Business

Europe's Plastic Bag Agreement Contested by Industry
November 26, 2014 09:14 AM - Ecaterina Casinge, EurActiv

As lawmakers reached agreement this week to limit the use of plastic bags across Europe, industry voices warned that such rules will have a negative impact on trade in Europe's internal market. The ban could also lead to different standards in legislation in member states and ultimately, to a ban on other types of packaging, according to PlasticsEurope, the association of plastics manufacturers. The European Parliament and the Council agreed on Friday (21 November) on EU-wide legislation obliging member states to reduce the use of plastic bags. The law will apply only to bags with a thickness below 0.05mm, because they are less reusable, and turn into waste more quickly.

Establishing marine protected areas to fight illegal fishing
November 25, 2014 09:10 AM - Kerry Klein, MONGABAY.COM

Do you know how that tuna sashimi got to your dinner plate? Probably not—and chances are, the restaurant that served it to you doesn’t know, either. A new policy paper argues that illicit fishing practices are flying under the radar all around the world, and global society must combat them in order to keep seafood on the menu. According to the paper, published in Science, fishing practices that are illegal, unreported and unregulated (collectively referred to as IUU) are ubiquitous. They range from bottom trawlers scouring the seafloor—sometimes catching more illegal species than legal ones—to small boats simply not reporting their catch. 

Children's rights and child labor in hazardous jobs around the world
November 20, 2014 05:15 AM - Carla Denly, UCLA World Policy Analysis Center

Nearly half of the countries that ratified the U.N. agreement still allow children to work in jobs that endanger their health and safety.

Twenty-five years ago this month, the countries that compose the United Nations reached a landmark agreement that laid the foundation for much-needed strengthening of children’s rights and protections in nearly every country around the world.

Today, the Convention on the Rights of the Child remains the only formal global effort to improve children’s rights and the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. Only three U.N. member nations have not ratified the treaty: Somalia, South Sudan and the United States.

 

Uranium mining in Greenland an election year issue
November 14, 2014 09:55 AM - EurActiv

The upcoming general elections in Greenland may see the country moving away from the idea of extracting and exploiting uranium, which the government voted in favour of just a year ago.

Uranium mining, the hottest topic in the the cold, Arctic country in recent years, was put on the agenda by former prime minister Aleqa Hammond in 2013, after 25 years with a 'zero tolerance' policy to mining of radioactive substances and oil drilling.

Want to Help Fight Wildlife Crimes? There's an App for that!
November 13, 2014 03:43 PM - Alicia Graef, Care2

We know wildlife trafficking has become a huge problem for wild animals and imperiled species, but making it illegal is only part of the solution. Without the ability to identify wildlife products moving through ports, authorities have less power to stop the trade. The good news, according to a recent report published in the journal Biological Conservation, is that conservationists are successfully developing mobile apps to help authorities working around the world with the identification of wildlife that they believe are helping crack down on the problem.

ENERGY STAR's first multifamily properties announced today
November 13, 2014 08:31 AM - ENERGY STAR

Roughly one-third of the U.S. population lives in the country’s 500,000 multifamily buildings, and they spend $22 billion on energy every year. Until this year, apartment and condo managers lacked the tools to measure how much energy they were wasting and compare their performance nationwide. Meanwhile, energy costs for renters have risen by 20 percent over the past decade.

 

Today, a new era of savings will be ushered in when the U.S EPA announces the first set of multifamily properties to earn the ENERGY STAR certification. The ENERGY STAR first became available to the sector this September, after a three-year partnership with Fannie Mae to develop the scoring system for multifamily properties.

New study says fracking chemicals are "no more toxic" than common household substances
November 12, 2014 01:21 PM - University of Colorado, Boulder

The “surfactant” chemicals found in samples of fracking fluid collected in five states were no more toxic than substances commonly found in homes, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder. Fracking fluid is largely comprised of water and sand, but oil and gas companies also add a variety of other chemicals, including anti-bacterial agents, corrosion inhibitors and surfactants. Surfactants reduce the surface tension between water and oil, allowing for more oil to be extracted from porous rock underground. In a new study published in the journal Analytical Chemistry, the research team identified the surfactants found in fracking fluid samples from Colorado, Louisiana, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Texas. The results showed that the chemicals found in the fluid samples were also commonly found in everyday products, from toothpaste to laxatives to detergent to ice cream.

How would you feel if electric vehicles were the only ones allowed in center cities?
November 9, 2014 04:42 AM - , Electric Forum

The subject of making electric vehicles compulsory in city centres in the UK, and indeed many other areas of the world, is one which keeps popping up time and time again. The Liberal Democrat party in the UK has been pushing for greater adoption of electric vehicles within city centres and, don’t shout this, a ban on diesel and petrol vehicles. This is now something of a hot topic and one which will continue to appear in the political domain as we approach general and local elections.

How would you feel about making city centres a no-go area for petrol and diesel vehicles? Is electric vehicle technology of sufficient reliability to support such a dramatic and controversial move?

How Offshore Wind Farms Affect Marine Species
October 17, 2014 06:07 AM - University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Offshore wind power is a valuable source of renewable energy that can help reduce carbon emissions. Technological advances are allowing higher capacity turbines to be installed in deeper water, but there is still much unknown about the effects on the environment. In a recent paper, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science researcher Helen Bailey and colleagues review the potential impacts of offshore wind developments on marine species and make recommendations for future monitoring and assessment as interest in offshore wind energy grows around the world.

Which Form of Energy is the Cheapest?
October 16, 2014 10:47 PM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

Which kind of power is the cheapest? Listen to energy companies, and they'll insist that traditional forms like gas and coal are the way to go. Of course, they have money invested in keeping the existing systems in business. That's why the European Union commissioned an independent analysis to study the topic. According to the report, wind energy is the most cost-efficient way to supply power. When proponents of non-renewable energy point to costs, they intentionally overlook the overall economic impact that polluting causes. Once experts start to calculate the costs associated with public health and climate change that coincide with burning coal and gas, the true cost is far higher than initially reported. It's both irresponsible and shortsighted to ignore these environmental and health consequences from the equation.

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