Includes company responses, the latest jobs and events announcements.
• Declared a global emergency, the novel coronavirus impacts workers’ rights around the world as employers seek to protect business and supply chains.
• Migrant workers from Malaysia reportedly return home without owed wages as employers try to force them to stay.
• Employees of American Airlines concerned about unknown health threats file a USA lawsuit to halt flights to China; airline has stated it is “taking precautions”.
• Technology firms allegedly maintain manufacturing operations despite government calls for companies to halt work to stop coronavirus spread.
Collected news links from external sources related to topics concerning the Book Chain Project.
Inconsistent business action in response to Covid-19 (novel coronavirus), first reported from Wuhan, China
Includes company responses, the latest jobs and events announcements.
The European Chemicals Agency, ECHA, has published a list of over 21,000 REACH-registered substances mapped in its 'chemical universe'. The substances have been divided into five pools based on the regulatory actions in place, initiated or considered for them. It also highlights that there are still thousands of substances for which possible actions have not yet been determined. The chemical universe does not indicate whether a substance’s use is safe or not – it is mainly to help authorities focus their actions. The assignment to a pool is also not permanent – substances will move from one pool to another over time when new information becomes available or priorities change.
A four-year investigation by the US Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) uncovered evidence of an illegal timber trade stretching from Chinese-owned Dejia Group in West Africa to major hardware stores located across the USA.
The timber was from the okoumé tree, classed vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, with a range limited to just four African countries. US Federal officials are investigating the importers, Evergreen Hardwoods and Cornerstone Forest Products. The Dejia Group also exports to European countries where the EU Timber Regulation is in force, including France, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Greece.
- Forest Sourcing
- United States
- Chinese-owned Dejia Group
- Cornerstone Forest Products
- Evergreen Hardwoods
- hardware stores
- illegal timber trade
- IUCN Red List
- okoumé tree
- The Dejia Group
- Timber Regulation
- US Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)
- US Federal officials
An explosion at a pesticide plant in eastern China's Jiangsu province killed 78 people and injured more than 600. The government has since launched a nationwide inspection into hazardous chemicals, mines, transportation and fire safety. The area's environmental protection bureau has implemented an emergency plan to remove and treat toxic wastewater from a nearby river, with concentrations of harmful chemicals like benzene well past safe limits. The Chinese government vowed to tighten environmental impact assessment approvals for chemical plants and enhance daily inspections. It has also said it will revise the Production Safety Law this year in response to the explosion.
Jiangsu’s provincial government also have plans to close thousands of chemical production sites and chemical parks over the next three years.
- Labour & Environment
- chemical plants
- Chinese goverment
- daily inspections
- Deadly chemical blast
- emergency plan
- environmental impact assessment approvals
- environmental protection bureau
- fire safety
- hazardous chemicals
- Jiangsu province
- pesticide plant
- Production Safety Law
- toxic wastewater
ECHA has assessed the health and environmental risks posed by intentionally added microplastics and has concluded that an EU-wide restriction would be justified. If adopted, the restriction could result in a reduction in emissions of microplastics of about 400 thousand tonnes over 20 years.
The definition of microplastic is wide, covering small, typically microscopic (less than 5mm), synthetic polymer particles that resist (bio)degradation. The scope covers a wide range of uses in consumer and professional products in multiple sectors, including cosmetic products, detergents and maintenance products, paints and coatings, construction materials and medicinal products, as well as various products used in agriculture and horticulture and in the oil and gas sectors.
Resolute Forest Products Lawsuits (re-alleged racketeering and defamation by environmental organisations, USA)
Canadian logging company Resolute Forest Products has filed two lawsuits against various Greenpeace entities, Stand. Earth (formerly known as "ForestEthics"), and some of these organisations' staff members in the United States and Canada. These lawsuits were brought in relation to the organisations' criticism of the environmental impact of Resolute Forest's logging practices in the Canadian boreal region and to their campaigns encouraging customers to hold Resolute to account for its unsustainable forestry practices. The environmental organisations being sued assert that the lawsuits are meritless and constitute "strategic lawsuits against public participation" ("SLAPP") meant to silence their criticisms. Following the filing of Resolute's lawsuits, Greenpeace launched a campaign aiming to stop the use of SLAPPs to silence free speech. As part of this campaign, Greenpeace has received support from over 100 authors in several countries.
Long known as a hotspot for rapid and largely illegal deforestation, Cambodia was singled out in a May 2017 EIA report. The report was the result of months of undercover investigations which found that from November 2016, more than 300,000 cubic metres (nearly 10.6 million cubic feet) of timber have been illegally felled in a wildlife sanctuary and two protected areas in Cambodia. Most of the timber was sold to Vietnam and generated $13 million in payments from Vietnamese timber traders. Environmental experts believe that a much-publicized crackdown on illegal logging launched in Cambodia in early 2016 had very little effect.
Thousands of angered villagers protested in the northern Chinese province of Hebei on 3 May after a leak at a chemical plant called Hebei Xingfei Chemical Co. factory near Xingtai city releases toxic gases into the air. Residents of several villages near the site reported vomiting and fainting, while thousands have gathered outside the factory gates, blocking the road and demanding the plant's relocation for the past few days. Local officials have called on protesters to wait for environmental tests to be completed before they take a decision about how to deal with the factory.
The new documentary thriller, Death by A Thousand Cuts, aired in the Raindance film festival in London on 1 October. The film explores how the fate of forests in two neighbouring countries has exacerbated social conflict, xenophobia, poverty, and even resulted in multiple murders. The documentary reveals how the contrasting fate of forests in these two countries due to different approached to natural resource protection and conservation.
Researchers from Harvard and Columbia universities in the US estimated there were more than 90,000 early deaths in Indonesia in areas closest to haze-belching fires, and several thousand more in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia. The new estimate, reached using a complex analytical model by combining satellite data with models of health impacts from smoke exposure and readings from pollution monitoring stations, is far higher than the previous official death toll given by authorities of just 19 deaths in Indonesia. It triggered calls for action to tackle the “killer haze”.
A study recently published in Forest Ecology and Management examines the carbon stock value of forests in Guyana, finding dramatic differences between different kinds of cover and land-use types. Tropical forests are among the most valuable in terms of carbon stocks. Globally, tropical forests sequester about 2.4 billion metric tons, according to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2011. The new research found that carbon values differ according to forest type and usage pattern; for instance, carbon values from undisturbed forests cannot be applied in inhabited community lands.
A study published in the journal Science, led by Holly Gibbs of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found that the moratorium on forest conversion established by Brazilian soy giants in 2006 dramatically reduce deforestation for soy expansion in the Amazon, and have been more effective in cutting forest destruction than the government's land use policy in the region. The study is based on spatial analysis across thousands of farm in the Brazilian Amazon and cerrado, a woody grassland, and researchers compared forest loss before and after the moratorium was established.
According to a letter signed by signed by Huma, Forest Peoples Program, Rainforest Action Network, Wahana Bumi Hijau, Scale Up, Jaringan Masyarakat Gambut Jambi, Jaringan Masyarakat Gambut Riau, and Pusaka, APRIL’s new forest policy allows the company to continue destroying rainforests and peatlands for industrial plantations. The letter highlights a dozen concerns over APRIL's policy, including a lack of a moratorium on natural forest conversion, failure to identify and protect high carbon stock (HCS) areas, and unclear commitments on resolving social conflicts and embracing the concept of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from affected local communities. It also says that the policy appears to not apply to APRIL’s sister companies or suppliers. The letter comes days after Greenpeace documented APRIL-owned PT. Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper destroying peat forest on Pulau Padang, an island off Sumatra. In response to the report, APRIL said the clearing was in line with its forest conservation policy.
Global Witness has accused Danish timber company, DLH, of illegal timber purchases worth $305,000 in 2012. The investigation showed that the timber was felled using outdated permits that were deemed illegal in Liberia because of widespread misuse, fraud and corruption. These accusations put DLH in breach of its FSC certification, and any further imports of this kind would make the company liable to criminal sanctions under the EU Timber Regulation.
Skoll World Forum debate: “How do we feed the world and still address the drivers of deforestation?”
The debate led to a disagreement between The Forest Trust (TFT) and WWF. Jason Clay from WWF US referred to FSC as a success story in halting deforestation. However, Scott Poynton from TFT, while acknowledging FSC as the strongest forest management standard, accused it of allowing illegal timber through thousands of Chinese Chain-of-Custody certified factories with the help of WWF’s GFTN programme, FSC accredited certification bodies and the FSC itself. Clay did not respond to the allegations.
Domtar has added some more products and an extra mill to its online tool which measures the environmental and social impacts of Domtar paper. The tool measures Domtar products across five categories: water usage, the distance its fibre travels to a paper mill, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, waste send to landfills and renewable energy usage.
Article highlighting suspicions about the Cambodian government allowing or abetting illegal logging after the fatal shooting of environmental activist Chut Wutty.