Sustainability on thomsonreuters.com combines expertise from across Thomson Reuters, and from a valued community of external partners. Our aim is to provide material insight on the global field of Sustainability from experts in Climate, Finance, Energy, Health, Law, Diversity, and Corporate Governance. It is part of our larger Corporate Responsibility & Inclusion initiative.
LONDON – London Mayor Sadiq Khan and other city leaders from across Britain said on Monday a government plan to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars should be brought forward by 10 years to 2030, in the latest push to improve air quality.
Sadiq Khan, London’s Mayor, speaks at the launch of the Labour Party’s local election campaign, in London, Britain April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government said last year it would ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 although it is unclear whether that includes hybrid vehicles, which have both an electric and combustion engine.
The government is due to detail the proposals in a “Road to Zero” plan shortly, but on Monday, Khan joined mayors and city leaders from Manchester, Liverpool, Oxford, Sheffield and Bristol to call for the measures to be implemented quicker.
“Banning the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, providing support to deliver Clean Air Zones in cities and introducing a national vehicle renewal scheme will dramatically improve our air quality and our health,” said Khan, who is from the opposition Labour Party.
Cities and nations around the world are introducing restrictions or bans on the use of vehicles powered by combustion engines in the years ahead to cut high levels of pollution.
Carmakers have argued that cleaner diesel models play a part in bringing down overall carbon dioxide emissions but demand for the segment has nosedived in much of Europe for over a year as many authorities plan clampdowns and tax hikes.
Reporting by Costas Pitas, editing by Estelle Shirbon
OSLO – At least 25 percent of the plastics used in new Volvo car models from 2025 will be from recycled materials, the Chinese-owned company said on Monday in an anti-pollution plan praised by the United Nations.
The logo of Volvo is seen on the front grill of a Volvo XC40 SUV displayed at a Volvo showroom in Mexico City, Mexico April 6, 2018. REUTERS/Gustavo Graf
Recycled plastics – such as from fishing nets or old bottles in car dashboards or carpets, would not affect safety or quality, Stuart Templar, director for sustainability at Volvo Cars, told Reuters.
“We think this makes business sense,” he said.
Many big companies are designing products that can be recycled after use to limit pollution. Volvo’s plan goes a step further by building ever more recycled materials into its production lines.
“Volvo Cars is committed to minimising its global environmental footprint,” Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Cars, which is owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd, said in a statement.
Volvo said it was in talks with plastics producers to achieve its “ambition that from 2025, at least 25 percent of the plastics used in every newly launched Volvo car will be made from recycled material.”
Volvo sold 570,000 cars last year, with about five percent of plastics in its cars currently made from recycled materials.
Volvo unveiled a test model of its XC60 T8 plug-in hybrid SUV in Gothenburg, Sweden, that it said looks identical to the existing car except that some of its plastic parts were made from recycled materials.
The carpet, for instance, had fibres made from PET plastic bottles, old Volvo car seats were used in sound-absorbing material under the bonnet and fishing nets and ropes were used in the tunnel console – between the passenger and driver seats.
The United Nations welcomed Volvo’s plan. More than eight million tonnes of plastics end up in the oceans every year, threatening marine life from fish stocks to coral reefs.
“As far as we are aware this is a first – an attempt to source waste as a raw material for a new vehicle,” Erik Solheim, head of the U.N. Environment Programme in Nairobi, told Reuters.
“We need to see a situation in which plastic waste begins to have more value and the processes to transform it into something new will also advance,” he said.
In 2017, Volvo said that it would electrify all new cars launched after 2019. Last month it said its aim was that fully electric cars would make up half of its global sales by 2025.
Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Ros Russell
Droughts are becoming more frequent, creating problems for India’s rain-dependent farmers
By Malini Menon (Reuters) | 15 June 2018
NEW DELHI – India faces the worst long-term water crisis in its history as demand outstrips supply and millions of lives and livelihoods could be at risk, said a think tank chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
By 2030, water demand is projected to be double the supply, implying severe scarcity for hundreds of millions of people. The shortage will eventually shave around 6 percent off gross domestic product, the report said.
About 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to safe water and 600 million face high to extreme water stress, the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog said on Thursday, citing data by independent agencies.
“Critical groundwater resources that account for 40 percent of India’s water supply are being depleted at unsustainable rates,” the report said, calling for an immediate push towards sustainable management of water resources.
“India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and millions of lives and livelihoods are under threat,” it said.
The think tank said it has developed a Composite Water Management Index with nine areas of assessment to help state governments manage water resources.
Droughts are becoming more frequent, creating problems for India’s rain-dependent farmers. At the same time, disputes between states are on the rise.
Interstate disagreements are on the rise, with seven major disputes currently raging, pointing to the fact that limited frameworks and institutions are in place for national water governance.
The report said there are seven major ongoing disputes over water resources, which highlights the limited framework and institutions for water governance.
Nearly 163 million of India’s population of 1.3 billion lack access to clean water close to home, the most of any country, according to a 2018 report by Britain-based charity WaterAid.
Nations agree to encourage “increased investment and financing in renewable energy” but admit “fossil fuels still play a major role”
By Luc Cohen (Reuters) | 15 June 2018
BARILOCHE, Argentina – The United States split from other Group of 20 member countries on Friday over the future of the coal industry and the 2015 Paris climate accord, though all of them agreed to transition to cleaner fuels to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Speaking at a press conference at the close of the G20 meeting of energy ministers in Bariloche, Argentina, Germany’s director of energy policy Thorsten Herdan said G20 member countries “have to get out of coal” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.
While Herdan said phasing out coal was discussed at the meeting, there was no reference to winding down coal production in a joint statement issued by the ministers, which encouraged “increased investment and financing in renewable energy” but acknowledged that “fossil fuels still play a major role.”
The talks come as the United States is evaluating a plan to prevent struggling coal and nuclear power plants from shuttering. Environmentalists and oil, gas, solar and wind energy industry groups have criticized the move, which the Trump administration says is crucial for natural security.
“It’s not possible to put in the communique that at a certain point of time every country has to step out of coal due to the different requirements every country has,” Herdan said. “We are not a club which what the others have to do.”
The meeting marked the latest disagreement between the United States and other major countries on climate policy since President Donald Trump last year pulled the country out of the Paris deal, reversing a key commitment by former President Barack Obama to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
The ministers alluded to that decision in the statement, noting that “energy transitions” were important to reduce emissions “and for those countries that are determined to implement the Paris Agreement.”
“That was one of the sentences we a long time for,” Herdan said, noting that despite the withdrawal by the United States from the Paris climate agreement, other countries wanted to express their commitment.
“Perhaps we have to admit that the language may be not as clear as everybody would like to have it, but at the end of the day that was the compromise for us to go further.”
Speaking to reporters earlier on Friday in Bariloche, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said “clean coal” and nuclear energy were “very positive for the environment,” while noting that carbon capture technology would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Reporting by Luc Cohen; editing by Diane Craft)
The agreement aims to cap airline emissions at 2020 levels
By Allison Lampert and Julia Fioretti (Reuters) | 15 June 2018
(Reuters) – The U.N. aviation agency is expected to include fossil fuels in a landmark global agreement to limit aircraft emissions, a move that could encourage airlines to purchase crude over more costly biojet fuels, sources familiar with the matter said.
Countries at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) are seeking to agree on rules that will govern how the overall deal, brokered by the ICAO in 2016, will be implemented.
The United States, backed by Saudi Arabia and other countries, has proposed giving airlines credit for using crude oil as well as aviation fuels from renewable sources like corn, provided they meet the deal’s lower-emissions criteria, two industry sources said.
Europe will back the proposal next week at an ICAO meeting in Montreal, as long as the fossil fuels eligible under the deal deliver actual carbon savings, two European Commission officials said separately.
ICAO experts would determine how many emissions each fuel emits to avoid any confusion.
The emission levels of individual fuels need to be “very robust so there is no fooling around with what is the actual performance of one fuel over another”, one of the officials said.
Oil giant Saudi Arabia, for example, has previously argued that the 2016 agreement should be “fuel neutral” – whereby it does not discriminate between different types of fuels – because technological advances could one day enable crude to be produced with 10 percent fewer emissions, as the deal requires, according to a Saudi presentation seen by Reuters.
“What they (the Saudis) are saying is ‘don’t rule it out for us,” said the first industry source.
All of the sources spoke on condition of anonymity because talks on how to implement the 2016 deal, known as the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), are private.
Representatives from Saudi Arabia and the U.S. State Department did not respond to requests for comment. An ICAO spokesman declined to comment.
LOWER EMISSION FOSSIL FUELS
The European Commission sent a letter to EU ministers this week reiterating concerns that any attempts to weaken the 2016 deal, which will go into effect in 2021, should be “strongly opposed.”
The agreement aims to cap airline emissions at 2020 levels, and airlines would be required to limit their emissions or offset them by buying carbon credits from designated environmental projects around the world.
Airlines would receive credit toward lowering their emissions if they use eligible lower-carbon fuels.
Haldane Dodd, spokesman for the Air Transport Action Group, which represents 50 members of the aviation industry, would not take a position on the use of lower-carbon crudes but advocated “strong sustainability standards for our fuels.”
Europe hopes that airlines will still be encouraged to use more costly biojet fuels if they deliver bigger emissions savings.
But with aviation biofuels now only produced in small quantities, lowering the emissions of conventional jet fuel may prove a better option for the environment, said a fifth source who works in the aviation industry.
“If we can develop technologies that are going to make fossil fuels with lower emissions, isn’t that a carbon savings compared with business as usual?”
The air quality levels in Delhi, one of the world’s most polluted cities based on World Health Organization data, ranged from “very unhealthy” to “hazardous”
By Suhail Hassan Bhat (Reuters) | 15 June 2018
NEW DELHI – Authorities in the Indian capital suspended all construction on Friday and sent out more water trucks to spray the streets in the hope of improving the quality of the city’s air befouled by days of dust storms.
The air quality levels in Delhi, one of the world’s most polluted cities based on World Health Organization data, ranged from “very unhealthy” to “hazardous” on Friday as a steady breeze blew.
“Decision to ramp up sprinkling, close construction activity till Sunday,” environmentalist Sunita Narain said on Twitter after attending an emergency meeting called by the city’s lieutenant governor, Anil Baijal.
“Focus on big tree plantation this monsoon,” Narain added.
South Asia’s central plain sees scorching temperatures and strong winds that whip up fierce dust storms at this time of the year, just before the onset of the rainy season.
The Central Pollution Control Board says the wind is blowing dust from the desert state of Rajasthan into Delhi.
People complaining of respiratory problems have been flocking to city hospitals.
“Patients with no history of respiratory ailments are complaining of cough and breathing issues,” said Prashant Saxena, a pulmonology specialist at the Max Smart Super Specialty Hospital.
India is home to the world’s 14 most polluted cities, based on the amount of particulate matter under 2.5 micrograms found in every cubic metre of air.
“What if you entertained and educated every 5 year old out there with the sole purpose of creating a cavalry to help save humanity?”
This brief interview is part of Sustainable Innovation for the World, a series by Thomson Reuters Sustainability on innovation, either scientific or social, which could help make the world more sustainable.
Thomson Reuters Sustainability: How does your innovation help the world?
Mark Downes: So, we’re one and a half planets worth of natural capital down and with no slowing of consumption in sight.
The world is by all scientific accounts coming perilously close to not one but multiple tipping points.
The catastrophic escalation of a wide range of simultaneous disasters would leave the planet reeling. If this happens the smart people will pack what they can carry and start a hike north to the Svalbard seed vault.
The United Nations UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a much needed focus for humanity but sadly they are not part of a popular mainstream agenda. Either politically or culturally. You won’t hear them being chirpily discussed in a playground or café near you any time soon.
But humanity needs help. A cavalry to swoop in and save the day.
So, here’s a thought:
What if you entertained and educated every 5 year old out there with the sole purpose of helping them realise that this wonderful planet was worth celebrating and protecting?
What if being a true global citizen was to become second nature?
What if you did this this year and every year up to 2030?
That’s quite an army to help humanity not only reach, but smash those goals.
THE ALPHABRAVOS is an idea designed to do just that.
It is designed to inspire today’s 5 year olds and their pals to celebrate diversity, champion the environment and pester the hell out of their parents to do the right thing at home. Strong female leads, music, jokes and planetary engagement on screens across the globe.
THE ALPHABRAVOS is fundamentally an entertaining way to educate kids about the UNSDG’s and everything they stand for. There are many other educational children’s programming already in existence but ours is unique in that it closely aligns its goals with those of the UN. We want to celebrate sustainability innovations as they continue to emerge and make sure kids (and by extension their parents) are aware of them. That’s right, educate parents through their kids!
At its heart, it is an animated TV show that seeks to entertain and educate kids about planet earth. Its punchy, playful characters and mischievous story lines end with simple takeaways that teach kids about how to become great global citizens as they grow up.
This will be supplemented with more tailored messaging online that grows and matures as the children do. With the goals setting an ambitious agenda to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and more, there is great potential to accelerate the growth of ‘tech for good’ startups to contribute to achieving the goals.
Through our innovative interactive games and clubs in the real world, where tasks undertaken will be rewarded by global brands that we will partner with, our mission is to create a global movement akin to the scouts where THE ALPHABRAVOS becomes a badge of honour.
Photo provided by Alphabravos.
Thomson Reuters Sustainability: Why did you do it?
Mark: After witnessing Ban Ki Moon deliver a keynote address at the Cannes Lions Festival in 2016 I accepted his challenge of becoming an ‘agent of change’. The limited success of previous UN goals was: getting the message out there and keeping it out there.
It is incumbent on nations and citizens to do everything that they can to get the message of the goals out there so they can be acted upon.
I decided the best use of my skills and those of my talented colleagues was to create a platform to teach children about these issues.
Through our production company Green Eyed Monster Films, where we only work with brands and organisations that have sustainability as part of their DNA, it made sense to harness those skills and put them to use for the biggest client going: Earth.
It seems obvious: if we use the same creative and storytelling skills that shaped the original model of consumption that got us into this mess in the first place, the smart money is on those same skills shaping a new model of consumption that might help get us out of it.
We like to tell stories about those who do good, by society and by the planet. THE ALPHABRAVOS is a natural extension of this work.
Why did we do it? Because there is no Planet B (which we’ve already used up half of anyway, even if there was). We need to be empowering kids with the knowledge and the motivation to protect it. Because if they don’t grow up knowing about it, they won’t appreciate it and if they don’t, who will?
Thomson Reuters Sustainability: How did you make an informed decision to invest so much of your time and life in this?
Mark: It was less an informed decision, more a gut reaction. I’m not vegan, I travel by plane, I work in an industry that sells stuff to people that they probably don’t need.
I have, since witnessing Ban Ki Moon’s inspired speech, made some very simple life and work choices that I think most people can do too. Lose the car, downsize the house, stop buying stuff or ‘tat’ as my grandmother called it. Eat less meat. Change energy supplier. Basic, simple.
We can’t wait for politicians or scientists to wave a magic wand. We all need to act.
Small simple changes that, if everyone makes them, become a powerful transformative thing. Transformative innovation is of course key, but mainstream culture needs to be aware of these innovations too, in order to support and fast track them.
We don’t want to scare kids about the melting ice caps. We want to encourage them to believe in simple takeaways like turning the tap off when brushing teeth. Why? because water, like pretty much every other resource on our planet, is precious. So investing so much of my time and life into this project is easy.
I passionately believe that we can entertain and educate children in a way that speaks ‘to’ them rather than ‘at’ them and THAT can change the world. They need skills we never got. A ninja training camp for a cavalry. They will become accustomed to global citizenship that their worlds and the world will become a safer, better place. And that transcends borders, gender, religion and anything else that stands in our way. If you can entertain a child, you can educate them.
The awkward inconvenient life choices I have to make today won’t be an issue for fans of THE ALPHABRAVOS because they will instinctively have made the correct ones from the beginning. Furthermore, they will stand up and shout about injustice, ask difficult questions to their employers at interviews, demand transparency, plant trees, deplore corruption, redistribute wealth, question inequality.
Thomson Reuters Sustainability: What is your next big step?
The next big step is making THE ALPHABRAVOS pilot episode and further develop our tech offering, apps, interactive games.
This is the lever that opens up our ability to get the UN SDG’s into children’s homes and onto their screens on a daily basis.
The programme itself may not even mention the UN goals but their message will. Get the message out there and keep it out there. Increasingly, private sector companies are aligning their business operations with the SDGs, opening up economic opportunities with a worth of up to $12trn. A UN-backed coalition, 2030Vision, has estimated that digital solutions could unlock an extra $2.1trn in tech sector revenue specifically by 2030.
We are currently seeking private investment from the right individual or corporation to help bring our idea to a broader market and like-minded brand partners to support them in amplifying their missions too. If this sounds like you or your company, get in touch. Bravo!
By Lefteris Karagiannopoulos (Reuters) | 15 June 2018
OSLO – Norway’s energy minister will meet with companies on Wednesday to discuss the potential construction of offshore floating wind farms, he told Reuters on Friday.
The meeting is the first concrete step to spur development of offshore floating power generation, after the government said last December it would seek to accommodate such plans.
“Wednesday next week I will have a meeting with different stakeholders in offshore wind and discuss both the opening process and the regulatory framework,” Terje Soeviknes said.
Unlike offshore wind turbines that are fixed to the seabed, floating wind parks are seen as potentially more feasible for use in deeper waters.
The minister didn’t name any firms, but Norway’s Equinor, which recently changed its name from Statoil to increase its focus in renewable energy, has said it will take part in the country’s first such tender if there are subsidies.
The company said in May it expected about 13 gigawatt (GW) of floating offshore wind to be installed globally by 2030 and aimed to take “a fair share” of that.
Equinor is also the owner of the world’s first floating offshore wind farm project, a 30 megawatt farm called Hywind off the coast of Scotland, and is already maturing a project in Norway to combine floating wind with oil platforms.
Norway’s energy minister expected to conclude the discussions within a few months.
“By autumn I hope we will have a proposal. Perhaps we need to go through the parliament with this,” he said.
Norway is western Europe’s top producer of oil and natural gas, and has so far lagged Nordic neighbors Denmark and Sweden in wind power developments.
“People are more aware of inequalities now. What’s it all about in the end? It’s about business and jobs and work and if we can do that in a good way its a good thing”
By Lee Mannion (Thomson Reuters Foundation) | 14 June 2018
LONDON – The man who brought backpacking to the masses is now banking on business to make the world a better place.
Together with his wife Maureen, Tony Wheeler – founder of the iconic Lonely Planet travel guide – has set aside 10 million pounds ($13.40 million)to educate a new generation of leaders to lend their business skills to development issues.
“If you’re pushing entrepreneurship, it’s the developing world where we would particularly like to see it happening,” he said of his financial support for the Wheeler Institute of Business and Development at the London Business School.
It’s worlds away from the hippie trail that made his name but it is driven by the same passion for far-flung places.
Since he first hit the open road in 1972, Wheeler has visited 170 countries – Nepal is his most visited, Iraq where he felt most uneasy – and has seen myriad changes down the decades.
“People are more aware of inequalities now. What’s it all about in the end? It’s about business and jobs and work and if we can do that in a good way its a good thing,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The Wheeler Institute wants students to use their nascent boardroom skills in poorer countries, with an eye on creating jobs and growing businesses with a positive social impact.
Guest speakers from government and development agencies explain the concrete difference students can make. Then they go out in the field and apply their new skills on real businesses.
Aside from backing business with a conscience, Wheeler said he wants to give back to his alma mater where he studied for free, in contrast to the steep debt run up by today’s students.
After graduating in 1972, he headed overland to Melbourne, which resulted in a first book “Across Asia on the Cheap”. Lonely Planet was born, offering advice on budget travel and growing into the world’s biggest guide book publisher.
Toted by travellers across the globe, Lonely Planet has printed more than 100 million books in nine languages, mapping out tourist trails from Austria to Antarctica.
In 2007, the Wheelers sold Lonely Planet to the BBC and by his own reckoning, his net worth is now “over $100 million”.
Wheeler said he plans to fund the institute for three years and assess its impact before committing further.
($1 = 0.7462 pounds)
(Reporting by Lee Mannion; editing by Lyndsay Griffiths @leemannion (Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
“Social entrepreneurs want to solve the problems facing all of us, and they want to do it in creative, financially sustainable ways”
By Lee Mannion (Thomson Reuters Foundation) | 14 June 2016
LONDON – A lack of U.S. government support is holding back businesses that seek to do good as well as making a profit, according to a Republican congressman who says the private sector often does a better job of solving society’s problems.
Tom MacArthur introduced a bill to Congress in 2016 seeking to establish a commission to examine how government could support social enterprises – businesses that deliver social or environmental benefits – but progress has stalled.
“Leveraging the power of the market to solve social problems using private capital is something everyone should be able to get behind,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email.
“It promotes radical accountability by bringing the private sector’s insistence on measurable results and fiscal soundness to bear – something that government programs fail at miserably.”
MacArthur said the sector was flourishing in the United States even without the support he is calling for.
Examples include the Bombas sock company, which donates one pair to a homeless shelter for every pair sold, and Branded, a company named after markings traffickers make on victim’s skin that teaches survivors to become jewellery makers.
However, he said a lack of data – no one knows how many social enterprises there are in the United States – was holding back legislation that could boost the industry.
Proper data “would help lawmakers appreciate just how far this sector has advanced, and help us make the case that lawmakers need to be paying more attention,” he said.
The first national directory, compiled by a Vermont University academic and published in April, includes 1,000 social enterprises.
In Britain, with a population a fifth that of the U.S., there are 70,000 businesses employing nearly 1 million people last year, according to membership organisation Social Enterprise UK.
“We run the risk of missing a huge opportunity,” said MacArthur, whose social enterprise bill was referred to the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2016 and has since stalled.
“Social entrepreneurs want to solve the problems facing all of us, and they want to do it in creative, financially sustainable ways.”
(Reporting by Lee Mannion @leemannion, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.