BGreen Magazine » Environmental The Middle East's only business magazine dedicated to environmental issues and sustainability Thu, 24 Oct 2013 12:00:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 UNEP urges lead paints to be phased out Thu, 24 Oct 2013 12:00:49 +0000 Lorraine Children in the developing world are still exposed to “astonishingly high and dangerous levels of lead” through unsafe paints, finds a study by the UN Environment Programme, released Tuesday during the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action.

The study analysed enamel decorative paints from: Argentina, Azerbaijan, Chile, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Tunisia and Uruguay. The research was organised by the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, a group co-led by UNEP and the World Health Organisation.

Most of the paints tested would not meet regulatory standards established in most industrialised countries. Generally, white paints had the lowest lead content, while red, green and yellow paints had the highest lead levels.

Both Chile and Uruguay have national executive decrees that prohibit the production, import, distribution, sale and use of decorative paints with a lead concentration above 600 ppm, and all of the paints tested in these two countries had low total lead concentrations.

But in each of the other seven countries studied, two or more of the samples of enamel decorative paints had lead content greater than 10,000 ppm.

Lead in paint is a problem because painted surfaces deteriorate with time and disturbance, releasing the lead into household dust and soil outside.

An estimated 143,000 deaths a year result from lead poisoning, according to WHO data; lead paint is a major contributor to this death toll.

Worldwide, 30 countries have phased out the use of lead paint. The Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint has set a target of 70 countries by 2015.

Over the last seven years, similar studies found high average lead concentrations in Cameroon, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.

The UNEP report recommends:
National efforts to promote the establishment of legal and regulatory frameworks to control the manufacture, import, export, sale and use of lead paints and products coated with lead paints.

Paint manufacturers are encouraged to eliminate lead compounds from their paint formulations, and participate in programs that provide third party certification that no lead has been added to their paint. They are encouraged to label products to help consumers identify paints free of added lead.



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Chinese climate scientist awarded the Volvo Environment Prize Wed, 23 Oct 2013 13:00:36 +0000 Lorraine Dr Qin Dahe, Chinese glaciologist and climate scientist, has been awarded this year’s Volvo Environment Prize. The award winner is a key contributor to the fifth assessment report from the UN climate panel (IPPC), whose first section, the “Physical Science Basis”, was released in September.

He attracted wide attention last year with a report on how climate change leads to more extreme weather events. It was the first report to show scientifically what many had already suspected, that extreme weather and climate phenomena have become more frequent over the last 50 years. The findings gained wide currency since they showed a clear connection between climate change and periods of extreme conditions, such as extended droughts and heat waves, but also torrential storms and rain in other regions. In its citation for this year’s Volvo Environment Prize laureate, the Award Jury calls the report “a game-changer”. In the words of the Jury, “the report demonstrated for the first time a clear link between climate change and many extreme events, an issue of immediate relevance for human well-being in many parts of the world”.

Dr Qin Dahe hopes that the scientific evidence in the fifth assessment report from the UN climate panel will be enough to lead to a breakthrough in global climate negotiations.

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Dubai launches its first State of Energy Report 2014 Tue, 22 Oct 2013 07:41:48 +0000 Lorraine The Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence (DCCE) has unveiled the first edition of the State of the Energy Report. Supporting the Green Economy for Sustainable Development initiative launched by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and the UAE Vision 2021, the report aims to build a collaborative platform to enable a knowledge economy to spur growth of both green and sustainable development.

This publication was unveiled yesterday for the World Energy Day falling on October 22.

HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, inaugurated the report on the occasion of the EXPO 2020 Theme Symposium, which is a major milestone in the bid to host the World Expo 2020 in Dubai.

“We are pleased to launch the first edition of the State of Energy Report 2014, which describes our way forward to build a green future for generations to come. First and foremost, this report is a reference for all the necessary knowledge and best practices for the energy sector. It provides the basis for a knowledge economy, which will be one of the main factors for the successful achievement of the vision of our wise leadership to transform Dubai into a Smart City,” said HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Supreme Council of Energy.

By encouraging green investment and green growth, the UAE is becoming a leading green and sustainable economy in the region and the world.

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Acid attack Sun, 13 Oct 2013 09:00:06 +0000 Lorraine New research in the waters of the Arctic reveals a growing threat unique to the cold ocean which helps protect the planet by absorbing milions of tonnes of CO2 but suffers increased acidity as a result.

Acidity is rapidly increasing in the waters of the Arctic region and poses a huge risk to the survival of marine animals. Acidity has a major effect on the rates at which corals and rocks grow or are dissolved. “A remarkable 20% of the Canadian Basin has become more corrosive to carbonate minerals in an unprecedented short period of time,” said US Geological Survey oceanographer, Lisa Robbins. “Nowhere on Earth have we documented such large scale, rapid ocean acidification.” CO2 emissions increase the acidity of the sea if it absorbs too much and that affect decreases calcification rates in many organisms. Calcifying is an important part of growth to marine organisms as it helps to build shells and skeletons.

If reduced, the organisms are most likely to dissolve into extinction. Corals, shrimps and plankton, among other marine creatures, are severely affected by this change. Any threat to them causes potential imbalance in the whole ocean food chain and the consequences are potentially devastating. “In the Arctic, where multi-year sea ice has been receding, we see that the dilution of seawater with melted sea ice adding fuel to the fire of ocean acidification,” according to co-author, and co-project chief, Jonathan Wynn, a geologist from the University of the South Florida. “Not only is the ice cover removed leaving the surface water exposed to man-made CO2, the surface layer of frigid waters is now fresher, and this means less calcium and carbonate ions are available for organisms.”

CO2 emissions can reach the deep seawater especially in the summers when sea ice in the Arctic declines. The freshwater melted from sea ice dilutes the seawater, further increasing acidity levels and reducing the concentrations of calcium and carbonate, which are the constituents of the mineral aragonite. Aragonite is one of the main minerals which make up the hard part of many marine microorganisms’ skeletons and shells. Species depending on these organisms for food are vastly affected by the reduction of calcium and carbonate concentrations. Ocean acidification models show that with increasing atmospheric CO2, the Arctic Ocean will have crucially low concentrations of dissolved carbonate minerals, like aragonite, in the next decade. Researchers were able to investigate seawater chemistry at high spatial resolution during three years of research cruises in the Arctic, alongside joint US-Canada research efforts aimed at mapping the seafloor as part of the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf programme.
Research shows that acidification in surface waters of the Arctic Ocean is rapidly expanding into areas that were previously isolated from contact with the atmosphere because they were covered with thick ice. Compared with other oceans, the Arctic Ocean has not had the same research attention. “It’s a beautiful but challenging place to work,” said Robert Byrne, a USF marine chemist. Using new automated instruments, scientists were able to make 34,000 waterchemistry measurements from the US Coast Guard icebreaker. “This unusually large data set, in combination with earlier studies, not only documents remarkable changes in Arctic seawater chemistry but also provides a much-needed baseline against which future measurements can be compared.” Byrne credits scientists and engineers at the USF college of Marine Science with developing much of the new technology.”

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World Tourism Day on “Tourism and Water”: greater efforts on water preservation needed Sun, 29 Sep 2013 05:34:09 +0000 Lorraine Last Friday marked the United Nations´ calendar day highlighting tourism, a sector that is driving socioeconomic growth and development all over the world. On World Tourism Day 2013, dedicated to “Tourism and Water – Protecting Our Common Future” in line with the International Year of Water Cooperation, stakeholders called for greater global efforts in water preservation

Opening the official celebrations of World Tourism Day (WTD) 2013, hosted this year by the Maldives, President Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik said “Solutions to the Maldives´ water challenges are in the tourism sector. I hope that the industry will pay attention to the way the Maldives has been addressing the water challenge. The Maldives must become an example of what can be done.”

The call by the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon on the responsibility of the tourism sector to safeguard and intelligently manage water was echoed by UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai: “As one of the world’s leading socio-economic activities, the tourism sector must take a leadership role and ensure companies and destinations invest in adequate water management throughout the value chain.”

The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture of the Maldives, Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoo, stressed how “tourism has become a powerful force for environmental preservation and protection. For our country, the tourism sector constitutes a priority because it is an important asset for the creation of wealth and employment.”

“This is a crucial issue for PATA and its members. The growth of the tourism sector brings inevitable challenges of balancing sustainability. We are delighted to join the celebrations of World Tourism Day and support this important and timely initiative here in the Maldives” said Martin Craigs, CEO of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).

Tourism to lead in water preservation

As the highlight of WTD 2013, a high-level Think Tank on Tourism and Water gathered leading experts on water preservation, public and private sector tourism stakeholders and media experts to discuss key issues contributing to a more sustainable water future.

The following are the key insights of the Think Tank conclusions:

  • The Maldives is a paradigm of well-managed and sustainable water use in developing island States, where the availability of fresh water and the level of water consumption for tourism have become a particular concern.
  • With over one billion people traveling the world every year, the tourism sector can play an educational role as a water-conscious sector.
  • Though tourism only uses 1% of global water consumption, challenges remain for water use at destinations, since the sector often competes with other sectors for water.
  • There is significant room for increasing efficiency and reducing cost of water consumption in hotels (water accounts for 10% of utility bills in many hotels, most of which pay for the water they consume twice, first in buying fresh water and by disposing of it as wastewater).
  • Investing in green technology is economically beneficial, with profits from water sanitation and wastewater treatment having a return on investment (ROI) of one to three years.
  • Given tourism´s size and reach, the sector is well-positioned to make areal contribution to preserving the world´s precious water resources.


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Earth hour success Mon, 25 Mar 2013 13:30:09 +0000 Staff reporter EWS-WWF national coordinator for Earth Hour in the UAE announced mass participation from the emirates as well as support from the Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

His Highness presented his support through a twitter update which read, “Sustaining our Earth remains a fundamental principle in our policies. Next generations have the right to inherit a clean & safe environment. The unity of nations and people in addressing the challenges of Climate Change is the best and shortest path in maintaining Earth’s climate.”

Meanwhile, thousands of people across the country participated in Earth Hour to pledge long term change for a more sustainable world.

The UAE community, which included organisations from different fields, celebrated Earth hour with candlelight walks on the Abu Dhabi and Sharjah Corniche, glow in the dark table tennis tournament at Jumeirah Rotana in Dubai, and DEWA’s Earth Hour event at the Burj Plaza.

Ida Tillisch, Acting Director General of EWS-WWF said, “We are extremely grateful of the support afforded by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Earth Hour and congratulate UAE residents in making Earth Hour 2013 even bigger and more impactful. Once again the UAE community demonstrated its commitment to Earth Hour by switching off the lights, hosting community events and really making the campaign come to life. Of course, while we can celebrate the successes of this year’s event, we should not forget that Earth Hour acts as a reminder to us all to consider ways we can reduce our impact on the planet and work towards a more sustainable future.”



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Preserving UAE’s environment Sun, 24 Mar 2013 08:08:55 +0000 Staff reporter Some du’s employees, as well as Graduate Trainees from the Masar Development Training Programme, joined representatives from Emirates Marine Environmental Group (EMEG) for a day of beach and mangrove cleaning.

Inspiring to preserving UAE’s environment, the event, held on 7 March, was the first outdoor session held by al Multaqa. du employees started the day with an introduction to EMEG presented by Major Ali Saqar Sultan Al Suweidi, President of EMEG, who shared a video of the organisation’s various initiatives.

This was followed by a beach clean-up, to ensure a safe environment for the UAE’s turtles to lay their eggs in, and cleaning algae from mangroves. The day was concluded with Major Ali sharing stories of the UAE’s pearl diving heritage.

Jamal Lootah, Senior Director, National Recruitment and Development, Human Resources, du, presented a Masar trophy of appreciation to Major Ali, thanking him for his contribution to the event and for his efforts towards preserving the UAE’s environment.

“I would like to thank Major Ali and the members of EMEG for their contributions to today’s Al Multaqa session, as well as for their continuous efforts to improve the UAE’s environment. Al Multaqa was established to be a series of educational, enlightening sessions, through which our colleagues can learn more about the inspirational success of people in the UAE,” said Lootah.

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Malls take on Earth Hour Wed, 20 Mar 2013 12:09:59 +0000 Staff reporter Majid Al Futtaim Properties’ six shopping malls across the UAE are promoting energy conversation by participating in Earth Hour on Saturday, March 23rd.

More than 6,950 cities and towns and 152 countries and territories are expected to take part in Earth Hour with the common goal to protect the planet.

This initiative underscores the group’s wider commitment to environmentally sustainable initiatives and several of its malls have already received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications for their ‘eco-friendliness’ including Gold for Mirdif City Centre and Silver for Fujairah City Centre.

From 8:30pm to 9:30pm, all non-essential lights such as external signage, building facade, external landscaping and office lights will be turned off at Ajman City Centre, Deira City Centre, Fujairah City Centre, Mall of the Emirates, Mirdif City Centre and Sharjah City Centre. In addition, car parks will have lights dimmed to 30 to 33%. Public interior lights of the mall will also stay on for the security of mall visitors. 

“Earth Hour is a world-wide event to raise awareness about the importance of energy conservation and Majid Al Futtaim Properties’ malls across the UAE are joining hands to send a unified message,” said Fuad Sharaf, Senior Director, Property Management for Majid Al Futtaim Properties. “This is an important initiative we have supported over the years, and we are pleased to be participating again. Collectively, we hope we can make a difference towards championing energy sustainability in the region.”

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Solar energy enhancement Wed, 20 Mar 2013 11:25:40 +0000 Staff reporter The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) welcomed the activation of the world’s largest operational Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) facility to date, as the Middle East turns to clean energy to fuel future growth.

The Shams 1 thermosolar plant, in the desert of Abu Dhabi, adds 100 megawatts (MW) of sustainable, renewable electricity to the national grid, which regularly consumes fossil fuels. The 2.5 square kilometer plant was designed and developed by Shams Power Company and is expected to produce enough energy to power 20,000 homes in a joint venture with Masdar (60%), France’s Total (20%) and Spain’s Abengoa Solar (20%).

“The UAE’s investment in renewable energy offers the region a pragmatic path to reducing per capita carbon emissions, which are currently among the highest in the world,” said IRENA’s Director-General, Adnan Z. Amin. “Projects like this will also show how renewable energy bolsters the entire value chain – from research and development, to manufacturing, to on-the-ground power projects.”

“The inauguration of Shams 1 is a major breakthrough for renewable energy in the Middle East,” said Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar. “Just like the rest of the world, the region is faced with meeting its rising demand for energy, while also working to reduce its carbon footprint. Shams 1 is a significant milestone, as large-scale renewable energy is proving it can deliver electricity that is sustainable, affordable and secure.”

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The green emirate Wed, 20 Mar 2013 11:00:36 +0000 Staff reporter Two waste management operators have recently agreed to work together to establish recycling facilities for plastics, wood, and e-waste in Sharjah, and improve waste collection, fleet management, and waste treatment in the country.

His Excellency Salim Al Owais, Chairman of Bee’ah, and Dominique Mangin D’Ouince Chairman of Suez Environment, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) after agreeing to exchange valuable information and international practices. With a vision to contribute to a better and cleaner environment for Sharjah, they aim to position Sharjah as the Green Emirate that puts the environment first. This cooperation helps the two companies with a stronger presence to expand their operations and services in the UAE, and to support Bee’ah to attain its zero-waste goal for Sharjah by 2015.

Commenting on the agreement, Jean-Louis Chaussade, CEO of Suez Environment said, “this partnership confirms that thanks to its permanent efforts in innovation, Suez Environment is able to respond both to the new requirements of its customers in mature countries and in new market with strong growth, and help them to become leaders of environmental performance. This partnership also provides significant growth opportunities for Suez Environment. As our partner, Bee’ah brings significant waste management strengths and will enable us to expand our reach throughout the UAE.”


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