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  • HIGH ROYALTIES’ KEY REASON BEHIND QUALCOMM FINE: NDRC

    The "unfair" and "excessively high" royalties Qualcomm Inc. collected from Chinese smartphone makers were the key factors that led to the historical fine, the National Development and Reform Commission said.

    Qualcomm refused to provide patent list to its customers in China and out-of-date patents were included in the licensing package and charged.  What’s more, Qualcomm added unreasonable conditions in the sale of baseband chips. And these violated the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law.

    Qualcomm will change its patent fee on two device categories- 3G and 4G devices that don't have WCDMA and CDMA, according to a company statement.

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Tuesday, 17 February2015

    (Source: China IP Magazine)

  • BAIDU LOST THE LAWSUIT AGAINST SOGOU BROWSER

    February 4th, 2015, the Beijing Haidian People’s Court delivered a verdict on Bai, Inc. vs. Sougou, Inc.

    Previously, Baidu, Inc. (one of the most famous Chinese web services company) brought a lawsuit before the court suing that Sogou, Inc. (a subsidiary of China’s Internet giant Sohu) conducted unfair competition by “robbing” its data stream for the search service, and asked for the compensation of 1.11 million Yuan.

    The verdict announced that the data stream “robbing” doesn’t exist; however, Sogou, Inc. did conduct unfair competition and shall compensate 200,000 Yuan to Baidu, Inc.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Monday, 16 February2015

    (Source: China IP Magazine)

  • THE LATEST BLOOMBERG INNOVATION QUOTIENT RELEASED

    Recently, the Bloomberg Innovation Quotient, a ranking of the world’s most innovative countries published every year, released its latest results for 2014.

    Based on the ranking in six major areas like the R&D, manufacturing and innovation, hi-tech corporation, higher education, personnel for R&D and patent technology, South Korea was measured as the world’s most innovative country, followed by Japan, Germany, Finland, Israel and the U.S.

    China was ranked as No. 22 and Hong Kong was placed as No.34. However, China also attracts significant attention by ranking among top three in the regard of the hi-tech corporation and the patent technology. Other countries among the top five in the above two categories are the U.S., Japan, Korea and Canada.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Sunday, 15 February2015

    (Source: China IP Magazine)

  • THE DEMAND BOOM FOR CHINA’S FAKES

    China, the world's largest manufacturer of goods, is by far the largest source of fake goods, reports AMY HE from New York.

    Despite large and more frequent seizures of counterfeit goods, the flow into the United States is increasing. For 2015, the International Chamber of Commerce projected that the value of global trade in counterfeit and pirated goods is $1.77 trillion, according to the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition Inc. (IACC).

    The counterfeit problem started years ago when Western brands made their entrance into China. And now the counterfeit good is flowing back into the western countries.

    Though China has adopted IP laws consistent with international standards, the challenge is enforcement of the laws and setting up effective deterrents that will discourage counterfeiters from committing the crime.

    With the increasing of IP violations, much of the judicial structure in China is overwhelmed by the number of intellectual property cases it sees in court.

     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Saturday, 14 February2015

    (Source: China Daily)

  • CHINA’S LKK FIGHTS AGAINST COUNTERFEITS

    LKK, a Beijing-headquartered creative design company, co-held a seminar on the challenges facing China’s creative design industry in Beijing on February 10.

    The seminar, which took place at the Copyright Protection Center of China, focused on LKK’s fancy product — the 55° Cup, an innovative cup that can cool down boiling water to a moderate temperature through its patented physical method.

    However, there were a large number of counterfeits of the Cup’s design look, package and even the trademark. Thus, the seminar was held and experts attending it support LKK’s fight. They also signed up to a campaign about innovative creation titled "I support original Chinese designs".

     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Friday, 13 February2015

    (Source: China Daily)

  • CHINA’S ZHONGGUANCUN HOLDS CONFERENCE ON AMERICAN PATENT LAW

    American patent system and issues pertaining to Patent Cooperation Treaty were among the main topics discussed in a three-day conference held in Zhongguancun Science Park in Beijing recently.

    Co-organized by China International Technology Transfer Center and Metis IP LLC, an IP management and patent search firm, the event aimed at analysing the American patent law and enhancing Chinese enterprises' awareness on overseas patent protection. Experts, IP companies, and IP bureau attended the conference. 

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Thursday, 12 February2015

    (Source: China Daily)

  • CHINA PROTECTS IP OF OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES BID

    Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Bid Committeereleased a bulletin of IP protection of the Olympic Winter Games Bid logo and emblem.

    According to the bulletin, the logo and emblem are in the scope of protection. The logo is  made up by Chinese art character “冬" and English words “BEIJING 2022” and “Applicant City”; while the emblem is made up by Chinese art character “冬" , English words “BEIJING 2022” and “Applicant City”, and the Olympic rings.

    According to Chinese laws and the rules of International Olympic Committee, anyone who infringes the copyrights of the logo and emblem would be brought to justice by the Bid Committee.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 11 February2015

    (Source: IPR in China)

  • CHINA TO SET UP STANDARDIZED IPR SERVICE SYSTEM

    According to the guideline on promoting the establishment of standardized IPR service system, jointly released by State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO), Standardization Administration of China, State Administration for Industry and Commerce of China and National Copyright Administration of China, China will initially establish an effective standardized IPR service system by the 2020.

    According to a representative of SIPO, the standardized IPR service system should mainly involve five tasks, namely, to build a technology organization, to enhance R&D, to foster pilot-programs, to strengthen cultivation of talents and to improve propaganda and implementation.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Tuesday, 10 February2015

    (Source: IPR in China)

  • ELECTRONIC EVIDENCE ALLOWED INTO CHINA’S COURTS

    The Supreme People's Court will allow electronic evidence, such as mobile phone messages, e-mails, micro-blogging and online chat records in civil lawsuits, including intellectual property suits.

    Cases involving electronic messages have been on the rise in recent years and tend to be complex. Most of the cases involved marriage, property and debt, housing and labour disputes, as well as intellectual property disputes.

    However, electronic files and information were not previously identified by the courts as evidence, which greatly slowed the trial process and damaged the legitimate rights of the parties. Thus, the recent Amendments to the Civil Procedure Law of PRC will allow electronic files to be used as evidence in civil lawsuits.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Thursday, 5 February2015

    (Source: China Daily)

  • REPORT REVEALS WORLD'S INNOVATION TRENDS IN AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY

    Geely is leading Chinese automakers in terms of innovative capacity, according to a report unveiled in late January by the intellectual property and science business of information provider Thomson Reuters.

    The report examined recent patent trends in the automotive field, including companies involved innovation and segments that have grown the fastest, based on data during the past five years.

    The report looked into innovation activities in five broad categories of the automotive industry-propulsion, navigation, handling, safety and entertainment. 

    Findings showed that propulsion attracted more patents than any other technology area. Patents in the safety and security category also increased. Meanwhile, patent activity in the other three categories stayed flat or dipped.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 4 February2015

    (Source: China Daily)

  • FAIR TRADE GOLD MINING IN PERU

    Peruvian mines have always had an unenviable reputation because of their environmentally disrespectful practices. Sotrami’s Fair Trade certified gold mine begs to differ.

    Sotrami’s mining company operates in a very poor and arid region in Peru, but fair trade and environmental-friendly practices has helped the region to achieve prosperity. In fact, the Fair Trade movement provides advanced technologies to reduce the negative impacts of the harmful waste products of mining. The company avoids the use of mercury to purify gold, using cyanide to dissolve gold from ore and constantly recycling.

    Sotrami’s mining company, accordingly to Fair Trade principles, destines part of its profits to the community, helping provide water and electricity in an otherwise barren landscape.

    Since Sotrami has received Fair Trade certification from FLO, the international fair trade labelling organisation, its products are considered reliable from various markets, such as Europe and North America. The FLO certification implies a rigorous control over the company’s relations with its workforce, the benefits gained from the entire community, and the impact on the environment.

    The local community grew up as a mining town: most of the people are mineworkers, but Sotrami also engages in helping regional farmers, controlling the use of water and recycling dirty water to irrigate the arid fields. The company would like to see other miners learn from this experience, counteracting the negative view that most governments have of mining practices in Peru.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Friday, 20 February 2015

    (Source: The Ecologist)

  • UN GLOBAL COMPACT LAUNCHES GUIDE LINES TO CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY

    On 19 January 2015, the UN Global Compact - the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative - released the Guide to Corporate Sustainability: Shaping a Sustainable Future. With this new Guide, Global Compact asks businesses to align to five defining principles of corporate sustainability. 

    Nowadays, companies have to work responsibly to ensure that markets deliver value across society. To be sustainable, companies must do five things:

    Principled Business: sustainability must be founded on respect of fundamental responsibilities in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

    According to point called Strengthening Society, companies know that they cannot succeed if the world around them is struggling. They need to take action to support their society, for poverty, conflict, and resource scarcity affect business.

    Leadership Commitment speaks about participation in the Global Compact as a public commitment by the chief executives and the Board of Directors which is required. Leadership includes prompting action in fundamental areas, such as pushing sustainability into the supply chain, and adjustments to policies and practices.

    Reporting Progress: on an annual basis, Global Compact participant shall deliver a Communication on Progress (COP), reporting their efforts regarding responsible operations and support towards society.

    Local Action: the meaning of responsible business can vary among nations and communities in which companies act. For this reason, Global Compact Local Networks supports its participants in furthering sustainability understanding country by country.

    .

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Thursday, 19 February 2015

    (Source: UN Global Compact)

  • HOW FAIR TRADE IS MAKING THE DIFFERENCE IN MALAWI

    Fair Trade Foundation, in collaboration with Fair Trade Africa, Malawi Fairtrade Network and The Natural Resource Institute, University of Greenwich, has analysed the results of Fair Trade’s work in Malawi, begun in 1998.

    Malawian small farmers contribute close to 60% of the country’s agricultural GDP. Most of them have to face relevant challenges, such as the lack of necessary resources, technical knowledge and capacity to improve productions. Moreover, the unstable access to markets puts at risk their living standards, causing the impossibility of food security, as well as the access to basic healthcare and social services. Notwithstanding government is continuing to fight these situations, farmers need a strong support to sustain their agrarian economy.

    Today, Fair Trade is collaborating with nine organisations all over the country, building direct farmer-consumer links, helping farmers to enhance their efficiency and providing various facilities, such as fertilisers. A purpose of the Fair Trade is to help more than 20,000 farmers and workers to grow effectively their own tea, coffee, groundnuts and sugar. Fair Trade is also ensuring that these products will have a stable access to markets.

    The study shows that Malawian farmers’ living standards are improving, since Fair Trade started to operate with them. Now many farmers and workers are experiencing a new stability: they are able to pay school fees for their children and to provide enough food for their families. Despite this growth, to have more stable results, farmers need to obtain more from their supply chains, gaining more value from products. The farmers’ organisations studied expressed the desire to increase their autonomy for their patron organisations. An example of this development is the Afri-Nut processing facility that is part-owned by the farmers.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 18 February 2015

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • UN SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR COMPANIES’ SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

    2015 represents a historic opportunity to adopt a new sustainable development agenda for the purpose of a global agreement on Climate Change. This is why, on 23 January, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted an event “Making 2015 a Historic Year”, with the participation of UN Global Compact.

    During the meeting, chief executives of Global Compact LEAD and several Caring for Climate companies discussed on the opportunity to integrate risks and opportunities related to sustainable development and climate change within their business strategies as a result of the interdependence between societal and company performance.

    The Secretary-General underlined the need for companies to engage in a continuous dialogue with Governments and to support the SDGs. For these purposes, transformational partnerships matching with SDGs will be crucial, as well as financing from private sectors.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Tuesday, 17 February 2015

    (Source: UN Global Compact)

  • 2015: EU COUNCIL PRESIDENCY AIMS AT SUSTAINABILITY

    During Latvia’s EU council presidency in the first six months of 2015, Janis Duklavs, Latvia’s ministry of agriculture, will bring EU attention on long-term agricultural production and future-oriented management of natural resources. Latvian presidency wants EU to promote a sustainable, innovative and environmental-friendly development of agricultural, food and fishery sectors: this will be the way to improve the European Union’s common agricultural policy (CAP).

    ”The guiding principles of our presidency are sustainability, competitiveness and growth”, Duklavs said. These principles will be applied to the whole programme, including agriculture, fishery, food, forestry and animal health. The presidency will also continue to strengthen health and safety standards in the entire agricultural and food production chain. Enhancing competitiveness of the EU’s agricultural production, both in the EU and in global markets, will ensure the sustainability of agriculture, animal and plant health.

    Furthermore, the presidency will work on sustainable and responsible forest management, improving the European model and promoting the forest management model globally. Latvian presidency’s purpose is to support an efficient use of the resources gained through a responsible management.

    Latvian presidency has also organized various events: in February, there will be a meeting at director level on how organic farming and short supply chains will contribute to sustainable development in rural economies. The International federation of organic agriculture movements will participate. In June, the presidency will hold the ninth European organic congress, where non-governmental organizations, the European commission and many decision makers will discuss EU’s propositions for organic farming after 2030.

    Latvia will also be the mediator of the negotiations among the EU member states, representing the EU council in discussions on agriculture at the parliament, the commission and in global institutions.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Monday, 16 February 2015

    (Source: The Parliament Magazine)

  • RULES TO FOLLOW INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY COURTS IN CHINA

    The Supreme People’s Court released the Provisional Regulations of the Supreme People’s Court on Several Issues concerning the Participation of Technical Investigators in Intellectual Property Court Proceedings on 21 January.

    This is China’s first bunch of rules for technical investigators. Before that, there are no rules for technical investigators in the three Intellectual Property Courts put into operation in 2014.

    The technical investigators are introduced into court procedures to help judges resolve technical issues against the backdrop of most judges being only acquainted with legal knowledge and more and more intellectual property cases technically difficult to understand.

    (The full text of the regulations can be found on http://www.chinaipr.gov.cn/newsarticle/news/headlines/201501/1854193_1.html)

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Tuesday, 3 February2015

    (Source: ip-watch.org)

  • MPAA RENEWS PIRACY BATTLE WITH CHINA'S XUNLEI

    The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has filed civil actions against the popular Google-backed Chinese-language video and music file-sharing firm Xunlei, alleging multiple acts of copyright infringement.

    The MPAA filed the actions on January 19 in the Nanshan District Court in the southern city of Shenzhen, seeking damages, claims for orders to stop the infringing activity, and so on.

    Xunlei operates streaming video and download accelerators, but its pirate links forced it to cancel an IPO back in 2011. Xunlei was also sued in 2008 by the Hollywood studios for film piracy.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Monday, 2 February2015

    (Source: The Hollywood Reporter)

  • ALIBABA AND MICROSOFT SIGN IPR PROTECTION DEAL

    An agreement between Alibaba Group and Microsoft (China) is expected to enhance the protection of Microsoft's intellectual property rights (IPR) on the popular e-commerce platforms Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com.

    Both sides said they will work to raise awareness among consumers about the threats posed by counterfeit and unlicensed software to their information security, privacy and personal data.

    Under the agreement, Taobao and Tmall will remove product listings suspected of offering counterfeit or unlicensed Microsoft products. And the cooperation between the two sides is going deeper and deeper.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Sunday, 1 February2015

    (Source: Telecomasia.net)

  • 2,201 WEBSITES BEING CLOSED BY SAIC

    In the second half of 2014, the State Administration for Industry & Commercial of PRC (SAIC) launched the “2014 Red Shield Sword Action” special project, and it closed 2,201 websites out of the inspected 1,330,000 ones.

    The special project is aimed to improve further the supervision efficiency of the commodities online trading, comprehensively strengthen the regulation for the commodities online trading behavior, purify the environment of online shopping and protect the legal interests of consumers and operators.

    It has been reported that “2015 Red Shield Sword Action” special project will attach more attention to the supervision of online trading platform, proceed to reinforce the regulation of the network market order and constantly purify the online market environment. In addition, SAIC released ten typical cases investigated and dealt with during the “2014 Red Shield Sword Action.”

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Saturday, 31 January2015

    (Source: China IP Magazine)

  • TRADEMARKS TO REGISTER ABROAD IN ADVANCE

    On the seminar held by INTA (International Trademark Association) themed with “Building Brands Abroad in the 21st Century” in Beijing on Jan 22, industry insiders suggested that Chinese companies may register their trademarks abroad in advance and make better use of international protocols to build strong brands overseas.

    To register trademarks abroad as early as possible is also a lesson some Chinese trademark owners learned from their experience with bad-faith registrations overseas, such as the one of Alibaba Group.

    Insiders suggested that using the Madrid system for global trademark protection is much easier than employing agents in every country.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Friday, 30 January2015

    (Source: China Daily)

  • IMPORTANCE OF PROTECTING PATENTS GROWING IN CHINA

    People's Daily Online and the Intellectual Property Publishing House jointly unveiled three lists ranking the top 10 companies, universities and research institutes in terms of granted patents in 2014 based on the statistics from SIPO.

    The lists indicate that industries in China are more aware of the importance of patent and they are using patents as weapons for competition.

    As for Chinese universities, they have received a rapid growth in both patent applications and authorization, but have a low rate of patent commercialization.

    Experts suggest that the patent litigation in China will be more and companies should pay more attention to patent operation.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Thursday, 29 January2015

    (Source: China Daily)

  • INTA SEMINAR ON “BUILDING BRANDS ABROAD IN THE 21ST CENTURY” HELD IN BEIJING

    On January 22nd, International Trademark Association (INTA) held a seminar themed with “Building Brands Abroad in the 21st Century” in Beijing.

    Focused on Chinese corporation that seeks to build strong brands outside China, the program started with the practical aspects and business decision of building brand capabilities that lead to the need for international registration. And experts from well-known companies shared their experience on the topics.

    INTA was founded in 1878. And it is a global not-for-profit association of trademark owners and professional dedicated to supporting trademarks and related intellectual property in order to protect consumers and to promote fair and effective commerce.

    The 2015 Annual Meeting of INTA will be held from the 2nd to 6th of May in San Diego, USA.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 28 January2015

    (Source: China IP Magazine)

  • CHINA’ S 24,479 PATENT ADMINISTRATIVE ENFORCEMENT CASES IN 2014

    According to the data from State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO), China dealt 24,479 patent administrative enforcement cases in 2014, which was the first time for China dealing over 20,000 patent administrative enforcement cases per year.

    According to an officer of Patent Administration Department under SIPO, compared with 2013, China’s IP administrative enforcement had many new characteristics in 2014, such as enforcement were strengthened in every region, the structure of cases dealing were renewed, cases about invention patents were increasing, dispute cases involving foreign subjects were increasing, etc.

    Besides the data, industry experts believe that, China strengthened intellectual property administrative enforcement to contribute to build a powerful intellectual property nation in 2014, making itself a better legal and marketing environment.

     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Tuesday, 27 January2015

    (Source: China IP News)

  • INDIA APPEALS AGAINST PANEL RULING IN THE US POULTRY DISPUTE

    Last week, India appealed a WTO dispute panel ruling that found New Delhi’simport restriction on US Poultry, Chicken and Eggs. India is seeking to appeal on the ground that the Panel failed to make objective assessment of the arguments made and evidence presented before it.

    Further, India challenges the Panel finding that there exists a less restrictive alternative to meet India’s objective of preventing spread of avian flu and the finding of unjustifiable and arbitrary discrimination between members with identical conditions.

    The AB has 90 days to issue its report, its decision will not interfere with the factual findings made in the Panel report. 

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Thursday, 05 February 2014

    (Source:ICTSD)

  • EU PUSHES FOR GI PROTECTION IN TTIP

    EC foresees existing legal mechanisms separate from U.S. trademark law in order to ensure the protection of European geographic names for food and beverages under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

    The EU proposal finds three options for employing protection to GIs. The first option is using “standards of identification” established by several US regulators including FDA, USDA and TTB. Under this option, if the standards of identification are not met, the Food and Drug Cosmetic act will define that food as “misbranded.” The other two options which EU wants to enshrine in the final text are labelling requirements, and to protect against fraud under the US Federal Trade Commission.

    The EU has already submitted roughly a list of 200 GIs which EU wants the US to protect under the agreement. The faults under the existing US trademarks law are making the alternate options more attractive. In absence of similar precedents, doubts exist whether the FDA has legal authority to issue regulations on standards of identification.

    The EC officials have further made it clear that they are not calling upon US to replicate its system of GI register, hinting that exploring alternate options listed in its proposal as its possible approach for future course.

     

                                                                                                                            The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Thursday, 5 February 2014

    (Source: Inside US Trade)

  • SOLAR DISPUTE IN MIDST OF OBAMA VISIT

    Even as India and USA are negotiating market access to lucrative Indian market; they are preparing for slug fest at the WTO over India’s solar policy.

    Indian government has imposed local content requirements for purchase of solar modules and cells Under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). The US has charged such a condition to be against WTO rules. The proceedings have begun on Feb 3, 2014 with the first submission of the USA, wherein it claims that imposing local content requirements infringes National Treatment obligations and impairs benefit accruing to the American companies.

    Sources have reported that Senior Indian official has said on condition of anonymity that government won’t budge on its stand and without its support domestic industry can’t survive.

    Any understanding between the two leaders could lead to suspension of the proceedings, but as of now no such understanding is seem to be in sight.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Tuesday, 27 January 2015

    (Source: Live Mint)

  • THE THREAT ON THE AMAZON RAINFOREST: OIL AND GAS ROADS DIFFUSION

    The diffusion of oil and gas roads in the heart of the Amazon rainforest is seriously threatening its natural differentiation and biodiversity. Indeed, building new roads is one of the main elements responsible of the progressive deforestation widely affecting rainforest across Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.

    Matt Finer, one of the leading author of a report published in the Environmental Research Letters, claimed that: “The hydrocarbon frontier keeps pushing deeper into the Amazon and there needs to be a strategic plan for how future development takes place in regards to roads”.

    The report highlighted that an alternative and more sustainable model is possible, based on the helicopter transportation. Indeed, the initial high cost of the helicopters shall be recovered by the cost related to the maintenance of the oil and gas roads.

    Last but not least, the offshore model may ensure a less aggressive invasion of the territories where indigenous population live and get by in their natural environment.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Monday, 29 January 2015

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • INVESTMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES: A GAP WHICH HAS NOT BEEN FILLED YET

    On the 21 January 2015, the United Nation Environmental Programme (hereinafter "UNEP") released the last report on the relation between the financial sector and the way it can contribute to the promotion of sustainable solutions. Indeed, the report has been more than welcomed even in relation to the fact that 2015 is the year of development.

    The report concerns 12 different countries in order to build a more sustainable financial system as an occasion to overcome the recent difficulties due to the financial crisis. Even if environmental products are not exchanged in financial markets, the report calls for the creation of environmental bonds and for the increase of investments in this field.

    According to Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, “if we are to generate truly inclusive wealth then we need a financial system that can efficiently invest in the human, productive and natural capital on which we all depend. What is heartening is the increasing evidence that central bank governors, finance ministries and major investment funds recognize that new 'rules of the game' are not just necessary and possible, but can deliver real benefits".

    The report will be launched also at the World Economic Forum in Davos, in order to directly approach these themes with the most powerful men in the world.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

     POREEN project

    Wednesday, 28 January 2015

    (Source: United Nations Environmental Programme)

  • MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS: TIME TO REVIEW WHAT HAS BEEN REALIZED

    The aim Millennium Development Goals was raising the awareness of development issues among EU citizens. The program started in 2000 is now coming to an end in 2015, which has been proclaimed the European Year for development (EYD).

    The EU is the largest aid donor in the world and still plays a fundamental role in the development project at global level. However, even the discussion has now moved to what will happen after 2015, not all the objectives have been reached.

    On the one hand, 805 million people are hungry, on the other 70 million people gained access to water. In conclusion, the debate on the post-2015 development goals shall be focused on what Europe can still do in order to fight against hunger and poverty.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Monday, 27 January 2015

    (Source: The Parliament Magazine)

  • THE FUTURE OF THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT GOALS

    The heads of the state and governments of the United Nation Member States are planning to take a decision on the Post-2015 goals in September 2015. The object of the decision will not only be a list of universal Sustainable Development Goals but also a method for the review and the monitoring of the list.

    A stronger monitoring system shall improve and tackle the global action on sustainable issues. Indeed, a deeper monitoring system is required also to point out in an easier way the reasons of failure and of success of each country.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Monday, 26 January 2015

    (Source: SWP)

  • 75,000 SIGN PETITION AGAINST STRONGER PROTECTIONS

    The civil society groups in India are concerned that the IP featured strongly in Obama’s visit to India and bilateral mechanisms up through the US-India Trade Policy Forum, could help to sustain the US pressure over India’s patent laws.

    Commenting on recently released draft national IP, Anand Grover, Senior Counsel of the Supreme Court and Director of Lawyers Collective, said that the US pressure seems to be obvious as “the policy document is completely out of sync with India’s ground realities and her development needs.”

    In an attempt to intensify pressure, the USTR and ITR, and conducting independent investigations India’s IP regime which selectively targeted the areas of concern for the US businesses.

    The US wants India do away with Section 3(d) which utilizes flexibility under the TRIPS agreements to protect against ever greening of patented drugs.

    In response the increasing US pressure 40 civil society organisations, patient groups and community networks have raised a global petition rejecting US actions and has found support amongst 75 thousand individuals as of 22nd January, 2015

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Thursday, 22 January 2014

    (Source: Inside US Trade)

  • TPP MEMBERS AT ODDS ON HOW TO DEFINE BIOLOGIC DRUGS

    The TPP members are locked in a tussle whether the IP chapter should include and if so how to define Biologic Medicines.

    The questions is important as US is pushing for 12 years of data exclusivity for Biologic and 5 years for traditional drugs in the negotiations.

    The critics of IP policy are arguing that no definition should be included in the final text, so as to give members flexibility in developing their own. Another group of critics have taken the position that scientists, not trade negotiators, should be one drafting the definition.

    Crafting a definition for biologics is also challenging on the technical level. As most biologics drugs are made by modifying DNA of bacteria or living organism, the definition needs to be broad enough to encompass medicines produced using biotechnology without including products that are naturally occurring.

    The US proposed a definition, contained in the leaked text, states that a biologic medicine is a "vaccine, a protein, or a … blood-derivative ... for use in human being for the prevention, treatment, or, cure of a disease or condition."

    The US based consumer group Public Citizen is also advocating for no definition of biologics for the reason that "Biotechnology is a fast moving field; Parties would like to have flexibility to update the definition in the future."

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Friday, 30 January 2014

    (Source: Inside US Trade)

  • US AGREES TO AG EXPORT SUBSIDY BAN IN TPP

    The US has signalled its willingness to a complete and unconditional ban on agricultural export subsidies in the TPP.

    Earlier, the US was seeking an exception to the ban that can potentially be invoked against a non-party to the TPP. Sources have informed that TPP members are cool with the new position, potentially resolving one of the two outstanding issues, other being market access.

    Some TPP members also appear to be pushing disciplines of export credits similar to 2008 Doha round text. Mentioned text established a maximum repayment term for agricultural export credits of six months, and also required that the fees charged under such programs be sufficient to cover costs and losses over the previous four-year rolling period.

    The industry sources have cautioned against the US concession, as export subsidy is still permitted under the WTO rules and EU might resume its use, although it had publically signalled it restrain in resorting to export subsidies.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Tuesday, 27 January 2014

    (Source: Inside US Trade)

  • INDIA OFFERS SUBSTANTIAL CONCESSIONS TO LDCs AT WTO

    In the high-level WTO meeting for preferential treatment to service providers from the Least Developing Countries, New Delhi made substantial offers like visa fee waiver, market access and capacity building including technical support to service industry of those nations.

    Indian further granted preferential treatment in market access under GATS for contractual service suppliers, independent professionals and an exclusive quota of 250 foreign tourist guides however excluding services in legal consultancy.  

    The meeting was largely appreciated as a set forward in implementing key Bali decisions. Chairperson of the meeting, Choi Seokyoung of the Republic of Korea added that developing and developed countries addressed 74 per cent of the services in which preference was requested.
     

     

     The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Sunday, 08 February 2014

    (Source: Economic Times)

  • 3D PRINTING IS COMING

    After decades of development, 3D printing is now ready to revolutionize manufacturing. And it might be the “dawn of a new dimension”.

    Chinese cities of Changsha, Wuhan and Zhuhai launched industry hubs to promote the growth of innovative Chinese technology, especially 3D printing. What’s more, companies of Singapore, Japan, and South Korea are also using or trying to use the technology.

    As it becomes increasingly accessible and affordable to consumers, 3D printing is making it possible for products to quickly reach the market with less labor-intensive production required.

    However, it is, in turn, presenting fresh challenges for regulators that have yet to adapt to the technology and for companies seeking to protect their intellectual property.

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Monday, 26 January2015

    (Source: China Daily)

  • CHINA SETS UP ANTI-COUNTERFEITING ALLIANCE

    A strategic alliance on infringement and counterfeiting eradication - China Anti-Infringement and Anti-Counterfeiting Innovation Strategic Alliance was set up in Beijing on Friday to further improve protection of intellectual property rights (IPR).

    It is a non-government organization and is devoted to building a fair business environment and carving out a new image internationally for Chinese enterprise and products.

    The members of the alliance include technology companies, e-commerce giants, universities and industry associations. And it may serve as a public service platform based on big data analysis and information sharing.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Sunday, 25 January2015

    (Source: China Daily)

     

  • CHINA’S FIRST SILICONE RUBBER PATENT INFRINGEMENT DISPUTE ENDS

    After nearly six months of investigation by the local intellectual property watchdog, China's first silicone rubber patent infringement case was settled through arbitration, Shaanxi Daily reported.

    A Xi'an-based cultural and creative company has admitted infringing on two patents owned by the Xi'an Superman Sculpture Research Institute. It agreed to stop producing and selling statues, it made previously, using the technology and pay 200,000 yuan ($32,157) in compensation.

    Experts from the city’s IP office said that the case would serve as a precedent for authorities in other provinces to improve IP protection in the field.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Saturday, 24 January2015

    (Source: China Daily)

  • ANTI-PIRACY CAMPAIGN HELPS PROTECT FOREIGN WORKS IN CHINA

    Scrutiny and punishment for copyright violations in China is earning some plaudits from overseas rights holders as the battle against copycats and illegal content intensifies.

    With foreign TV series and imported reality shows (especially from South Korea) soaring in popularity on Chinese screens and video websites, copyright disputes from unauthorized video streaming and outright copying have hampered China's ascent to a strong intellectual property country.

    However, the annual Jianwang Operation is fighting back. It is an annual nationwide campaign against copyright infringement started by the National Copyright Administration in 2005.

    Jianwang Operation has shown its power, such as the closure of violating websites including the popular subtitled video sharing website shooter.cn. Although China has made a progress in the crackdown on copyright infringement, there is a lot to be done such as building stricter legal system and wider collaboration between cyberspace and public security authorities to strengthen enforcement.

     

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Friday, 23 January2015

    (Source: China Daily)

  • SIPO LOBBYING FOR ADOPTION OF REVISED PATENT LAW

    As the draft of the revised Patent Law has been sent to the State Council for approval, the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) is lobbying for the legislation to be approved this year.

    The Chinese Patent Law was amended in 1992, 2000 and 2008 after it came to effect in 1985.

    The fourth amendment to the law now under discussion has been drafted since 2012 by SIPO taking consideration of the internationalization of IP laws. The revision gives more power to administrative enforcement officials and it shows the new feature in China’s IP protection that is administrative enforcement complementary to judicial protection.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Thursday, 22 January2015

    (Source: China Daily)

  • GI PROTECTION PROMOTED BY CENTRAL GOVERNMENTAL DEPARTMENTS

    The Central Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantinerecently signed a memorandum of understanding with the State Forestry Administration on geographical indication protection, a signal indicating the cooperation of both departments stepped into a new phase, which will have significant implication on the development of eco-forestry and the safeguard of eco-China.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Saturday, 17 January2015

    (Source: IPR in China)

  • THERAPEUTIC RECIPES: HOW INDIGENOUS DIETS COULD HELP FIGHTING ILLNESSES

    Experts suggest to protect and integrate indigenous food in our diets, to improve our health conditions and reduce our environmental impact.

    Faced with a worrying rise in the levels of chronic non-communicable diseases, nutritionists are starting to promote the rediscovery of local and indigenous communities’ diets, hoping to tackle health issues and restore society’s relationship with our planet. Despite the great variety of diets worldwide – from roots and tubers in Eastern India to caribou, fish and seals in Canada – all of them appear to be varied, tailored to the local environment and extremely effective in fighting malnutrition and disease: foods like caribou or millet are rich in healthy fatty acids, micronutrients and cleansing properties, elements which are severely lacking in diets of modern, high income countries.

    It is no surprise that the effects of globalization are negatively influencing these communities, as well: the destruction of local environments and the diffusion of processed foods, rich in refined fats and oils, is endangering their lifestyle and worsening their health conditions; as observed above, however, the decline of such a rich and healthy food culture will also deny our society the chance to improve our eating habits, which is why many experts are suggesting a public documentation of indigenous diets, in order to make market players (politicians, companies, the public as well) aware of what are the consequences of destroying an environment.

    A radical change in our diets is necessary to tackle the surging increase of food consumption’s levels as well, as documented by international organization (like the UN Environmental Programme). In 2013, animal-sourced food comprised 13 % of the energy in the world’s diet, while farm-raised livestock is using up one third of the world’s grains, whose production has led to a severe agricultural expansion and the consequent increase in deforestation (80% of which happens for agricultural purposes worldwide). Again, though the indigenous tribes are scattered on the planet and have different cultures and behaviours, they all share a deep connection with the surrounding environment and the knowledge required to survive without endangering it.

    In recent years, fortunately, marketing campaigns, researches and donor-funded projects have helped growing awareness of the positive effects of less known foods, for example grains such as quinoa, fonio and millet, which are starting to be imported in developed countries and represent the first step towards a full integration of indigenous wisdom in our diets.
     

    The gLAWcal Team
    Thursday, 27 February 2014
    (Source: The Guardian)

  • AIR POLLUTION FINES FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: NEW DRAFT PRESENTED IN CHINA

    Central government is trying to pressure local administrators to respect polluting national standards through the use of fines.
    The Chinese Ministry for Environmental protection will present a new draft of the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act to the central government early this year, before the final part of the procedure, the vote of the National People’s Congress. One of the most interesting part of this draft is the proposal of fines for local governments that have not been able to cut air pollution levels, thus showing weak management policies.
    Chai Fahe, vice-president of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences who worked on the draft, underlines how Chinese laws in the past have always targeted companies much harder than governments but now, should they fail to meet emission reduction targets – like the 25 percent reduction of fine particles by 2017 from the 2012 levels set for Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei provinces – local governments will face punishment from the central one.

    The province of Liaoning in the northeast already adopted this policy in 2013, issuing a 54.2 million yuan ($8.96 million) fine to eight cities, whose local governments did not respect the maximum polluting national standards set for the past two years, and claiming to use the money to fund better control on air pollution. Chai is obviously a strong supporter of this course of action and underlines its positive effect, ensuring that the money will not be used for pay raises. Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a grassroot NGO, shares Chai’s opinion but suggests two additional steps: an increase in the fines’ amounts (otherwise local governments will continue to be lured by the massive investments promised by companies) and total public disclosure on the final destination of the collected money.

    Other parts of the draft includes a chapter specifically dedicated to facing emergency situation, like particular days during which the air pollution levels are skyrocketing, and a list of individual duties, including cutting personal emissions, joining in and supervising ambient atmospheric protection. The Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act (whose aim is to bring "visible changes" to air quality by the end of 2017, strengthening the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan) will be followed by two other projects, showing China’s will to fight its severe pollution problem: the Clean Water Action Plan and the Soil Protection and Pollution Control Action Plan, which is articulated in three different parts – recovery techniques of contaminated land, establishment of demonstration sites for soil pollution prevention, and control of the crops in the most polluted areas.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Thursday, 27 February 2014
    (Source: China Daily Usa)


     

  • THE HARDEST STRUGGLE: SOLVING CHINA'S WATER POLLUTION

    Chinese Government has launched a massive plan to fight this endemic problem, which is causing sever health issues to millions of people.
    Despite the media clamor surrounding air’s pollution, China is now faced with another serious hazard: one fifth of the country’s rivers are toxic and two fifth are considered “seriously polluted”, whilehalf of China cities had “poor” or “very poor” water quality in 2012. To tackle this issue, the government has recently launched a massive plan, investing more US$320 billion (one trillion yuan) to focus on two different goals: reducing the pollution level in the most contaminated areas and protecting the better conserved water sources from future pollution. Among the proposed measures we can find an improvement of sewage management in cities, a drastic cut on industrial waste water discharge and better treatment of polluted water in rural areas.

    Deputy minister of environmental protection Zhai Qing underlined the importance of this project, as the data of chemical substances contained in China’s waterways are getting grimmer and grimmer: the annual volumes of Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) and ammonia nitrogen emissions (often adopted to assess water quality) is 24 million tonnes and 2.45 million tonnes respectively. The consequences of such a high level of pollution affected an estimated 300 million people living in rural areas, far more exposed to side effects than the urban population, as reported by China’s national disease control authority; in 2013, two different reports linked water pollution to the extremely high increase in cancer rates in more than 247 villages nationwide (with a particular concentration near Huai River).

    An obvious consequence of water pollution is the growing social discontent, particularly in the aforementioned rural areas. The same day of the governmental plan’s announcement, villagers from south-western Yunnan province rioted and fought with local police while protesting against a factory which was discharging polluted waste water nearby. However, a water governance expert at Tsinghua University, Fu Tao, warned that the disastrous environmental situation in China is the byproduct of thirty years of blitzing economic development and thus, despite the gargantuan investment, the governmental plan will require a lot of time before it can actually produce positive effects; this is true for any environmental program, but especially for water management, since the process will require longer times once the water has entered the underground water circle. All experts, on the other hand, agree that the government should follow the air pollution’s campaigns, trying to actively involve the public, by disclosing available data and encouraging public participation.
     

    The gLAWcal Team
    Wednesday, 26 February 2014
    (Source: China Dialogue)

  • DRILLING IN THE RESERVE: PERU’S INDIGENOUS PEOPLE AT RISK

    Gas company Pluspetrol has received the authorization to lead a massive expansion of its gas project, despite the potential extinction faced by local tribes, should it be completed.

    The Peruvian Ministry of Culture (Mincu )has recently approved the expansion of the country’s biggest gas project, which will involve the building of 18 wells, a series of seismic tests and the construction of a 6.5 mile flowline, all of this in the (so far) protected Kugapakori-Nahua-Nanti Reserve for indigenous people in "voluntary isolation" and "initial contact." This decision is a dramatic change of heart, compared to a report on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project, published last July, which claimed the possible “extinction” of the Kirineri and Nanti and the “devastation” of the Nahua because of their vulnerability to diseases. The report went on outlined other negative effects of the gas expansion, like the lack of available food (since game would be scared away by the construction) and the reduction of the habitable area; strangely enough, it was immediately removed from public access and, after the resignation of the Culture Minister a week later, an external team was contacted to write another report.

    The second report merely requested the involved company (Pluspetrol) to abandon seismic tests in one of the related regions, due to the “possible presence of people in isolation”; this was met first by a minimum reduction of the 3D tests area and, a nine days later, by a formal approval of Pluspetrol EIA by the Vice-Ministry of Inter-culturality, claiming that the company had complied to the high environmental standards required and would adhere to the “no contact” principle. This stance is openly contradicted by Pluspetrol’s “"Anthropological contingency plan" which encourages its workers to interact with local communities, if contact is made, striking up conversations and taking pictures; moreover, Mincu is now permitting exploration in the Upper River Cashiriari region, implying that there are no people in isolation and thus denying its first report, which warned of the possible extinction of the Nanti.

    Despite the huge economic interests involved (Pluspetrol paid $110m in royalties to the Peruvian Government last year and spent more than $1bn only in 2013), opposition from both Peruvian and international organizations is rising, denouncing human rights’ violations and the potentially catastrophic impacts on indigenous populations. The UN's committee on the elimination of racial discrimination (Cerd) recently urged the Peruvian government to halt the project until “anthropological studies” have been conducted, a position strengthened by lawyer Ruiz Molleda, who claimed the project’s incompatibility with the “the state's obligation to effectively and fundamentally protect the rights to life and health of the indigenous people” and denounced a conflict of interests between Pluspetrol and one of the authors of the latest report.
     

    The gLAWcal Team
    Wednesday, 26 February 2014
    (Source: The Guardian)

  • UN NEW AGENDA UNVEILED: WATER, SANITATION AND ENERGY CRISES

    The President of the General Assembly and Secretary General urge Member States to fight these three crises harder after 2015.

    President John Ashe opened the General Assembly’s thematic debate claiming that the lack of water access, effective sanitation and sustainable energy sources is greatly increasing poverty, gender inequality and mortality, thus urging every Member State to adopt integrated policies and foster international cooperation to effectively fight these phenomena. The debate was the first in the series of events planned by President Ashe throughout the year, which will culminate in the establishment of a platform that will help Member States set up a post-2015 development agenda, following the UN Millennium Development Goals: such goals (decided in 2000) aim at reducing hunger and poverty, cutting maternal and infant mortality and provide access to universal education and health care, all by the end of 2015. The bitter reality, however, tells us that the deadline will not be respected in many areas and, as such, a new and even more ambitious post-2015 development agenda is being designed.

    Mr. Ashe urged every international actor to hurry, underlining the dimension of the emergency: 783 million people current live without clean water, 2.5 billion have no access to sufficient sanitation and 1.4 billion are without access to electricity; all these dramatic events seriously hinder the fostering of agriculture development, food security, health and education’s promotion, among others. His plea has been immediately followed by Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who requested a particular focus on access to safe drinking water and water resources’ management, recalling the UN’s launch in 2007 of the CEO Water Mandate to engage the international business community in water and sanitation; this was followed by a “Call to Action on Sanitation” last year, with the objective of pushing the progress on sanitation and water goals towards the 2015 deadline and beyond.

    Finally, the energy crisis was addressed as well, with the establishment of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative in 2011: its three goals are improving energy efficiency while cutting the amount of waste; reaching global access by 2030; and increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. These measures are fundamental to manage the rise in energy demand dictated by an ever-rising global population, which will need 35 % more food, 40 % more water and 50 % more energy by 2030, according to Secretary Ban.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Tuesday, 25 February 2014
    (Source: United Nations website)

  • ETHIOPIA’S NEW DAM PROJECT THREATENS THOUSANDS OF TRIBESPEOPLE

    The project will force the relocation of thousands of people from their traditional land, denying them their habits and their economic support, says Survival International

    The Gibe-III dam, with its 243 metres of height, will be Ethiopia’s largest investment project and Africa’s biggest hydropower plant ever and it will be accompanied by the construction of a 140-mile-long-reservoir and the establishment of various plantations along the Omo river. However, such agricultural development is leading to systematic human rights’ abuses and forced relocation of the local, semi-nomadic tribespeople who have lived in the area for generations, according to testimonies collected by Survival International researchers. The government has started clearing the bush and deporting people in 2012, with an escalation of military violence which is being met with a growing tribal resistance: in a country affected by terrific famine and hunger, tribes like Bodi, Mursi and Kwegu are among the most self-sufficient and are now threatened by such projects (one single sugar cane plan might affect between 20 000 and 40 000 tribesmen).

    The Omo tribes used to depend on the annual flood of the river (flowing from Ethiopia to Tanzania), which lasted three months and allowed them to grow sorghum, maize and other crops, but after the government’s clearance of the area they will be left with no land to cultivate and risk starvation. Forcing them to stay in a “camp”, far away from the land they have always been connected with will destroy their tradition and their identity, as well as their ability to survive: Survival International researchers fear that they will become dependent on donors’ aids and developing a parasitic attitude.

    The dam’s construction follows a grim tradition (more than 400 000 people have been resettled as a consequence of hydropower investments in Africa), bringing it to the next level: when the construction will be completed, more than 300 000 people will have their life jeopardized by the lake’s shrinking and a total of 1.5 million people will be affected in some way by the project. Ethiopian Government rejected the claims of violence and human rights’ violation, stating that public consultations have been held to ensure that the tribespeople could have their voice in the matter, choosing a solution that could benefit everyone. Of course, Survival International stresses how the government’ true interest lies in the local resources (crops, oil, minerals) and that such a huge project will probably ignite the long existing tension between social groups in the area.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Tuesday, 25 February 2014
    (Source: The Guardian)

  • RENEWING THE TRADITION: HOW TO MAKE BATIK’S CREATION SUSTAINABLE

    Indonesia’ ancient tradition is being “upgraded” thanks to eco-friendly techniques, in order to reduce its high environmental impact
    In 2009, Unesco introduced Batik, Indonesia’s most highly developed art form, in the list of masterpieces of the intangible heritage of humanity: this techinique, arguably older than written records, was employed to make dresses for Majapahit emperors between 1200 and 1500 and it is still a popular element of Indonesian culture. However, Batik’s making has a tremendous environmental impact, due to its high kerosene and electricity cost, as well as water’s consumption and the use of toxic dyes.

    These side effects have been fought thanks to the Clean Batik Initiative (CBI), a four-year programme aimed at promoting sustainable practices, especially in small and medium batik’s enterprises. The project started in 2010, funded both by the Indonesian-German Chamber of Commerce (Ekonid)and the EU Switch-Asia Grant programme, moving from the Yogyakarta province to the traditional batik-producing areas of Pekalongan in central Java and Cirebon in west Java. The core of the programme is a series of workshops on cost management and water and energy efficiency, giving also technical assistance to producers in order to make their activities less polluting: the result so far are pretty encouraging, since 93 of the 100 SMEs in Yogyakarta that joined showed at least 70% progress.

    One example of the project’s efficiency is its fight against the consumption of kerosene: the traditional stove needed to be lit all day, consuming four litres of kerosene (with an approximate cost of $3). The CBI, however, developed an electric stove with a thermostat, reducing energy consumption and cost to a fraction of the original levels, a solution so efficient that 64% of SMEs in Yogyakarta are now using this stove. On the other hand, water pollution remains the biggest problem: previously the only method for dyes’ disposal was a direct intake in the rivers, a solution which caused extreme environmental damages, sometimes turning entire bodies of water purple. The CBI has built a 15-metre-deep reservoir to contain polluted water and started establishing a recycling system: however, so far there had been only a small reduction (4%) of water usage.

    Finally, interest from foreign countries (like Japan) is a great opportunity to broaden Batik’s market and pressure producers to use only natural dyes (in Yogyakarta there has been only a 3% reduction in chemical dyes’ usage, so far). 
     

    The gLAWcal Team
    Monday, 24 February 2014
    (Source: The Guardian)

     

  • CALIFORNIA IS RUNNING DRY: OBAMA PLEDGES $1 BILLION TO FIGHT FUTURE DISASTERS

    California’s recent drought is just the latest climate disaster to fight which the President has established a new fund.

    During his tour in California, President Obama has announced a US$1 billion fund in his 2015 budget aimed at helping communities prepare for climate change. The choice of the state was not casual, as California is currently fighting against the worst drought registered in more than 100 years, whose impact on farming and energy industry (the State is US’ biggest agricultural producer) has been already severe. While Obama has set up specific funds to help Californian communities, farmers and ranchers, his new US$1 billion Climate Resilience Fund is destined to all communities, helping them against any climate hazards that may come in the future.

    In one passage of his speech, Obama underlined how climate disasters must not be considered something to wait for, but rather something to be prepared for, anticipating them, building new infrastructures and developing new plans in advance: as such, the Administration will use this fund to finance research and data collecting, hoping to better prepare communities and infrastructures; moreover, any local measure aimed at reducing future risks will be supported, as well as any breakthrough technology or infrastructure that might be relevant in this fight.

    All of this is part of the “Climate Action Plan”, launched last year by Obama’s Administration and strengthened by the President last month, when he highlighted the importance of the Plan in protecting critical sectors of the economy and preparing the US for the effect of climate change. Another consequence of this Plan was the establishment of seven “climate hubs” to help farmers and ranchers adjust their activities to the changing climate, one of which will be organized in UC Davis, with a special focus on local crops.

    Finally, the President ended his speech with an emotive passage, telling every Californian that “your country is going to be there for you when you need it this year. But we're going to have to all work together in the years to come to make sure that we address the challenge and leave this incredible land embodied to our children and our grandchildren in at least as good shape as we found it."

    The gLAWcal Team
    Monday, 24 February 2014
    (Source: The Climate Group)

  • SAVE THE LAST DANCE: PROTECTING IMMATERIAL HERITAGE

    Poverty and lack of a specific legislation are endangering many Indian cultural forms, including the traditional Purulia Chhau dance, in West Bengali.

    One of the least visible side effect of globalization in India is the increasing risk of extinction faced by many ancient forms of culture, due to a general lack of interest and funds. One of the most endangered one is Purulia Chhau, a traditional masked dance performed by farmers in West Bengal to celebrate the harvest season: during the spring festival of Chaitra Parva, farmers participate in this acrobatic and martial dance, accompanied by the beats of tribal drums, thanking the gods for the harvest and praying for a good one the following year. Despite its strong symbolic and traditional role, the dance is on the verge of extinction, due to a lack of funding and performance opportunities which led to a drop of dance troupes from 300 to 100.

    Shubha Srinivasan, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation Mumbai, notes how intangible cultural heritage, like oral traditions or arts performance, is much harder to preserve than the tangible one (monuments, paintings), which can be protected through the establishment of museums or foundations. Immaterial cultural forms, on the other hand, are difficult to measure and could actually be considered ways of life. Srinivasan visited West Bengal, analyzing Purulia Chhau and other ancient traditions (like a 2,000-year-old Sanskrit theater drama) and publishing the results of her journey in a book, “Masked Identities: Safeguarding India’s Intangible Cultural Heritage”, which has the objective of sensibilizing the public and the government on the preservation of such rich heritage.

    The masks used for Purulia Chhau are elaborate and colorful, made by families that have been in this business for generations. The small village of Charida alone hosts 25 families of mask makers, each taking great pride in its work and using a particular trademark to exalt the quality and uniqueness of its craft. However, this strong tradition is endangered by poverty and the economic crisis: Purulia is one of the most impoverished part of the country and farmers have to take a loan every year to fund Chhau performances, whose economic return barely covers the length of the three month festival, after which the farmers find themselves in debt again. Despite having ratified an Unesco convention for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, the Indian government hasn’t adopt any specific legislation yet and has invested much less than its neighbouring countries in cultural preservation (China, for example, has a television channel dedicated to traditional art forms, boosting their appeal to younger people).

    The gLAWcal Team
    Friday, 21 February 2014
    (Source: The New York Times)

  • KNOWLEDGE IS POWER: THE RISE OF CHINA’S ROLE IN WORLDWIDE RESEARCH

    A recent study points out the fast growth of Chinese research and its cooperation with EU and US, analyzing specific fields over an 11-years period.

    During its first “First Stakeholders Workshop”, the think tank Science Technology and Innovation performance of China (STI China) discussed the intermediate results of its latest study, which started in 2013 and will finish in the following months. One of the most interesting points of view is certainly the evolution of China’s research capacity, assessed by analyzing key scientific fields over an 11-year span; moreover, the study also focuses on the role played by EU/US partnerships with China in research and publications, judging their worldwide impact.

    The first part of the study is a comparison between China and EU on different fields: while China’s number of new S&T graduates is almost three times bigger than EU’s one (1.4 m vs 550 000), the percentage of population who has completed tertiary education is only 15.2 % (against 33 % of EU). On a purely numerical basis, the amount of Chinese investments in R&D (both from public and private actors) is much lower than the European one (for example, public investments totaled 822 588 millions of euro against 334 403 millions in China), however the related percentage of GDP is almost identical, with differences ranging from 0.1 to 1 %. Over the 2000-2011 period, China has been the country with the largest growth in research, increasing its share of the world’s total from 4 to 15 %: a rise reflected in the subsequent fall of EU and US shares (which still make up 50 % of the total, however).

    The study moves on to the analysis of specific research fields, trying to assess both China’s traditionally strongest areas and the fastest growing ones. Over the same 11-years span, China maintained its strength in sectors like Engineering, Physics, Astronomy and Chemistry: however, new fields (like Immunology and Microbiology, Environmental Science and Agricultural Sciences) registered a blitzing growth, reaching a 28% growth per year in some cases. On the other hand, China’s greatest fields mentioned above kept growing, albeit at a much slower rate. Finally, a report on scientific publications is provided, showing how EU and China focused mainly in medical research, cooperating in 5363 different journals (30 of which ended up in the top 2% of all publications of the field); on the other hand, over the years the EU decreased its partnerships’ share with China, which chose to strengthen its cooperation with US researchers in every field: the resulting papers obtained a much higher impact than the average of collaborative work between China and all foreign countries, with the exception of Physics and Astronomy (where EU cooperation still reach a strong impact on the scientific community).

    In conclusion, data underline the growing role of China’s research in key fields, like Engineering and Physics, a pattern that does not follow the global trend, dominated by Medicine. However, China’s weight in non-scientific areas, like Arts or Psychology, is still very small and any related improvement would require major investments.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Friday, 21 February 2014
    (Source: STI China)

  • CHINA’S SOIL POLLUTION GROWS BIGGER: MILLIONS OF HECTARES AT STAKE

    Millions of hectares of cultivated land might be withdrawn from production due to heavy pollution, according to governmental sources.

    Chex Xiwen, the deputy director of China’s top agricultural authority recently gave a dreadful warning: millions of hectares currently employed for agricultural purposes could be withdrawn from production due to their severe heavy-metal pollution: the biggest risk comes from farms located near rivers used as sources of water, since an excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides might compromise the entire body of water. This announcement follows the official position of the Vice Minister of land and resources, who claimed that about an estimated 3.3 million hectares (concentrated in regions which extensively produce grain) are polluted.

    Of course, withdrawing such an amount of farmland from production would have a disastrous impact on food security, as explained in The No 1 Central Document (the first government policy document of the year): the improvement of national food security has been highlighted as an important objective and some projects for restoring contaminated farmlands have been announced. The available data are grim: not only most of the polluted hectares are located in grain farms (thus denying the nation a large slice of an essential food’s production), but the affected area is considered to be as large as Belgium, accounting for 2% of China’s total farmland (with an estimated production of 12 million tonnes of polluted grain per year).

    Despite the relative difficulty to assess and fight this form of pollution, compared to water or air ones, the Chinese public have become progressively more concerned about this issue, protesting against the overuse of pesticides and fertilizers, as well as heavy-metal contamination by industry, a phenomenon happened in May 2013, when rice grown in Hunan province was found to be contaminated with cadmium. Even the media have helped raising public awareness around this topic, promoting the publication and transparency of governmental data about soil pollution (something advocated by the business newspaper 21st Century Business Herald, for example).

    The gLAWcal Team
    Thursday, 20 February 2014
    (Source: The Guardian)

     

     

  • CHECKING THE WORLD’S TEMPERATURE WITH GOOGLE EARTH

    The university of East Anglia and Google developed an interface that makes surface temperature data more accessible.

    The University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (UEA CRU) has released an interactive Google Earth layer that allows an accurate scan of the temperature levels anywhere on the planet. UEA CRU regularly collects temperature data from around the world and their dataset, CRUTEM4, is one of the most widespread records of the climate system. Thanks to Google Earth, users can explore the world, choosing one of the 6000 weather stations available and reading through the collected data, on a monthly, seasonal or annual basis (with some records dating back to 1850): while all the information comes from the most recent analysis performed by CRUTEM4 and is already freely accessible on the related website, researchers chose to concentrate their effort on this web application, trying to make data analysis as interactive and accessible as possible.

    The web interface splits the world in 5° latitude and longitude grid boxes, which have an average width of 550 kilometers: clicking on any of these boxes will open the related panel, showing the annual temperatures and links to more accurate and long-term data. Thanks to this program, anyone could easily realize how Sochi’s (the current seat of the Winter Olympic Games) temperature remained stable for almost a century, with a nearly 1°C rise beginning in 1990, a fate shared with other cities, for example London. Dr. Tim Osborn from UEA CRU stresses the importance of this project and invites every user to alert the organization to any records that seem unusual, since small mistakes are almost unavoidable when working with such a huge amount of data.
     

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

  • HYDRO-BOOM: ROMANIA’S GREEN TARIFFS MIGHT HAVE LED TO ILLEGAL PROJECTS

    The recent surge in hydropower investments threatens the Carpatian Mountains’ environment, while critics claim excessive green tariffs are leading to undercover deals between businessmen and politicians, bypassing environmental legal frameworks.

    In the heart of Romania’s Southern Carpatian Mountains, the effect of the blitzing hydropower diffusion are already visible: the river Capra has almost completely disappeared and his bed of rock and earth is clearly exposed, all thanks to a small hydropower plant which syphon between 80 and 90 % of the river’s water from a dam located nearby. This episode is not an isolated one: more than 500 “micro” hydropower plants have been built or are currently under construction in such protected areas, a host of projects which will provide less than 4% of the nation’s energy. This sudden increase of investments is due both to European funds and “green tariffs”, a subsidy drawn from a tax on energy consumers which will boost profits up to 500%, although many claim that most of these projects, which affect areas encompassed by state-owned park and thus protected by national and EU law, are the result of shady deals between well connected businessmen and politicians.

    The Southern Carpatian site is managed by the retail company Imob Expert Consulting, owned by businessman Gheorghe Badea (who recently ran in the local elections) and legally supported by lawyer Radu Pricop, fiancée of the daughter of the Romanian’s president. This project received €2m of European funds and is expected to obtain a €1.2m return per year, thanks largely to green tariffs (€1m guaranteed each year for at least 13 years). However, opponents claim that the project would have been impossible to realize without the political connections of the investors: the area covered by the plants is both part of a state-owned nature park and Natura 2000 site, protected by European law, whose related regulations would find the business plan to be illegal under three counts. Moreover, the company would have had to pay about €1m per year to rent the land from the state, yet it managed to negotiate a straight swap, exchanging a 24 000 square feet of arable land in its possession with a similar-sized area in the Carpatian Mountains, owned by the state. All the operations were accompanied by environmental assessments written by the company itself, critics say.

    The government support (either visible or hidden) for the industry is robust and environmental activists have to face a hard struggle: when Badea’s project was announced, the National Guard for the Environment (a governmental agency) immediately defined it as “absolutely illegal”, while changing its mind a couple of days later and refusing to further investigate into the matter. Meanwhile, president Basescu used his veto power to block a well-structured proposal which would have greatly reduced the beneficial effects of green tariffs for the hydropower sector. However, protesters have begun to organize and, after a successful petition, they have convinced both the WWF and the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River to sign a protocol aimed at creating areas protected from hydropower development.

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

     

  • BE MY GREEN VALENTINE: TIPS FOR ETHICAL ROMANTICISM

    Flowers and chocolate are the two symbols of this celebration, yet the related industry has a dramatically negative social impact, denying workers many basic rights and not caring about the environment. However, certain firms have started to tackle this issue and offers a range of products which guarantee ethical manufacturing.

    The two most iconic objects associated with Valentine’s Day are obviously flowers and chocolate. However, their origin and their social (and environmental) impact are often unknown to the huge Western crowds who go on a shopping spree every February. For example, more than 70% of the roses sold in UK during this year’s Valentine’s Day come from the Rift Valley in Kenya, whose local industry is completely controlled by multinational which are only interested in their profit’s margins. As a result, Kenyan workers employed in the vast estates owned by multinationals are underpaid and suffer from degrading working conditions, a plight similar to Colombian flower workers’ one. The country’s industry (which makes Colombia the world’s second-biggest exporter of cut flowers) employs mainly women, who generally earn less than $1 a day and are left without any working right: their average pay is lower than their male counterparts’ one and their contracts are not renewed in case of illness, pregnancy or union’s affiliation.

    As for chocolate, the centre of such a sweet industry lies in Africa, where two countries (Ivory Coast and Ghana) alone supply 75 % of the world’s cocoa market. The rising demand of chocolate has shaped the economy of this countries so much that one out of four Ivorians sustains his family thanks to a job in cocoa’s processing; however, this market’s saturation has led many farmers to adopt any measure that could increase competitiveness, including child’s labour. This practice has become so widespread that many NGOs began exerting pressure on the biggest chocolate brands, like Nestlè, in order to make them prohibit this phenomenon: in 2001, many multinationals signed an agreement condemning this practice, but many doubts concerning working conditions in the industry still remains.

    Fortunately, there are ethical and exciting alternatives for a perfect Valentine’s Day. Companies like Oxfam and Green Tulip offer peculiar gifts, from Fairtrade jewellery to a breeding pair of locally sourced goats (accompanied by card with a personalised message to the person on whose behalf the livestock has been dispatched.). Moreover, firms like Arena sell ethically grown flowers, cut and packaged respecting workers’ rights and the environment, while Divine Chocolate (a brand which is 45 %-owned by cocoa farmers) and Choc Affairs are “slave-free” chocolate sellers aiming to ensure that cocoa workers receive a fair salary and have more voice in the industry’s processes.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Monday, 17 February 2014
    (Source: The Guardian)

  • BLOODY WATER: CHINA HYDROPOWER POLITICS DESTROYING LOCAL ENVIRONMENTS

    A book by Wang Yongchen, written as a result of eight years of research, outlines how a decade of industrial development has negatively altered China’s rivers and the lives of people living in those areas.

    Wang Yongchen, former radio reporter and founder of Green Earth Volunteers, has travelled along China’s rivers for the past years, documenting the changes inflicted by hydropower investments on the waterways and the local communities. The photos and stories collected during this experience were published as a book, Green Lens 2, which explains the impact of such environmental modifications while also providing a comparison with river development in other countries.

    Dams’ construction is the pivotal topic of the book: in the last 10 years, the Chinese government has issued the construction of 80.000 dams (either already finished or under construction at the moment), without taking into account environmental concerns. The latest “Five Year Plan” allowed even the building of the infamous “cascade of dams” in the Nu River, which was fiercely opposed both by NGOs and officials, as well by the former president Wen Jiabao. The result of this savage industrialization are dramatically reported by Yongchen: during her exploration of the Nu River, he was trapped by mudslides, a phenomenon which often occurs on developed rivers, due to the damage of vegetation and the following lack of terrain’s strength.

    The most shocking chapter, however, is the one describing the changes suffered by 10 families, periodically met and interviewed by the author during her experiment. In 2006, Zhu Liuchang was a prosperous farmer, with plenty of cattle and grain in his storage, when he received notice from the government that a dam would be built in the area. After two years, he had not received any clear information about the time of their resettlement and thus, afraid of planting too much grain or raising new livestock, he was forced to live off his reserves, quickly depleting them. Moreover, the government cut down all the fruit trees in the area, which were contributing to local economy providing thousands of yuan worth of fruit every year, while compensating the villagers with a measly 50 yuan (US$ 8 ). Finally, Zhu had to pay 50.000 yuan to move into his new home.

    The author also described the tragedy of the inhabitants of a small mountain village in western China, who were forced to move further into the mountains by hydropower developers not because their village was risking a flood, but simply because the companies wanted to build the structures in such a profitable locations. Thus, after cutting 500 years old tree, they simply banished the local community from the land they have been living in for generations.

    Wang’s travels have provided her with a wealth of photographs and first hand stories. As she said at one meeting, “not many people know the truth”.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Friday, 14 February 2014
    (Source: China Dialogue)

     

  • CUADRILLA KEEPS FRACKING: TWO NEW SITES PLANNED IN LANCASHIRE

    The company announced the drilling of two new sites, claiming to compensate and take into account local communities and avoid the heavy environmental impact of the previous operations, which were suspended due to earth tremors.

    Shale gas exploration company Cuadrillahas recently outlined its new fracking plan, which involves the drilling of eight wells between two different locations in Lancashire; the region was already the heart of the company’s operations, with three established sites, one of which was the first (and only one, so far) to be equipped with modern hydraulic fracking equipment in UK. However, due to small earth tremors originated by the drills and fears for the future of migrating birds, such sites have been dismantled: two of them will permanently shut down, while one will be turned into a seismic monitoring centre. The company is going to submit the required application for planning permissions this summer and if all goes as planned, drilling operations might begin at the beginning of the next year, with four wells to be established in each site: Cuadrilla has also decided to give monetary compensation to the local community, on a £100 000  per well basis.

    The company claims that it will take every concern into account and, following the government’s warnings after the earth tremors, has promised to install seismic monitoring equipment at each site. Moreover, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, has claimed that they will contact residents and community representatives before beginning the operations and said that “…we have decided to focus on just two sites at this time. This will allow us to reduce the potential impact on the local area during exploration while still gathering the important information we need to determine how much gas could be recovered. We're committed to being a good neighbour and to talking with the community at every stage of the process.” Such an expensive and ambitious project (the exploration’s cost for each well is estimated to be around £10m) has been met with favour by trade and industry bodies, such as UK Onshore Operators Group and Shale Gas Europe, whose representatives stressed how such operations are vital to obtain the data required to assess whether UK can reach gas independence or not.

    However, anti-fracking campaigners have promised a fierce opposition, as confirmed by Friends of the Earth's north-west campaigner, Helen Rimmer. According to her, fracking is not a solution to the energy crisis, since experts’ reports have not found any positive impact on climate change and even Cuadrilla has stated that such technique will not yield any cut in energy bills. Despite the rising opposition against Cuadrilla’s operations (which were initially met with a generally positive response and few, disorganised protests in 2011), a recent governmental survey shows that 27 % of the British public are in favour of shale gas extraction, while 21 % is contrary. The most worrying percentage is thus the one of those who do not have a clear idea on the matter (more than 50 %), even though fracking is currently at the centre of the energy debate.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Wednesday, 12 February 2014
    (Source: The Guardian)

  • REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE: CHINA KEEPS EXPANDING ITS INDUSTRY

    An interview with author Adam Minter reveals how China has become one of the most recycling countries of the world and how it keeps importing large quantities of waste from Western countries.

    Adam Minter, writer of “Junkyard planet”, reveals his opinion on China’s role in the recycling market in an interview for “China Dialogue”. First of all, he dispels the myth that recycling is an endless and perfect operation – in fact, each operation can only regain a certain amount of the original resource and, most of all, has an environmental impact. Speaking of attitude, Minter observes how China’s efforts for effective recycling are mostly driven by an economical interest, rather than an ideological one, like in Europe. This is explained by China’s traditional thriftiness and by the general level of poverty, which makes the monetary incentives received by recycling more and more appealing; thanks to this approach, China has way higher recycling percentages than Europe, getting close to the almost mythical 100 % in certain products.

    The author identifies three main reasons behind China’s dominance in this sector: first of all, the government wisely acknowledged that valuable resources are getting fewer by the year and has consequently invested a lot of time and money in the creation of an efficient and rewarding recycling industry; secondly, U.S. and Europe have progressively lost (because of their surging wealth after World War II) their thrifty attitude and have begun not to care about everyday recycling, while Chinese people have kept their tradition strong. Finally, environmental regulations have progressively made recycling in the Western countries more expensive and difficult, a result of which was the total delocalization of the copper refining industry from U.S. to China, for example.

    The industry’s structure is actually variegated: even though the Chinese government has tried to concentrate it in the hands of few, extremely powerful players (in order to control them better), the nature of the activities involved requires a thorough network of peddlers and traders checking every street, a network whose micromanagement could never be effectively overseen by industrial giants. However, these small businesses are often the most polluting ones, as well, thus increasing the environmental impact of the industry as a whole. Even though China’s legislative framework is laxer than Western ones, in 2013 the so-called “Operation Green Fence” shut down most of the smallest plastic recycling traders, denying them the required licences due to their excessive polluting operations.

    Finally, Minter observes how China is getting ready to face its two greatest objectives: reduce the amount of imported waste (nowadays, almost 40% of U.S. annual waste is shipped to China) to focus on its internal sources and modify the industry’ operations in order to be able to recycle the hardest product in the world (mainly computer and other electronic devices, which are increasing their share in wastes’ composition worldwide).


    The gLAWcal Team
    Thursday, February 6 2014
    (Source: China Dialogue)

     

  • THE GREENER THE BETTER: WORLD’S TOP COMPANIES RECOGNIZE CLIMATE RISK

    More and more companies understand the danger of climate risk and are ready to adopt effective policies and persuade their suppliers to do so, as long as there is a coherent regulatory framework, says CDP’ study.

    A recent study from CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) shows that, even though emissions’ reduction programs have still to be fully implemented, companies worldwide have acknowledged the potential threats coming from climate change and are considering the financial benefits which stem from sustainability investments. More than 2800 companies contributed to the survey, including important firms like Hewlett-Packard and Royal Philips, and the results show how a huge percentage (around 75 %) of the businesses are well aware of the current or future nature of climate risk; however, an even bigger percentage ( 90 %) claims that the lack of a clear and universal regulatory framework is the major obstacle to emissions’ reduction programs. As for the available solutions, policies promoting energy efficiency are the most favored ones, followed by mandatory carbon reporting and “cap and trade” programs.

    Gary Hanifan, member of Accenture (which co-published the study with CDP), clearly affirms the need for a consequent political action: a coherent and efficient regulatory regime, with global effect, is not only necessary to let the more eco-friendly companies enjoy monetary savings as a result of their policies, but will also give such companies an effective tool to persuade their chain of suppliers: in the current situation, in fact, the efforts of the top companies are thwarted by their inability to convince their suppliers to follow their lead.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Wednesday, February 5 2014
    (Source: The Climate Group)

  • WHAT LIES BENEATH: CHINA’S WATER POLLUTION GETS DEEPER

    Reports from both the Chinese Government and scientific organizations show that China’s level of water pollution is getting worse and the entire northern part of the country may soon be left without access to safe drinking water.

    Water pollution has become a real crisis in China, where climate change and a surging urbanization have been creating a huge demand for water; however, data from various government sources claim that up to 40 % of Chinese rivers were seriously polluted in 2011, a phenomenon caused by the diffusion of various chemical plants (to supply the blitzing industrialization) along the Yangtze river, which contaminated the water course with huge amounts of toxic substances, like cadmium and chromium. Water pollution is so widespread nowadays that more than 4 million hectares of land are periodically irrigated with contaminated water, with obvious reflections on product quality and crop yields. The most shocking report comes from the Ministry of Environmental protection: 25 % of China’s major rivers are so polluted that their water can no longer be used neither for agricultural nor for industrial purposes.

    This scenario may sound actually paradoxical, since China is one of the most water-rich countries in the world; however, the distribution is extremely uneven, since the quasi-totality are located in the southern half of the country, leaving the northern regions without an adequate access to safe drinking water. Moreover, China controls the headwaters of several historic and important rivers in Asia, like Brahmaputra and Mekong: damming or trying to control the connected waterways will inevitably create tension between other bordering states and, as such, can’t be considered as an ideal solution.

    The Chinese government is not sitting idle and has launched two major operations to tackle the crisis. The first and most ambitious one is the construction of the “South-North Water Transfer Project”, an enterprise that, with its 80 billion dollar budget, will be even more expensive than the Three Gorges Dawn, the world’s biggest hydroelectric project. The objective is to move 45 billion cubic meters of water from the southern half of the country to the northern one each year, but there are many unresolved problems: more than 300.000 villagers will have to be relocated to make way to the impressive canal, in some cases far from their original homes. Moreover, such an ambitious project will probably severely alter the ecosystem of the local rivers, with negative effects on people’s health.

    The second solution involves a massive work of desalinisation, which would require massive amounts of energy and would only be effective as a “quick fix” solution, while all experts agree that the best course of action should consist in political decisions: heavy fines for polluters and a more rational use of the available supplies through the enactment of new rules.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Tuesday, February 4 2014
    (Source: South China Morning Post)

  • CHINA’S TWO FACED STANCE ON AIR POLLUTION

    EPI’s results show how China has managed to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, but it still has to solve the skyrocketing PM2.5 levels in its cities.

    On January 25th, the universities of Columbia and Yale launched the ambitious 2014 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), which was officially presented at the World’s Economic Forum in Davos: among the parameters through which 178 different countries are compared, performance in wastewater treatment and the use of satellite data were added this year. The results, as usual, are wavering: while it’s true that most countries have undergone positive changes about the access of safe drinking water and the reduction of child mortality, areas like wastewater treatment and air quality are still characterized by worrying trends.

    China (undoubtedly the world’s worst polluting country) sits 118th in this report, above some of its direct competitors (India most of all), but way below economical giants like Russia or Brazil. However, this average position hides a two faced nature: thanks to satellite data, scientist have been able to observe the fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels in the country over a 12 year span, coming to the unsurprising conclusion that China is stuck on the last rank of the air’s quality ranking. In Shanghai, the PM2.5 have reached a 10 times higher level than the one deemed safe, more than once in a month.

    On the other hand, China has managed to sensibly cut its greenhouse-gas emissions, while maintaining an enormous economic growth rate in the same period. This impressive economy decarbonisation was the result of an effective boost of renewable energies and a demounting of old and inefficient industrial activities. The results obtained by the red giant are a tangible proof of China’s will to contribute to the tackling of greenhouse-gas emissions, but it will take a lot more time and efforts before this policy has any ricochet effect on local air pollution’s levels.

    The gLAWcal Team
    Monday 03 February 2014
    (Source: The Economist)