Brazil's leader vetoes portions of new Amazon rainforest law
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has partially vetoed a bill that would have weakened her country's efforts to protect the Amazon and other forests. Environmentalists cautiously welcomed the last-minute decision, but they warned that the battle was not yet over. Critics including WWF and Greenpeace warned that the bill, supported by Brazil's powerful landowners and farmers, would reverse 20 years of struggle to protect the Amazon rainforest. With Brazil due to host the UN's Rio+20 Earth Summit next month, approval of the bill would also have set a poor example of sustainability ahead of a conference that aims to set a new roadmap for the global environment.
Germany sets new solar power record
German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday. Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry (IWR), a renewable energy thinktank, said the solar power generated on Saturday met nearly 50% of the nation's midday electricity needs. "Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity," he said. Germany has nearly as much installed solar power generation capacity as the rest of the world combined and gets about 4% of its overall annual electricity needs from the sun alone. It aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020, while also phasing out nuclear power by 2022.
Topshop steps into zero waste fashion market
High street fashion chain Topshop will launch a line of clothing next month made entirely from surplus stock and production off-cuts. The company has teamed up with eco-fashion brand Reclaim To Wear to unveil the 'Capsule' collection. Reclaim To Wear's creative director Orsola de Castro said the initiative was "the first step" in creating a zero waste design collection. She added, "I trust that the Topshop team's commitment to new sustainable solutions will lead to the reconsidering of consumption versus disposal throughout the whole fashion industry supply chain."
Barclays fights back over UK tax dodge claim
The row over an alleged £300 million tax dodge by Barclays has re-erupted, with its chief executive accusing ministers and the tax authorities of a "completely unwarranted" attack on the bank. In a letter to the UK's Treasury Select Committee published yesterday, Bob Diamond said that his bank had been unfairly singled out and identified in a way that caused it unnecessary reputational damage. In February David Gauke, the Treasury Minister, announced that he had moved to close down two "highly abusive" tax avoidance arrangements by a leading bank, using the rare weapon of retrospective legislation. Although Barclays was not named, it was immediately identified as the culprit.
The Times* p34
Policy & Research
Upgrade credit rating of green projects to attract investment, CBI says
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called on the government to lift the credit ratings of offshore wind, smart grid and new nuclear projects if it wants to attract private-sector investors such as pension and sovereign wealth funds to finance the overhaul of the UK's creaking energy infrastructure. Over £250 billion is needed to complete the 500 energy, transport, waste, water, and digital projects in the government's pipeline, 70% of which will need to come from the private sector, the business group estimates in a report released yesterday. The CBI says tapping into the £1.5 trillion of capital held in UK pension funds could make a "huge contribution" to overhauling the country's infrastructure. Only a fraction of this pot has been accessed to date, partly because the risk profile of infrastructure projects is not attractive enough to investors.