Top Stories

February 16, 2017


G20 urged to ditch fossil fuel subsidies by 2020, go green

Investors and insurers with more than $2.8 trillion in assets under management on Wednesday called on the Group of 20 economies to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 despite U.S. doubts about climate change. G20 nations should work “to accelerate green investment and reduce climate risk”, they wrote on the eve of a two-day meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Germany to prepare a summit in Hamburg in July. The summit should set a clear timeline “for the full and equitable phase-out by all G20 members of all fossil fuel subsidies by 2020,” the 16 signatories wrote. They included Actiam, Aegon Asset Management, Aviva Investors, Legal and General and Trillium Asset Management. Last year, the Group of Seven industrialized nations including the United States said they were committed to phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies and called on all countries to do so by 2025. G20 fossil fuel subsidies total $444 billion a year, according to a 2015 study by the Overseas Development Institute and Oil Change International. (Reuters)


European Parliament adopts draft reform of carbon market

The European Union’s Emission Trading System (ETS), a cap-and-trade permit system to regulate industry pollution, has suffered from excess supply since the financial crisis, depressing its prices and heightening the need for reform. The European Parliament, in an attempt to fix the complex system has adopted a draft for a linear reduction in emissions by 2.2% per year. This was in place of a more environmentally ambitious proposal for the faster removal of surplus carbon permits from the ETS – sparking criticism from climate campaigners. The Climate Action Network said it “betrayed the spirit” of the Paris accord to slow global warming, but leading policymakers called it the best compromise possible in tough talks. EU lawmakers will now enter negotiations with representatives of the bloc’s 28 governments to hammer out the final legislation. (Edie)


Hundreds of companies failing to pay minimum wage

The government has named 360 businesses which have failed to pay either the National Minimum Wage (NMW) or the National Living Wage (NLW). Among them are well-known names like Debenhams, Subway and Lloyds Pharmacy. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has calculated that 362,000 jobs did not pay the NMW in April 2016. In total the 360 businesses that broke the law were fined £800,000. However the TUC said that was not a big enough deterrent. It called for higher fines, and more prosecutions. The ONS has said that 1.3% of employees are not being paid the minimum, amounting to 178,000 full-time workers, and 184,000 part-time workers. But the TUC believes that even that number is an under-estimate, as it does not take into account those working in internships, or those who may be wrongly classified as self-employed. (BBC)

Air Quality

Air-Ink turns air pollution into pens

Sharma and Kaushik, co-founders of Graviky Labs, say they have perfected a device that captures soot from cars and diesel generators. Gasses pass through the small unit, while other byproducts of fuel combustion — including those noxious particles that cause respiratory diseases — are trapped. The exhaust particulates are stripped of contaminants such as heavy metals, and the sooty powder is then mixed with oils and solvents. For now, Graviky Labs has a partnership with the Singaporean beer brand Tiger, and both companies work together to distribute the ink products to artists in cities like Hong Kong. Graviky Labs says its products are ready for market, but it launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in order to scale their manufacture. To date, the campaign has surpassed its relatively modest goal of raising $10,000. The company says it will also use the funds to develop inks that can be used for fabric as well as outdoor installations. (Triple Pundit­)


India Now Has the World’s Worst Air Pollution

India’s toxic air is now contributing to nearly 1.1 million deaths a year, and the country is on its way toward standing alone as the site of the deadliest air pollution problem on the planet. A new study on global air quality released Tuesday, a joint effort between the Health Effects Institute in Boston and the Seattle-based Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, states that from 2010 to 2015 the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution each year has gone from 957,000 to about 1.1 million in India. While the overall death rate itself has remained the same, several factors—including rapid industrialization, a heavy reliance on coal for energy, population growth, and an aging populace that is more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution—have combined to create what one researcher told the New York Times was “the perfect storm for India.” (MIT Technology Review)

Image source: Varanasi, India at Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)