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  • POLLUTION: EXPERTS REVEAL THE REAL IMPACT OF DIESEL VEHICLES

    In recent years diesel vehicles have enjoyed a great popularity, welcomed as more environmentally friendly than petrol vehicles, because they burn less fuel producing overall less CO2.

    However, new studies have revealed that diesel engines burn fuel less cleanly than petrol-driven models, causing a large excess of particulates, the fine soot left behind in the exhaust fumes.

    In relation to that, experts have indicated that these particles of soot represent the worst environmental menace to humans. In this way, particulates are one of the most dangerous element in air pollution, due to their severe impact on human health, especially damaging the lungs when inhaled.

    Additionally, studies have shown the link between diesel particles and lung cancer: with other major factors such as poor diet and smoking, the high levels of diesels recorded in many big cities as London have been associated with significant health problems.

    According to the medical community, diesel particulate emissions are more dangerous for children: this kind of pollution can cause a permanent stunting of lung growth, experts warn.

    Some experts have highlighted that current mechanisms are inadequate to overcome this alarming situation, favoring diesel over petrol. In line with this, the government need to establish stricter policies to reduce the harmful impact of diesel pollution.

    According to a growing number of experts, taxing diesel more heavily and regulating its use more strictly could represent the more adequate solution to fight pollution caused by diesels emissions, stressing that higher taxes in urban areas may represent the best approach.

    In this framework, the major of London has recently launched a stronger policy with the aim to fight pollution, increasing charges for diesel vehicles. However, the European Commission has shown that most European states tax diesel at a lower headline rate.

    In this situation, the motoring lobby and automotive industries play a significant role influencing the decisions of policymakers. To address the criticism, the automotive industry has stressed its effort to reduce emissions establishing efficient instruments, as new filters.

    Moreover, experts have suggested that tax does not represent the only means to mitigate the impact of diesel use. According to environmental specialists, the governments need to undertake new policies such as incentivizing ultra-low-emission vehicles, integrating public transport and increasing city-centre pedestrian-zed areas.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Wednesday, 06 August 2014

    (source: The Guardian)

  • THE THREAT POSED BY MERCURY TO HUMANS AND MARINE LIFE

    A new study has found that the amount of mercury near the surface of many of the world’s oceans has tripled due to human polluting activities. These findings highlight that the accumulation of the toxic metal can potentially have damaging implications for marine life.

    Experts outline that mercury is accumulating in the surface layers of the seas faster than in the deep ocean: people pour this element into the atmosphere and seas from a variety of sources, including mines, coal-fired power plants and sewage. In relation to that alarming situation, researchers warn that mercury is toxic to humans and marine life.

    Data show that since the industrial revolution, the mercury content of superficial ocean layers have tripled. According to some experts of the journal Nature, due to mercury deposited in water and in the air, even remote areas, far from industrial sources, can suffer from elevated levels of this toxic material.

    Scientists have strongly warned against the consequences of this situation for the most vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and small children. These experts have suggested the importance for these groups to limit the consumption of certain fish, including swordfish and king mackerel: studies have shown that toxic metals such as mercury and lead have been accumulating in these species, making their consumption dangerous to human health.

    In this context, experts have argued that pollution caused by the high levels of mercury represents an important alarm call for the future, stressing the urgency to undertake stricter measures to overcome the alarming and severe consequences on humans and marine life.

    Moreover, analysis have revealed that mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants can be reduced with chemical filters. However, developing countries lack the adequate instruments and mechanisms to achieve these results.

    Additionally, studies show that the situation is even more serious in relation to the metal from sewage: developing countries need to reinforce their commitment in order to establish the treatment systems required to reduce the impact of mercury.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Wednesday, 06 August 2014

    (source: The Guardian)

  • SOME GREEN PRACTICES IMPROVE EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY

    Commercial real estate services firm JLL created a program and online tool called Green + Productive Workplace to find out which ties green office space investments to employee productivity gains. The results show that  a green workplace make employees more productive, as environmental sustainability experts have long argued.

    "Contrary to popular perception, not all green offices increase productivity," explains Simone Skopek, Operations Manager, Energy and Sustainability Services, JLL. "Shrinking your office space can reduce heating and cooling costs -- but lead to over-crowding or excessive noise. As beneficial as energy savings can be, green investments create exponentially greater value when they also improve employee wellness and productivity. What works is a holistic approach that tracks metrics for both sustainability and productivity."

    Challenging the notion that green offices automatically lead to greater productivity, the Green + Productive Workplace tool compiles scores for both sustainability and productivity measures. These scores are benchmarked against other corporate scores, and also against the Dow Jones Sustainability Index criteria for an organization's corporate real estate.

    "Green" scores rate the use of energy, water, waste and other resources. "Productive" scores assess factors known to influence employee productivity and engagement, including: thermal comfort, indoor air quality, access to natural light, sound control, etc.

    While studies have long suggested a connection between green workspaces and productivity, the World Green Building Council is undertaking a major research project to further explore this relationship. JLL is among the partners of the landmark project, which will build on existing information -- including JLL's Green + Productive Workplace benchmarking -- to propose green workplace best practices and standard metrics for implementing, measuring and quantifying health, wellbeing and productivity. The study will be released in October 2014.

    JLL's Energy & Sustainability Services (ESS) group helps commercial building owners and occupiers improve the energy and environmental performance of buildings.

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Wednesday, 30 July 2014

    (Source: The Wall Street Journal)

  • WHAT IS HAPPENING TO FORESTS?

    EXPERTS EXPLAIN THE SEVERE CONSEQUENCES OF CLIMATE CHANGE

    A report from the European Forest Institute, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, has recently shown that climate change are playing a crucial role altering the environment.

    Additionally, the study stresses that forests are particularly vulnerable to the rapid changes occurring in the climate system.

    In relation to that, climate change has significantly damaged forests in the last few decades, the report says. Moreover, researcher have outlined that severe damages from wind, bark beetles, and wildfires have increased significantly in Europe’s forests in recent years. Extreme weather conditions have considerably intensified, challenges the sustainable management of forest ecosystems.

    The report has revealed that the alarming consequences caused by forest disturbance has increased over the last 40 years in Europe, reaching 56 million cubic meters of timber annually in the years from 2002 to 2010. Furthermore, studies estimate that this trend will likely continue: forest disturbance will increase damages by another million cubic meters of timber every year over the next 20 years.

    Climate change represents the main factor that drive this increase, the report shows.

    In this context, the international team of researcher have also described in this report another crucial element: the strong feedback effect from forest disturbances on the climate system. Environmental scientists argue that Europe’s forests at present are playing an important role, helping to reduce the effects of climate change absorbing large quantities of carbon dioxide. However, the carbon lost from the damaged trees could reduce this effect, reversing the positive impact of forest management measures created to mitigate climate change. In this way, the increase in forest disturbance caused by the climate could even worsen the consequences of climate change.

    In this framework, experts stress the importance to undertake stronger management measures in order to protect biodiversity and forests, reducing carbon losses and supporting the forests’ role in mitigating climate change. In addition to that, forest managers need to adapt to changing phenomena to preserve forests capability of functioning to society’s benefit.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Tuesday, 05 August 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • COMPANIES HIDE SUSTAINABILITY INFORMATION FROM STAKEHOLDERS

    Only 19 firms use internationally recognised sustainability reporting frameworks.

    A lot of Singaporean stakeholders are unaware of their company’s sustainability practices, despite efforts by the SGX to increase transparency in listed firms.

    A survey released today by the Singapore Compact for Corporate Social Responsibility (Singapore Compact) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School revealed that only 160 out of 537 mainboard-listed firms have communicated sustainability information related to the governance, economic, environmental and social aspects of their businesses.

    Of the 160 companies that had communicated sustainability, only 19 of the companies used internationally recognised sustainability reporting frameworks, which guides them to provide more comprehensive and in-depth information about their businesses to their relevant stakeholders.

    Listed companies communicating on sustainability are still a minority, making only 29.7% of all mainboard-listed companies. According to Executive Director of Singapore Compact Christopher Ang, “More companies need to communicate and report on their sustainability activities to gain a deeper understanding of their exposure to social and environmental risks, and demonstrate corporate transparency and accountability. Such insights can also help companies find growth opportunities and generates trust with their stakeholders, while providing drivers for companies to formulate long-term strategic visions and resilient business models.”

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Thursday, 31 July 2014

    (Source: Singapore Business Review)

  • FIVE GLOBAL TRENDS TO ASSESS CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY

    The idea and practice of corporate responsibility has becoming global. A common understanding is emerging around the world: a company's long-term financial success goes hand in hand with its record on social responsibility, environmental stewardship and corporate ethics.

    However, the question remains whether this is a passing trend or one that will continue to reshape the profile of business. Several big trends indicate that corporate sustainability is here to stay:

    1. Transparency - Already over 5,000 corporations disclose their ESG performance and reporting and disclosure will undoubtedly continue to grow, driven by ever-lower barriers to information access.

    2. Trust - The ever-growing impact of business on society means that citizens and consumers expect corporate power to be exerted responsibly.

    3. Community participation - Business is expected to do more in areas that used to be the exclusive domain of the public sector. Environmental issues are a good example of this blurred line. Natural resources are now recognised to be finite and under stress. Water and even air now come with price tags. Companies have to collaborate with scientists, civil society and public regulators.

    4. Accessing new markets responsibly - With economic growth migrating southward and eastward, foreign direct investment is becoming more about building and gaining access to new markets and less about simply exploiting low-cost inputs. Overcoming barriers to growth, such as civil violence, uneducated workforce and unsustainable sources of energy, water, minerals and soil is now in the interest of business.

    5. Initiatives to engage companies - Means for engaging in corporate sustainability are plentiful and growing. Initiatives, standards and consultancies are booming at national and global levels. The UN Global Compact, is engaging 8,000 companies in more than 145 countries on human rights, labour standards, environment and anti-corruption.

    The growing feeling is that for business, environmental, social and governance responsibilities are no longer add-ons. They are integral to success.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Wednesday, 13 August 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • FASHION BRANDS TO FIND ALTERNATIVES FOR FOREST FIBRES CONTRIBUTING TO DEFORESTATION

    Every year, Canopy - a not-for-profit organisation - estimates that millions of trees in endangered forests are cut, chipped and then treated with a chemical concoction to break them down into a pulp slurry. Indonesian and Chinese factories turn the chemical pulp into viscose filaments, which are then spun into fabrics that make their way into the fashion manufacturing process and eventually into stores.

    Canopy estimates that up to 100m trees are logged every year for fabric. For this reason, designers and apparel brands including Stella McCartney, H&M, Eileen Fisher, Zara/Inditex and Quiksilverhave committed toeliminate endangered forests from their fabrics.

    To phasing out controversial forest-fibre, these companies are looking to shift to alternatives such as recycled fabrics, non-wood alternatives, organic and socially sustainable cottons and, where tree fibre is used, eco-certified Forest Stewardship Council plantations.

    The common argument in favour of forest-fibres is that trees are a renewable resource but the reality on the ground is that the animals that depend on these forests are listed as critically endangered or threatened because of the loss of their forest habitat.

    Furthermore, in 2007 Indonesia was found to be the world's third largest greenhouse gas emitting nation, due to its unprecedented record of deforestation. It takes decades to recuperate the carbon lost to the atmosphere after logging. A forest habitat is not as renewable as an individual tree may be.

    Once apparel industry leaders start refusing to source from endangered forests, their suppliers will be motivated to find better, more sustainable, alternatives.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Tuesday, 12 August 2014

    (Source: the Guardian)

  • INDIA: NEW CSR LAW SPARKS DEBATE AMONG NGOS AND BUSINESSES

    India is the first country in the world to mandate a minimum spend on corporate social responsibility. On 1 April this year, indeed, the government of India implemented new CSR guidelines requiring companies to spend 2% of their net profit on social development.

    However, Global Reporting Initiative's (GRI) Sustainability Reporting for Sustainable Development conference, held this June in India, issued a joint declaration stating that the 2% ruling could lead to forced philanthropy, tokenism or even corruption, and masking of data to avoid having to comply. Time will show if this legislation will have a real impact on poor people's lives and prevent actual environmental degradation.

    The GRI conference, attended by thought leaders from business, civil society, social service, academia and the government, issued the Mumbai Declaration, which among a list of 13 points specifically highlights these issues with the government's CSR guidelines.

    Business leaders have expressed concerns from the corporate perspective.

    Can government-mandated CSR be a social development path for a nation in which over 900 million have a mobile connectionbut only 600 million (36% of the population) has access to a clean toilet?

    The government has set out specific guidelines on how CSR activities should be handled. These stipulate that the CSR activities need to be implemented by a CSR committee that includes independent directors. The government's suggested CSR activities include measures to eradicate hunger, promote education, environmental sustainability, protection of national heritage and rural sports, and contributions to prime minister's relief fund.

    The company can implement these CSR activities on its own, through its non-profit foundation or through independently registered non-profit organisations that have a record of at least three years in similar activities. This provision has led to a boom in the number of NGOs that can implement these CSR activities. A recent article in the Times of India reportedthat there are over 2m operational NGOs in India.

    Choosing the right one from such a large number of NGOs won't be easy. NGO evaluation portals and the pooling of resources by SMEs could help to streamline the CSR investments, and questions will continue to be asked about the government's role in mandating such investments.

    Even as this debate continues, the more important question that the Indian businesses need to answer is how do we align these government mandated CSR activities to handle India's socio-environmental challenges while enabling better long term profits for the business?

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Monday, 11 August 2014

    (Source: the Guardian)

  • NEW PROJECTS ON SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITIONS

    Every year, dozens of social venture startups enter annual competitions sponsored by universities, government agencies and other organizations. Winning these contests often means a cash prize and technical assistance, as well as welcome attention from potential new investors and customers.

    The competitions provide a snapshot of the diverse ways creative young business people around the world are striving to do good by doing business. Often these entrepreneurs have developed a deep understanding of a specific local problem in order to come up with a solution that will succeed on the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.

    Guardian Sustainable Business assembled a list of the coolest startups winning technical assistance and cash for their new social ventures.

    Environment: Sampurn(e)arth

    In this year’s Global Social Venture Competitionat the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Mumbai-based Sampurn(e)arth Environmental Solutions earned the $25,000 grand prize for a nuanced business approach that encompasses customer service, cleaner energy generation, recycling and social justice.

    The startup sells bio-digesters and composters to corporate offices, hotels and university campuses, and then operates them for the customer.

    Waste: REEcycle

    Another winning startup, REEcycle, has its eye on a different solid waste stream. Founded by a team of students from the University of Houston, the company acquires used electronics from e-waste recyclers.

    Energy:KAir Battery

    Because renewable energy sources like the sun are intermittent, low-cost energy storage is considered crucial to the industry’s growth. Ohio-based KAir Battery is developing a potassium-air battery that it describes as using safe materials, efficient, and able to store more energy per volume than existing battery technologies.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Thursday, 14 August 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • COMPANIES, BONUSES AND SUSTAINABILITY

    Hugh Welsh believes tying bonuses to environmental goals is the right thing to do.

    “I didn’t get my full stock bonus last year. It wasn’t because I didn’t meet my revenue or profit goals; I exceeded them. Instead, it was because my carbon emissions reduction efforts fell short, partly due to the integration of multiple companies DSM North America purchased in 2012”.

    Although he saw his stock bonus cut last year when his firm missed its sustainability targets, he still believes tying bonuses to environmental goals is the right thing to do:

    “I’m more determined than ever to meet the goal this year. By not giving me all of my deferred stock compensation, my company made it clear it means business when it comes to sustainability practices. In my opinion, this is the way it should be”.

    All corporate executives are measured on their productivity and have their executive compensation tied to performance metrics that are measurable and real: you either made your numbers, or you didn’t. It should be the same for environmental targets.

    If multinational corporations are sincere about sustainability, then they must link compensation for the senior executives directly to meeting goals such as cutting carbon emissions, and lowering water and energy use. Otherwise those targets will always be far down the list of executives’priorities – if even on the list.

    Continuing to tie executive bonuses exclusively to short-term financial targets will continue to deliver short-term results – results that are not sustainable, and that will yield adverse long-term business consequences. Our shareholders, customers, employees and communities require –and increasingly demand –better.

    Incorporating sustainability goals into the compensation structure of a company is one way the business community can assure its own stakeholders that it will continue to deliver on its promises today, and for generations to come.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Monday, 11 August 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • NEW LEADERSHIP AT CLIFFS NATURAL RESOURCES

    Sudbury native Gary Halverson has been ousted as president and CEO of Cliffs Natural Resources. Lourence Goncalves was appointed to the top job at the Ohio mining giant and was also named chairman of the board.
    In an August 7 news release, Goncalves said he was ready to refocus and lead Cliffs into its next chapter in the company’s 167-year-history on a “new strategic path” with the aim of “restoring shareholder value.”
    Goncalves is the former chairman, president and CEO of Metals USA Holdings Corp., a leading American steel and metals manufacturer.
    For months, Casablanca railed against Cliffs for its managerial missteps and costly investments in international projects like its Bloom Lake iron mine in Quebec which has been part of a “value-destroying diversification strategy.” The fund campaigned that it would either sell or spin off those international assets.
    “No matter what happens corporately,” said Bill Boor, Cliffs’ vice-president of corporate development, “we still believe in the value of this project, one way or the other.”
     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Thursday, 7 August 2014

    (Source: The Wall Street Journal)

  • TIFFANY & CO. MAINTAINS STRONG CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY IN 2013

    Tiffany & Co. released its annual corporate responsibility report, covering the retailer's  environmental and social responsibility initiatives. The 2013 report and website were redesigned to ensure a stronger connection with stakeholders on the issues they care about.

    “The report details our strong, industry-leading commitment to business practices that are socially and environmentally responsible,” said Tiffany & Co.'s chairman, Michael J. Kowalski.

    “As leaders in the jewelry industry, we believe there is both a business imperative and a moral obligation to look beyond our own practices to support responsible behavior throughout the entire jewelry supply chain.”

    Tiffany & Co. placed a strong  focus on the responsible mining and sourcing of raw materials, ranging from diamonds and gold to the paper in its iconic Blue Boxes and bags. Tiffany & Co. also aligns its processes with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 “In Accordance –Core” and United Nations Global Compact reporting frameworks.

    With the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA), the jeweler participated in developing a globally recognized standard for mining. IRMA recently released its draft standard for public comment with the plan to pilot the standard in 2015.

    In diamond-producing countries, Tiffany & Co. advocates for preservation efforts and encourages more progressive and effective government oversight. Tiffany & Co. invests in diamond-producing countries and is able to maintain the integrity of the supply chain, while creating jobs, training unskilled workers and benefitting local economies, according to the firm.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Monday, 4 August 2014

    (Source: Market Watch - the Wall Street Journal)

  • RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN CORPORATIONS AND CHARITABLE ORGANISATIONS ARE TAKING ON NEW FORMS

    Around the world, 1.1 billion live in extreme poverty. Although the circumstances for many people around the world remain dire, there is reason for hope. According to USAID, the number of children in schools is rising, more people have access to clean water and child mortality rates are falling.

    These positive outcomes are the result of a new roadmap that aims to leverage the resources of governments, foundations, civil society organisations and corporations to spur economic growth. While the roles of different sectors vary considerably, one thing is clear: traditional approaches to aid and charity are being abandoned.

    Corporations are putting the brakes on donation programs that don't produce enough business or social results. Andrew Watt, president and CEO of Association of Fundraising Professionals, an organisation working to advance philanthropy throughout the world, describes Flint, Michigan as an example of the emerging collaborative approach to social change.

    "Its city boundaries retracted by about 30%, they had population flights, they had massively high unemployment and huge levels of people going through the detention system," says Watt.

    "In spite of these hurdles, through partnerships between the city, corporations and NGO's, probationary services and education services, the community is beginning to thrive again. They are educating a work force, they are helping to re-establish people in the community when they come out of detention, they are helping those people to develop skills and create products and to develop a manufacturing basis to rebuild the tax base."

    Corporations will continue to make social change a priority because it's good for business. Many of the world's most influential leaders in the not-for-profit sector agree that there is an urgent need to move beyond traditional relationships between corporations and charitable organisations.

    Creating systemic, transformational solutions to the world's most pressing social issues involves businesses sharing resources and knowledge with stakeholders from all sectors and not having a cookie-cutter approach to complex problems.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    POREEN project

    Friday, 8 August 2014

    (Source: the Guardian)

  • CHEESEMAKERS: COMPANY’S GMO COMMITMENT SENDS RIPPLES UP THE SUPPLY CHAIN

    Among the nearly 1,000 attendees at the American Cheese Society’s annual conference in Sacramento last week, the name “Mateo” required no last name, no qualifier. Mateo Kehler isn’t merely a leader in the American artisan cheese renaissance; he’s also knee-deep in the nation’s curdling fight over GMO labeling. He’s based in Vermont, the first state in the nation to pass a GMO labeling law. For now, the law excludes dairy products, pending a report by Attorney General Bill Sorrell due in January 2015.

    The dairy cows that Kehler depends upon to make cheeses like his bark-wrapped Harbison, buttery Alpha Tolman and gooey washed-rind Winnamere are not genetically modified. However, a small part of their feed comes from genetically engineered corn. For the moment, that’s not an issue in Kehler’s home state, but he says it’s a looming worry.

    Indeed, Whole Foods, which last year became the first national chain to set a deadline – of 2018 – for full GMO transparency.

    The company is also going beyond transparency and, in some categories, expressing a clear preference for GMO-free products. President and COO AC Gallo writes, “We are going beyond finished packaged products with a focus on meat, dairy, eggs and fish. To be labeled as non-GMO or organic, animals providing these products must be fed non-GMO or organic feed.”

    As the largest specialty cheese retailer in the nation, Whole Foods’decision casts a long shadow across the industry. For producers who want to continue selling their products there, the scramble to source non-GMO ingredients is heating up.

    The company’s standards are still developing, but by 2018, its producers will have to label products made from GMO ingredients – including dairy and meat products derived from livestock fed with genetically engineered crops. Kehler explains that this could be an insurmountable supply-chain problem. “There isn’t a large supply of non-GMO grain,” he says.

    “In Vermont, there’s one mill that supplies it and they’re not taking customers. We’re on a waiting list,” he says.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Thursday, 7 August 2014

    (Source: the Guardian)

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

     

  • NEW FORMS OF CORPORATE COLLABORATION CAN IMPROVE BUSINESS

    Businesses are engaging in varied models of collaboration to improvetheir own, and society's resilience. Recently, business-led corporate responsibility coalitions have galvanised action on economic regeneration, social inclusion and responsible business practices. General corporate responsibility coalitions have been supplemented by coalitions focused on particular sectors, or on specific issues including water or human rights.

    Major companies are usingtechnology to improve the profitability and sustainability of their extended supply chains. In some cases, companies are collaborating with competitors as well as NGOs and public sector bodies, to address specific problems.

    Confronted with a plethora of corporate responsibility coalitions, multi-stakeholder initiatives and ad hoc co-operative ventures, businesses need to strategically prioritise engagement with collaborations where they can contribute and learn the most.

    A specialist NGO, The Partnering Initiative, suggests that there are four partnership skills: understanding other sectors, technical knowledge of partnering, people and relationship skills, and, underpinning it all, a mindset for partnering. Companies such as Microsoft, BG Group, Shell and Nestléhave integrated partnership training into their executive development programmes.

    Competition will stimulate innovation in sustainable products, services and business models. However, as Unilever's Paul Polman has observed: "In areas where big breakthroughs are needed, we must step up joint working with others."

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Thursday, 7 August 2014

    (Source: the Guardian)

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

     

  • DIGITAL ILLITERACY HIT WOMEN MORE THAN MEN

    Within the 70% of the world population with no access to the internet, the majority is represented by women. In the south of the world, online women present a 25% lower number than men and goes up to 45% in sub-Saharan Africa.

    The UNESCO asserts that empowering women with access to the internet, and the basic technical skills required to use it, will result in cultural, social and economic benefits; indeed, promoting digital literacy granting access to information has to be considered as a necessary life skills that will allow to elevate families, communities and whole nations.

    According to Plan UK - a global children’s charity - a woman’s income increases up to 20% thanks to a single extra year of education; furthermore, fighting digital illiteracy means supporting democracy by giving people, especially women, the tools to raise their voice and stand for their rights.

    Pursuing this direction, copious initiatives are sprouting such as the Women’s Annex Foundation and the She Will Connect project by Intel which are committed to close the  technology divide for millions of women around the globe.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Friday, 8 August 2014

    (Source: The New Zealand Herald)

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

     

  • MASSIVE OPEN ONLINE COURSES AS A FORM OF NEO-COLONIALISM

    While supporters claim massive open online courses (MOOCs) are the key to open access to knowledge, sceptics accuse them to be a new way of colonialism. The debate took place at the forum on “MOOCs in the Developing World” - hosted by the Nelson A Rockefeller Institute of Government of the State University of New York and the United Nations Academic Impact and the Institute of International Education - and lively opposite points of view illustrated the pros and cons of the matter.

    It’s undeniable the success of online platforms such as edX, Coursera and Udacity and many advocates they are bringing high quality instruction from top worldwide universities to an increasing number of students from developing countries. Nevertheless, it’s arguable whether the western approach to the topics discussed in these courses will have a positive impact in other learning environments.

    Critics argue that imposing this western inspired education system, instead of adapting the courses, can be easily called a form of neo-colonialism that could take to a worsening of class differences. From this perspective only technical courses can be helpful to poorer countries, while humanities and philosophy-oriented classes are too biased and have to be cut off from the dispute.

    Eventually, to effectively help the raise of developing nations, MOOCs will have to face many other challenges such as school dropout and lack of electricity, stable infrastructure or internet connection.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Thursday, 7 August 2014

    (Source: University World News)

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

     

  • CHINA EXPORTS CENSORSHIP TO BRAZIL

    After few weeks from its launch, Brazilian users of the search engine Baidu Busca are experiencing censorship made in China. Theambitious Chinese tech search engine giant Baidu is globally expanding its business to be able to confront American companies. China’ s target is focused on Japan, Brazil, Egypt and Thailand as well.

    Together with Baidu, the Chinese Communist Party is backing many of its friendly tech companies in order to support national economic growth and profit from the situation changing international public opinion.

    Fully in line with the declaration of Wang Xiujun - deputy director of China’s State Internet Information Center according to whom “the struggle for ideological penetration” is a key point for the future of China - Baidu Busca shows search results purged of topics marked as sensitive by the Chinese leaders or produces results that link to the state-run People’s Daily newspaper with the state-approved version of the topic.

    If the localized versions of Baidu succeed in the effort of establishing themselves in the global market, they will constitute a solid platform to leverage international public opinion and shape a new image for the People’s Republic of China. Still, the bad experience in the Japanese market seems to suggest it’s unlikely to happen.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 6 August 2014

    (Source: TechCrunch)

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

     

  • IS ZERO-RATING HELPING OR PREVENTING DEVELOPMENT?

    In less developed countries special deals between web giants and mobile phone carriers are causing increasing concerns about their long term results: will they drive development or kill local competition?

    Zero-rating refers to partnerships between the major online content, service providers and local mobile network operators that give customers free access (“zero-rated”, at no charge) to text-only version of services such as Facebook, Google and Wikipedia.

    Zero-rated services supporters argue this is a highly efficient way to lower the costs of access to information, increase general demand for internet access and attract investments in the sector.

    On the other hand it's been stressed that zero-rating agreements imply mobile phone carriers operate content and service discrimination to foster their partners; in doing so, many questions whether giving this preferential treatment actually realize a constraint to nascent local competition.

    The Center for Democracy and Technology - an NGO whose mission is to promote an open, innovative and free internet - is leading a preliminary research to assess the relation among zero-rating, broadband development and internet adoption in less developed countries; the CDT aims to set policy recommendations for zero-rating partnerships to follow so to win one important battle in order to protect net neutrality and fight digital divide.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Tuesday, 5 August 2014

    (Source: Knight News Challenge)

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

     

  • A NEW STEP IN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE OPEN DATA POLICIES DEBATE

    The Open Knowledge Festival succeeded in promoting an active change in public and private open data policies. From 15 to 17 July, Berlin hosted the second festival on open data culture aiming to stimulate the long path towards the open availability and distribution of information for everyone to use.

    The event is becoming more and more eye-catching for industry and businesses that see commercial opportunities and thus joined the festival with sponsorships and keynotes. At the conference was also present the EU Commission, represented by the vice-president Neelie Kroes, that took the opportunity to gather people suggestions on what the EC should focus on and how to create a truly open scientific culture.

    The main idea is to require open access publication of researches funded by EU on the basis that open access, free papers are more likely to be quoted and divulged compared to paid-for articles.

    On the other hand many are concerned by the uncertainty surrounding the evaluation parameters of researchers reputation and the role that affiliation to an institution will play.

    The next step is now collecting examples of best practice to analyse with a critical spirit when the efficiency of open science exceeds traditional one.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Monday, 4 August 2014

    (Source: New Scientist)

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

     

  • UK: SPECIFIC GUIDELINES TO PROTECT BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPES FROM FRACKING

    The UK government has recently launched new licenses for energy companies allowing them start work wherever they think resources can be found. In this way, some of Britain’s most beautiful landscapes could be fracked for oil and gas, rising concerns about the possible consequences on the environmental safety.

    Despite the huge protests that fracking often provokes, the UK government has affirmed that fracking will represent one of the major contribution to the country’s future energy requirements.

    In order to address the critiques, authorities have outlined specific guidelines that energy companies need to follow if they want to frack in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, World Heritage sites, National Parks, or on the Norfolk Broads.

    Moreover, the Communities Secretary will examine each application for a license to operate in these areas. In this way, applications should be refused in case of exceptional circumstances and in the public interest.

    The Government’s guidance represents an important instrument in the aim to safeguard outstanding landscapes from industrial damage, the Business and Energy Secretary says. Furthermore, paving the way to fracking will be an important breakthrough in order to provide greater energy security, jobs and growth. In relation to that, the government need to reinforce actions to reduce the risks caused by fracking, driving the UK toward a new home-grown source of energy.

    Additionally, experts have shown that shale gas is one of the cleanest fossil fuels: it can represent a crucial factor to face the impact of climate change, leading the UK to a greener future.

    In this context, ministers have argued that the environmental and heritage qualities need to take on a central role, balanced against the possible benefits of oil and gas from unconventional hydrocarbons.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Monday, 04 August 2014

    (source: The Independent)

  • SAMSUNG REPORTS LABOUR VIOLATIONS AT DOZENS OF ITS CHINESE SUPPLIERS

    An external audit of Samsung found labour violations at dozens of its suppliers in China, including failure to provide safety gear and excessive working hours, but that none involved child workers.

    The findings covered 100 of its Chinese suppliers - which number over 200 - and were outlined in its annual corporate social responsibility report.

    "A majority of suppliers do not comply with China's legally permitted overtime hours," says the report. Therefore, it demanded those suppliers reduce overtime.

    The report is part of growing pressure on the world's two biggest smartphone suppliers, Apple and Samsung, which rely on Chinese labour to produce millions of phones every quarter. Apple was the focus of intense scrutiny from 2010 over labour practices at its principal supplier in China.

    Samsung has already come under fire in its home country of south Korea over its response to claims that chemicals in one of its factories caused leukaemia and led to the deaths of a number of workers.The company has said that it does not accept there was a link.

    The world's largest maker of mobile phones and smartphones, Samsung has been subjected to increasing examination of its practices. In 2012 it faced allegations that its plants in China used child labourers. New York-based pressure group China Labor Watch claimed that working conditions at Samsung suppliers were "inhumane", and the company vowed to eliminate illegal overtime by the end of 2014.

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Tuesday, 1 July 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

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

  • THE ANNUAL REPORT AND CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY REPORT 2013 OF JSC “GRINDEKS"

    “Grindeks” is the leading pharmaceutical company in the Baltic States. Its main fields of action are: research, development, manufacturing and sale of original products, generics and active pharmaceutical ingredients. The Group of “Grindeks” consists of four subsidiary companies in Latvia, Estonia and Russia, as well as representative offices in 13 countries.

    “Grindeks” specializes in the heart and cardiovascular, CNS and anti-cancer medication therapeutic groups. A range of products covers a successful combination of original products and generics. Currently “Grindeks” produces 25 active pharmaceutical ingredients.

    Products of the company are exported to 59 countries and its export comprises more than 95% of the total turnover. The main markets are: Russia and other CIS countries, the Baltic States, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan and the U.S.

    On 8 July, the Annual Report and the Corporate Social Responsibility Report 2013 of JSC “Grindeks” were submitted to “NASDAQ OMX Riga”.

    JSC “Grindeks” Chairman of the Board Juris Bundulis: “Following the patients' needs and market trends, "Grindeks" has achieved significant results in 2013. The company concluded the year of 2013 with turnover of 118.46 million euros and profit of 13.5 million euros. More information about the company’s activities is accessible in the Annual Report and the Corporate Social Responsibility Report 2013”.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Tuesday, 8 July 2014

    (Source: The Wall Street Journal)

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

     

  • INDIA: CERTAIN CSR WORKS ELIGIBLE FOR TAX BENEFITS

    The Indian government today said certain social welfare spending activities by corporates would be eligible for tax benefits but maintained that all CSR works cannot be given the same treatment.

    Under the new Companies Act, certain class of profitable entities are required to shell out at least two per cent of their three-year average annual net profit towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.

    Punit Shah, co-head of tax, KPMG, released: “If the CSR expenditure is covered by the specific sections (Section 30 to 36) of the I-T Act, repairs, depreciation, expenditure on a wide variety of notified projects including skill development projects, would be allowed under those sections. Accordingly, if the company constructs a vocational training centre as a CSR project, then repairs, depreciation (at 10%) insurance, or interest on borrowings taken to construct such building will now be expressly allowed as deduction.”

    “The latest draft of DTC issued in April 2014 had said CSR is an appropriation of the profits of a company and, hence, not an allowable deduction. These fears have come true. It would be interesting to see whether this will propel corporates to contribute to notified charitable institutions and claim 50% deduction under section 80-G," says Sudhir Kapadia, National Tax Leader, EY. Under section 80-G of the I-T Act, the donation is deductible from the taxable income, either in full or to the extent of 50% of the amount.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Friday, 11 July 2014

    (Source: Times of India)

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

     

     

  • UN TO OUTLAW CORPORATIONS' HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES

    The United Nations has voted to legislate against human rights abuses carried out by transnational corporations. Yet, the resolution - proposed by Ecuador and South Africa - was opposed by the US and the member states of the EU.

    The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva has voted to start elaborating an international legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of Transnational Corporations with respect to human rights. The resolution passed last week with 20 states in favour, 14 against and 13 abstaining at the 26th session of the UNHRC. Among those voting against were the US and EU states.

    In September 2013, a declaration led by Ecuador and supported by more than 80 countries, stated the need to move from voluntary guidelines for business on human rights to a legal framework to bring transnational corporations to justice for their human rights violations. The strongest opponents of the resolution were EU states and the US, which also actively lobbied other countries to side with them, threatening them with loss of development aid and foreign direct investment.

    The Human Rights Council meeting had come under pressure of unprecedented mobilisation by international civil society groups, with more than 600 of them from various developing and developed countries coming together in an alliance to demand a treaty of this nature. The negotiations for the treaty are slated to start in 2015.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 30 July 2014

    (Source: Business Standard)

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

     

  • UK GOVN TO REDUCE CLIMATE CHANGE DIPLOMACY BUDGET

    Although global efforts are intensifying in the aim to reach a concrete deal, recent events have shown that the UK is reducing its climate change diplomacy budget.

    Data demonstrate that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has cut spending on its key climate change activities by 39% over the past three years.

    In relation to that, experts argue that this decision will undermine the UK’s capacity to influence other countries’ positions on climate action in the run-up to the global deal expected in 2015.

    Figures show that until 2010 the UK government has played a central role in shaping the global debate on climate change. In that context, there was a growing awareness of the importance to address climate change with adequate measures as a fundamental national interest.

    Recent researches explain that between 2011-12 and 2013-14, the spending for activities related to climate change and the low carbon economy and energy security have decreased 28%, from £22m to £16m.

    This spending was allocated under the Prosperity Fund that has the objective to foster actions and measures on global issues, especially in areas of crucial importance to the UK.

    Moreover, the monetary plan for FCO’s climate change and energy department, special representative for climate change and overseas missions was cut by 39%, from £7.5m in 2011-12 to £4.5 million in 2013-14.

    These data result in a significant change in the UK’s priority: spending on energy and resource security projects have increased by 11% while climate change projects have faced a 39% reduction.

    This situation will be increasingly important in relation to climate talks in Paris that will take place next year with the objective to reach a global deal.

    Climate change and environmental issues are currently playing a core role, at the center of the international agenda: most major embassies have a team that focus on the low carbon sector. Additionally, around 20 officials are working on climate related activities in Beijing.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Friday, 1 August 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • GEOENGINEERING: ETHICAL ISSUES SHOULD PLAY A CENTRAL ROLE TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE

    In relation to the so-called geoengineering, an environmental philosopher has recently stressed the importance to tackle ethical issues in order to face global warming with concrete measures.

    In that way, some experts have shown that geoengineering has worsened problems for future generations.

    Geoengineering, also known as climate modification, has increasingly been under the spotlight especially about its moral and ethical consequences.

    Geoengineering methods include carbon dioxide removal to cut the levels of the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere storing it, for example, in trees, algae or underground.

    Another category, known as solar radiation management aims to reduce the amount of energy entering the Earth’s atmosphere from the sun for example by spraying sulphate particles into the stratosphere or whitening clouds.

    In this context, political inertia represents one of the most important factors that explain why the world had failed to address climate change and rising greenhouse gases.

    Experts suggest that governments need to take into account the severe costs of these policies for the future, and not only to establish measures to face climate impacts in the near term.

    In recent years, major scientific institutions and a growing group of researchers have started to consider geoengineering: in this framework, the ethical and moral questions should play a central role.

    Consequently, dealing with social and political issues represents an essential element in the realm of geoengineering.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Friday, 1 August 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • EU: STRICTER TARGETS TO IMPROVE SECURITY OF SUPPLY, INNOVATION AND SUSTAINABILITY

    The European Commission has recently announced that European Union member states will have to improve their energy efficiency by nearly a third in the next 15 years.

    The new proposal, designed to enhance efficiency by 30% by 2030, has been criticized by some industries that wanted to avoid setting a firm goal. These companies stressed the importance to rely on the market and the EU’s carbon price in order to provide an economic incentive to cut energy waste.

    According to theEU commissioner for energy, the proposal represents an adequate instrument to drive the EU towards increased security of supply, innovation and sustainability.

    In line with this, the EU commissioner has highlighted that the new plan represents a concrete signal to encourage the market development.

    Moreover, the proposed target will foster further investments in energy-saving technologies to the benefit of businesses, consumers and the environment. In addition to that, the new program will result in significant cost savings for consumers.

    Furthermore, the goal could reduce Europe’s reliance on imports of gas and other fossil fuels from states as Russia, the EU’s climate chief explains. The commission has estimated that for every 1% in energy savings, EU gas imports could be expected to fall by 2.6%.  

    However, some energy efficiency experts and some environmental groups have criticized the new efficiency target, as inadequate to the challenge of tackling climate change and saving on imports.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Wednesday, 23 July 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • NEW TRENDS TOWARDS ETHICAL AND SUSTAINABLE INVESTMENTS

    A new research explains that in Australia more investors are moving their support from the tobacco and fossil fuel industries in favour of more ethical and socially responsible investments.

    Data show that managed funds held in ethical and sustainable investments increased by 51% in the past 12 months to more than $25bn.

    According to the Responsible Investment Association Australasia, the number of these investors has significantly increased for the first time in a decade.

    In relation to that, experts outline that the responsible investment sector will probably continue to grow.

    Estimates also stress that there is an important trend towards increased consumer interest and scrutiny on the sector.

    Additionally, the increased establishment of equities funds with a focus on responsible investment have managed to deliver healthy returns, experts say.

    In this context, the research outlines that ethical investing is increasingly growing especially due to a greater awareness about sustainable issues.  In this way, establishing new concrete policies which might be able to reach a more socially and environmentally aware population, it represents a key objective.

    In this framework, the government should foster investments in companies that have positive impacts, and in industries of the future such as healthcare, clean technology, promoting global connectivity.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    LIBEAC project

    Wednesday, 23 July 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • HOW ABOUT THE UK CARBON EMISSIONS’ SITUATION?

    A new report from the Climate Change Committee argues that the UK Government is missing the objective to achieve a legally binding target, especially after the decision to abolish a subsidized home insulation program and replacing it with the Green Deal commercial loan scheme.

    According to the report, under the current rate of progress, the UK will only cut its carbon emissions by 21- 23 per cent between 2013 and 2025, leaving it far from the 31 per cent drop required over the period.

    The committee warns that the Government has failed to establish an adequate renewable energy target after 2020. Additionally, the removal last year of heavily subsidized and free cavity wall and loft insulation, which helps households save energy, has played a significant role to undermine the objective.

    The report strongly suggests that the Government needs to undertake concrete measures to meet its legally binding target of reducing emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

    In this context, the committee has stressed the urgency to take action to reduce UK carbon emissions. In line with this, an efficient environmental policy will avoid greater costs in the future, the report says.

    Furthermore, the report has criticized the lack of a renewable energy target beyond 2020. The Government should establish a stricter set a goal to make the UK’s electricity supply almost entirely green by 2030.

    In this way, investors in wind, solar and other renewable projects will have the confidence they need to support new power plants.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Wednesday, 23 July 2014

    (Source: The Independent)

  • NESTLE’ STRESSES THE ALARMING THREAT OF WATER SCARCITY

    According to the Nestlé’s chair, water scarcity represents one of the most challenging issues of the international agenda. Water related issues are even more urgent than climate change, Nestle says.

    The former chief executive of Nestlé has strongly suggested that water needs to become the main priority to world leaders. Although political discussions involve climate change related issues, nobody talks about the water situation in this sense, Nestle argues.

    The world is running out of water: governments need to establish adequate measures to overcome this alarming situation.

    Nestlé represents one of the world’s largest food companies. Despite its comments, the company is facing severe criticism for its water bottling activities in California, as the area suffers one of its toughest droughts on record.

    Data show that Nestlé’s 383,000 square-foot water bottling plant is located on the Morongo Band of Mission Indians’ reservation in California.

    In this context, the state has declared a drought state of emergency this year, in preparation for coming water shortages, especially during the summer months. However, Nestlé is not required to comply with the emergency measures because its plant sits on a Native American reservation.

    In relation to this situation, local residents are concerned about the amount of water that Nestlé is drawing from the area to bottle and export.

    To answer the critics, the company has highlighted its commitment to operate in an environmentally responsible manner, focusing on water and energy conservation. Nestlé has highlighted the importance of its sustainable measures designed to prevent adverse impacts to local area groundwater resources, particularly in light of California’s drought conditions.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Wednesday, 23 July 2014

    (Source: The Independent)

  • THE CRUCIAL ROLE THAT INDIGENOUS PEOPLE COULD PLAY IN INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY

    Indigenous people represent one of the most vulnerable groups to the severe impacts of climate change.

    Indigenous rely on the natural environment and biodiversity for their livelihoods, as their entire worldview is based on complex interactions with nature and the environment.

    Indigenous people are vulnerable because of the continuing neglect and marginalization in national, regional and international climate change policy.

    However, recent events of various indigenous peoples’ initiatives show that indigenous communities possess important resilience that should not be neglected.

    According to some experts, the participation of these communities and the integration of their knowledge and priorities could play a crucial role: indigenous people should be involved at the UN climate talks.

    Including these communities in the international debates will help policymakers to achieve effective results in order to address climate change.

    In this context, experts have stressed that climate change represents a global problem: however, its impacts are local, varying significantly by location.

    Indigenous people have been adapting to changes in the environment for centuries, living in harmony with their own landscape. Consequently, these communities have developed strategies and methods to adapt to environmental changes.

    In relation to that, the Indigenous Peoples’ Biocultural Climate Change Assessment Initiative (IPCCA) have outlined that many of these adaptations are already in progress in order to tackle climate change related issues. The strategic methods that indigenous people have undertaken include, for instance, diversifying and supplementing natural resources, altering and modifying key species and biodiversity, shifting timing cycles and calendars and adjusting locations.

    In this way, the climate change policy apparatus need to involve in the international policy these skills and knowledge, often neglected by the broad technical and scientific approaches.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Friday, 1 August 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • CHINESE BOTTLED WATER MARKET: A NEW THREAT TO HUMAN HEALTH?

    Recent data show that Chinese water resources are increasingly reducing as the country’s economic growth exceeds fresh water supplies.

    Experts explain that this growth has resulted in severe water pollution. Additionally, researchers alarmingly highlight that only half of urban water supplies meet national quality standards.

    While domestic demand increases, the ability of regulators to ensure quality will be increasingly under the spotlight, at the centre of debates and concerns.

    Experts warn that in the next year, Chinese bottled water market will need to respond both to this increase in demand and to water scarcity. Consequently, authorities need to foster a firm commitment to quality control, in order to achieve concrete results.

    In addition to that, estimates indicate that China will probably surpass the US becoming the world’s largest market for bottled water. In this framework, researchers outline that the Chinese situation is worsening due to some factors among which poor tap-water quality, increasing health awareness, higher income levels and international tourism. 

    Data also show that bottled water sales in China grew from US$1 billion in 2000 to US$9 billion in 2012: additionally, studies forecast an annual growth rate of between 6% and 16.3% between 2010 and 2015. Experts suggest that these figures stress the importance to understand China’s bottled water market framework and the market forces that drive its growth and development.

    Furthermore, the Chinese bottled water market is highly fragmented, rising concerns about the companies’ ability of delivering clean and safe water. In relation to that, in the recent past some industries have been implicated in contamination scandals. Thus, the Chinese government need to address threats to bottled water quality caused primarily by a lack of transparency, weak regulatory controls and artificially low prices, in order to avoid these scandals and ensuring the good quality of fresh water.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Friday, 1 August 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • FOCUS ON BIOMASS THAT CAN PRODUCE LOW CARBON EMISSIONS

    A new report for the UK’s department of energy and climate change has argued that burning wood to produce electricity, under tightly controlled conditions, can produce lower carbon emissions than other fuels.

    The report represents a significant call for a stronger focus on energy related issues, raising debates over how the technology can be used in the future.

    Biomass that includes wood, other plants and waste products, has been used as an alternative to burning coal to produce energy for several time. However, biomass carries with it potential matters: for instance, the wood used to fuel the power plants could undermine the role of forests as a long-term store for carbon.

    Moreover, the use of wood from older forests that can take centuries to replace could cause other severe problems. Additionally, the consequences of these phenomena can result in the destruction of species that live in these habitats.

    In this way, the report outlines various scenarios in which the use of biomass can be either beneficial, in terms of carbon emissions, or problematic.

    In relation to these findings, the chief executive of the UK’s biggest coal-fired power station that is converting some of its boilers to biomass by using wood imported from the US, explains that biomass could be an effective instrument in order reduce emissions. Biomass can represent a good form of renewable energy, the chief executive shows.

    According to the Renewable Energy Association, companies need to operate in accordance with the guidelines set out by the UK government in order to cut emissions. This approach would result in significant carbon savings and lower greenhouse gas emissions for the UK.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Wednesday, 23 July 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • ZERO-EMISSION CARS ARE PLAYING A KEY ROLE TO FIGHT POLLUTION

    Data show that, although sales of electric cars in the European Union have doubled in 2013, zero-emission vehicles still only account for one in every 250 new cars sold.

    Electric cars represent a key element of governmental policies in order to tackle both air pollution and climate change. However, car manufacturers have strongly criticized the rules that aim to cut emissions.

    According to the analysis of the Transport & Environment (T&E) campaign group, almost 50,000 plug-in vehicles were sold in 2013, up from 22,000 in 2012.

    Researches outline that electric cars are growing strongly, but these vehicles are too expensive for many people at the same time. In relation to that, experts positively estimate that the price will decrease over time, making this technology ready to compete.

    Cars are responsible for 15% of Europe’s total CO2 emissions. As vehicle subsidies were not sustainable, cutting the permitted overall emissions for the fleet of cars produced by each manufacturer was more effective in incentivizing zero-emission cars, expert say.

    The European Union is working to set stronger actions in this field. However, policymakers have recently postponed a planned consultation on the limit for 2025 or 2030.

    In relation to that, many local authorities have launched measures to penalize diesel vehicles in order to reduce the cities’ illegal levels of air pollution. In this way, electric cars play a crucial role in the aim of solving the problems of severe air pollution in cities.

    In this context, experts stress the urgency to undertake stricter and more effective mechanisms across the board in order to cut emissions in a definitive way.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Wednesday, 30 July 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

     

  • IS SAFE TO DRINK WATER FROM BOTTLES? THE LASTING THREAT OF CHINESE WATER POLLUTION

    The landscape of the Chinese bottled water industry has been recently put under the spotlight, as one of the most urgent issues that China needs to overcome.

    However, the amount of information that surrounds this industry is sparse. One of the main challenges in this field is the industry’s lack of transparency that threatens the safe quality of water.

    Furthermore, in this area the regulation is weak. For instance, Chinese bottlers are not required to list the water source or filtration method and often do not divulge this information to the public.

    This situation is particular alarming in countries with severe water pollution and weak legal and regulatory enforcement as China: in this way, is especially important for bottlers to be transparent about the water’s source and purification mechanism.

    The country’s weak regulatory regime represents one of the most important threat to the industry. The regulation does not require bottlers to test for a number of indicators as acidity or for compounds like mercury and silver. Data show that in China 70% of fresh water resources are polluted to some degree. These figures stress that stringent filtration criteria are crucial factors.

    Moreover, unhealthy water quality does not represent the only public health risk: recent events have revealed a number of scandals involving brand falsification. Some research have unveiled that nearly 60% of the bottled water jugs on the Chinese market are falsely branded. Additionally, these studies have stressed that many illegal water industries bottle tap water and sell it under the appearance of popular brand names.

    Recent contamination scandals have increased concerns related to bottled water safety. To make an example, surveys conducted by China’s regulatory authorities have found in bottled water elevated levels of bromate, an element suspected to be carcinogen.

    In that context, experts suggest that authorities need to establish stricter regulations in order to avoid the consequences of severe pollution and contamination on public health. However, the industry continues to rely heavily on self-monitoring, worsening the situation already characterized by a weak regulatory system. In addition to that, industries often fail to deal with internal standards set by the government.

    Finally, the price of bottled water may represent another alarming threat. Estimates show that domestic bottled water prices have recently risen 5–10 %: this trend will probably continue as quality standards improve and water scarcity increases.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Saturday, 2 August 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • CHINA: NEXUS BETWEEN WATER AND ENERGY SECURITY

    Water represents a central issue in the Chinese landscape, also playing a crucial role for future energy security. Data show that in China 97% of electricity generated requires water to produce, so lack of water means no power.

    Reports reveal that the government is planning to add 1.2 terawatts of water-reliant power, surpassing in this way the combined installed power generation capacity of the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Coal represents a central element in the Chinese energy policy.

    Experts outline that Chinese coal-fired capacity is expected to increase by the equivalent of 450 gigawatts, despite China’s efforts to reduce its carbon emissions cutting reliance on coal from around 70% of its energy mix to 55%. Additionally, this increase in coal-fired power is more than double the whole of India’s power generation today.

    Studies indicate that coal are playing a central role as one of the main cause of severe air pollution. However, experts also warn about the importance to understand the impact that coal can have on water safety.

    Data show that around 95% of Chinese coal is extracted from the underground with heavy reliance on groundwater use. This situation may drive to further deterioration of the already polluted groundwater, experts say.

    Furthermore, studies report that 53% of Chinese ensured coal reserves are located in water scarce areas and 30% lie in water stressed regions.

    Moreover, some Chinese NGOs have recently published a report suggesting that hydropower stations could significantly damage China’s rivers, changing ecosystems and endangering biodiversity.

    In this particular context, policymakers should focus on measures to save both energy and water. Experts warn that China need to foster energy saving strategies in order to safeguard Chinese water resources.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Saturday, 2 August 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • LONDON: CHARGES FOR DIESEL VEHICLES TO ADDRESS POLLUTION

    A recent proposal of the mayor has announced that drivers in London with vehicles fuelled by diesel will be charged an additional fee similar to the existing £11.50 congestion charge.

    The program represents an instrument in the realm of fighting air pollution that has reached levels far above legal safety limits, leading to the prospect of strong fines from the European Union.

    This extra charge is part of previous plans created to charge diesel vehicles in the so-called ultra-low emissions zone, which would cover some of the most polluted areas.

    Moreover, the mayor has stressed the urgency for the central government to increase taxes on diesel fuel that is currently taxed at the same rate as petrol, despite the fact that it is much more polluting. Diesel cars burn less fuel over a similar distance than petrol cars: in this way, the equal rates of tax favor diesel.

    Researchers explain that authorities have encouraged people to buy diesel vehicles due to their benefits on climate. However, the consequences are far worse for local air quality. Consequently, the mayor's decision to charge diesel drivers in areas where pollution is worst should be an instrument to end this health problem. According to experts, this proposal marks a clear sign that polluters should pay.

    On the other hand, environmental groups have criticized this program as inadequate to solve the problems related to air pollution. Nevertheless, in such a context citizens will suffer from severe health problem caused by high levels of pollution. In this way, cities as London need stronger actions to achieve concrete results. Additionally, to address pollution that represents the major health hazard authorities need to undertake actions in the short time, reducing the immediate impact of diesel vehicles.

    Experts also warn that diesel vehicles produce high levels of fine particles that can cause respiratory diseases in children and in the most vulnerable adults.

    Data show that the number of diesel vehicles in UK has been steadily rising, in part due to a favorable tax situation and partly due to their prices.

    Diesel cars were once described as more environmental-friendly than petrol models because they produce less carbon dioxide. However, recent studies have raised concerns in recent years over their impact on air pollution. According to Public Health England, an estimated 30,000 premature deaths a year are caused by air pollution in the UK.

     

    The gLAWcal  Team

    EPSEI project

    Wednesday, 30 July 2014

    (source: The Guardian)

  • CLIMATE CHANGE: POSITIVE SIGNALS TO OVERCOME THE CURRENT ALARMING SITUATION

    Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have been at record levels unseen in over 800,000 years, recent data have shown. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has highlighted the urgency to undertake stricter measures in order to address climate change, one of the most challenging issues that the international community need to face.

    However, according to the world’s top climate scientists, the current framework offers some good reasons to be hopeful that humans will rise to the challenge of climate change.

    Firstly, experts stress the importance of the US trend in relation to environmental policy. Barack Obama has pursued a policy of environmental protection, establishing emissions caps on coal power stations in order to fight climate change related issues.

    Moreover, after the launch of Obama’s crackdown on coal, Chinese government climate advisor has announced that the government will establish new measures to control CO2 emissions in the next five-year plan. This announcement represents a breakthrough, as was the first time that the Chinese government takes on a serious commitment in order to overcome the consequences of climate change.

    China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon: due to the high level of pollution, the Chinese government has ordered a mass closure of coal plants within a few years. Environmental groups has welcomed this program, suggesting that strengthening these measures could bring Chinese emissions close to the level the International Energy Agency affirms are needed to avoid more than 2C warming.

    Additionally, thanks to the decrease of technology prices, innovation and significant governmental initiatives renewable energies have taken an increasing share of global electricity generation. After the stall of the early part of last decade, the increase of renewables is now relentless, attracting more and more investments in this field. Studies show that in 2013 investors have contributed $268.2 billion to renewable projects, 5 times more than in 2004.

    As another positive signal, estimates outline that since 2011 electric car sales have doubled every year. Consumer acceptance of the technology is on an exponential growth curve: experts argue that we will see more than one million of these kind of vehicles driven across the world by the end of 2015.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    EPSEI project

    Wednesday, 30 July 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • CONCERNS AND DEBATES ABOUT THE NEW ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY OF THE WORLD BANK

    The World Bank has recently launched a plan to reduce the conditions on which it lends up to $50bn a year to developing countries. Experts have condemned this decision as potentially disastrous for the environment, representing a measure able to weaken the protection of indigenous peoples and the poor.

    Experts show that existing environmental and social protection will be undermined to allow logging and mining in most ecologically sensitive areas. Moreover, indigenous peoples will not have the possibility to be consulted before major projects like palm oil plantations or large dams palm go ahead on land that they traditionally occupy.

    According to World Bank watchdog groups including the Bank Information Centre (BIC), the Ulu Foundation and the International Trade Union Confederation, the new program will damage existing protection for biodiversity. Additionally, countries will be allowed to establish harmful projects for the environmental safety.

    In line with this, environmental groups point that this plan represents an alarming attempt to undermine protections for the poorest, allowing the destruction of forests and the natural environment.

    The plan will lessen the usual requirements to evaluate impacts on people and the environment of a project, allowing governments to use their own discretion, weakening the existing standards.

    In addition to that, the Bank Information Centre has stressed that the plan could strongly damage the respect of international human rights law.

    To address these concerns, the World Bank has outlined that the new plan will foster sustainable development, highlighting its efforts to protect people and the environment. In this way, this new policy represents an instrument to address extreme poverty, promoting shared prosperity in a sustainable manner in its partner countries.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    The EPSEI project

    Saturday, 26 July 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • CHINESE COMPANIES ACCUSED OF FAKING ENVIRONMENTAL DATA

    The environmental protection represents one of the most important and challenging issue, at the center of the Chinese political agenda.

    In this context, recent reports show that many companies have been found guilty of illegal pollution.

    For instance, China’s environment ministry has recently penalized the Inner Mongolia’s Duolun Coal Chemistry Company for failing to undertake adequate measures to cut the plant’ sulphur dioxide emissions: the company’ sulphur purifiers were found to have been switched off for a total of 174 days last year.

    Additionally, other enterprises have been repeatedly found guilty of violating environmental regulations. However, the practice of these companies to fake environmental data is even more serious.

    In this context, the Ministry of Environmental Protection band the National Development and Reform Commission has publicly identified 19 companies accused of faking desulfurization figures: five major Chinese electrical power enterprises all appear in the list. Additionally, data show that for none of them was this the first violation of environmental laws. Consequently, many of these companies were put under supervision.

    Reports have also shown that a significant number of these enterprises have falsified emissions data after receiving a subsidy of tens of millions yüan.

    The environment ministry have launched a plan of sanctions on a number of subsidiaries of state-owned enterprises found to have falsified their emissions data.

    To overcome this situation, central and local governments have invested more than 100 million yüan in order to establish a monitoring system to reinforce the control of environmental performance.

    However, experts have suggested that authorities need to take stricter actions in order to achieve concrete results.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    The EPSEI project

    Saturday, 26 July 2014

    (Source: ChinaDialogue)

  • AUSTRALIA: FOCUS ON THE LINK BETWEEN CLIMATE CHANGE AND HUMAN HEALTH

    Recent studies have argued that climate change may threaten Australians’ livelihoods, affecting the viability of communities and putting pressure on social stability.

    Experts have also warned that climate change represents achallenging issue for Australia, both publicly and scientifically important.

    Global warmingis significantly affecting human health. However, until now there has been a relatively small scientific contribution to address these impacts on health. In this way, people need to understand that the impacts that will flow from a small increase in the average temperature will be enormous, experts say.

    Related to that, the Australian Academy of Science has stressed the urgency to undertake concrete measures, hoping to influence policymakers and governments in order to face the impacts of climate change on public health. In this way, groups of experts have asked government to tackle the complex interactions between increasing extreme weather conditions and the impacts on health.

    The studies have shown that climate change has the potential to affect health directly through phenomena such as heatwaves and extreme weather, and indirectly through increases in the prevalence of certain diseases. 

    Moreover, experts have analyzed the impacts of climate change on future food and water supplies, focusing on physical science issues as the transport of pathogens in water supplies and other important consequences of this situation as possible future conflicts for water.

    In this context, the World Bank have recognized that fights over water and food will probably represent the most significant direct impacts of climate change in the next five to ten years.

    In this framework, the recommendations are playing a central role influencing government ministers and senior bureaucrats about the urgency to reinforce and support researches in this challenging field.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    The EPSEI project

    Saturday, 26 July 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)

  • UK: NEW POLICIES ABOUT THE RENEWABLE ENERGY SECTOR

    The UK government has recently announced a plan to establish a limit of £200m a year on subsidies to some of the major forms of renewable energy, affecting in this way the funding of large-scale low-carbon installations from wind and solar farms to biomass-burning power plants.

    In relation to the new plan, the money will be available under the new contracts for difference that subsidize renewable energy companies who offer electricity at a lower rate of carbon emissions than fossil fuel generators.

    According to the secretary of state for energy and climate change, the reform represents an instrument to boost the market for renewable energy, reinforcing growth and jobs, and powering secure electricity infrastructure for the future. In this way, the government has launched a plan to reform the electricity markets, trying to reduce the cost of decarbonizing the power sector to consumers.

    Related to that, the government has estimated that there would be 250,000 jobs in the low-carbon energy sector by the end of this decade.

    However, some renewable companies have warned that the plan will translate in a large reduction in the support they receive, undermining the possibility to establish low-carbon installations in the next future.

    In line with this, the Solar Trade Association has stressed that the plan would result into a cut in large-scale solar installations of about 65% to 80% next year.

    Moreover, some experts have highlighted that the draft budget risks represents an insufficient mechanism to drive industrialization, competition and cost reduction.

    Due to its complexity, the new plan will also undermine smaller companies that will have to compete with multinationals for the funds available.

    In this framework, the Renewable Energy Association has outlined that it is fundamental that policymakers will undertake adequate measures allowing that the most cost-effective sectors such as biomass, solar, and onshore wind are given sufficient budget to reduce short-term costs for consumers.

     

    The gLAWcal Team

    The EPSEI project

    Saturday, 26 July 2014

    (Source: The Guardian)