Top Stories

September 11, 2013


G20 commits to phasing down HFCs

World leaders at last week’s G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia have signed an agreement to reduce the emission of potent greenhouse gases. In a move likely to increase pressure on manufacturers to find green alternatives, some 35 nations and the European Union have agreed to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning. HFCs were commonly used to replace ozone-depleting gases such as CFCs and HCFCs, which were phased out under the Montreal Protocol in 1986. However, while they do not deplete the ozone layer, their contribution to global warming is considerably stronger than carbon dioxide. According to experts, if left unchecked, they could account for nearly 20 per cent of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 2050. In the G20 Leaders Declaration, governments reiterated their commitment to fight climate change and said they would support multilateral approaches to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs. (UN, Business Green)

IPCC to consider the role of ethics in climate change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading international body that assesses climate change, will apply moral philosophy, alongside more traditional scientific and economic arguments, in its forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report. Professor John Broome, of Oxford University, will help the report address moral issues, such as the relative importance of generations that are yet to exist, and will provide a timely reminder to the IPCC to consider the ethical issues of climate change alongside economic and scientific calculations. The move is opposed by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which argues that the threat of climate change has been exaggerated, stating there is no role for philosophers in the debate as they “haven’t got a clue about hard economic issues and they are not experts in the field of policy-making.” (The Times*)

Proposal protecting Antarctic waters is scaled back

A joint US-New Zealand proposal to create a vast ocean reserve in the Antarctic has been reigned in following opposition from large fishing nations such as Russia, as well as the fishing industry. The Ross Sea marine proposal would have imposed strict limits on commercial fishing in around 875,000 square miles of the Southern Ocean, an area whose ecosystem is essential to the survival of thousands of marine species. The proposal has been reduced by 40% in order to achieve the support of member-states of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. The commission will meet next month to discuss the new proposal. The Antarctic Ocean Alliance, a 30 strong coalition of environmental groups described the reduced proposal as a “tactical mistake and a significant retreat for Southern Ocean protection.” (New York Times)

New tool to help manufacturers use safer products

The US Environmental Protection Agency has launched ChemView, a web-based tool to help manufacturers choose the safest options in the ingredients they use. The tool will increase accessibility to chemical regulatory information that the EPA has developed, as well as data that has been submitted under the Toxic Substances Control Act. It can be tailored by users to cover a range of effects and information points, streamlining the process by which manufacturers can account for health, safety, and environmental considerations in their choice of ingredients. (Environmental Leader)


Ferrari to spend €2bn on engine efficiency

The Fiat-owned carmaker, Ferrari, has revealed that it will increase investment in new technologies to €2bn through 2017. Chairman Luca di Montezemolo says that the company plans to “build the world’s highest-performance and most efficient engines in the world”. In the five years to end-2012, Ferrari invested in the development of its first hybrid car, and reduced fuel consumption in new models by 35%. Mr Montezemolo adds that the change is “about being innovative and reducing fuel consumption and emissions, while keeping the emotional pleasure of driving” without necessarily using electric or hybrid engines. Ferrari will be reducing the production of their hybrid model by 400, despite selling 7,300 cars this year, to retain the exclusivity of its brand. (Financial Times*)

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