Top Stories

June 22, 2021


EU climate goals may be threatened by “weak” construction requirements

European efforts to prevent global warming by constructing more efficient buildings are faltering, according the Building Performance Institute of Europe, an independent thinktank specialised in climate-neutral construction. The thinktank states there is a “misalignment with EU climate targets” because of the ability for countries to interpret the  energy-efficiency building requirements very differently. The institute also criticises the building standards for allowing “considerable” fossil fuel use, and not reflecting a drop in cost of renewable energy. The institute said the standards should be strengthened and applied uniformly if Europe is to meet its climate goals for 2030 and 2050. Legislation setting out building requirements is being reviewed this year, providing an opportunity to revisit the standards. (Bloomberg*)


Ivory Coast says chocolate traders not paying farmers living wage premium

Major chocolate traders in the Ivory Coast are failing to pay a $400-per-tonne premium on beans aimed at curbing farmer poverty, according to the country's cocoa regulator. The Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC)said companies including Mondelēz International were offsetting the Living Income Differential (LID) by offering a negative country differential, usually in the form of a premium of $99 to $212  per tonne to reflect the quality of Ivory Coast's beans. The CCC will stop all the sustainability and certification programs of Mondelez that are ongoing with Cargill and all the other exporters failing to pay the LID. In November 2020, Ivory Coast and Ghana suspended Hershey’s cocoa sustainability schemes in their countries for six days, accusing the US-based chocolate maker of trying to avoid paying the LID. (Reuters)


Amazon found to have targets for destroying unsold products in the UK

Online retail giant Amazon has been accused of destroying millions of unsold items every year in the UK. Footage released by television network ITV shows products including books, laptops, drones, jewellery, headphones and face masks in large boxes marked “destroy”. ITV tracked the lorries that came to collect these “destroy” boxes from the Dunfermline warehouse and found that they were taking them to recycling centres and landfill sites. Amazon has not denied setting destruction targets. However, it claimed that it never sends returns or unsold goods to landfill in the UK, stating that the “priority is to resell, donate to charitable organisations or recycle any unsold products”. The company claims it is working towards a goal of zero product disposal, but no deadline has been set publicly for this goal. (Edie)


Australia to oppose efforts to categorise Great Barrier Reef as ‘endangered’

Australia’s government will oppose new efforts to categorize the Great Barrier Reef as endangered and facing mounting risks as a result of climate change. At a meeting next month, Unesco will  endorse plans to designate the World Heritage Site as in danger and to request Australia does more with international partners to improve conservation. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), the  long-term outlook for the reef, the world’s biggest coral ecosystem, “has deteriorated from poor to very poor” and a warming planet constitutes a serious threat. The reef has suffered significantly from mass coral bleaching, primarily caused by higher sea temperatures, with damage that is now more rapid and widespread than previously evident. Australia’s government successfully challenged a previous effort in 2015. (Bloomberg*)


New bill aims to force Canada to tackle ‘systemic’ environmental racism

A private member’s bill in Canada is aiming to instigate a change in federal law that would force Ottawa to collect data on the effects of heavy industry on marginalised communities. The C-230 bill would require the federal government to collect data on where environmental hazards such as pulp mills, dumps, mines are located, and study the links that may exist between race and health. The bill would also require Ottawa to compensate communities whose air, water and land is poisoned by industry, and to ensure they are consulted on future development projects. Before it can become law, the bill may have to pass a potential third reading in the House of Commons in September. (The Guardian)

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Senior Climate Change Consultant, London