IFCE Global Environmental Weekly Events [7/7 - 7/13/2018]

Release time:2018-07-12

01 Starbucks to Ditch Plastic Straws Globally by 2020 to Help Environment

Starbucks will eliminate plastic straws from its stores globally by 2020, in a nod to the growing push for business to be more environmentally friendly. The Seattle-based company said on Monday it will instead use straws made from other materials, and lids designed not to need straws. The strawless lids will begin to appear in Seattle and Vancouver Starbucks this fall, with phased rollouts within the US and Canada to follow next year.

A global rollout of the strawless lids will follow, beginning in Europe where they will be used in selected stores in France and the Netherlands, as well as in the United Kingdom. McDonald’s also recently said it would switch to paper straws in the UK and Ireland by next year, and test alternatives to plastic straws in some US locations. In February, Dunkin’ Donuts said that it would eliminate polystyrene foam cups from its stores by 2020.

Source: The Guardian

02 Hybrid Cars to be Exempted From 2040 Petrol and Diesel Ban

Ministers last year pledged to ban new cars powered by fossil fuels by 2040 but the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, confirmed on Monday that hybrid cars – powered by electricity and diesel or petrol – would be exempt. The government’s Road to Zero strategy to reduce car pollution now includes a further target for at least 50% of new cars to be ultra-low emission by 2030.

However, environmental groups accused the government of weakening its commitments. Greenpeace said the car industry was “yet again being given a free pass” and the targets were weak by international standards. The Campaign for Better Transport said it was disappointing, describing it as “a step backwards, giving concessions to keeping hybrids on the road, which will water down the already inadequate 2040 target”.

Source: The Guardian

03 China Releases 2020 Action Plan for Air Pollution

China’s new plan for tackling air pollution (published on July 3) is more detailed and covers more cities than the one which expired at the end of 2017 – but it does not set tougher targets than those already in place. The new 2018-2020 Three-year Action Plan for Winning the Blue Sky War (the Three-year Action Plan below) is regarded by many as the second phase of the original air pollution action plan.

The new plan matches the PM2.5 target published in 2016 as part of the 13th Five-Year Plan for environmental protection: mandating falls of at least 18% in PM2.5 levels on a 2015 baseline in cities of prefectural or higher level, and where standards have not already been met. For some cities, the 2016 target to reduce PM2.5 pollution by 18% by 2018 looks too easy. However, cities that have not previously been subject to these action plans, such as Linfen in Shanxi, will be forced to improve their air quality.

Source: ChinaDialogue 中外对话

04 Marine Wildlife Could Benefit From De-commissioned Oil Rigs
Marine wildlife could benefit if some de-commissioned oil rigs were left on the sea bed, a study says. This challenges the conventional wisdom that the sea bed should be restored to its pristine state when a rig's life ends.

The paper from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, is based on a survey of 40 experts from academia, government and consultancies. The paper says over the 30-year lifetime of an oil rig, creatures have often colonized the structure to form a reef. Their focus was on the North Sea - but the authors say the principles are applicable anywhere.

More than 90% of the experts surveyed said governments should abandon the principle that oil rigs should always be removed. Instead, there should be a more flexible, case-by-case approach to de-commissioning. It warns that the process of removing the rigs can be damaging to the environment in its own right.
source: BBC science and environment

05 Yale University Demonstrate How To Make Modern Living Sustainable with New Eco-Housing Module

UN Environment and Yale University in collaboration with UN Habitat today unveiled a new eco-housing module, to spark public discussion and new ideas on how sustainable design can provide decent, affordable housing while limiting the overuse of natural resources and climate change. The 22-square-meter “tiny house” is fully powered by renewable energy and designed to test the potential for minimizing the use of natural resources such as water.

“Adequate housing is at the heart of sustainable urbanisation” said UN-Habitat Executive Director, Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif. “The use of proper building materials, better planning and improved construction techniques can make energy use in buildings more efficient. If adopted widely, this practice can create jobs and prosperity with lower greenhouse gas emissions.”

Source: UN Environment

06 Unesco removes largest coral reef system in Northern Hemisphere from endangered list

The Belize Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef system in the Northern Hemisphere, has been removed from the United Nations list of endangered world heritage sites.

Unesco says its heritage committee voted Tuesday to remove the reef from its list of threatened sites because it no longer faced immediate danger from development. Mangrove cutting and excessive development was the main concern when the reef was added to the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2009. Since then, the Belize government has imposed a moratorium on oil exploration around the reef and implemented protections for coastal mangrove forests.

“In the last two years, especially in the last year, the government of Belize really has made a transformational shift,” says Fanny Douvere, the coordinator of the marine program at Unesco’s World Heritage Centre.

Source: Independent

07 China’s Trash Ban Lifts Lid On Global Recycling Woes But Also Offers Opportunity

China’s decision to ban imports of foreign waste, including some plastics, has reverberated around the world, with recycling operations in other countries struggling to deal with the new reality. Some experts argue that developed nations will, at last, have to face up to the true cost of their plastic addiction instead of shipping the problem to China, which has taken nearly half the world’s waste since 1992.

This could spur much-needed investment in domestic recycling facilities as well as innovation in plastic manufacturing to make products more suited to repurposing. It could also invigorate the vociferous public campaign to change our throwaway culture.

In a new study, published in June in Science Advances, scientists from the University of Georgia (UGA) found that 111 million metric tons of plastic waste will be displaced by China’s new policy by 2030. All that rubbish will have to go somewhere else.

Source: UN Environment

08 Water Companies Need To Do More To Protect The Environment, Report Shows

Although there has been a gradual improving trend in environmental performance over recent years, the industry is not doing enough to reduce serious pollution incidents and comply with permits.

Despite some good performances, the report demands far greater progress in 2018 and subsequent years. The Environment Agency has recently set out a more ambitious programme of environmental improvements which water companies will have to make between 2020 and 2025 – totalling £5 billion of investment. While the majority of companies delivered a ‘good’ or ‘leading’ performance, there are some poorer performers – the report reveals an urgent need by South West Water and Northumbrian Water to improve their performance which has seen them rated lowest this year. South West Water are the worst performer on pollution incidents and Northumbrian Water on permit compliance.

The report concludes with a reminder about the pressures on water quality and supply – with a growing population and climate pressures on the water environment, and increased public and legal expectation, water companies need to further rise to the challenge and improve promptly. The Environment Agency will work with and regulate the companies to help achieve a better environment.

Source: GOV. UK

09 Unpacking Plastic Pollution With Singapore’s First Zero-Waste Grocery Store

With a 5.6 million population, Singapore’s consumption trajectory is only set to grow exponentially. But the challenge that remains is how to ensure that consumption is sustainable. In 2017, Singapore generated about 7.8 million tons of waste. 820 thousand tonnes of this was made of plastic wastes. Only 6 percent of all plastic wastes generated was ultimately recycled.

Inspired by a video, Florence Tay saw of a zero-waste grocery store in Europe, she teamed up with her business partner Jeff Lam to set up the store. “I’m a practical person,” she says. “I realized I was throwing away things that I had paid for, but didn’t necessarily consume.” This motivated her to look into how a packaging-free, zero waste grocery concept could work in a city like Singapore.

Florence notes that public interest is slowly rising when it comes to plastic pollution. “Currently, we do have a lot of plastic waste in Singapore, but people are getting more conscious. As people get more conscious, they will slowly change their lifestyle. Zero waste alternatives are not readily accessible in Singapore, so we need to start having options for consumers who can do their shopping without polluting the Earth.”

Source: UN Environment

10. Tesla to open Shanghai electric car factory, doubling its production

Tesla is to open a new electric car production plant in Shanghai, its first outside the US, chief executive Elon Musk said on Tuesday.

The new auto plant is slated to produce 500,000 cars a year, taking Tesla’s total global manufacturing capacity to 1m vehicles a year. Most automotive factories are tooled to produce 200,000 to 300,000 vehicles a year.

The Shanghai municipal government welcomed Tesla’s move to invest not only in a new factory in the city but also in research and development. It suggested it would help with some of the capital costs saying it would “fully support the construction of the Tesla factory”.Tesla said the first cars would roll off the Shanghai production line about two years after construction begins on the factory. Production will ramp up to 500,000 vehicles a year about two to three years later, roughly matching the planned output at Tesla’s current Fremont, California factory.

Source: The Guardian

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