Top Stories

February 27, 2017

Sustainable Development

UN and British Council promote social enterprise in Asia

The British Council and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) have agreed to jointly promote the growth of social enterprise and social impact investment across the Asia-Pacific region as a means of supporting progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Their aim will be to support countries to promote social innovation, inclusion, sustainable job creation, and address some of the social and environmental challenges the region faces through private sector model. Social enterprises harness trade, investment and business activity towards social and environmental objectives and are increasingly recognized as critical drivers of innovation for sustainable development. A growing body of research indicates that social enterprises are creating jobs for disadvantaged groups, empowering women and young people, and addressing social exclusion across the Asia-Pacific region. (British Council)


EDP gets seal of approval for Science-Based Targets

Portuguese energy giant EDP late last week become the latest firm to secure approval for its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets from the Science-Based Targets (SBT) Initiative. The target is in line with its 2015 commitment to cut overall emissions from its activities by 75 per cent by 2030, compared to 2005, the firm said.  The SBT initiative is an NGO-backed programme to encourage businesses to adopt emissions goals in line with the Paris Agreement’s stated aim of keeping global temperature increases well below 2oC this century. To date more than 200 companies – including some of the world’s largest corporates – have committed to developing SBTs. Including EDP, 34 companies have had their submitted targets independently approved by the SBT committee, including Walmart, Tetra Pak and Kering. (Business Green)


Egypt produces jet biofuel from jatropha tree

Researchers at Egypt’s National Research Centre have produced a biofuel suitable for aeroplanes after successful semi-industrial experiments conducted last December. This was to support the implementation of the International Air Transport Association plan, aiming to halve carbon dioxide emissions caused by aviation companies by 2050. The researchers made biodiesel from the seeds of the jatropha tree — the seeds’ oil content is between 20 to 25 per cent. The oil can be easily extracted using organic solvents such as hexane, according to Gizine El Diwani, professor at the centre’s chemical engineering and semi-industrial experiments department. “It is a non-edible tree for humans and animals, which grows in sandy desert soil and gets irrigated by sewage water — making it a unique source of biofuels” says Khlaed Fouad, a researcher in the field of aeronautical engineering at Zagazig University in Egypt.  However, he pointed to a serious challenge in the high cost of production, which he attributes to the use of additives to lower the freezing point. (Eco-Business)


Canary Wharf Group launches circular coffee waste system

Coffee cups, lids and coffee grounds generated by more than 300 shops, bars and restaurants across the Canary Wharf estate are being recycled with the use of designated bins, in a scheme launched this week by waste management firm Cawley Group and communications partner Veris for the Canary Wharf Group. British paper cup recycler Simply Cups will recycle the coffee cups and lids while biomass recycler Bio-Bean will turn the coffee grounds into biofuel. Retailers across the estate’s five shopping malls such as Costa Coffee and Café Brera will support attempts to make the 128-acre site a ‘Clean Coffee Zone’. This week, members of the public are being asked to pledge their support and donate at a stand near the designated bins, where they can exchange their coffee cup for a reusable model designed by manufacturer KeepCup. Those who take part are also being rewarded with coffee vouchers for Change Please, an initiative which provides a barista training programme for previously homeless individuals. (Edie)

Responsible Investment

Banks must stress-test shipping assets to avoid climate policy headwinds

Banks holding up to $400bn in shipping debt could be exposed to climate-related risks as the world transitions to a low-carbon transport system, according to new research released today by the green think tank Carbon War Room (CWR) and shipping advisory firm UMAS. The research suggests the mainstreaming of climate policies – particularly in the shipping sector – from 2023 will prompt a need for significant capital investment to bring shipping emissions down and keep vessels competitive. However, few banks currently assess ship efficiency or have lending programmes for the shipping sector that ensure assets reduce emissions and remain competitive. “Future regulation on shipping GHG is now certain,” explained Dr Tristan Smith, director of UMAS. “It’s just the velocity and stringency that remain unknown, and we can handle this by thinking in terms of scenarios.” Action taken now by financiers to prepare for the transition and to ensure only the greenest, most fuel efficient ships get built will pay off in the long-run, the report claims. (BusinessGreen)

Image source: Magleby Maersk am Maasmond. Magleby Maersk (ship, 2014) at Wikipedia and FlickrSome rights reserved