Top Stories

July 10, 2013


Brussels joins €22 billion stimulus initiative

Brussels is to team up with a number of large European companies to co-invest more than €22 billion in key sectors in an effort to stimulate growth and employment.  According to a European Commission proposal to be announced today, five public-private partnerships will focus on boosting innovation in bio-based industries, aeronautics, electronics, fuel cells and hydrogen and medicines.  EADS, the European aerospace group, Germany’s Siemens, France’s Thales and the Netherlands’ Philips and the UK’s GlaxoSmithKline are among hundreds of companies taking part.  The joint initiatives will include projects to develop quieter aircraft with lower carbon emissions and bolster the use of greener technologies in transport and heavy industry.  (FT)*

Supply chain

Cambodian villages damaged by the sugarcane industry

Cambodian farmers claim they are losing their land and livelihoods to big sugar plantations, some of which are directly supplying the EU.  The sugar industry is large in Cambodia, owing to a preferential EU trade scheme called Everything But Arms (EBA), which allows Cambodian sugar to be sold duty-free on the European market at a minimum price per tonne.  Although the initiative is intended to bolster the world’s least-developed countries, villagers say they have not profited from the deal at all, stating that when a Cambodian company owned by Thai group KSL arrived in 2006, who supply UK company Tate & Lyle plc, fields were bulldozed without consultation or any environmental impact assessment.  While visiting one of the KSL plantations in January the Guardian saw children receiving payment for their work on the plantation, and interviewed parents who confirmed that their children worked in the fields and received payment for their labour. Tate & Lyle contends that it engaged a third-party organisation to ensure that KSL complied with legal, ethical and sustainability standards, but it also says it is ready to break its contract with KSL if "evidence is forthcoming of any wrongdoing by our supplier". (The Guardian)

Technology and innovation

ABB to supply chargers for electric-vehicle charging stations in the Netherlands

Switzerland-based power tech firm ABB announced this week that it has been chosen by the Dutch start-up Fastned to supply chargers to its electric-vehicle charging network in the Netherlands, bringing electric-powered mobility to the mainstream.  Fastned has concessions to build 201 charging stations out of the 245 stations planned for the country’s 16.7 million population.  Each station, solar-roofed and located along highways, will be allotted with different multi-standards fast chargers from ABB.  These chargers can power any major brand of electric vehicle from Europe, Asia and the US in a maximum time of 30 minutes, or a minimum of 15 minutes. 

The first batch of ABB Terra fast chargers will be delivered this September, while the stations will be built by 2015, making the Netherlands the most populated nation to have a countrywide EV-charging network. (Eco-Business)

Testing fresh ground for clean tech development

Research and development work relating to the development of eco-cities, smart cities and clean energy by foreign companies is booming in China, due to large market demand and government policy support.  Developing new solutions for eco-city development has been one of the most promising areas for companies, says Chris Twinn, senior consultant with Arup, a UK-headquartered engineering consultancy. Twinn says that Arup is currently trialling innovative energy-efficient building solutions, which he considers a potential market for China’s eco-cities.  China has ambitious plans to build 300 eco-cities and already, western companies are developing new solutions in China’s largest eco-city, the Tianjin Eco City, an hour from Beijing by train. Sweden’s Envac Environmental Technology Co Ltd, for example, uses large, underground pneumatic tubes to distribute waste to a centralised processing facility, to free cities from smelly waste bins and refuse vehicles.  Other projects in Tianjin Eco City on trial include a low-energy lighting system from Philips and electric driverless cars by General Motors. (Eco-Business)


Coca-Cola and the World Wildlife Fund expand global partnership and announce new environmental goals

The Coca-Cola Company and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are working to advance the Coca-Cola system’s sustainability stewardship with the announcement on the 9th of July 2013 of new, global environmental goals and an expanded global partnership to 2020.  These goals focus on sustainable management of water, energy and packaging use as well as sustainable sourcing of agricultural ingredients.  Goals include Coca-Cola improving the efficiency of its water use by 25 percent; building on the 21.4 percent improvement achieved between 2004-2012; reduce carbon dioxide emissions across its entire value chain by 25 percent; and sourcing plant-based materials for use in all its plastic bottle packaging. (CSR Wire)


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