Top Stories

July 09, 2014


Solar is booming but solar parks could have unintended climate consequences

What might be considered one of the greenest energy sources with the highest potential – solar parks – pose new environmental questions, potential threats and untapped benefits. The construction of solar photovoltaics (PV) is growing at an unprecedented rate globally, expanding by 50% per year over the last decade, driven by governments, and businesses chasing targets for low carbon energy. However, little is known about solar parks’ impact on plants, soil and climate. Research carried out so far into both wind farms and solar parks, at Columbia University suggests that these types of changes in land-use could result in micro-climate changes. A more co-ordinated and integrated effort between industry, policy and researchers is now needed, to see what’s actually happening and to develop the next generation PV parks that provide multiple benefits from the same land area. (The Guardian)


International report charts path to deep carbon cuts

A new report, Deep Decarbonisation Pathways, warns that governments around the world are failing in their commitments to address climate change and say the window to prevent catastrophic warming will soon close. The report, presented to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, was produced by 30 scientific institutions from the 15 countries that emit the most greenhouse gases. The team found that national governments around the world have “made very little progress in achieving [emissions reductions] and have made insufficient analyses of how to achieve it,” says Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute in New York. Specifically, major countries are falling short of the commitments made in 2010, when they agreed that global temperature increases should not exceed two degrees Celsius beyond preindustrial levels. The report lays out four critical initiatives that governments must pursue immediately if the worst effects of climate change are to be avoided. These include addressing electricity generation, transportation, energy efficiency and deforestation. (Eco Business)

Supply Chain

Home Depot among a dozen home  and garden retailers working to ban bee-killing pesticides

A dozen US home and garden retailers, including Home Depot and BJ’s Wholesale Club, are working to ban or limit use of neonicotinoid or neonic pesticides, suspected of contributing to dramatic declines in honeybee populations. The retailers are now requiring suppliers to label any plants treated with the pesticides before they can be sold in their stores. Home Depot, the world’s largest home-improvement retailer, is requiring its suppliers to start such labelling by the fourth quarter of this year, and is running tests in several states to see if the pesticides can be eliminated in plant production without adversely affecting plant health. Bees are crucial for our food system, and with their numbers rapidly declining, Home Depot is looking to the future by understanding the relationship of the use of certain insecticides and the decline in the honeybee population. (Sustainable Brands)

Policy & Research

MPs believe responsible business to be an ‘election vote-winner’

The majority of MPs consider responsible business to be a key electoral issue, but their awareness of businesses’ community activities in this area remains low. This was the main finding to come out of a report jointly released by Lloyds Banking Group and Business in the Community (BITC), which surveyed 151 MPs on their views about the role of business in their constituencies. According to the study, three in five MPs thought responsible business was a key issue for national Government as the 2015 national election approaches – two in five said it would be a key issue within their constituency. Commenting on the report, Lloyds Banking Group’s director of responsible business Graham Lindsay said that companies should look to integrate sustainable practices into their everyday operations.  “We have one strategy for delivering sustainable success, being the best bank for customers. To us, that means making a sustained and positive difference to the households, businesses and communities we serve – doing business responsibly is inherent in this strategy,” he said. (Edie)


CIPD issues a “Manifesto for Work”

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has called for a ‘workplace commission’ as it releases the election manifesto it hopes will help improve employment conditions and safeguard recovery. In issuing its “Manifesto for Work”, the CIPD is calling on politicians to focus on employment issues in the general election. Politicians tend to tackle employment issues on a case-by-case basis, the CIPD said, meaning that wider problems which can potentially endure for longer than the life of a parliament do not get the attention they need. Peter Cheese, CIPD chief executive, said: “Successive governments have taken a narrow view of workplace issues, focusing on the supply of skills, the number of people in work and the fine points of employment regulation. These are important topics but this narrow focus neglects long-term questions about the standard of people management in the UK, how and whether people’s skills are developed and utilised and the subsequent impact on our economic performance.” (Yahoo)


Image source: “Intel Solar Installation Vietnam” by IntelFreePress/ CC BY 2.0