Green groups urge UN to raise climate ambition on global shipping

October 20, 2020 by  
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Green groups urge UN to raise climate ambition on global shipping Cecilia Keating Tue, 10/20/2020 – 00:15 The global shipping industry’s decarbonization efforts once again face stormy seas. Ahead of the latest crucial round of talks this week at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), green groups are warning proposals are “an empty shell” that will have a negligible impact on the sector’s emissions. Seasoned observers fear that growing calls for a bolder and more ambitious global policy framework are continuing to founder on the rocks of vested interests and short-term cost concerns.  IMO member states are meeting this week for critical talks to discuss how the carbon-intensive shipping industry can be regulated to meet its 2030 climate target of reducing its carbon emissions intensity by 40 percent compared to 2008 levels. While the target was set two years ago, the latest talks are where the member states are expected to agree on how to enforce it, before the proposals are moved forward to committee stage in November. A joint proposal from 15 major shipping nations and influential industry group the International Chamber of Shipping is to form the basis of the discussions, yet green groups have slammed the proposals as a “low ambition” plan that could have disastrous implications for the sector’s chances of falling into line with the overarching global goals set out in the Paris Agreement. The frontrunning proposal, sponsored by France, Germany and Japan, has come under fire due to a recommendation that stringent enforcement of operational efficiency regulations is introduced no earlier than 2029. And despite warnings from climate scientists that the IMO’s 2030 carbon-intensity target is insufficient to meet global climate goals — it has been rated by Climate Action Tracker as “critically insufficient” and aligned with a potentially devastating global temperature rise of 4 degrees Celsius — the plan does not recommend the industry aim for sharper emissions reductions. Faïg Abbasov, head of shipping at campaign group Transport & Environment, told BusinessGreen the proposal was “essentially an empty shell.” “To achieve 1.5 degrees [of warming] we need to decarbonize by the mid-2030s,” he explained. “To achieve 2 degrees we need to decarbonize by mid-century. This proposal goes nowhere near that level.” To achieve 1.5 degrees [of warming] we need to decarbonize by the mid-2030s. To achieve 2 degrees we need to decarbonize by mid-century. This proposal goes nowhere near that level. While green groups contend that the proposed plan in fact will undermine the shipping sector’s already-weak climate targets, the joint proposal’s sponsors argue the agreement represents a major step forward for a historically fractured industry that has spent much of the past decade delaying and diluting more ambitious proposals. BusinessGreen understands that advocates of the plan will argue that it balances the need to act fast to reduce the sector’s climate impact and the need to give industry time to adjust as regulators work out how to calculate and regulate operational efficiency, a measurement that is more difficult to define than a ship’s technical efficiency due to its being affected by weather conditions. The dispute is the latest in a long history of quarrels between environmentalists and the IMO, the United Nations agency charged with the regulation of a global shipping industry that operates largely outside and between national jurisdictions. With many nation states choosing to keep international shipping outside their domestic climate targets, the onus falls on the London-based agency to set the pace and direction of decarbonization efforts. But while a growing number of nations and shipping operators have stepped up calls for a more ambitious global policy regime, any attempts to introduce robust new regulations through the IMO have tended to be thwarted by those countries that fear the financial impact on their shipping industry from new emissions standards or carbon pricing regimes. It is a dynamic that has left environmental campaigners increasingly frustrated.  Last week, Transport & Environment’s Abbasov warned that the regulatory framework set to be discussed this week could perhaps “bend” growth of carbon emissions in the shipping sector by mid-century but would “not be able to stop it.” Transport & Environment is one of a number of green groups, including Carbon Market Watch, Seas at Risk and Ocean Conservancy, to have written to the Secretary General of the United Nations in early October to warn of the short-term policy measures being cooked up by member states ahead of the meeting. “It is not the job of the United Nations to protect vested fossil fuel interests,” they wrote in a letter seen by BusinessGreen. “It is the job of the United Nations to protect people and planet from the ravages of runaway global heating.” The NGOs, united as the Clean Shipping Coalition, warned that if robust enforcement of operational emissions standards is delayed to 2029, the IMO will fail to meet a number of the stated aims contained in its own landmark 2018 greenhouse gas reduction strategy, namely to achieve significant additional CO2 reductions “before 2023,” ensure emissions emissions peak “as soon as possible” and deliver a carbon dioxide reduction pathway in line with the Paris goals. Furthermore, they stressed that civil society organizations had not been invited to the private meetings where member states and the shipping industry had hashed out the plan, and that a separate proposal submitted by green groups earlier this year which set out how the industry could reach a more ambitious 80 percent reduction in carbon intensity emissions by 2030 had been omitted from the document. Campaigners maintain that stronger ambition is required given that the 2030 target the IMO is working towards — a 40 percent reduction in carbon-intensity emissions — is not aligned with the Paris Agreement in the first place. They argue that, with the existing 2030 commitment already three-quarters met purely through the trend for slower speeds and bigger ships, there is a huge opportunity for the industry to raise its ambition at the informal meetings take place next week. But industry players counter that the current proposals are plenty robust enough, pointing out that under the proposals new technical efficiency standards for ships will be enforced immediately, as will plans to introduce a new mandatory operational efficiency rating system, where ships are rated on an A to E grading system that should subject poor-efficiency ships to the power of the market. “The fact that we are so close to a consensus among IMO members states is a huge step in the right direction,” Simon Bennett, deputy secretary general at the International Chamber of Shipping, told BusinessGreen.   Bennett also argued the total decarbonization of the shipping sector ultimately would rely on technological innovation. “These measures will be legally binding and an important step towards our goal of full decarbonization of the shipping sector,” he said. “We know more can be done and what we do must work in practice as well as in writing. If we’re to achieve a truly global solution to the total decarbonization of world shipping, then radical, innovative technological solutions must be found over the next decade.” But Transport & Environment’s Abbasov warned that a low-ambition regulatory framework agreed on this week could have negative implications for shipping policy for decades to come. “It will set a wrong precedent that adopting cosmetic measures or low-ambition measures are okay, and anything in the future will probably forward the same path,” he stressed. “It will set a domino effect that is extremely, extremely dangerous.” While the final shape of the proposals to be agreed by member states remains to be seen, Abbasov and ICS agreed that it was likely to not stray far from scenarios contained in the draft document. As such, attention is likely to quickly turn to alternative avenues for accelerating the development and adoption of the lower-carbon shipping technologies and practices that remain in the pipeline. As Abbasov argues, if IMO member states decide to endorse the current proposal and send it to the committee stage, then the onus will fall more than ever on regional national governments to set regulatory standards that catalyse decarbonization progress across shipping sector. With more than one quarter of the global economy committed to achieving net-zero emissions over the coming decades, it follows that the shipping sector will be under increased pressure from governments and private players to clean up its act. In some quarters, these dynamics already seem to be at work, with oil major Shell calling on the IMO last month to adopt more ambitious climate targets for 2030, 2040 and 2050 as it published its new sustainable shipping strategy. However, the IMO always has been the subject of fierce lobbying from the shipping and other industry bodies, and it is unclear to what extent corporate net zero commitments are being matched by behind-the-scenes advocacy arguing against more ambitious rules and regulations. Reports from InfluenceMap and Transparency International have explored how some industry groups historically have lobbied to obstruct meaningful climate change action in the shipping sector, and green groups have alleged that vested fossil fuel interests continue to play an oversized role in IMO negotiations.  That said, there is growing evidence that some businesses are looking to provide a counterweight to those lobbyists pushing for a more relaxed regulatory regime. When asked by BusinessGreen about what outcome they would hope to see out of the latest round of talks and whether they would support more ambitious targets from the IMO, representatives from businesses with high profile net-zero commitments emphasized the need to decarbonize their supply chains, even if they largely declined to comment on the agency’s specific plans. If we’re to achieve a truly global solution to the total decarbonization of world shipping, then radical, innovative technological solutions must be found over the next decade. A spokesperson from IKEA stressed that ocean shipping made up 40 percent of the carbon footprint of its supply chain operations and therefore the company’s pledge to reduce the carbon footprint of all transport by an average of 70 percent by 2030 compared to 2017 was a “huge ambition.” Meanwhile, Apple said it planned to reduce its carbon impact from shipping by leveraging fleet improvements, sustainable fuels and supply chain efficiencies, while explaining that it planned to prioritize shipping over aviation as a low-carbon form of product transport as it worked to meet a net-zero supply chain commitment. A statement provided by Shell welcomed signs that some form of new regulatory regime was on the way. “Achieving net-zero emissions shipping by 2050 is vitally important — and that means ambitious regulation coming into effect in 2023 will be required,” said Grahaeme Henderson, Shell’s global head of shipping and maritime. “It is encouraging to see a consolidated proposal on carbon intensity and energy-efficiency measures on the agenda for IMO discussions next week to progress towards that goal.” As the U.K. government gears up to host critical COP26 climate talks in Glasgow in 2021 and repeatedly asserts its world-leading climate reputation as it attempts to steer a green recovery from the coronavirus, it could be argued that the U.K. has a role to play in pushing for the highest possible ambition at this week’s talks. When questioned about what outcome the U.K. would support from the talks, a spokesperson from the Department for Transport emphasized the government was committed to delivering a decarbonized shipping sector. “Shipping emissions require a global solution, and we will work with our international partners through the IMO to achieve a greener, zero emissions future for the shipping sector,” they said. The U.K. government has broadly committed to working with other IMO member states to “raise the ambition” of the IMO’s climate targets at a five-year review of the original 2018 IMO GHG strategy planned for 2023. It is also working to introduce net-zero emissions ships in U.K. waters by 2025 as it works to make domestic shipping net-zero by mid-century. But despite positive noises from the government, Transport & Environment’s Abbasov stressed the U.K. was a relatively small player at the IMO. “The DfT has been genuinely helpful — maybe not always vocal — but genuinely helpful behind the scenes in giving the right feedback and at least recognizing that what was being discussed and agreed is nonsense,” he reflected. “But we should not overestimate the U.K.’s power in international negotiations. The U.K. is one country out of 190, and secondly it’s not even the most powerful shipping nation. Power has really moved to Panama… The U.K. is no match to those countries. Even Malta and Greece are more powerful than the U.K. when it comes to shipping.” Optimists remain confident emerging hydrogen, battery and biofuel technologies coupled with new ship designs could yet deliver a net-zero-emission fleets by 2050. But with vested interests once again locked in a standoff with environmental campaigners and those corporates that want to build a net-zero economy, it looks as if the voyage to deliver a low-emission global fleet is proving to be as tumultuous as ever.  Pull Quote To achieve 1.5 degrees [of warming] we need to decarbonize by the mid-2030s. To achieve 2 degrees we need to decarbonize by mid-century. This proposal goes nowhere near that level. If we’re to achieve a truly global solution to the total decarbonization of world shipping, then radical, innovative technological solutions must be found over the next decade. Topics Shipping & Logistics Climate Change Corporate Strategy Sustainable Shipping BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Avigator Fortuner Close Authorship

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Lyft plans to electrify all of its cars by 2030

June 17, 2020 by  
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Lyft plans to electrify all of its cars by 2030 Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 06/17/2020 – 10:00 In an unprecedented move, the ride-hailing company Lyft revealed Wednesday it plans to electrify every car on its platform — those owned by Lyft and rented to drivers as well as cars owned by drivers — by 2030. The decade-long goal could result in millions of electric vehicles purchased for ride-hailing operations, encourage greater electric vehicle charging deployments and motivate stronger city, state and federal policies that could make EVs more economical. Lyft said its electric vehicle transition would remove more than 16 million tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere by 2030, equivalent to taking 3 million traditional cars off the roads.  On a media call Wednesday, Lyft Chief Policy Officer Anthony Foxx (former Secretary of Transportation under President Barack Obama) described the announcement as “a big deal.” Lyft co-founder and President John Zimmer said, “It’s on us to lead. We’re looking at bold opportunities. We intend to push hard and lean into this.” Lyft has been exploring how to make its vehicle fleet more sustainable for a couple of years. But the new EV goal is a huge step for the company, which is in fierce competition with Uber and has been positioning itself as the friendlier ride-hailing choice.  Two years ago, Lyft launched a program to buy carbon offsets for all of the rides organized on its network. Lyft followed that up by launching “green mode” on its app. That feature lets riders in certain cities request a ride in an electric car, and drivers can rent electric vehicles through Lyft’s Express Drive program. In addition, Lyft operates bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters in certain regions and integrates its app with public transit data.  The new electric vehicle target, however, is a game-changing move that could transform the company and could provide environmental leadership to the rest of the ride-hailing industry. Lyft says in its release that “Lyft is willing to go first, but others need to follow if we want to hit mass-market electrification.” Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship GreenBiz Collage Close Authorship The move won’t be easy. Lyft recently announced a first-quarter loss of $85.2 million on quarterly revenue of $955.7 million, and said it plans to cut $300 million in expenses by the fourth quarter. While EVs can be cheaper to operate, compared to gasoline costs, high battery costs still can make many EVs more expensive than traditional cars. Many regions also still lack adequate public charging infrastructure. Shelter-in-place directives adopted to combat spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have battered ride-hailing companies as riders have stayed inside and avoided rides. But as states nationwide — and cities around the world — have started to open up for business, ride-hailing services have started to pick up.  Lyft says that the COVID-19 crisis forced the company to “rethink our priorities and focus on cost-effective investments. COVID-19 presented us with a choice to ‘hunker down or ‘grow back better’ by accelerating the transition to EVs. We are choosing to ‘grow back better’ by making sustainability an integral part of our path to profitability,” said the company in a statement. Light-duty electric vehicles, such as the General Motor’s Bolt or the Nissan LEAF, are being adopted by some public and commercial fleets for administrative work and are helping companies and cities cut fuel costs. These vehicles are particularly attractive in states such as California that have strong policies in place to incentivize EVs.  But ride-hailing companies face a unique challenge when it comes to electrifying their fleets. Most cars on their network are owned by drivers, many of whom already operate on low margins.  Lyft will need to take a systemic approach to try to make electric vehicles more attractive to its drivers, including influencing state policies, providing incentives and encouraging infrastructure providers to build out EV chargers for drivers.  All of the initial projects will be in the United States. Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship Lyft Close Authorship Charging networks could be the biggest hurdle for the EV goal. A couple of years back in Washington, D.C., a lack of charging infrastructure flummoxed taxi drivers that agreed to adopt electric taxis. Like taxi drivers, ride-hailing drivers will have various needs for when they’d want to charge a vehicle, whether at home or at a ride-hailing charging depot, depending on where they live and their preferred routes. While the pandemic and recession likely will dampen sales of passenger EVs in the short term, electric vehicles are still expected to grow substantially over the next two decades. The researchers at Bloomberg New Energy Finance predict there will be 500 models of EVs available by 2022, and 28 percent of new vehicle sales globally will be electric by 2030. That percentage is supposed to grow to 58 percent of new sales by 2040.  Aggressive policies around the world are helping spur this electric transition. California’s clean air regulators (the California Air Resources Board, or CARB) are in the process of implementing a first-of-its-kind clean miles standard that requires the ride-hailing companies to have a certain portion of the miles driven through their platforms be with zero-emission vehicles.  Under the bill SB 1014, Lyft and Uber are required to submit electrification plans at the beginning of 2022, with the program beginning in 2023. In the first phase of the legislation, CARB established that the carbon emissions of Lyft and Uber’s vehicle fleet per passenger mile are over 50 percent higher than regular cars that drive on the roads. That’s largely because ride-hailing drivers travel around looking for passengers (called dead-head miles) for about 40 percent of their time. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) put out a report earlier this year that found that ride-hailing trips are 69 percent more polluting than the trips they replace. UCS’s Don Anair, the lead author on the report, said in an interview with GreenBiz: “It’s very clear that steps need to be taken to reduce climate emissions from ride hailing. Electrification is one of the largest steps to address these emissions.” Lyft says it plans to join The Climate Group’s EV100 group, which asks members to make commitments to electrify 100 percent of their fleets. Lyft is already a member of the RE100 group, which has pledged to use 100 percent clean energy by 2030.  Updated: This article was updated June 17 with information from Lyft’s media call. Topics Transportation & Mobility Ride Hailing Electric Vehicles Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Electrify America and Lyft partnered to bring chargers to Lyft EV drivers in Denver. Courtesy of Electrify America Close Authorship

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How Perdue, Smithfield and Silver Fern Farms are reducing packaging waste

June 17, 2020 by  
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How Perdue, Smithfield and Silver Fern Farms are reducing packaging waste Heather Clancy Wed, 06/17/2020 – 02:00 Food companies have a dual responsibility when it comes to waste reduction aspirations: optimizing their operations to minimize food waste while reducing the amount of other materials — especially the waste associated with packaging — sent to landfill. The aspiration for a growing number of them is “zero waste.” But meat companies that raise animals such as poultry, pigs, cattle and other livestock for protein also must take into account something else few widget, gadget or electronics makers need to worry about — how to manage water and materials contaminated by organic, biological waste. This work continues amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has rocked the meat supply chain and forced closures of facilities across the United States, according to the executives interviewed for this article. It also has complicated matters, as procedures around the expanded use of personal protective equipment were embraced to protect the health of workers and consumers. More precautions have meant more PPE, which usually has come in contact with biological matter that causes management challenges for recycling facilities. “The one thing that is difficult — and it’s difficult for all companies but especially, I think, in the protein industry — there’s just certain materials you can’t recycle or reuse,” said Steve Levitsky, vice president of sustainability for well-known chicken purveyor Perdue Farms. Another vivid example: plastic that has been used to wrap meat, which cannot be sent to traditional facilities without first being decontaminated. “That’s the one material that we have not found the perfect solution for at this point, whether it be at a plant or at your home,” he said. That’s why the recent GreenCircle zero waste certification for Perdue’s harvest operation (industry parlance for a slaughter and processing facility) in Lewiston, North Carolina is noteworthy. The designation indicates that 100 percent of the waste stream at the facility is reused, recycled or incinerated for energy. That includes packaging scraps, chicken litter (which includes bird excrement, feathers and materials used for bedding), oils and personal protective equipment worn by the workers. For this particular facility, that translated into 8.3 million pounds of waste diverted during 2019, according to the company’s press release about the achievement. The zero waste certifications granted by some other certification bodies allow for up to 10 percent of waste to go to landfill — and still earn that label, Levitsky said. “We wanted to make sure if we go through this process …  it’s rigorous enough and that people feel when we say ‘zero waste to landfill’ that we’re doing every effort to get to that higher standard,” he said.  Perdue’s corporate-level waste goal calls for it to divert 90 percent of solid waste from landfills by 2022; it plans to have five more facilities certified by the end of 2022 (of about 20 meat production operations in total). The one thing that is difficult — and it’s difficult for all companies but especially, I think, in the protein industry — there’s just certain materials you can’t recycle or reuse. Some measures Perdue uses to divert waste in Lewiston include composting for all the organic matter such as litter or shells from the hatchery and food waste from the cafeteria; refurbishing end-of-life equipment by sending things such as engines back to the original manufacturer; sorting of plastics, cardboard, metals and glass; turning spent grain into animal feed or feed additives; and sending some organic matter to an anaerobic digester for energy applications. A GreenCircle certification isn’t simply a matter of filling out a survey. It requires on-site auditing not just of the company hoping to earn the recognition but also of all third-party waste management organizations hired to reduce waste, said Tad Radzinski, certification officer at GreenCircle. (When GreenBiz spoke with him in early May, his team was sorting out how to accomplish this using virtual tools.) “The one thing we always do is push for continuous improvement,” he said. Perdue made changes over the past year about how to handle damage or broken pallets, based on information gathering during the GreenCircle auditing process, Levitsky said. Specifically, it discovered that the company it was sending them to wasn’t remanufacturing them as Perdue believed and instead was sending certain damaged ones to landfill. Using that knowledge, the Lewiston team now sorts those materials into its waste-to-energy dumpster. Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship Perdue Farms Close Authorship Generally speaking, zero waste strategies for animal protein companies don’t cover the meat, organs or bones of the slaughtered animals. Finding partners that can use those items is embedded into the core business strategy. Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor, for example, created the Smithfield BioScience division in 2017 to come up with solutions for using meat production by-products such as mucosa, glands and skin for medical applications.  From a corporate perspective, Smithfield’s commitment is to reduce overall solid waste sent to landfills by 75 percent by 2025. In the U.S., it plans to certify at least three-quarters of its facilities as zero waste by that time frame. (It has 35 of them.)  The designation calls for it to recycle or reuse at least 50 percent of the waste at a given facility. So far, Smithfield has certified 30 percent of its U.S. sites including its largest facility in Vernon, California, according to the company’s 2019 sustainability report released this week. The site required a proprietary solution for treating peptone waste associated with its production of heparin, used for pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and medical device applications. The packaging conundrum One of the most difficult processes for any animal protein company is reducing the impact of packaging while complying with health considerations and the requirements of recycling organizations.  “Packaging is one valuable component within our supply chain where we are focused on reducing waste,” said John Meyer, senior director of environmental affairs for Smithfield Farms, in responses emailed for this article. “Smithfield has partnered with packaging suppliers to ideate, research and test emerging recyclable and sustainable product materials for future development and implementation.” Three examples of ideas that already have found their way into practice:  It changed the packages for its Prime Fresh line of pre-sliced delicatessen meats to look like the bags a consumer would receive from someone cutting them on the spot; these packets use about 31 percent less plastic than traditional offerings. It’s using product trays for the Pure Frame plant-based products made from 50 percent recycled materials. Its Omaha facility moved away from paper labels to printed film, saving more than four tons of waste annually. Silver Fern Farms, a New Zealand meat purveyor that specializes in beef, lamb and venison, permanently has removed close to 80 tons of plastic from its supply chain annually through a combination of measures, according to Matt Luxton, director of U.S. sales for the company. Silver Fern is New Zealand’s largest red meat producer; it started exporting to supermarkets in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York in 2019.  One of the biggest changes was the shift to “consumer-ready” packaging that includes pre-trimmed portions, a process intended to help minimize food waste both at the retail point of sale (where meat is traditionally butchered and repackaged) and with consumers concerned about portion control.  “We have done a lot of research into what a consumer wants and what volume meals they are consuming,” Luxton said. Silver Fern is also using vacuum-sealed packaging that extends the shelf life of the meat for an additional 25 days, while maintaining health and hygiene standards, and it also has eliminated some plastic liners and opted for thinner gauge plastics for export. While the company is studying ways of using recycled plastics, it hasn’t been able to find a material that duplicates the shelf life it can achieve with options already available, Luxton said. Perdue also has been studying ways to package chicken in recyclable trays, an idea it borrowed from Coleman Natural, an organic meat company it acquired in 2011. While the idea works well for the organic brand, cost considerations kept the company from introducing it for the broader Perdue product lines.  “The problem with it is it’s more than double the cost of a foam tray,” Levitsky said. “And to put that cost into a conventional chicken product just would not be feasible … We’re trying to drive that cost down and are looking at other companies that can maybe produce that tray. But right now, the price is just so high for those recyclable trays that we have not done it.” Pull Quote The one thing that is difficult — and it’s difficult for all companies but especially, I think, in the protein industry — there’s just certain materials you can’t recycle or reuse. We have done a lot of research into what a consumer wants and what volume meals they are consuming. Topics Food Systems Circular Economy Packaging Zero Waste Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of Smithfield Farms Close Authorship

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How Perdue, Smithfield and Silver Fern Farms are reducing packaging waste

Ivory Queen sentenced to 15 years for illegal ivory smuggling

February 20, 2019 by  
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The Ivory Queen of China was just hit with a 15-year prison term for smuggling illegal ivory in Asia. A court in Tanzania found Yang Feng Glan, who earned the nickname “Ivory Queen” for her unlawful business activities, guilty of illegally trading close to 2 tons of ivory tusks, which represents more than 350 elephants . This is not the first time Glan has been charged with ivory smuggling. Back in the fall of 2015, she was busted for shipping 860 ivory pieces through Asia from 2000 to 2004. The illegal goods were estimated to be worth around $5.6 million. Glan and her accomplices, two men from Tanzania, denied the allegations. Related: Illegal ivory trade continues to thrive in Europe As a businesswoman with connections in the Tanzanian government, Glan positioned herself to take advantage of the illegal ivory trade. According to Reuters , Glan has resided in Tanzania for the past 40 years and was appointed to the country’s China-Africa Business Council as the secretary general. She is also fluent in Swahili and operates an eatery in Dar es Salaam. The magistrate who presided over the case, Huruma Shaidi, handed down a sentence of 15 years for Glan and her two partners in crime: Manase Philemon and Salivius Matembo. The magistrate also ruled that all three criminals have to pay twice the value of the illegal ivory. If they fail to pay the penalty, two years will be added to their sentence. “[Glan] intentionally did organize, manage and finance a criminal racket by collecting, transporting or exporting and selling government trophies,” court records stated. Authorities in China fully supported the ruling from the Tanzanian court. Conservationists around the world also applauded the conviction, though some groups thought the punishment was too light, especially considering how Glan oversaw the killing of thousands of elephants in Tanzania. The elephant population in Tanzania has shrunk dramatically over the past decade. In 2009, there were as many as 110,000 elephants in the country. That number was reduced to only 43,000 in 2014. Environmentalists and conservation groups believe that the illegal ivory trade is the main reason behind the significant drop in numbers. Via Reuters Image via Shutterstock

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Ivory Queen sentenced to 15 years for illegal ivory smuggling

Zimbabwe hopes to bring attention to trafficking endangered species with the Pangolin Project

February 20, 2019 by  
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Zimbabwe is raising awareness about animal trafficking with the annual World Pangolin Day. The pangolin is the most often trafficked mammal in the entire world, with an estimated one million of the scaly mammals being sold in the black market over the past 10 years alone. The pangolin project hopes to curb those numbers and raise awareness about the growing problem of animal trafficking around the globe. Behind drugs, weapons and humans, animal trafficking is the fourth highest illegal trade in the world. “It breaks my heart to know how the greed of mankind is pushing this animal to the brink of extinction,” the head of the Tikki Hywood Foundation, Lisa Hywood, explained. “Time is running out for the pangolin, so we all need to take action.” The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) outlawed the trade of pangolin in Asia and Africa, two regions of the world that contain all eight of the endangered species. The ban has given the pangolin protective status, but officials are still dealing with large scale poaching. Related: 60% of wild coffee species are now threatened with extinction In honor of Pangolin Day, several groups are using the occasion to raise awareness about other trafficked animals throughout the world. This includes the Tikki Hywood Foundation, which produced a documentary in 2016 about saving pangolins from poachers and the black market. While efforts like Pangolin Day are doing a great job at raising awareness, environmentalists and conservationists face an uphill battle ahead of them. In fact, animal trafficking numbers have steadily grown over the past few years, despite bans against trading endangered species like pangolins. Last week, for example, authorities in Hong Kong uncovered nine tons of pangolin scales in a shipyard, along with over 1,000 elephant tusks. The shipment was headed to Vietnam by way of Nigeria, and officials believe the cargo would have sold on the market for as much as $8 million. Sadly, experts believe around 13,000 pangolins were killed to account for the nine tons of scales seized in Hong Kong The incident in Hong Kong is one of many examples of the growing problem of animal trafficking around the world. Fortunately, initiatives like World Pangolin Day is helping raise awareness about animal trafficking and making it harder for illegal traders to operate. Via UN Environment Images via David Brossard 

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Zimbabwe hopes to bring attention to trafficking endangered species with the Pangolin Project

World’s rarest marine mammal could face extinction under Trump administration

March 26, 2018 by  
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Under 30 vaquita porpoises live in the wild — but Donald Trump’s administration may be violating federal laws that could protect the animals, according to a lawsuit recently filed by conservation groups and reported on by Mother Jones . Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) staff attorney Giulia Good Stefani said in a statement  that the lawsuit “might be the vaquita’s last chance.” Will vaquitas vanish forever? Environmental groups are concerned they might, and the NRDC, Center for Biological Diversity , and Animal Welfare Institute are calling out Trump’s administration for failing to protect what the World Wildlife Fund calls the world’s rarest  marine mammal . The 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act  requires the Secretary of the Treasury to “ban the importation of commercial fish or products from fish which have been caught with commercial fishing technology which results in the incidental kill or incidental serious injury of ocean mammals in excess of United States standards.” The vaquita can drown in gill nets, which are used to catch seafood , but the Trump administration has not banned seafood harvested with these nets in the Gulf of California, the sole habitat of the vaquita. Related: Trump administration ‘declares war’ on West Coast turtles, dolphins, and whales Gill nets kill around 50 percent of the vaquita population every single year — and, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, the creatures might even go extinct next year if fishing practices aren’t changed. Mexico  also hasn’t permanently banned all gill nets in the Gulf of California, though scientists have recommended they do so. And Animal Welfare Institute’s marine animal program director, Susan Millward, said the United States is “a leading importer of fish products caught in the upper Gulf of California.” The groups that filed the suit are calling for an immediate US ban on seafood imports that come from the upper Gulf and Mexican shrimp, hoping such a move would pressure Mexico to completely ban gil lnets in the vaquita’s habitat. Millward said, “The U.S. seafood market should not be contributing to the extinction of a species.” + Center for Biological Diversity Via Mother Jones Images via Wikimedia Commons and NOAA Restoration Center, Chris Doley

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Boris Johnson proposes 22-mile bridge to connect UK and France

January 19, 2018 by  
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Could a 22-mile bridge crossing the English Channel help boost transport between the United Kingdom and France after Brexit ? Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson thinks so – he proposed the infrastructure project and spoke about a second link with France’s president Emmanuel Macron . Johnson reportedly said to Macron that it’s ridiculous that two of the largest economies in the world are joined by only one railway line. The publication said Macron “is understood to have responded positively.” Johnson tweeted a picture of the two of them flashing a thumbs-up after what he described as great meetings. En marche ! Great meetings with French counterparts today pic.twitter.com/D73B1rSkd3 — Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 18, 2018 Related: New bridge linking Japan and Russia could enable 8400-mile rail trip from London to Tokyo But some people put the brakes on the idea . The United Kingdom Chamber of Shipping, which represents over 180 maritime industry bodies, tweeted there would be challenges with such an undertaking. CEO Guy Platten told The Guardian the Dover Strait – at the English Channel’s narrowest part – “is the world’s busiest shipping lane” and that the largest ships going through the strait can be around 70 meters, or nearly 230 feet, tall. Others pointed out that such a bridge would be incredibly expensive. Building a huge concrete structure in the middle of the world’s busiest shipping lane might come with some challenges. https://t.co/jYD5O8B19W — UK Shipping (@ukshipping) January 18, 2018 Reuters reported France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire told Europe 1 radio, “All ideas merit consideration, even the most far-fetched ones … Let’s finish things that are already under way before thinking of new ones.” And a spokesperson for prime minister Theresa May said there were “no specific plans” regarding a Channel bridge: “What was agreed yesterday, and I think that’s what the foreign secretary tweeted about as well, is a panel of experts who will look at major projects together including infrastructure.” But according to The Guardian, some engineers said the Channel bridge idea might not be so far-fetched; architect Alan Dunlop pointed to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, which is around 34 miles long. Bridge designer Ian Firth told BBC Radio 4’s Today program the project would be entirely feasible, and that before construction of the Channel tunnel there were bridge options being considered. Firth said, “There are bridges of a similar, if not quite the same, scale elsewhere…It would be a huge undertaking, but it would be absolutely possible, and shipping impact issues could be dealt with.” Via The Guardian (1, 2) and Reuters Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Boris Johnson proposes 22-mile bridge to connect UK and France

The majority of the National Park Service board just resigned

January 17, 2018 by  
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The majority of the 12-person National Park System Advisory Board (NPSAB) resigned this week because President Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke was unwilling to meet with them, according to NPR . Democrat Tony Knowles, former governor of Alaska, said in a resignation letter “…from all of the events of this past year I have a profound concern that the mission of stewardship, protection, and advancement of our National Parks has been set aside.” The National Park Service (NPS) advisory board was first authorized in 1935, and today more than three-quarters of its members have left their seats. In the January 15 letter Knowles said that he will remain dedicated to the success of America’s national parks, but “For the last year we have stood by waiting for the chance to meet and continue the partnership between the NPSAB and the DOI [Department of the Interior] as prescribed by law. We understand the complexity of transition but our requests to engage have been ignored and the matters on which we wanted to brief the new Department team are clearly not part of its agenda.” Related: Ryan Zinke recommends shrinking two more national monuments Nine board members signed that letter, and all of their terms were set to expire in May. Today a tenth member – whose term doesn’t expire until 2021 – resigned as well. Project Concern International CEO Carolyn Hessler Radelet submitted a similar letter to Zinke. According to The Washington Post , this move means the federal government lacks a functioning body to “designate national historic or natural landmarks.” The publication said it also shows how federal advisory bodies have been marginalized in Trump’s administration . Zinke suspended outside committees back in May of last year for his staff to review their work. Interior spokesperson Heather Swift said boards restarted in an email to The Washington Post earlier this month, but didn’t provide other details. The two people remaining on the board at this time are University of Maryland professor Rita Colwell and Harvard University professor Linda Blimes, who told The Washington Post she didn’t resign as she’s currently conducting research funded by the National Park Foundation and wants to finish. Their terms are up in May. Via NPR and The Washington Post (1 , 2 , 3) Images by Casey Horner on Unsplash , Gage Skidmore on Flickr and NPS

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The majority of the National Park Service board just resigned

Qatar unveils first-ever FIFA World Cup stadium to be built from shipping containers

November 28, 2017 by  
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Abandoned stadiums and crumbling arenas are often left in the wake of events like the World Cup and the Olympics. In a bid for more sustainable construction, Qatar has unveiled plans for the world’s first fully modular stadium ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Designed by Fenwick Iribarren , Schlaich Bergermann Partner and Hilson Moran , the 40,000-seat arena, known as the Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, would be mainly built of shipping containers to allow for disassembly and reconstruction. The plans for the cargotecture stadium —the latest in Qatar’s total of eight proposed host venues for the FIFA World Cup —was revealed this week Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), the organization tasked with delivering the infrastructure for the 2022 event. Unlike the World Cup stadiums before it, the Ras Abu Aboud Stadium will be built of modular building blocks presumably constructed in a factory with amenities, such as removable seats, concession stands, and bathrooms, ahead of on-site assembly. The modular approach results in less waste and a reduced carbon footprint, and may earn the stadium a four-star Global Sustainability Assessment System certification. Related: Arup and RFA Fenwick Iribarren Architects unveil plans for the new Qatar Foundation Stadium “This venue offers the perfect legacy, capable of being reassembled in a new location in its entirety or built into numerous small sports and cultural venues,” said SC Secretary General H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi. Qatar’s new World Cup stadium is expected to be completed in 2020 and will be located on a 450,000-square-meter waterfront site nearby a Doha port. + Fenwick Iribarren Architects Via The Architect’s Newspaper and FIFA

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Qatar unveils first-ever FIFA World Cup stadium to be built from shipping containers

Biggest grid operator in US attacks Perry’s proposal to prop up coal

October 24, 2017 by  
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Energy Secretary Rick Perry is attempting to keep coal alive under the guise of grid resiliency , but the largest grid operator in the United States called on regulators to scrap the plan. PJM Interconnection CEO Andrew Ott called Perry’s pricing proposal unworkable and discriminatory, and even said it’s inconsistent with federal law. Multiple other grid operators have also called for its rejection. Perry has urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to alter how wholesale power markets price electricity – so some nuclear and coal generators can recover costs, according to Bloomberg. Perry’s plan would attempt to reward power plants able to store 90 days of fuel supplies onsite. Ott told reporters, “I don’t know how this proposal could be implemented without a detrimental impact on the market.” Related: Trump administration halts study on health risks of living near coal mining sites Ott said it seems the rule targets PJM – between 2011 and 2016, they retired over 19 gigawatts of coal-fired power, according to Bloomberg. But “the PJM market is more diverse and reliable today than we’ve seen,” Ott said. PJM serves over 65 million people in over a dozen states in the Midwest to Mid-Atlantic. Bloomberg said hundreds of energy companies commented on the proposal, with firms like ExxonMobil , Anadarko Petroleum , and Devon Energy pointing to the low cost and reliability of natural gas . The Solar Energy Industries Association said nuclear and coal plants aren’t invulnerable to outages. FirstEnergy supported Perry’s plan because they said the grid will be at risk if nuclear and coal plants are retired. They operate several coal plants in the PJM market. Grid operators like the New York Independent System Operator , the Midcontinent Independent System Operator , and ISO New England called for FERC to toss out Perry’s plan as part of a coalition that also included organizations the proposal wouldn’t impact, such as the California Independent System Operator , the Electric Reliability Council of Texas , and the Southwest Power Pool . Via Bloomberg Images via Pixabay and U.S. Department of Agriculture on Flickr

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