Mar 12

China Watch Blog reports WWF-Hong Kong welcomes the Hong Kong government’s initiative to extend the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to Hong Kong, by regulating the import and re-export of toothfish (commonly known as ‘Chilean Sea Bass’) inhabiting the Antarctic water.

Dr Allen To, Senior Conservation Officer, Footprint makes the following statements with respect to this latest law-making process:

China is a member of the CCAMLR, however, the Convention has not been extended to Hong Kong yet. This creates a loophole where businesses can import and trade toothfish through Hong Kong to other parts of the world. Since 2010, WWF has been calling on the government to consider acceding to the convention. If the convention is implemented comprehensively and effectively in Hong Kong, it will steer Hong Kong away from tacitly supporting Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) toothfish fisheries in Antarctic waters, move towards improved seafood traceability and inspire Hong Kong citizens and businesses to help drive the long-term sustainable use of the world’s ocean resources.

Stopping IUU toothfish fisheries

As a significant global trading port, Hong Kong can play a crucial part in stopping IUU toothfish fisheries, which have been operating for more than a decade, despite the CCAMLR’s attempts to control the trade. These IUU fisheries have compromised the effective management of toothfish resources in Antarctica as well as posing threats to by-catch species such as seabirds and sharks.

Although the amount of toothfish consumed was less than 0.5 per cent of total consumption of seafood in Hong Kong; the amount imported into Hong Kong is significant – 1,017 tonnes, which represented 6.5 per cent of the total volume of toothfish exported by Contracting Parties to the CCAMLR in 2013. Because of this substantial trade volume, Hong Kong has a vital role to play in ensuring that only legally-caught toothfish can enter Hong Kong.

WWF will closely monitor the progress of the legislation through LegCo, and continue to urge the government to establish a comprehensive and effective legislation framework to implement CCAMLR in Hong Kong as soon as possible.

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Oct 08

China Watch Blog has learnt that Advetec Holdings Ltd, based in Somerset, UK, has been awarded the first USA permit for its revolutionary machines that reduce organic waste by over 90%. Advetec in conjunction with Organic Solutions Inc. has been awarded the first and only SWORPP in the USA.

The project is the first to employ the Bio-Thermic Digester (BTD), which will be used to process mixed waste from supermarket chains and hardware stores. The organic volumes will be reduced by up to 95% and the heat generated by the microbial activity will be used to power thermo-dynamic heat exchangers to return power back to the grid. An added benefit will be the recovery of clean water for irrigation and other processes.

The BTD will deal with all types of waste without any preprocessing and the residual metals and plastic will be recovered in a clean, sterile and recyclable state for commercial resale.

This is a significant milestone in the acceptance of this technology to provide a sustainable solution to the growing waste and recycling issues in this country, and we are proud to be able to offer this package as part of our “Exciting Biological Solutions” to both the industries and the communities of the UK.

Being able to handle a variety of waste streams, the applications are wide ranging and can solve many issues currently being faced by industry up and down the county. These include:

Sewage sludge cake disposal
Mixed “black bag” household waste
Food contaminated plastic and glass
Animal waste – farms, abattoirs etc.
Food production plant waste streams (cooked and uncooked)
Green waste composting in less than three days
Restaurant and hotel waste self contained treatment

The solution solves waste stream issues at source – eliminating transport and tipping costs.

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Apr 03

China Watch Blog has learnt that Unilever announced it is sourcing more than a third of its agricultural raw materials sustainably, having made significant progress towards its target of 100% by 2020.

With 36% now sourced sustainably, it has exceeded the interim milestone of 30% it set itself in 2010 when launching the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.

The improvement was made against a backdrop of the company reporting annual sales of €51 billion in 2012. Taken together, they represent significant milestones on the way to realising Unilever’s vision of doubling the size of its business whilst reducing its environmental footprint and improving its positive social impact.

This announcement comes ahead of the upcoming Unilever Sustainable Living Plan Progress Report which will be released on 22 April.

Marc Engel, Chief Procurement Officer said: “Climate change, water scarcity, unsustainable farming practices, and rising populations all threaten agricultural supplies and food security.

Half of the raw materials Unilever buys are from the farming and forestry industries, so ensuring a secure supply of these materials is a major business issue. However, sustainable sourcing is not only about managing business risks, it also presents an opportunity for growth, allowing brands to stand out in the marketplace.”

One example is how Knorr has supported sustainable growth for the Foods category. In September 2012 a new soup launched in France became the first Unilever product to promote an ingredient (tomatoes) as sustainably grown in accordance with the Unilever Sustainable Agriculture Code. This was made possible through the Knorr Sustainability Partnership Fund, which uses €1 million a year to support vegetable suppliers on complex sustainable agriculture projects. This development has boosted shelf standout and competitive differentiation and now Knorr plans to continue to label other products.

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Mar 19

China Watch Blog has learnt that Suntech Power Holdings Co became the first company from the Chinese mainland to default on its bonds after failing to repay US$541 million of notes due last Friday, breaching terms of other outstanding loans. Is this the first of many?

The Shanghai Daily reported that the move pushes what was once the world’s biggest solar panel maker into default on credit lines it has with International Finance Corp and Chinese domestic lenders, Suntech said yesterday in a statement from its headquarters in Wuxi. China Development Bank has loans to Suntech.

The move opens the way for Suntech noteholders to sue the company in the US, where its shares and bonds trade. Last week, Suntech obtained an agreement of holders of 63 percent of the notes to delay exercising their rights until May 15, allowing executives to press ahead with restructuring payments. Some note holders not involved in those talks are organizing a rival group and have threatened to sue.

Suntech is seeking “a way forward that will take into account the rights and interests of all of its constituents, including shareholders, note holders, lenders, customers, suppliers and employees,” Chief Executive David King said in the statement. “We are currently exploring strategic alternatives with lenders and potential investors, which could help to set us on a path towards longer term success.”

UBS AG is advising Suntech. Chinese solar firms are struggling after taking on debt to expand supply, leading to a glut that cut prices and squeezed profits. LDK Solar Co, the second-biggest solar wafer maker, in December hired Citigroup Inc to help renegotiate its liabilities and obtain “additional flexibility” from creditors.

China has supported solar companies through credit lines from local government or state-backed agencies. Suntech, LDK, Trina Solar Ltd, Yingli Green Energy Holding Co, Hanwha SolarOne Co and Jinko Solar Holding Co were among 12 companies that obtained over US$43.2 billion in credit pledges from CDB, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.

LDK, which got a bailout in July for part of its debt from the local authority in Xinyu, said on January 31 that it got approval for a 440 million yuan (US$71 million) loan from CDB. Suntech has been talking with the Wuxi government about the possibility of financial support.

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Feb 14

China Watch Blog has learnt that more than 250 investors, including majority of them from China, have been cheated out of millions of dollars in a scheme by an American who led them to believe their investments could enhance their prospects of US citizenship, according to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Shanghai Daily reported, citing the SEC as saying that the man, Anshoo R. Sethi, had created two companies and “fraudulently sold more than US$145 million in securities and collected US$11 million in administrative fees from investors.”

The commission has halted the scheme and filed charges. It has also frozen Sethi’s assets.

“Sethi orchestrated an elaborate scheme and exploited these investors’ dreams of earning legal US residence along with a positive return on their investment in a project that was not nearly the done deal that he portrayed,” said Stephen Cohen, associate director in the SEC’s enforcement division.

“The good news is that we intervened early and stopped him from getting very far, and the asset freeze preserves nearly all of the money invested.”

But the bad news is that Sethi and his companies have spent more than 90 percent of the administrative fees collected from investors despite a promise to return the money to investors if visa applications were rejected.

More than US$2.5 million of these funds were directed to Sethi’s personal bank account in Hong Kong, said the SEC.

It has obtained an emergency court order to protect the remaining US$145 million in investor assets.

It is not known whether Sethi, 29, who lives in Illinois, has been arrested.

Investigations are ongoing, the SEC said.

Sethi’s website, www.anshoosethi.net, is still in service. It says the family hotel development business is three decades old and he “offers nearly 15 years’ experience as a real estate developer and global financier with a focus on hotel development and management.”

The SEC alleges that Sethi misled people that their investments would help them gain them US citizenship through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, which provides foreign investors with an avenue to US residency by investing in projects that will create or preserve jobs for US workers.

The SEC claimed that Sethi and his companies “made a number of misrepresentations about the project to dupe investors.”

By purchasing interests in Sethi’s companies, the investors were told that they would be financing construction of the “World’s First Zero Carbon Emission Platinum LEED certified” hotel and conference center near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

The SEC alleges that Sethi and his companies falsely told investors they had acquired all the necessary building permits and that several major hotel chains, such as Hyatt, Intercontinental Hotel Group and Starwood Hotels, had signed onto the project.

However, none of those hotel chains has a signed agreement to include a hotel in the Chicago project, according to the SEC’s investigation.

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Dec 07

China Watch Blog has learnt that Chinese manufacturing companies which became part of WWF-Hong Kong’s Low Carbon Manufacturing Programme (LCMP) reduced their carbon intensity level by 16 percent in just one year. The companies collectively avoided more than 14,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, equivalent to the carbon produced by 53,700 return flights between Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Today, the efforts of these accredited manufacturers were recognized at WWF’s annual LCMP Labelling Award Ceremony, in which fifteen manufacturers received awards. Ms Christine Loh, Under Secretary for the Environment for the Hong Kong SAR government said, ”The government always supports manufacturers in their efforts to reduce their impact on the environment and improve the air pollution situation in Guangdong province. We are glad to see that this programme has achieved this outstanding result in such a short period of time.”

At the ceremony, Mr Adam Koo, CEO of WWF-Hong Kong shared that “Seven out of the 15 accredited manufacturing companies have invested approximately RMB 22 million in different areas, mainly using the funds to purchase new machinery or retrofit existing machinery in order to improve their energy efficiency performance. Collectively, they have avoided 14,234 tonnes of carbon emissions; equivalent to 53,700 return flights between Hong Kong and Shanghai, or the average yearly electricity consumption of 4,400 Hong Kong families.”

The LCMP programme helps to measure manufacturers’ effectiveness in reducing carbon emissions and equips them with best practice in greenhouse gas management by providing the companies with a carbon accounting and labelling system. 56 manufacturing companies with over 80,000 staff members have joined the programme so far. The programme not only helps its members improve their energy efficiency, but helps them save money in the long run and makes their corporate image more climate-friendly.

Ms Karen Ho, Business Engagement Leader, Climate at WWF-Hong Kong also shared that “Over half of the manufacturers have released a GHG policy statement and which applies to all activities of their companies. But there is still room for improvement, for example companies need to begin considering GHG emissions when making investment decisions or when purchasing goods and materials.”

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Oct 16

China Watch Blog has learnt that GPET™ It’s not an animal, it’s actually a type of raw material gained by recycling PET (Polyethylene terephthalate), a polymer that’s commonly used to make plastic bottles – thousands of which get tossed away every day.

By using WWF’s new GPET recycled bags, you will be strengthening the case for increasing recycling and recovery of PET products; not to mention alleviating their burden on the environment!

Please do your bit and save the environment, and bring more happiness to everyone. This is also an opportunity for you as an individual to save mother earth from destruction.

In 2010, the daily plastic waste in Hong Kong averaged 1,266 tonnes, equivalent to one-fifth of all domestic waste in the city. Approximately two percent of this plastic waste was plastic bottles. (wastereduction.gov.hk/chi/materials/info/msw2010tc.pdf)

- Plastic is not biodegradable – it does not break down and can therefore remain in the natural environment forever. UV rays from the sun allow plastic to “photodegrade”, but this just breaks down the bonds between plastic particles and creates smaller pieces of plastic.
(wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/teacher_resources/webfieldtrips/bio_nonbio_materials/)

Where to buy: WWF’s Panda Shop Outlets

- WWF-Hong Kong Visitor Centre, No.1 Tramway Path, Central

You may also order these products online and they will be delivered by mail. Panda Shop hotline: 2526-1011.

From 18 to 24 October, “MyWWF” digital photo exhibition will be held in WWF Visitor Centre in Central. Visitors who vote for their favourite picture there can receive a panda pin for free.

Exhibition period
18/10、19/10、22/10、24/10: 9am – 6pm
21/10: 10am – 7pm
20/10 & 23/10: close

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Aug 29

China Watch Blog has learnt that Taiwan’s environmental minister is calling on the island’s men to sit down when they urinate to keep toilets clean, drawing a mixed reaction from the public.

Stephen Shen, head of the Environmental Protection Administration, said he himself had adopted the habit, and suggested other men follow suit so toilet seats will be ready for the next user.

An environmental official contacted by AFP acknowledged the advice would be hard to follow in public restrooms, where urinals constitute the main facilities.

Therefore, she said, men are encouraged to first try to develop the new habit at home.

Reactions to the proposal on the internet forums and chatrooms were mixed, with some calling it a good idea that should have been brought up sooner while others were more critical.

“Brain-damaged politician, why doesn’t the environmental bureaucrat start to wear a skirt,” said a message posted by a user on the United Daily News forum.

“I’d love to see Stephen Shen and [President] Ma Ying-jeou demonstrate on TV how to sit down to pee,” said another message left on the forum.

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Jun 28

China Watch Blog believes the carbon tax trend will soon be coming to Hong Kong, China and the region soon, and this tax will become a reality in Australia on Sunday.

While only the top carbon-emitting companies and organisations are affected by the $23 price tag on each tonne of carbon emitted, the cost will filter down to all of the Aussies through their electricity bills.

Apparently, the electricity prices are set to increase due to increased infrastructure costs. Householders around Australia are bracing themselves for a double hit to the hip pocket.

According to ABCnet.com, the treasury estimates for the average Australian household electricity will rise by $3.30 per week, gas by $1.50, and food by 80 cents under the carbon price.

To help those least able to cope with the energy price increases from the carbon tax, the government will provide a compensation and assistance package. This means clever Australians who find a way to cut their energy bills can pocket the compensation.

Go to the following link to learn 30 easy ways to cut your energy bills and keep your compo cash for more enjoyable activities.

http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2012/06/26/3532627.htm

Remember that every product you see in the shops needed energy, water and material resources to produced and therefore it has a carbon cost. We can cut our eco-footprints, save money and avoid some of the carbon tax by simply buying and wasting less stuff.

For those whose countries or territories where carbon tax is not yet implemented, it would be wise to look up the 30 ways and prepare on what to do in the future when you are hit by this trend, which sooner or later will be on you.

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Feb 28

China Watch Blog has learnt that senior Chinese legislators on Monday started their second deliberation on a draft amendment to the country’s Law on the Promotion of Clean Production.

The China Daily reported that at the three-day bimonthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), members are scheduled to review the newly submitted draft amendment, which has introduced a few key changes after several rounds of opinion gathering.

The new draft highlights a concise definition on the “excessive packaging of products” and a list of detailed conditions under which compulsory clean production checks should be imposed on enterprises.

Chinese legislators believe that the current law, which came into effect in 2003, needs to be revised to meet the requirements on energy conservation and emissions control in the country’s bid to build a greener and more sustainable economy.

The NPC Standing Committee’s review on the previous draft took place last October.

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