EU urged to ban ‘carbon neutral’ claims for food and drink: ‘There’s no such thing as a CO2 neutral banana’

Read the full story at Food Navigator Europe.

The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) is calling for an ‘outright ban’ of carbon neutral claims for food and drink in Europe, claiming they confuse and mislead shoppers. FoodNavigator asks the Carbon Trust to weigh in.

Lawmakers press for answers on hazardous waste facilities involved in Norfolk Southern derailment cleanup

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

During a Thursday Senate committee hearing, lawmakers said they want timelines and locations for sites that are handling material from East Palestine, Ohio.

U.S. EPA Small Drinking Systems Webinar – Lead and Copper

Mar 28, 2023, 1 pm CST
Register here and view past webinars in the series.

A certificate of attendance will be offered for this webinar

EPA’s Lead Service Line Inventory Guidance — Kira Smith
This presentation will provide an overview of EPA’s Guidance for Developing and Maintaining a Service Line Inventory. The guidance was developed to assist water systems in developing and maintaining service line and to provide best practices for inventory development and communicating information to the public.

Corrosion Test Methods — Christina Devine
Bench top and pilot lead corrosion studies are gaining more interest, considering revisions and upcoming improvements to the Lead and Copper Rule. This presentation will review studies ranging from simpler month(s)- long bench-top dump-and-fill tests to more complicated year(s)-long intermittent flow pilot studies.

Green Chemistry Connections – Tools in Green Chemistry

In January, Beyond Benign hosted a webinar on tools in green chemistry. Speakers included:

Watch the recording on the Beyond Benign website.

How educator Annette Sebuyira is advancing green chemistry in New York

Read the full story at Beyond Benign.

Based in New York, Annette Sebuyira is a retired Guilderland High School chemistry teacher with over 30 years of experience. Annette is a Beyond Benign Certified Lead Teacher and is doing inspiring work to advance green chemistry education. Currently, she is involved in creating a green chemistry lab book for New York educators and is a co-facilitator of the New York State Master Teacher Green Chemistry Professional Learning Team.

In this Q&A, Annette shares more about the projects she’s working on, how she’s brought green chemistry into her classroom, and her hope for the future of green chemistry.

Multimillion-dollar project investigates potential CO2 storage at Heidelberg Materials’ cement plant in Mitchell, Indiana

Read the full story from the Prairie Research Institute.

With $8.9 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carbon Transport and Storage CarbonSAFE Program, the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), part of the Prairie Research Institute (PRI), is leading a two-year project to explore the feasibility of safely storing more than 50 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) over 30 years captured from the Heidelberg Materials cement plant in Mitchell, Indiana.

Heidelberg Material’s new Mitchell plant uses state-of-the-art technology to increase capacity, minimize energy consumption, and allow for the potential use of alternative fuels and raw materials to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This project will characterize rock strata more than a mile below the land surface to determine if the site is suitable to store more than 95 percent of CO2 emissions captured from the cement plant.

Cement production is a carbon-intensive process, so these systems could play an important role in the company’s ambitious goal of decarbonizing by 2050.

New York’s wind power future is taking shape. In Rhode Island.

Read the full story in the New York Times.

When Gov. Kathy Hochul laid out her plan for accelerating the development of New York’s offshore wind industry a year ago, she promised thousands of jobs for state residents.

Today, New York’s first wind farm in the Atlantic Ocean is under construction. Crews in hard hats are assembling platforms for giant turbines and building boats that will ferry technicians onto the water to ensure the massive blades keep rotating.

But the work is not being done in New York. It is happening more than 150 miles away in Rhode Island.

Biochar offers new promise for climate-smart agriculture

Read the full story from the University of Connecticut.

Researchers see the interconnections between the systems in nature and how each component impacts the others. In Connecticut, rich in forests and farmland, experts see the potential that could position the state at the forefront of a climate-smart agriculture (CSA) approach using an emerging sustainable practice called biochar.

Russia’s aggression threatens efforts to protect nature beyond Ukraine

Red-breasted geese breed mainly on Russia’s Taymyr Peninsula and migrate to areas adjacent to the Black Sea in Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria. Daniel Mitev, CC BY-ND

by Eduardo Gallo-Cajiao, University of Washington; Duan Biggs, Northern Arizona University; Nives Dolsak, University of Washington, and Paul G. Harris, The Education University of Hong Kong

The Russian invasion of Ukraine launched in February 2022 has sent economic, social and political shock waves around the world. In a newly published policy brief, we and other researchers and conservation scientists describe how these effects extend to biodiversity conservation efforts far beyond Ukraine.

Animals, plants and ecosystems don’t recognize political boundaries, so protecting them often requires international cooperation. Over many decades, countries have developed a network of international agreements and arrangements for protecting biodiversity. Now, however, the war at Russia’s hands is delaying a number of those efforts, stopping others, and even sending some into reverse.

War and the spoon-billed sandpiper

A small brown and white bird stands in dry tundra grasses.
The spoon-billed sandpiper is a wetland-dependent species that breeds in the treeless tundra of the Russian Far East. Their total population is estimated at about 600. Sayam Chowdhury, CC BY-ND

As one example, efforts to save the critically endangered spoon-billed sandpiper (Calidris pygmaea) from extinction are now at risk as a result of the war in Ukraine.

Russia’s treeless tundra, in the high Arctic, is the summer home of countless birds that arrive from as far as Africa, southern Asia, Australasia and even South America. Among them is the tiny spoon-billed sandpiper, which weighs in at about 1 ounce (28 grams).

These petite birds nest in the Russian Far East and migrate during the Northern Hemisphere winter to Southeast Asia. Owing to hunting and habitat loss, fewer than 600 of the birds remain.

Since 2012, a multinational team of researchers and conservationists has been conducting a “headstart” breeding program that collects spoon-billed sandpiper eggs from the wild, incubates them and raises chicks in a custom-built aviary on the Russian tundra. This strategy protects chicks from predators, giving them a better chance to reach maturity and reproduce.

Restrictions on international travel to and from Russia have halted this program, which is vital to the sandpiper’s survival, by preventing collaborators from traveling to the site from abroad. Russia has also been suspended from the SWIFT interbank system – the main system that powers secure international fund transfers between financial institutions around the world. This has blocked transfers of much-needed international funds for on-the-ground conservation work.

Scientists near and inside a long hoop house on the Russian tundra.
A key strategy for the conservation of the spoon-billed sandpiper is a headstart breeding program, which includes raising chicks in a purpose-built aviary on the Russian tundra until they are old enough to survive in the wild. Sayam Chowdhury, CC BY-ND

The Russian invasion is also delaying the potential for conserving critical habitats. For example, important wetlands along China’s coastline that are part of the spoon-billed sandpiper’s migration route have been designated as World Heritage Sites. There is a proposal to expand habitat protection under the World Heritage Convention to other areas along the migratory route, which is also vital for other bird species.

At the time of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia chaired the United Nations committee that oversees the designation of new sites. Other countries that are signatories to the World Heritage Convention boycotted the process, refusing to operate either in Russia or under Russia’s leadership. Russia has since resigned as the committee chair, but the site designation process has been delayed for over a year.

Russia’s vast lands and waters

Russia has the largest surface area of any country in the world, covering more than 6.6 million square miles (17 million square kilometers). This sheer expanse makes Russia a vital place for biodiversity.

Beyond the spoon-billed sandpiper, birds that visit Russia from other countries include the red-breasted goose (Branta ruficollis), which migrates to areas near the Black Sea, and the gray-cheeked thrush (Catharus minimus), which migrates to South America. In total, Russia is the breeding stronghold for over 500 migratory bird species, of which 52 are threatened with extinction.

Map showing migratory bird routes that stretch from Russia south to Africa, Asia and Australia.
Multiple global migratory waterbird flyways intersect Russia (shaded in dark gray). Conserving areas that migratory birds use while they are in Russia is a critical strategy for protecting the species. Brad K. Woodworth, adapted from Wetlands International, CC BY-ND

Other species also move through Russian territory as they migrate. They include hoofed mammals, such as the wild forest caribou (Rangifer tarandus fennicus), and the critically endangered saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica). Russia’s waters are home to numerous fish species, including commercially valuable ones like salmon and sturgeon.

In terms of ecosystems, Russia has the world’s largest and most well-preserved forests. They provide vital habitats for many species and contain enormous stores of carbon, so protecting them has global implications for addressing climate change. Farther north, about half of the Arctic Ocean’s coastline, including locations that have experienced relatively little human impact, lies within Russia.

A link in global conservation networks

Russia has been involved in international efforts to manage and conserve species for over a century, starting in 1911 when it signed the North Pacific Fur Seal Convention. Since then, Russia has joined more than 50 international agreements for biodiversity conservation, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership and the China-Russia Bilateral Migratory Bird Agreement.

Now Russia’s diplomatic isolation is hampering work under multilateral arrangements like the Arctic Council, which includes the eight countries with Arctic territory and a half-dozen regional Indigenous organizations. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the council has halted its operations, although it aims to resume some on a limited scale that excludes Russia. The Arctic Council has a working group on biodiversity conservation, including specific initiatives to conserve migratory birds.

Russia also has been an important participant in transnational collaborative research on wildlife and biodiversity issues. For example, to conserve migratory animals, researchers need to understand their movements. This makes it possible to identify and protect the animals’ key habitats.

Russia has more than one-fifth of the world’s forests, but badly managed logging and illegal timber harvesting threaten their health and ability to store carbon.

Icarus, a collaborative research initiative for understanding animal migration, has relied on data sharing by Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. This partnership has now been suspended, leaving Icarus in search of an alternative solution.

The war in Ukraine has also created an imperative for countries to prioritize some issues over biodiversity conservation. For example, Russian attacks on Ukrainian farms and related infrastructure, and Russian naval blockades of grain exports, have contributed to global food shortages. In response, the European Union has sought to increase agricultural output by rolling back some of its biodiversity-friendly farming policies.

For as long as the war in Ukraine lasts, we believe it is imperative for other countries to increase their efforts to strengthen and expand the international system for biodiversity conservation in the rest of the world. In our view, this should happen even as governments rightly assist Ukraine’s valiant efforts to regain full control over all of its territory, including its wetlands, forests and other important habitats currently occupied by Russian forces.

Eduardo Gallo-Cajiao, David H. Smith Conservation Research Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Washington; Duan Biggs, Professor and Chair, Southwestern Environmental Science and Policy, Northern Arizona University; Nives Dolsak, Professor of Sustainability Sciences and Director, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, University of Washington, and Paul G. Harris, Chair Professor of Global and Environmental Studies, The Education University of Hong Kong

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Why reuse programs shouldn’t wait for consumers

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Recent surveys and pilots can help us better understand the consumer appetite for reusable packaging — and provide insights into how reuse should move forward.