EU Chemical Sustainability

The European Chemical Industry Council announced May 8 that it will monitor its environmental sustainability by tracking indicators like greenhouse gas and acidifying gases emissions and waste generation. Releasing its first sustainability report, the council said that environmental indicators make up eight of 17 performance indicators that the group will track, including fuel consumption, energy intensity of production processes, emissions of non-methane volatile organic compounds, and water quality. The second industry sustainability report will be issued in 2014.

Gothenburg Protocol Amendments

Parties to the U.N. Economic Commission agreed May 4 that fine particulate matter and black carbon could be added to the list of pollutants controlled under the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution. Amendments approved by the treaty’s Executive Board would enter into force when two-thirds of the parties to the protocol ratify them. The group also agreed on flexibility mechanisms for Eastern European states and tighter emissions ceilings for SO2, NO2, and volatile organic compounds.

World Bank on Sustainable Development

The World Bank released a report May 9 finding that countries could grow more sustainably without significantly raising development costs by eliminating subsidies that encourage more pollution and taking new approaches to measuring the complete cost of development. The report, Inclusive Green Growth: The Pathway to Sustainable Development, concluded that it is a myth that sustainable development is an unaffordable luxury.

British Energy Plan

Queen Elizabeth II told Parliament May 9 that legislation that could help the United Kingdom move away from fossil fuels and toward green energy will go before the government within the year. The energy bill aims to reform the electricity market through incentives for low-carbon power generation, and will place a cap on power plant emissions to encourage coal plants to use carbon capture and storage technology, in total stimulating roughly $323 billion in investments into the country’s low-carbon energy infrastructure over the next decade.

Tar Sands Life Cycle Study

The Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission released a study, conducted by Jacobs Consultancy, finding that, owing to advances in technology, Alberta's oil sands product has a lower life cycle carbon footprint than previously suggested by the European Union. The province was worried that the labeling of tar sands production as dirtier than traditional oil would create a discriminatory market.

Chinese Heavy Metals Tax

Guangdong province in South China is mulling a tax on industries that emit heavy metals, after being named among 14 “critical areas” in China's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) in the area of heavy metal emissions. Guangdong, where half of Chinese battery production takes place, has immense soil remediation problems linked to these emissions.