Top Stories

July 27, 2021


G20 sets climate targets but stumbles on coal & fossil fuels

G20 environment ministers have pledged to adopt new climate targets within the next three months, following recent negotiations in Naples. Ministers agreed to boost their climate targets, known as “nationally determined contributions”, ahead of the UN COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November. However, the ministers failed to reach agreement on phasing out coal, or removing subsidies for fossil fuels, because of opposition from Russia, China, India and Saudi Arabia. In the final communique, the G20 countries all agreed to try to limit global warming to 1.5oC since pre-industrial times, and said they would “accelerate actions to achieve this temperature limit” during the 2020s. Previous statements have been linked to limiting warming to 2oC, an easier target with much bigger climate impacts. (Financial Times*)


Vodafone trials UK's ‘first' smart 5G electricity substation

Telecommunications giant Vodafone has partnered with UK Power Networks to trial 'smart' methods of delivering energy flexibility at electricity substations, designed to improve efficiency and cut emissions. Energy provider General Electric and automation companies ABB and Siemens are working with the University of Strathclyde to develop and improve the software solutions for the substations. Under the trial, computers with 5G capacity will be installed in electricity substations  to ‘communicate’ with each other in real-time, sharing data regarding electricity demand, grid mix and other metrics. This will be used to deliver flexibility, timing energy storage and discharging appropriately to balance supply and demand. Vodafone estimates that, if the technology approach is scaled at electricity substations across the UK, some 63,702 tonnes of CO2e could be mitigated by 2050, through efficiency alone. (Edie)


UK Government mulls sustainable aviation fuel mandate

The UK Government could introduce sustainability requirements for jet fuel producers from 2025. Following its plan to deliver a net-zero domestic aviation sector by 2040 and net-zero international aviation by 2050, the government has launched a consultation on the need for a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) mandate that would require jet fuel producers to ensure at least 10% of their production annually is SAF by 2030, rising to 75% by 2050. These targets could reduce the sector’s annual emissions by up to 23 megatonnes from 2050. The government defines SAF as a fuel that delivers at least a 60% reduction in life-cycle emissions compared to kerosene. This includes waste-derived biofuels, fuels of non-biological origin, SAF from nuclear energy and recycled carbon fuels. It excludes biofuel crops and grey (fossil-fuelled) hydrogen. (Edie)


India's DNA data law seen to harm minorities and privacy

A proposed Indian law on the collection and use of genetic data to tackle crime may threaten to violate privacy, and target minorities and marginalised communities disproportionately, according to technology experts and human rights groups. The DNA Technology Regulation Bill allows the profiling of victims, those accused of crimes, and those reported missing, and storing of their DNA information in national and regional data banks. Privacy advocates say the data can be misused for caste-based or community profiling in a country where minority groups are disproportionately criminalised, and that privacy violations are also likely as there is no law to protect personal data. Whilst the bill provides for safeguards to ensure privacy is not violated, critics are calling for a stronger regulatory backstop. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)


Child labour rampant in Bangladesh’s leather industry

Young children are working with hazardous chemicals, heavy machinery or carrying heavy loads, endangering their health and lives in Bangladesh’s lucrative leather industry, according to a study published by the Institute of Development Studies, an international development policy think-tank. Researchers found children aged seven to 17 working 12 to 14 hour days, six days a week in processes along the leather supply chain, including animal slaughter and skinning, dyeing, waste disposal and manufacturing of leather products and by-products such as glue and meat. Bangladesh has ratified the International Labour Organisation’s Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, but has not ratified the Minimum Age Convention. NGO Human Rights Watch has called on governments to use cash allowances to help families meet basic needs without having to send their children to work. (Eco-Business)

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Senior Climate Change Consultant, London

Executive Assistant and Office Manager, New York

Sustainability Senior Consultant, North America

Sustainability Senior Researcher, North America