Wednesday, 29 February 2012

California approves first US carbon-trading scheme

California has become the first US state to approve a carbon-trading plan aimed at cutting greenhouse emissions. State regulators passed a "cap-and-trade" framework, which allows companies to buy and sell permits, thereby providing an incentive to emit fewer gases. State officials hope the scheme will be copied across the US, but opponents warn it may harm California's growth and lead to higher electricity prices. The scheme means that from 2012 California will allocate licences to pollute and create a market where they can be traded.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

UK and India urged to follow low-carbon path by businesses

Closer co-operation between the UK and India could accelerate moves towards a low-carbon economy, according to business leaders from both countries. Retailers Marks and Spencer, wind energy giant Suzlon, and HSBC Bank are among the companies calling for closer ties. Among other things, they argue for more UK investment in clean energy in India. Prime Minister David Cameron said the collaboration could "deliver jobs, growth and environmental protection". The UK government believes that bilateral collaborations could potentially improve the prospects for a new deal within the UN climate negotiations.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Hemp clothing and the environment

Hemp is particularly useful in making organic clothing and accessories such as bags, because the bark of the hemp stalk is very rich in cellulose and natural, long fibres. On a like-for-like basis, hemp is a far stronger, more absorbent and insulating material than cotton. Hemp fibres can be woven into extremely durable clothing material. The original Levi Strauss jeans were actually made from hemp and use of hemp for making clothes dates back 10,000 in China.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

What is fair trade?

What is fair trade? After years as a niche market, the concept of ‘fair trade’ seems to have finally broken through into the mainstream, with most of the major supermarkets now stocking these lines. The fair trade market has grown massively in recent years with new product ranges being added all the time. There are now thousands of fair trade products available in the UK - everything from bags, teas and coffee to wine, clothing and flowers, biscuits, fruit juices, chocolates, snack bars, muesli and even footballs.

It appears that growing numbers of consumers are prepared not only to buy fair trade products but also to pay a little bit more for the privilege. Some have even suggested that it would be more logical to label unfair products.

True, fair trade products are still in a minority and will probably remain so whilst the current economic climate persists. Then there is cynicism, with a perception amongst some that it is a con, that the money doesn’t get to the producers, that manufacturers are using it as a smokescreen to charge more. A few die hard cynics have even compared fair trade to charity Christmas cards – that you pay a little extra cash and clear your conscience in the process.

The majority view, however, is that the growth of fair trade serves the common good and is a route by which poverty, ignorance and unfairness can be reduced across the globe. It can also be a platform upon which a more sustainable global economy can be built, empowering women through education and reducing birth rates, protecting endangered species and helping to preserve the Earth’s delicate eco-system.