April 2016
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 Video guest: Erich Schaitza




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EDITO
Saturday, 30 April 2016

DG Trade held a roundtable debate with a focus on the ongoing Environmental Goods Agreement negotiations for an Environmental Goods Agreement that aim to promote trade in green technologies.  The green sector is of key importance for Europe: it contributes to environmental protection – clean water, air, soil, good waste management and lower greenhouse gas emissions – as well as jobs and growth in the EU. The EU is committed to achieve substantial progress in the negotiations by the end of 2015 in order to contribute to the UN climate negotiations in Paris and the 10th WTO Ministerial in Nairobi.  The roundtable offered European stakeholders an opportunity to exchange views on the initiative with the EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, and EU Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action, Miguel Arias Cañete, as well as representatives of international organisations and EU partner countries involved in the talks.

Ségolène Royal, the environment minister and former presidential candidate, said developing countries are “waiting to see” what rich nations will offer them in global warming talks. In her view, climate change was not merely a question of economics, but “a matter of civilization.” Royal explained, “Developing countries are not hostile [to an agreement]; I would say that they are positive, but they are waiting to see. We have to meet their expectations.” In contrast, she added, “the financial sector has been extremely predatory on natural resources for a long time.” Currently, more than 30 countries, including the EU and the US, have submitted emissions plans to the UN. Developed countries are expected to make absolute cuts in their emissions, by 2025 or 2030, as agreed at the landmark Copenhagen climate conference in 2009. Poorer countries are required only to curb the future growth of their emissions.

Monday, 01 June 2015

Caribbean leaders advanced their policy position on climate change ahead of the 21st Conference of Parties, ( COP 21). , scheduled for Paris during November and December of this year.  Caribbean Community (CARICOM) – made up of 14 independent countries – leaders were represented by the group’s chairman, Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie, during their latest meeting in Martinique with French President François Hollande. PM Christie explained,  “For the Bahamas, which has 80 percent of its land mass within one metre of mean sea level, climate change is an existential threat.(…)  The evidence of the impact of climate change within our region is very evident. Grenada saw a 300 percent loss of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) as a result of one storm (…)

Friday, 15 May 2015

As the world’s biggest user and importer of biodiesel, the recent European Parliament ruling which  limits the use of crop-based biofuels is a strong signal that the EU is engaged to meet its  energy targets. Moreover, it also signals the end of a long running debate on the detrimental implications of  biofuel demand for transport on food prices, hunger, forest destruction, land consumption and climate change. Food crops, such as palm oil, soy and rapeseed are currently being used for transport fuel. However, this ruling indicates that the EU shall proactively limit biofuel production from agricultural crops to 7% of EU transport energy, and EU member states have the option to go lower than this. 

When the international climate change talks ended in Peru last December, the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM), a political and economic union comprising small, developing, climate-vulnerable islands and low-lying nations, left with “the bare minimum necessary to continue the process to address climate change” according to Carlos Fuller, international and regional liaison officer at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. He explained that “The Lima Accord did decide that the Parties would continue to work on the elements in the Annex to develop a negotiating text for the new Climate Change Agreement. We wanted a stronger statement that these were the elements to be used to draft the negotiating text.”

The Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) – also called “The Purple Book” is the first step in a international effort to attain a sound global management system for chemical. Chemicals are often a vital part of industries, and are shipped globally in a number of products in hazardous and non-hazardous forms. Currently, it is estimated that in the EU alone  15 % of workers handle hazardous chemicals on a daily basis, and 19 % of workers report being exposed to toxic vapours for a quarter or more of their working time.

Wednesday, 06 May 2015

Recent research has proven that today’s tourists are concerned with environmental and social responsibility in the management practices of their destinations. According to data collected by the Centre on Ecotourism and Sustainable Development (CESD) and the International Ecotourism Society (TIES), “it is important to the vast majority of [tourists] that their trip not damage local ecosystems. They are interested in patronising hotels that are committed to protecting the local environment, and increasingly view local environmental and social stewardship as a responsibility of the businesses they support.”

Thursday, 30 April 2015

According to a leaked internal document of the European Commission (EC), EU member states shall be allowed to import genetically modified (GM) food imports for both human and animal consumption. This model correlates with the recent GM cultivation rules, which is also an à la carte system. Environmentalists are not happy with this outcome, as in their opinion, GM crops will propagate and circulate freely within the EU market regardless of each member states preference. Currently, 48 GM crops are imported, but this figure is expected to increase with the adoption of the new legal framework on GM crops.

The Global Seeds Market shall be boosted by the increased adoption of genetically modified seeds, says the Global Sees Market Report 2015-2019. This correlated with an increase in demand for food production and rise of agricultural challenges whih has led to the supply of high-quality, high-performing geneticlally engineered and hybrid seeds. It notes that while traditional seeds still occupy a sizeable share of the market, biotech seeds are increasingly important.The report uses case studies and is based on four segments of the market: cotton, maize, vegetables and others.

Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank, alongside Jim Yong Kim President World Bank Group confirmed its commitment to support climate related investments. They highlighted the engagement needed to be scaled-up through greater private sector involvement in climate finance. “It is time for renewed action to address the global risk of climate change and 2015 provides a unique opportunity to focus on this fundamental threat. It is crucial to encourage a shift that delivers a more resource efficient, climate resilient and low-carbon global economy. Europe has a firm commitment to addressing climate change and the European Investment Bank, as the EU Bank, will build on a strong track record to address these challenges.