Top Stories

August 22, 2014

Policy & Research

Indonesian President vows to get tough on haze offenders

Indonesian President-elect, Joko Widodo, has vowed tough law enforcement measures to fix the region’s recurring air pollution problem, known as “the haze” in Singapore. “For me, it’s not a complicated problem, it’s only a matter of managing the people and how we communicate with them”, he said. Smoke from Indonesian forest fires, sometimes causing pollution in Singapore to reach unhealthy levels, has been one of the more frustrating aspects of relations between the city state and its giant neighbour. This month, Singapore’s Parliament passed the Transboundary Haze Pollution Bill to go after companies responsible for causing haze pollution. “The haze is caused both by the people and also the companies. If we have good, tough law enforcement, then it can be resolved”, Widodo said. He further claims that local authorities know where the problem comes from, demanding greater accountability. (Straits Times)

Technology & Innovation

Electric Grand Prix to be powered by algae

The world’s first electric Grand Prix series will power its cars with electricity derived from algae as part of its promise to showcase the best in cutting edge zero emission technologies. Formula E championship organisers have signed a deal with UK start-up Aquafuel to supply generators powered by glycerine, a by-product of biodiesel that can also be produced from salt-water algae. The fuel is biodegradable, non-toxic and can be used in modified diesel generators to produce power. “It’s something that isn’t harmful at all. It’s super-efficient and we’re really happy to be working with [Aquafuel] on that”, said Formula E’s sustainability manger, Julia Pallé. Algae is considered a better option for producing greener fuels than many other energy crops, as it does not compete with agricultural land – unlike biofuel feedstock. According to research by consultancy Ernst & Young, Formula E will help drive 77 million additional electric vehicle sales over the next 25 years, as electric cars are showcased to a new urban audience. (Business Green)

Corporate Reputation

India court orders Uranium Corp. to probe deformities near mines

India’s sole uranium mining company is being ordered by a regional court to disclose radiation levels and the presence of any heavy metals in soil and water, following reports of unusual numbers of deformed and sick children. The order also mandates that Uranium Corp. of India explain how it ensures the safety of nearby civilian populations who may be exposed to its radioactive waste dump near the village of Jadugora in eastern India. Uranium Corp. has denied its mining operations have anything to do with village health issues. Company Chairman Diwakar Acharya said that physically deformed people living near the mines may have been “imported from elsewhere” to smear the company’s reputation. Indian nuclear power experts have questioned the court’s ruling to allow the company to conduct its own investigation. Ananda Sen, the lawyer appointed by the High Court to review the case, said he considered asking for an independent investigation, but there are no freestanding agencies in India with the expertise to carry out the studies. (Bloomberg)


EDF pays out £3m over complaints fiasco

UK energy company EDF has been ordered to pay £3m “to benefit vulnerable customers” following an investigation by government regulator Ofgem into how the company handled complaints. The company did not have the means to properly receive, record and process customers’ grievances following the introduction of a new IT system in 2011. All six of the UK’s big energy firms have now had to make similar payments within the last two years. EDF’s compensation will go to a Citizens Advice energy scheme, as well as a debt helpline. Beatrice Bigois, EDF’s managing director of customers, said the package: “will ensure that thousands of vulnerable customers are provided with free, independent advice on debt, as well as information to help them manage their energy consumption and bills”. Sarah Harrison, Ofgem’s senior partner overseeing enforcement, said: “It’s now vital for EDF Energy and the industry as a whole to truly put customers first and put adequate resources in place to deal with complaints”. (BBC)

Circular Economy

Online shop for circular economy products launched

Family-owned Belgian manufacturer Jules Clarysse has become the first company to launch a product through Cradle to Cradle Marketplace – a UK startup that sells circular economy-certified products online. The hub is open to the public, and is intended to sell products that have been designed with their entire lifecycle in mind. “It was the unavailability of products at a customer level that motivated me to set up the C2C Marketplace”, said co-founder Paul Capel. The shop’s first products will be a range of Jules Clarysse towels. The Infinity towels, including the dyes and even the ink used to print the labels, are C2C-certified by MBDC, the company founded by cradle to cradle pioneers Michael Braungart and William McDonough. The site will also support ‘C2C-inspired’ products from companies that cannot afford to go through the certification process but are making products from C2C-certified materials. (The Guardian)


Image source: “SG haze-skyline” by SpLoT / CC BY-SA 3.0