China’s emissions trading scheme puts Australian companies on notice

The launch of China’s national carbon market could also harm the competitiveness of Australian products

For a brief and shining moment in 2012, Australia was at the global forefront of climate change action, as one of the first countries to implement a carbon pricing mechanism. It lasted only two years, and was repealed amid much fanfare by the Abbott government in July 2014.

During its time, Australian companies and industries exposed to the carbon pricing mechanism took a long hard look at the emissions liabilities embedded within their supply chains and worked to reduce them.

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‘Don’t just rely on NGOs’: finding solutions to deforestation

How can food companies stop contributing to deforestation? A panel of experts discussed solutions at a roundtable in New York

Half of the world’s rainforests have been felled in a century. If deforestation carries on at the same rate, they may be gone in 100 years. Food companies are a big part of the problem; agriculture is the largest single cause of forest loss. And they are also part of the solution, with hundreds making commitments to stop deforestation.

But as deforestation continues, what more can companies do? This was the question put to experts from the private, NGO, government and finance sectors at a recent roundtable on the topic, held in New York.

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Companies’ ‘zero deforestation’ pledges: everything you need to know

Corporations globally have made hundreds of commitments on deforestation. But what do these pledges really mean and why do scandals keep happening?

Whether it’s the destruction of rainforest shared by elephants and orangutans in Sumatra to produce palm oil; reports linking fast food giants to the burning of tropical forests in Brazil and Bolivia; or the hundreds of thousands of hectares of tree cover loss per year in West Africa – the world’s forests are being razed to sate global demand for produce such as palm oil, beef and cocoa.

As of March 2017, 447 companies had made 760 commitments to curb forest destruction in supply chains linked to palm oil, soy, timber and pulp, and cattle – principal forest-risk commodities – according to NGO Forest Trends. But what does this mean? And why do deforestation scandals keep emerging?

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From algae to yeast: the quest to find an alternative to palm oil

The race is on to develop an eco-friendly substitute for palm oil but, as Ecover discovered, the path can be bumpy

When green cleaning company Ecover announced the launch of a new laundry liquid containing an oil made from algae, as an alternative to the palm oil used in most detergents, it wasn’t prepared for the backlash.

The problem? The algae producing the oil were genetically modified. “We put everything on hold,” says Tom Domen, global head of long-term innovation at Ecover, following reactions to the 2014 product trial.

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Leuser ecosystem: one of most biodiverse places on Earth under threat – in pictures

The Leuser ecosystem spans 2.6m hectares into the Indonesian provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra. It’s the only place in the world where tigers, orangutans, rhinos and elephants coexist in the wild. But it’s under threat from agricultural industries, including palm oil

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When fines fail, how can companies be made to pay for deforestation?

Indonesian companies fined for deforestation have not been required to pay up thanks to lengthy court appeals. Campaigners push for tougher action

Nearly a year after an Indonesian court ordered a timber company to pay country’s largest ever fine for deforestation, the government has been unable to collect the money, prompting campaigners to call for tougher sanctions against illegal loggers.

Merbau Pelalawan Lestari (MPL), a timber company, has launched a case review against the court’s decision to impose a 16tn rupiah fine (£900m), which it incurred for illegally deforesting nearly 2,000 hectares of Sumatran forest.

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70% of brands in Malaysia and Singapore don’t disclose palm oil use

WWF rated 47 regional companies and found the majority have no public policies or commitments on sustainable palm oil sourcing

A new scorecard rating companies headquartered in Singapore and Malaysia on their palm oil sustainability commitments has found that the majority do not disclose any information on their sourcing practices.

The WWF Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard surveyed 47 companies, all household brands in Malaysia and Singapore, asking how far along the path they were to sourcing 100% certified sustainable palm oil. Only 15 disclosed any information.

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California’s big battery experiment: a turning point for energy storage?

The world’s largest lithium-ion battery installed after the Aliso Canyon gas blowout has become a test case for the grid storage industry

On a paved expanse next to an electrical substation in Escondido, 30 miles north of downtown San Diego, sits a row of huge silver boxes. The site resembles a barracks, but instead of soldiers, the 24 containers house racks of battery packs.

This is the largest lithium-ion battery in the world, according to its developers. When the local grid needs more power, these batteries deliver, almost instantaneously. They hold up to 30 megawatts fully charged – roughly equivalent to powering 20,000 homes – and can sustain that level for up to four hours.

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The eco-warrior taking a chainsaw to Indonesia’s illegal palm oil plantations

Biologist Rudi Putra is leading a movement to restore the region’s tropical rainforests, which are home to many endangered species

Armed with a chainsaw and a copy of Indonesia’s environmental laws, biologist Rudi Putra and his team of eco-warriors have been identifying and cutting down illegal palm oil plantations and recovering the lost forests of the Leuser ecosystem.

For decades, the exuberance of the largest rainforest in Indonesia’s north Sumatra region, has succumbed to the rapid expansion of illegal palm oil plantations, threatening the habitats and endangering the lives of orangutans, rhinos, tigers and elephants.

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