BusinessGreen rounds up all the green business news from the world this week
Tokyo plans e-waste medals for 2020 Olympic Games
All the medals at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo will be made from recycled electronic waste, the organisers announced today.
Enough "discarded and obsolete" devices have been collected across Japan over the last 18 months to make all the medals needed for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Around 47,488 tons of discarded devices had been collected by municipal authorities across Japan and over five million used mobile phones were handed in as of October 2018, Olympic organisers announced in a statement.
The e-waste amounts to more than 90 per cent of the target for recycled gold and 85 per cent of the target for recycled silver. The target for discarded bronze was met by June 2018.
"Thanks to the huge levels of support from the public and companies across Japan and from national and international athletes, it is estimated that the remaining amounts of metals required to manufacture all Olympic and Paralympic medals can be extracted from the devices already donated," the Organises said in a statement. "The project has offered the public an opportunity to play an important role in the Games' preparations, at the same time drawing attention to the importance of sustainability under the Tokyo 2020 slogan 'Be better, together - for the planet and the people'."
Pakistan produces first certified organic cotton bale
Pakistan's first organic bale of cotton was confirmed this week, in what green groups hailed as a major step forward for the country's cotton industry.
Pakistan is the fifth largest producer of cotton in the world and the third largest exporter of raw cotton. Since 2015 WWF Pakistan has been working with Baluchistan's Directorate of Agriculture Extension to train around 4,000 smallholder farmers in organic production, where cotton is grown without pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilisers. The first bales produced under this programme - which is funded by the C&A Foundation - were certified as organic this week.
"While there is still more to be done in addressing the challenges related to non-GMO seeds and certification infrastructure, we believe that this is a promising start to the scale up of organic cotton in Pakistan," said Anita Chester, head of sustainable raw materials for C&A Foundation.
Trump wants to turn lights out on green bulbs
President Trump's administration has this week issued plans to withdraw rules governing lightbulb efficiency passed by the Obama administration in January 2017.
The Department of Energy claimed it had reviewed the new standards, which expanded the number of light bulbs subject to minimum energy efficiency requirements from 2020, arguing that "the legal basis underlying those revisions misconstrued existing law". It said it would now revert back to the original guidelines.
Experts at the Appliance Standards Awareness Project said the rollback would cost consumers about $12bn each year in lost electricity bill savings by 2025, amounting to about $100 per household per year. It also warned US electricity use would increase by 80 billion kWh per year, leading to 34 million tonnes more of CO2 being emitted each year by 2025.
Jason Hartke, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, accused the administration of "trying to turn back the clock".
"This is about so much more than lightbulbs," he said. "It's about progress and innovation and making sure we have practical rules in place so that consumers are getting the most cost-effective products that use our limited energy resources in the smartest way."
Australia's renewable surge propels Paris Agreement progress
New research from the Australian National University suggests Australia will meet its Paris Agreement targets five years early thanks to the surge in renewable energy deployment underway across the country.
Australia is on track to meet its pledge to cut emissions 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025, five years ahead of schedule, the scientists said.
The country is rolling out green energy four to five times faster than the EU, USA, Japan, and China, the research points out, putting the country's electricity sector on track to reach 50 per cent renewable power by 2024 and 100 per cent renewables by 2032.
And although emissions actually rose in Australia last year due to increased use of natural gas, greater use of electric water heaters and electric cars will serve to curb emissions in the coming years, the paper argues. Meanwhile, emissions reductions in the electricity sector are expected to more than offset rises in emissions from other sectors of the economy.
However, the analysis contrasts with a 2018 UN report that warned Australia is not on track to meet its Paris targets. "There has been no improvement in Australia's climate policy since 2017 and emission levels for 2030 are projected to be well above the [Nationally Determined Contribution] target," it stated.
EV sales soar 33 per cent across Europe
Electric car sales jumped 33 per cent in the final quarter of 2018, while demand for diesels slumped 23.6 per cent, according to new figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (EAMA).
The data suggests consumers are more ready to make the switch to full electric, with sales for the segment growing a staggering 88.7 per cent over the final three months of the year, compared to a fall of almost eight per cent for plug-in hybrids.
However, electric cars still only make up a small fraction - about two per cent - of new passenger cars sold in the EU, compared to a 56 per cent market share for petrol and 36 per cent share for diesel.
NRDC head Rhea Suh steps down
President of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Rhea Suh has this week announced plans to leave the organisation.
Suh, who has served at the helm of the influential climate group for four years, said she will leave at the end of June, but gave no details of her future plans.
"It has been an honor to lead NRDC over the past four incredible years," she said. "Working with colleagues who are dedicated to the organisation's mission and to protecting our planet has been deeply inspiring."
The NRDC said it will begin its recruitment process for a new leader in the "coming weeks".
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