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US food industry backs government plan to aggressively cut food waste

The USDA and EPA want to reduce the 133bn pounds of food tossed in the garbage each year by 50% by 2030, and companies seem to be onboard

In September, the US government announced the first ever national goal to reduce America’s food waste, giving an extra push to a movement on the part of big brands to cut down on waste.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – in partnership with charities and the private sector – is targeting a 50% cut in edible food waste by 2030.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Half of Europe opts out of new GM crop scheme

Bid for exclusion by 14 countries and three regions would make two-thirds of Europe’s population and arable land GM-free

Half of the European Union’s 28 countries and three of its regions have opted out of a new GM crop scheme, in a blow to biotech industry hopes.

Under new EU rules agreed in March, 14 countries have now told Brussels they will send territorial exclusion requests to the big agricultural multinationals including Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta and Pioneer.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Climate pledges by 140 countries will limit global warming – but not enough

Analysis of nations’ carbon emissions pledges ahead of Paris climate summit shows they would see 2.7C warming by 2100, breaching 2C ‘safety’ threshold

Plans submitted by 140 nations to limit their greenhouse gases would go some way towards tackling climate change, but not enough to prevent the planet from warming by well over 2C compared to pre-industrial times, experts say.

The plans by countries from Albania to Zimbabwe, led by top emitters China and the United States, were submitted by an informal United Nations deadline on Thursday as building blocks towards a climate accord that negotiators will try to clinch at a summit in Paris in December.

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Source: Guardian Environment

A healthy environment is a human right | Ken Conca

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals summit failed to introduce the idea of a right to a clean environment. We must fix that

For all its flaws, the United Nations remains the only plausible forum for engaging broad global challenges like sustainable development. The most important environmental achievements of the past 40 years – the rise of environmental awareness, the birth of key ideas such as sustainability or the common heritage of humanity and the most important global treaties for environmental protection –all bear the UN stamp in one way or another. We could have added environmental human rights to that legacy last weekend, but we failed.

Achieving the United Nations’ ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, which include universal water access, eliminating hunger, and reducing inequality, will take more than increased funding, better aid programming and good governance. Environmental human rights, which guarantee breathable air, safety from toxic exposure and a voice in environmental decision making, are crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty, vulnerability and unsustainability in which too many of the world’s people are trapped.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Can Open Data Make Better Cities?


The potential for big data to have a positive impact on the way in which cities function and the quality of life of their citizens is beginning to transform from feeling intuitive, to being backed up by practical evidence. However, there are a number of debates still raging over how powerful software and coding technology ought to be best leveraged, and the associated risks, perhaps the most common of which is the issue of privacy and security.

A recent report released by McKinsey & Co estimated that open data represents a $3 trillion per year opportunity for cities and businesses.

Meanwhile, concurrent to the concerns over privacy, and somewhat separate from the business opportunity, the open data movement has been gaining momentum as a way to create better services.

There are a growing collection of examples where startups are taking advantage of government-provided data to both function as a business and also provide a quality service for citizens. Plume Labs, a Paris-based startup runs a mobile app, which provides information on city air quality. London-based “CityMapper” provide a travel app using a wide-range of data to help commuters to get from one place to another in the easiest and most efficient way possible.

In the U.S., an organisation called “Code for America” provides coding support for cities. Founded in Oakland and San Francisco, they’ve been involved in a range of activities, including an analysis of the Oakland city budget, enabling better decisions, using sophisticated software programmes.

The debates about the accessibility of data will continue to rage on, and perhaps they should. Information should not be opened up before serious conversations have been had or in a way that could be deemed irresponsible, and a balance needs to be identified between enabling positive services and enhancing citizen’s lives, and also protecting and ensuring security where necessary. On the other hand, the opportunities of open big data are already being exploited and there’s clear evidence that the impacts they have can be positive. Code for America, Plume Labs and CityMapper are just a few of the many examples of that.

Source: Open data movement grows, pushing cities toward resilience

Lead Image Licensed under CC – credit Flickr user: Nasa Goddard Space

The post Can Open Data Make Better Cities? appeared first on Circulate.

Source: Circulate News RSS

Dell Announce Project To Make New Products From Scrap Materials

Computer technology company Dell has announced a new partnership with industry supplier SABIC, which will see the company utilise previously disused scrap carbon fibre in new products by the end of 2015.

Licensed under CC - credit Flickr user: Long Zheng
Licensed under CC – credit Flickr user: Long Zheng

The company estimates that it can prevent around 820,000 pounds of carbon fibre from ending up in landfill, while saving significantly on raw material costs. The initiative is a first for the tech industry.

Dell’s initiative adds to the growing number of examples of alternate material streams being exploited as both an economic and environmental opportunity. The company has been running a closed-loop plastics supply chain since January 2014, a programme that has recycled more than 4 million tonnes of plastics into Dell products.

Source: Dell Launches Industry Recycled Carbon Fibre, Advances Circular Economy For IT Industry

The post Dell Announce Project To Make New Products From Scrap Materials appeared first on Circulate.

Source: Circulate News RSS

Australia says Volkswagen faces legal action if 'defeat devices' found

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says presence of pollution-cheating software would violate consumer law and risk fines of $1.1m per breach

Volkswagen faces being hauled before a court and fined by the consumer watchdog if pollution-cheating software is found in its Australian cars.

In an update on its investigation into the local impact of the car giant’s emissions fraud, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said a discovery of “defeat devices” would violate consumer law.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Record El Niño set to cause hunger for 10 million poorest, Oxfam warns

Charity says countries already facing a ‘major emergency’ include Ethiopia, where 4.5 million people need food aid because of scarcity of rain this year

At least 10 million of the world’s poorest people are set to go hungry this year because of failing crops caused by one of the strongest El Niño climatic events on record, Oxfam has warned.

Related: El Niño: a global weather event that may save California — and destroy the tropics | Kyle Meng & Solomon Hsiang

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Source: Guardian Environment

Mining and oil threatens one in three natural world heritage sites — report

WWF finds 31% world heritage sites at risk from fossil fuel exploration and mining, including Great Barrier Reef and Africa’s oldest national park

Nearly one in three natural world heritage sites are at risk of exploration for fossil fuels and mining, a report from the conservation charity WWF has found.

The record high of 31% at risk is up from 24% last year. Natural world heritage sites are selected as the most important globally to conserve for reasons of natural beauty or significance, including game reserves, and unique natural features such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

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Source: Guardian Environment

World's energy systems at risk from global warming, say leading firms

Energy grids, power stations and distribution networks are vulnerable to storms, flooding and heatwaves caused by climate change, say World Energy Council

The world’s energy infrastructure is at risk from the extreme weather expected to result from climate change, a group of prominent energy companies has warned.

Energy systems, including fossil fuel power stations, distribution grids, and the networks that reach to people’s homes, are all at risk from effects such as flooding, severe storms and sea level rises, according to a new report from the World Energy Council, which brings together energy companies, academics and public sector agencies.

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Source: Guardian Environment