Top Stories

February 22, 2017


Automakers urge new EPA chief to withdraw Obama car fuel-efficiency rules

A trade association representing General Motors Co, Toyota Motor Corp, Volkswagen AG and nine other automakers, on Tuesday asked new Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt to withdraw an Obama administration decision to lock in vehicle emission rules through 2025. Automakers have argued that the rules could result in the loss of up to 1 million jobs because consumers could be less willing to buy the more fuel efficient vehicles since their engineering will result in higher price tags. It follows a separate letter to President Donald Trump earlier this month from the chief executives of GM, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, along with the top North American executives at Toyota, VW, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan and others urging Trump to revisit the decision. Environmentalists say the rules are working, saving drivers thousands in fuel costs and should not be changed. (Reuters)

Sustainable Development

Agricultural commodities giant, Olam, agrees to stop deforestation in Africa

Singapore-based Olam International has recently announced its intention to build the largest palm oil plantation in Gabon. NGOs, including WWF and Mighty, responded in kind. Last year, Mighty issued a report accusing Olam of fuelling deforestation worldwide from Indonesia to Gabon. However this week, Mighty said it reached an agreement with Olam to stop deforestation for palm oil and rubber development. The company has agreed it would not clear any forest land in Gabon for at least one year while both parties work on a framework for responsible agricultural development. Olam also agreed to disclose more information about its third-party palm oil suppliers in Asia and will require them to follow the High Carbon Stock Approach guidelines for sourcing. It has also promised to publish any procedures related to its supply chain risks. In return, Mighty agreed to suspend any campaigns that target Olam’s palm oil and rubber plantations for one year. (Triple Pundit)

Technology & Innovation

Centrica launches £100m energy innovations venture

British Gas owner Centrica has launched a new innovations unit, Centrica Innovations (CI), that will invest up to £100m over the next five years in new start-ups developing innovative technologies for smart homes, energy supply and distributed power. Key “scout hubs” will be established in Seattle, Houston, London, Cambridge and Tel Aviv. The venture builds on its existing social entrepreneurship fund Ignite, which has invested £10m in enterprises. Ignite will now sit inside Centrica Innovations (CI), Centrica confirmed. Iain Conn, group chief executive of Centrica, said the launch of CI is an important step towards identifying the changing needs of energy customers. In related news, Centrica is poised to start construction on a new £180m, 49MW battery storage facility at Roosecote, Cumbria next month.  The news coincides with the publication of a report today from the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) warning the costs of the low-carbon energy transition are set to increase substantially unless “urgent” action is taken to integrate greater flexibility into the UK power system. (Business Green)


UK should consider new 2025 recycling targets, claims EIC

A new report from the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC), explores the legislative impact of Brexit on waste and resource management, highlighting that the UK’s waste and resource industry has been “transformed” by European Union (EU) environmental legislation. The EIC cites reduced landfill rates, increased recycling numbers and the growth of the circular economy as key benefits of EU regulation. The report suggests that Brexit could therefore have a “significant impact” on how the nation’s resources are sustainably managed in the future. The Government has decided that, at the point at which the UK leaves the EU, all EU legislation which has not already been transposed into UK law will be transferred to UK statute.  The Industrial Strategy green paper  on reducing energy costs, was released last month just before an Aldersgate Group report which highlighted how the UK economy could swell by nearly £80bn if the country adopts resource-efficient business models by 2030. (Edie)

Climate Change

Bolivia seeks $250 mln from Green Climate Fund to tackle drought – FAO

Drought-hit Bolivia will seek $250 million from the Green Climate Fund for projects to bolster water management and food security, said the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which is supporting the application. Bolivia declared a state of emergency in November amid protests and conflicts over the use of aquifers as the country’s worst drought in 25 years prompted water rationing and slashed harvests, requiring a sharp rise in imports. While recent rains have eased drought conditions in parts of the country, La Paz remains affected. Bolivia wants to tap the $10-billion Green Climate Fund – set up under U.N. climate talks to help developing countries tackle climate change – for its national irrigation programme to make farmers more resilient, FAO said in a statement on Thursday. Previous projects in Latin America approved by the fund include an energy insurance scheme in El Salvador, a wetlands resilience project in Peru, and a regional energy efficiency bond. (Thomson Reuters)

Information source: Salar de Uyuni by Phil Whitehouse at Flickr. Some rights reserved