Top Stories

October 17, 2019


New environment bill removes power to fine government for missing targets

The UK Government has launched its new governance system on issues covering clean air, waste management and plastics pollution, natural capital approaches and water stewardship, in the form of the long-awaited Environment Bill. There will also be measures to ensure net gains for wildlife in new developments and a more consistent approach to recycling across England. The bill will use the “polluter pays” principle to make the government consider the environmental implications of every decision. The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) will lead on efforts to monitor a range of policies on issues such as air quality, tackling plastic pollution and meeting net-zero climate goals. Speaking about the Bill, environment secretary Theresa Villiers, said “it ensures that after Brexit, environmental ambition and accountability are placed more clearly than ever before at the heart of government”. However, some environmentalists are concerned the watchdog will not have proper funding to scrutinise laws, investigate complaints and take enforcement action properly. (The Independent; edie)

Sustainable Agriculture

Industry body to impose fines on consumer goods companies if they don’t use sustainable palm oil

A palm oil industry watchdog will adopt rules next month that will impose fines on consumer goods companies like Unilever and Nestle if they don’t start buying more green palm oil to help curb deforestation in Southeast Asia. Producers of palm oil, a commodity used in everything from ice cream to lipstick, are blamed for destroying millions of hectares of forest in Southeast Asia. However, the growers say palm oil buyers share responsibility because they don’t buy enough sustainably produced oil, undermining efforts to reward those who adopt greener practices and reduce deforestation. Planters received premiums of up to $50 a tonne for green palm oil right after certification was launched in 2004, but now they get as little as $1 to $30 over conventional palm oil prices of around $500 a tonne. That makes it hard to cover the extra costs of sustainable palm oil. (Reuters)

Corporate Reputation

FCA moves to protect investors from ‘greenwashing’

The Financial Conduct Authority has promised to challenge firms it deems to be “greenwashing” products as it moves to protect consumers from being misled over the sustainability of their investments. Greenwashing is a growing concern within the financial sector which sees funds and firms market products and investments to appear more sustainable and ethical than they really are. In a feedback statement the regulator said deterring greenwashing and ensuring consumers can assess if a product is genuinely green would remain an active area of focus in its “supervisory and policy work”. The watchdog said initial work on potential greenwashing in the sector had shown the “sustainable” label is applied to a “very wide” range of products, some of which it warned do not appear to have “materially different exposures” to products that are not marketed as sustainable. If consumers find it difficult to validate firms’ claims about the products they are being offered, the FCA warned, the products will be at risk of greenwashing. (Financial Times Advisor)

Climate Change/Campaign

Guardian becomes B Corp and targets net zero by 2030

Media company, The Guardian, says it is stepping up efforts to tackle the climate emergency, both in its journalism and its own organisation by becoming the first major international news organisation to be awarded B Corp certification. Editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, announced the achievement today, as she also confirmed the group has set a new target to achieve net zero emissions by 2030. The certification means the group has been externally assessed across a range of criteria including governance and transparency, working standards and impact on the environment and community. It also means that it has committed to greater transparency, accountability and ambitions across these areas. Viner stated that “now more than ever”, the Guardian’s specialist team of reporters, editors, and writers had a vital role to play in working with readers to understand the unfolding climate crisis and all its ramifications. (Business Green)


Little progress made in tackling air pollution in Europe, research says

Little progress has been made on tackling air quality in Europe, new research shows, despite public outcry in many countries and increasing awareness of the health impacts of pollution. Levels of the dangerous fine particulate matter known as PM2.5, which can lodge deep in the lungs and pass into the bloodstream, appear to have reached a plateau across Europe, after more than a decade of gradual reductions. The results come from the European Environment Agency’s Air Quality in Europe 2019 report which collates data taken from thousands of monitoring stations in 2017. In 2016, the latest year for which an accurate count can be made, there were about 412,000 premature deaths in Europe from PM2.5 alone, according to the EEA. From 2014 to 2017, the levels of fine particulate matter remained broadly flat. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), emitted from diesel vehicles, remain a serious problem although levels have fallen further. In 2017, according to the report, about 10% of monitoring stations in Europe showed levels above safety limits. (The Guardian)


Image Source: arrows in shooting target by NeONBRAND on Unsplash.