production of coal fell by 27% from January to March, owing mainly to controversial colliery closures, the amount of coal imported from Russia rose by 21%.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Friday, 27 June 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • THE FUTURE OF THE UK INFRASTRUCTURES IN THE CONTEXT OF CLIMATE CHANGE

    A new study by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has recently warned that important parts of UK infrastructures are being neglected with significant effects on national competitiveness and quality of life.

    According to the report, future risks to essential national services such as energy networks, transport, waste and water are intensifying. In this framework, climate change is playing a central role causing more floods, droughts, fiercer storms and other unpredictable weather that are likely to bring serious challenges to infrastructures.

    In relation to that, the engineers has strongly urged ministers to undertake stronger measures, safeguarding the UK's economic competitiveness, based heavily on reliable national infrastructures. In addition, the experts has highlighted the importance to increase the investments in the next decade, especially in the energy sector.

    Natural disasters as the recent floods, that have forced thousands fleeing their homes, has stressed the costly and damaging interruptions that can strike householders and businesses. Although natural events represent always a risk, the report has shown that the consequent damages could be mitigated with adequate essential services and precautions able to make transport, communications, water and energy networks more resilient.

    The study has also warned about the possible domino effect caused by the failure of one aspect of infrastructure, such as flood safeguard, that can be the cause of an alarming impact on energy, water, transport and waste networks. In this way, the report has suggested that these aspects have not been sufficiently taken into account in providing such services.

    In this context, the instruments used by governments to drive the private sector to build resilience into their systems will represent one of the central issue of the debates. Efficient solutions will require a degree of coordination among the private sector owners of infrastructures that many experts would argue is not present today. According to the ICE, it is necessary to establish a “right regulatory environment” in order to overcome the main challenges, creating infrastructures more future-proofed.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 26 June 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • ACCESS TO ENERGY: ONE OF THE MAIN CHALLENGING ISSUE FOR INDUSTRY

    Energy represents a basic and fundamental requirement for economic growth and development. However, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has shown that 1.3 billion people do not have access to electricity, especially in rural areas of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

    Data reveals that only 5% of sub-Saharan Africa has access to energy: in this region the electricity consumption per capita is one-sixth of the world's average.

    In that context, the challenge of energy accessibility needs to be taken into account in terms of availability and affordability for individuals and communities. In this way, renewable energies such as wind, solar or biomass play a key role: over the time, the costs of these sources have significantly reduced.

    Recently, some countries have strongly stressed their commitments in distributing renewable energy technologies. To make an example, in Bangladesh every month 80,000 solar home systems will be installed with a positive economic and social impact in the country, benefiting over 20 million people.

    Renewable energies represent a great opportunity to strengthen the economic development in the global south. However, progress has been slow.

    In the global south, by 2050 countries need an estimated $531bn per year of additional investment in energy distribution, grid and storage systems in order to reduce global temperature rise to 2°C above preindustrial levels, the World Resource Institute say. In relation to that, national and regional policies that foster the energy transition and development of renewables are key instruments to achieve progress.

    At the international stage, feed-in tariffs have played an important role to increase the development of renewable electricity, being more efficient measures than other renewable energy policies, in terms of pricing, innovation and job growth.

    Moreover, adjusted for a local framework, feed-in tariffs can successfully boost overall energy production, increase economic growth and improve access.  Establishing a reliable background for investments in renewable energy represents one of the main challenging issue for the industry.

    Due to the accessibility of domestic finance is often an obstacle to introduce feed-in tariffs in developing countries, the Green Climate Fund of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, can represent an appropriate solution to address the challenges that renewable energy investors face in developing countries.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    (Source: The Guardian)

    Friday, 13 June 2014

  • THE LASTING THREAT OF AIR POLLUTION ON HUMAN HEALTH

    A new study has alarmingly suggested that short-term exposure to air pollution could increase a person's risk of irregular heartbeat or blood clots in the lung.

    Experts from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have analyzed the biological impact of short-term air pollution on cardiovascular events.

    The researched has used data from databases across England and Wales about heart attacks, hospital admissions and deaths for the period 2003 to 2009 and comparing them to pollution phenomena recorded by the UK Air Quality Information Archive.

    The experts linked these outcomes to average levels of air pollutants over a period of five days from the monitoring station nearest to the place of residence of people.

    In particular, these researches have examined different kind of air pollutants including carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter less than 10 micrometres in aerodynamic diameter (PM10), particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5), sulphur dioxide, and ozone.

    The study has found no clear relation with any air pollutant for cardiovascular deaths, with the exception of PM2.5 linked to an increased risk of irregular heart rhythms, irregular heartbeat and blood clots in the lungs.

    On the other hand, researchers linked nitrogen dioxide to an increased risk of a hospital admission for cardiovascular problems, among which heart failure, and an increased risk of a particular type of heart attack.

    Moreover, the study has estimated that outdoor air pollution was the main cause of deaths of 3.7 million people globally during 2012.

    In this framework, English health officials have recently stressed the importance for local authorities to undertake stronger measures in order to protect people from air pollution.

    ThePublic Health England (PHE) has revealed that long-term exposure to air pollution caused around 25,000 deaths in England in 2010.

    Although air quality had significantly improved in the UK over recent decades thanks to cleaner technology and stricter environmental legislation, the PHE has warned that local action should strengthened in order to cut the emissions of manmade particles reducing people's exposure to air pollution.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Thursday, 12 June 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • DOES CHINA NEED TO DRAW A NEW ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH LAW?

    Lu Zhongmei, one of the authors of the China Environmental Development Report, has strongly stressed the importance to establish a new environmental health law in China in order to secure the rights to compensation for victims of pollution.

    The existing China's environmental protection laws insufficiently mention the concept of “safeguarding human health”: only six of the 30 laws include the phrase, the report shows. Moreover, all of these environmental laws lack specific rules for their fulfillment.

    According to the report, the basic and fundamental objective of an Environmental Protection Law must be to provide protection to the lives and health of the public by managing risks, rather than undertaking remedies and pollution caps of traditional environmental protection laws. In this way, the new legislation should be implemented providing for the prevention and management of risk, and for communication with the public on these issues.

    In line with this, the report suggests to establish an Environmental Health Law in order to highlight the government’s duty to protect human health and the environment safety at the same time. Additionally, the law will require the assessment of health risks during environmental impact studies for both regional development plans and individual projects, providing rules on compensation for harm to health.

    However, this proposal has raised concerns and critiques.  

    According to the deputy director of the Resources and Environmental Policy Research Institute, the current Chinese environmental legislation, including the Air Pollution Control Law, the Water Pollution Control Law and the Environmental Protection Law, represents an adequate instrument, stressing the importance to implement the existing laws fixing those institutional and procedural obstacles encountered during enforcement. Following this point of view, other experts have argued that the problem of compensation should be resolved with the reinforcement of existing laws.

    However, other experts have welcomed the project: recent serious environmental incidents have meant that the main laws need to be significantly refined. Furthermore, the large number of cases disclosed in the report show that victims of pollution in China rarely obtain legal relief.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Wednesday, 11 June 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

    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.

     

  • GLOBAL HEALTH SECURITY: MORE EFFORTS HAVE TO BE DONE TO ENHANCE THE SITUATION

    During the last years, due to globalization, countries have seen several health threats, which have been lethal for a lot of people. The best way to face those threats is improving the global health security’s framework, which has to be more coordinated and prepared to address global health’s challenges.

    In U.S. infectious diseases represent a danger to U.S. businesses, their employees and the economy in general.  Ten years ago, SARS cost the world $30 billion in just four months. Pandemic influenza has caused rapid and widespread deaths among citizens. The Government and businesses should do more efforts in order to enhance the situation, because countries, that have robust systems in place for ensuring health security, are attractive nations for foreign investments and can be considered better trade partners.

    Global health security becomes a critical issue, owing to the fact that global businesses continue to grow and expand their markets in regions that are vulnerable to infectious disease threats. Despite improvements, there are still dangerous gaps in technology, training, surveillance and coordination that are essential fortifications against endemic disease.

    The U.S. government has recently presented a global health security agenda through a multiagency effort that includes the departments of State, Defense, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Through this agenda, U.S. agencies are keen to prevent and reduce the risks of outbreaks, find health threats and act quickly to face them.

    The 194 member nations of the World Health Organization have signed the International Health Regulations, which are fundamental to provide a better global health security. Unfortunately, fewer than 20 percent of countries can rapidly detect or prevent global health threats caused by emerging infections. That is why U.S. government commitment to a global health security agenda represents an important step forward, but the support of the U.S. businesses is crucial for its success.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    Monday, June 9, 2014

    (Source: Huffington 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.