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News

March 28, 2017

Only Sweden, Germany and France among EU are pursuing Paris climate goals, says study

Arthur Neslen
Tuesday 28 March 2017 12.58 BST

Sweden, Germany and France are the only European countries pursuing environmental policies in line with promises made at the Paris climate conference, according to a new ranking study.

The UK is in fifth position in the table which assesses policy actions taken by EU states to meet Europe’s pledge of a 40% cut in carbon emissions by 2030.

Poland, the Czech Republic, Spain and Italy are judged to be propping up the league, due to their support for forestry and carbon accounting dodges that weaken the greenhouse gas reduction effort.

“EU politicians portraying themselves as climate leaders should put their money where their mouth is by closing loopholes in the EU’s key climate law and pushing for more ambition,” said Femke de Jong, the EU policy director for Carbon Market Watch, a campaign group that co-drafted the EU Climate Leadership Board survey.

The ranking was compiled using ministerial statements and official documents submitted to the European commission, and was then cross-checked with country representatives.

It focuses on behind-the-scenes lobby forays mounted by EU countries in negotiations over an “effort sharing regulation” to cover the 60% of European emissions that come from transport, buildings, agriculture and waste management.

These fall outside the bloc’s flagship Emissions Trading System (ETS) which allocates tradable pollution permits to heavy industry.

Several countries have tried to gain wiggle room in the talks by pushing for measures such as a later (and higher) baseline for measuring their CO2 cuts, or greater use of forestry credits to meet the EU’s climate goal.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

March 27, 2017

Achieving Paris Climate Goals Could Give Global Economy a $19T Boost

March 27, 2017
by Sustainable Brands

$19 trillion — According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), that’s amount the global economy stands to gain if countries rise to the challenge of meeting the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

In a new report released by IRENA for the German government, the energy body highlighted how investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency — crucial measures for keeping global warming below the agreed 2 degrees Celsius limit — has the potential to add approximately .8 percent to global GDP by 2050.

However, current rates of investment are not enough to achieve the desired outcome. The CO2 emission intensity of the global economy would need to be reduced by 85 percent in 35 years. This means reducing energy CO2 emissions by 2.6 percent per year on average, or .6 gigatons per year in absolute terms.

Investment would essentially need to double in order to speed up the transition to a low-carbon economy, a sum of around $3.5 million annually. IRENA and the International Energy Agency (IEA) — which co-authored the report — also pointed out that the percentage of renewables as a primary energy source would also need to change substantially, increasing to 65 percent by 2050 from 2015’s 15 percent.

While companies such as DONG Energy and Royal Dutch Shell recognize the benefit and necessity of embracing a low-carbon future, the move is still a hard sell for many. The IRENA report suggests that the transformation of the energy sector to a low-carbon model would mean abandoning $10 trillion of coal, gas and oil assets. With investment in renewables, however, these losses could easily be offset, with an added advantage of creating around six million jobs.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

March 24, 2017

WWF, AHLA, Rockefeller Foundation Kick Off Pilot to Curb Hotel Food Waste

March 24, 2017
by Libby MacCarthy

Food waste is increasingly garnering attention from governments, businesses and private individuals as its impact on both environmental health, food security as well as bottom lines — companies that invest in reducing food waste can expect a 14:1 ROI — are increasingly researched and understood. Now, a new pilot project initiated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) with support from the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and The Rockefeller Foundation hopes to make food waste in the hotel industry a thing of the past.

Food production has the largest environmental footprint of any human activity, yet one-third of the world’s available food either spoils or gets thrown away. Forty-percent of food is wasted through the supply chain in the United States and the majority of that loss comes from homes and food service industries, including the hotel industry. Improved food management strategies across food service operations present industry-transforming potential, which ultimately has led WWF and the AHLA’s Food & Beverage and Sustainability Committees to join forces to develop actionable projects to prevent food waste through better food management.

Hotel brands participating in the projects include Hilton, Hyatt, IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) and Marriott International, as well as Hershey Entertainement & Resorts, Sage Hospitality and Terranea Resort. The pilots were also developed with the support of The Rockefeller Foundation’s YieldWise Initiative, which aims to reduce post-harvest food loss and halve the world’s food waste by 2030.

“With its substantial food service volume and broad reach with consumers, the hospitality industry is an ideal catalyst for accelerating change,” said Pete Pearson, Director of Food Waste at WWF. “Imagine every hotel breakfast buffet or conference luncheon eliminating food waste. While businesses should make food donation and landfill diversion a priority, these pilot projects will focus on food waste prevention, which is ultimately better for business and the environment.”

Recent research conducted by WWF shows a strong need for industry-wide training and education on food waste reduction among hotel properties, and a general lack of measurement and track of food waste. Each pilot project within the program has been developed to tackle a critical step along the food waste supply chain. This includes measuring food waste outputs on a regular basis, improving employee training programs, creating menus designed to limit food waste and raising awareness with customers.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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category : Topics

March 23, 2017

Waste materials are an underused resource in the construction of Europe’s roads

Recycled waste material could play a major role in the construction of roads in Europe, bringing both environmental and economic benefits. A new study proposes a scenario where 50% of the asphalt for Europe’s roads consists of recycled materials, leading to significant reductions in costs, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the European Waste Framework Directive, there is a need to promote reuse and recycling, which are the preferred options to disposal or incineration of waste. However, there need to be clear pathways for that recycled waste to take. One such pathway is reuse in the construction and renovation of Europe’s road network. Europe’s road network is the key component in its transport infrastructure, and as such it requires constant maintenance; every year 4.7 million kilometres of new road are built.

Waste is already used in road construction. This study suggests that the input of recycled materials in road construction can be increased, with the potential for both economic and environmental benefits. The researchers assessed certain waste materials as substitutes for virgin raw materials that normally form the basis for new roads.

These waste materials, which include glass, asphalt, concrete, wood and plastics, were considered appropriate substitutes because they demonstrate comparable performance to traditional materials and are available in large quantities, with effective systems in place for their collection. In addition, there are no alternative applications with higher value for these waste materials, and they are too expensive to dispose of by traditional methods such as incineration. Part of the analysis also looks at potential sources for the materials, such as construction and demolition waste and end-of-life vehicles.

Read more at "Sciencefor Environment Policy": European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service, edited by SCU, The University of the West of England, Bristol.

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category : Topics

March 23, 2017

Recyclables must be collected separately for circular economy to succeed, says panel

By Janie Matthews | EURACTIV.com
23 March 2017

Separate collection of recyclable materials is the key to a successful circular economy but some member states struggle to put the necessary infrastructure in place, policymakers told a EURACTIV event held on Tuesday (21 March).

Europe is on the fast track to having a circular economy, a vision of the future where no resources are wasted and all materials are recycled.

Materials need to be collected separately in order to minimise waste but not all EU member states are willing, or capable, of making separate collection a priority.

“We want to achieve something ambitious, but we need to keep in mind that member states are at different levels,” said Edward Vernon, Environment Unit Coordinator for Malta, which currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.

Separate collection will be one of the issues up for discussion at forthcoming Council meetings, he said, expressing hope that a political agreement on the circular economy package can be reached by the end of 2017.

“We listen to the member states, and we need the majority of them on board,” he told the EURACTIV event, supported by FEFCO, the European Corrugated Packaging Association.

Plastic under the spotlight
But the recycling of plastics have been and will continue to be an obstacle, according to Kestutis Sadauskas, who is director for the Circular Economy and Green Growth at the European Commission.

Davor Škrlec, a Green MEP from Croatia, admitted his country was a “champion in landfilling”, particularly with plastics.

The current goal is for 85% of paper to be recycled by 2030, and Sadauskas says plastics need to catch up and “follow the example of paper”.

Read more at EURACTIV.

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category : Topics

March 23, 2017

Timberland’s New Line Is Made From Trash Collected From The Streets In Haiti

BY ADELE PETERS
03.10.17 | 5:45 PM

A new backpack started life as 7.5 plastic bottles trashed on streets in Haiti.

The backpack–part of a new line of boots, bags, and t-shirts made by Timberland–looks like it’s made from canvas. But the material is 50% recycled plastic, sourced from a place that both has excess trash and a desperate need for jobs.

“It just so happens that we have this enormous resource that exists, and it just seems to be locked up in some of the toughest parts of the world,” Ian Rosenberger, CEO of Thread, the certified B Corporation that creates the fabric used in the collection, tells Co.Exist.

In Haiti, for the fabric made for Timberland, more than 1,300 people collected plastic bottles, and sold them to 50 Haitian-owned and operated collection centers that Thread partners with.

The process to turn a bottle into fabric is fairly simple: the plastic is mechanically broken down into flakes, put through something that looks like a Play-Doh extruder, and then rolled and manipulated into bales that can be spun into fabric. Plastic bottles are made from oil; so is polyester. When a bottle is recycled into fabric, the end result looks the same as if it had come from fossil fuels (it can also be recycled into other products, such as printer cartridges).

“It is the same as virgin polyester,” says Rosenberger. “But because it comes from these areas, it’s actually helping people as opposed to destroying the environment. It puts us in the position where we can talk about some of the amazing things it’s providing for folks, namely jobs.”

The polyester can also be blended with cotton, as in the case of the Timberland products.

Read more at FAST COMPANY.

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category : Topics

March 23, 2017

Wastewater cleaned thanks to a new adsorbent material made from fruit peels

PUBLIC RELEASE: 23-MAR-2017
UNIVERSITY OF GRANADA

Researchers from the University of Granada (UGR), and from the Center for Electrochemical Research and Technological Development (Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo Tecnológico en Electroquímica, CIDETEQ) and the Center of Engineering and Industrial Development (Centro de Ingeniería y Desarrollo Industrial, CIDESI), both in Mexico, have developed a process that allows to clean waters containing heavy metals and organic compounds considered pollutants, using a new adsorbent material made from the peels of fruits such as oranges and grapefruits.

Said peels are residues which pose a problem for the food industry, given that they take up a great volume and aren't very useful nowadays. 38.2 million tons of said fruit peels are estimated to be produced worldwide each year in the food industry.

The research, in which the UGR participates, has served for designing a new process by which, thanks to an Instant Controlled Pressure Drop treatment, it is possible to modify the structure of said residues, giving them adsorbent properties such as a greater porosity and surface area.

Researcher Luis Alberto Romero Cano, from the Carbon Materials Research Team (Grupo de Investigación en Materiales de Carbón) at the Faculty of Science, UGR, explains that, by a subsequent chemical treatment, they "have managed to add functional groups to the material, thus making it selective in order to remove metals and organic pollutants present in water".

Read more at EurekAlert!

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category : Topics

March 22, 2017

Carbon fibre: the wonder material with a dirty secret

Mark Harris
Wednesday 22 March 2017 05.00 GMT

Carbon fibre is increasingly celebrated as a wonder material for the clean economy. Its unique combination of high strength and low weight has helped drive the wind power revolution and make planes more fuel efficient.

Carbon fibre turbine blades can be longer and more rigid than traditional fibreglass models, making them more resilient at sea and more efficient in less breezy conditions.

Auto makers are also waking up to the material’s potential to make lighter and more efficient vehicles. McLaren recently announced plans to open a factory in Sheffield to manufacture carbon fibre sports cars, and BMW’s i3 is fitted with a carbon fibre passenger unit – the first such mass-produced car.

But carbon fibre has a dirty secret: the hi-tech material is wasteful to produce and difficult to recycle.

Excess waste for landfill
To become the strong, light composite material industries love, carbon fibre is combined with a plastic polymer resin. But the manufacturing process, in which sheets of composite material are often laid up by hand, is wasteful.

By the time they’ve been trimmed to size, almost a third of these carbon fibre sheets end up on factory floors, according to recycling company ELG Carbon Fibre. Where the material does make it into products, most of it will ultimately end up in landfill, the firm says.

A report (pdf) in February from the environmental charity Green Alliance listed carbon fibre as one of several novel materials that could create waste problems in the future unless swift action is taken to make it ready for recycling and reuse.

Read more at The Guardian.

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category : Topics

March 17, 2017

Korea needs to put green growth vision into action

16/03/2017 - Korea has improved access to environmental services and become a world leader in climate change mitigation technology. However, it will need to accelerate its green growth reforms to temper the effects of a decade of vigorous economic expansion that has pushed up energy use, resource consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, according to a new OECD report.

The OECD’s third Environmental Performance Review of Korea recommends that the country review its energy and climate policies to ensure they are in line with its international climate commitments and do more to develop large-scale carbon capture and storage to compensate for new coal plants coming online in the years ahead. Energy prices and taxes need to be adjusted to better reflect the environmental costs of energy production and use.

With an energy mix dominated by fossil fuels, Korea’s greenhouse gas emissions rose by 39% from 2000 to 2013, the second-highest growth rate of OECD countries over the period. Korea now ranks as the OECD area’s fifth-largest GHG emitter, up from ninth place in 2000, and if current trends continue GHG emissions will have tripled by 2030 from 1990 levels.

‌“Korea has been a champion in framing ambitious green growth policies. It now needs to turn its vision into action by making progress towards its climate goals”, said OECD Environment Director Simon Upton, presenting the Review in Seoul.

“As a technology leader, Korea is well placed to profit from the transition to a low-carbon economy. But that will only happen if it implements low-carbon reforms that reward clean-tech innovation and penalise polluters”, Mr Upton said.

The predominance of heavy industry makes Korea a resource-intensive economy, yet material productivity has improved as material consumption has been decoupled from economic growth. With the 2016 Framework Act on Resource Circulation, Korea is moving towards a “circular economy” which promotes greater recycling and re-use and contributes to raw material and energy supply security.

Read more at the OECD website.

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category : Topics

March 17, 2017

Smarter use of natural resources can inject $2 trillion into global economy by 2050 – UN

17 March 2017 – The United Nations has found that smarter and more efficient use of the world’s natural resources today can yield an “environmental win-win’ by injecting $2 trillion into the global economy by 2050 while also offsetting the costs of ambitious climate change action.

Citing new research from the International Resource Panel in anews release today, Erik Solheim, Head the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), called it “an environmental win-win.”

The global population, which is set to grow by 28 per cent, is predicted to use 71 per cent more resources per capita by 2050. Without urgent steps to increase efficiency, the global use of metals, biomass, minerals – such as sand – and other materials will increase from 85 to 186 billion tonnes per year by 2050.

The report, “Resource Efficiency: Potential and Economic Implications,” which was commissioned in 2015 and released in Berlin at the G20 meeting, found that while investment in ambitious climate action would cause a 3.7 per cent fall in per capita gross world product by 2050, more sustainable use of materials and energy would not only cover the cost of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, but also add an extra $2 trillion to the global economy by 2050.

“By making better use of our planet's natural gifts, we will inject more money into the economy to create jobs and improve livelihoods,” Mr. Solheim stressed. “At the same time we will create the necessary funds to finance ambitious climate action,” he added.

The report analyzed four paths that countries could take over the next three decades, ranging from ‘business as usual’ to a scenario where they adopt both ambitious climate policies and improve resource efficiency.

Read more at UN News Centre.

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