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March Greencap: Banning Fast Fashion Ads and More

Looking to recap everything green and good that happened this past month? Don’t worry, we’ve got you! From criminalising environmental damage to banning single-use plastic, we’re giving you the scoop on 10 of the weird and wonderful things that happened around the world in March or so.

  1. The EU Parliament voted to criminalise environmental damage

The European Union has made history by becoming the first international entity to outlaw severe environmental damage akin to ecocide. Tougher penalties and imprisonment await those found guilty of ecosystem destruction, including habitat loss and illegal logging, under the EU’s updated environmental crime directive. In a resounding vote, European Parliament lawmakers overwhelmingly supported this measure, with 499 votes in favour, 100 against, and 23 abstentions.

The revised directive identifies various environmental activities, such as water abstraction, ship recycling, pollution, the introduction and spread of invasive alien species, and ozone destruction, as punishable offences. Notably absent from the directive are specific mentions of fishing, exporting toxic waste to developing nations, or carbon market fraud.

Individuals responsible for environmental crimes, including CEOs and board members, may face prison terms of up to eight years, escalating to 10 years if their actions result in a loss of life.

(Source: Euronews)

The controversial treaty was established in the 1990s when the world energy system was heavily dominated by fossil fuels Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty
  1. UK quits treaty that lets fossil fuel firms sue governments over climate policies

The UK has decided to withdraw from a treaty that enables fossil fuel companies to take legal action against governments regarding their climate policies.

Following unsuccessful attempts to reconcile the controversial Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) with plans for achieving net zero emissions, the government announced its intention to exit the treaty on Wednesday. This treaty provides a mechanism for fossil fuel investors to pursue claims for anticipated lost profits through an opaque corporate arbitration process initially established to safeguard their interests in former Soviet economies during the 1990s.

According to a government statement, protections afforded by the treaty for new energy investments will come to an end in one year when the withdrawal becomes effective.

(Source: The Guardian)

  1. Barcelona uses increased tourist tax to fund green initiatives

In 2022, city officials revealed plans for a gradual increase in Barcelona’s tourist tax over the subsequent two years. Since 2012, visitors to the Catalan capital have been subject to both a regional tourist tax and an additional city-wide surcharge.

On April 1, 2023, the municipal fee rose to €2.75, with a subsequent increase scheduled for April 1, 2024, bringing the fee to €3.25. According to the council, the revenue generated from these taxes supports the city’s infrastructure, such as road improvements, enhanced bus services, and the installation of escalators.

By the end of 2023, authorities had unveiled eight new city initiatives, funded by €7.69 million in tourist tax revenue. Among these projects is “Viu la vela,” aimed at encouraging youth participation in sailing as a sport, aligning with efforts to promote the ‘blue economy’ encompassing economic activities related to marine ecosystems. An additional €4.93 million will be allocated to promote ‘blue tourism,’ emphasising nautical sports and related activities.

(Source: Euronews)

  1. New York City to create 260,000 ‘green-collar’ jobs

Earlier this month, city officials in New York City unveiled plans to introduce over 260,000 “green-collar” jobs within the next 15 years. This pioneering initiative aims to provide training to New Yorkers, especially those from environmentally disadvantaged communities, for roles geared towards addressing climate change impacts.

The objective is to elevate the job count to nearly 400,000 by 2040, a significant increase from the current 133,000. Mayor Eric Adams emphasised the urgency of the situation, citing the tangible effects of climate change evident in coastal storms and unusually warm February weather.

These “green-collar” positions will encompass a range of tasks such as constructing resilience projects, retrofitting apartment buildings, installing solar panels, EV charging stations, and wind turbines.

Mayor Adams elaborated, stating that their Green Economy Action Plan seeks to capitalise on the burgeoning green industrial sector, equipping New Yorkers with the necessary skills to fortify the city against climate challenges and thrive in a future-oriented economy.

(Source: The Independent)

  1. Fast-food wrappers that contain PFAS are no longer sold in the US

Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made an announcement regarding the discontinuation of fast-food wrappers and packaging containing what are known as “forever chemicals” in the U.S.

This move stems from a collaborative effort between the FDA and U.S. food manufacturers to eliminate the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food contact packaging. PFAS, which do not break down and pose risks to human health, are commonly used in coatings of wrappers, boxes, and bags to prevent grease, water, and other liquids from permeating through.

Since 2020, the FDA has secured commitments from U.S. food manufacturers to phase out the use of PFAS in such packaging materials. Notably, many fast-food chains and other manufacturers, including McDonald’s, had already ceased using PFAS-containing wrappers before the stipulated phase-out deadline, as stated by the agency.

(Source: AP News)

  1. The EU wants fossil fuel sector to help pay to combat climate change

The European Union is poised to urge the fossil fuel industry to contribute to combating climate change in developing nations, according to a preliminary document aligning with a United Nations objective. This move comes as nations gear up for discussions this year on setting a global financial target.

The upcoming U.N. Climate negotiations scheduled for November in Baku, Azerbaijan, mark the deadline for nations to establish a new target regarding the financial support affluent, industrialised countries should provide to help less wealthy nations adapt to the most severe consequences of climate change.

Given the escalating costs associated with lethal heatwaves, droughts, and rising sea levels, the anticipated climate finance objective is expected to surpass the current U.N. commitment, which mandates that wealthy nations allocate $100 billion annually starting from 2020—a target they failed to meet promptly.

(Source: Reuters)

  1. The SEC will require companies to disclose their emissions and climate risk

The much-debated climate disclosure rule was passed by the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this month. This rule now requires public companies to disclose climate-related risks in their SEC filings. Notably, the SEC has eliminated the requirement for companies to include Scope 3 emissions in their disclosures. Additionally, the agency has adopted a “phased in” approach for mandating companies to disclose Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.

For large accelerated filers—those holding at least $700 million in shares owned by public investors—the obligation to disclose Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions begins in fiscal year 2026. Accelerated filers, which include companies with between $75 million and $700 million in publicly held shares, must start making these disclosures in FY2028.

Companies obligated to disclose greenhouse gas emissions will also follow a phased compliance timeline for receiving assurance on those emissions. With the unveiling of the SEC mandate, manufacturers and their suppliers are now tasked with determining how to comply with the rule.

(Source: Supply Chain Dive)

In Europe, the average consumer throws away 11 kilos of textiles a year. – Copyright AP Photo/Mahmud Hossain Opu,
  1. Fast fashion ads could soon be banned in France

A new proposal in France aims to clamp down on the environmentally damaging fast fashion industry by potentially banning its advertisements. The bill, unanimously supported by France’s parliament earlier this month, not only seeks to restrict fast fashion advertising but also intends to impose penalties on low-cost clothing to offset its environmental harm.

The proposal specifically targets Chinese-Singaporean fast fashion giant Shein. It highlights the vast scale of Shein’s operations, pointing out that the brand offers a staggering 900 times more products than a traditional French brand. Additionally, Shein releases over 7,200 new clothing models each day, contributing to a total of 470,000 different products available.

In addition to advertising restrictions and penalties, the bill aims to enhance consumer awareness regarding the environmental impact of fast fashion. It advocates for promoting the reuse and repair of clothing to combat the prevailing throwaway culture. Furthermore, the proposal suggests holding producers more accountable by imposing fines based on the environmental impact and carbon emissions of their products, a strategy akin to measures already in place in the automotive industry.

(Source: Euronews)

  1. Argentina aims to reduce its livestock emissions

In Argentina, where beef holds significant cultural significance as a source of national pride, a government-led initiative has been launched to certify specific livestock as carbon-neutral. This endeavour marks a significant stride forward, underscoring the importance of meticulously refining the certification process.

The global livestock industry stands as a substantial contributor to climate change, responsible for approximately 12% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Within agriculture, two-thirds of annual greenhouse gas emissions stem from livestock, with cattle farming for meat production typically ranking as the most emission-intensive practice. Despite the potential for mitigating emissions through dietary shifts towards plant-based foods and alternative protein sources, global meat consumption continues to rise alongside population growth and increasing prosperity.

Argentina’s certification strategy revolves around a silvopastoral system, which integrates the growth of trees with grazing or the cultivation of grasses and grains for fodder. Livestock are raised within forests interspersed with native grasslands and cultivated pastures, with careful management of pasture and grazing to facilitate the replenishment of nutrients and organic matter in the soil.

(Source: Fast Company)

  1. The EU is banning single-use plastic for fresh produce

The European Parliament and Council have tentatively agreed on updated regulations aimed at reducing, reusing, and recycling packaging materials. Referred to as the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) by the European Commission, these measures are expected to enhance food safety and promote a circular economy.

The objectives include enhancing the safety and sustainability of packaging within the EU by mandating recyclability for all packaging, minimising the use of harmful substances, cutting down on unnecessary packaging, encouraging the use of recycled materials, and improving collection and recycling processes.

(Source: Fruitnet)

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