04 June 2013

Shipbreaking rules tightened, Greenpeace IT scores and Bangladesh factory safety:

Shipbreaking signatures

More than 30 NGOs including Greenpeace, Waste Free Oceans, European Environmental Bureau, and Seas at Risk signed a petition to the European parliament in support of creating the first European-wide ship recycling fund, to finance the proper dismantling of ships after use.

The fund would help decrease the industry-wide practice of beaching ships on the shores of developing countries such as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, to be subsequently disassembled improperly, jeopardising the health of the environment and the workers. The petition was led by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, and signed by its members as well as other European NGOs.

Patrizia Heidegger, Shipbreaking Platform’s executive director, explains that all ships arriving at EU ports, regardless of their flag or country of origin, would be required to pay into a central European fund that would disburse premiums for safe ship recycling in certified EU-listed facilities.

Unfortunately, the parliament did not act on the petition. Heidegger attributes the decision to lobbying before the vote by the shipping industry, which wants to avoid the responsibility and any additional costs of properly recycling their ships after use.

On a brighter note, the European parliament did pass more stringent laws on how ships are recycled, including requiring that ship dismantling take place on impermeable floors to better contain toxins. But much work is still needed to stop the ship-beaching pandemic.

“The idea of a fund has been discussed for 15 years at the European level,” says Heidegger. “Let’s face it, the parliament failed to uphold its own principles and to deliver as promised. Last year, one European ship was sent to a substandard beaching yard in south Asia every day. The EU needs to move now if it really wants to hold European ship owners accountable.”

Greenpeace’s IT leaderboard

The sixth edition of Greepeace’s Cool IT Leaderboard ranks 20 leading IT companies’ commitment to clean energy. Google and Cisco have the top spots, for their continued investment in greener operations and public advocacy for clean energy and climate policies. 

Following Google and Cisco (scoring 58%) in third place is Ericsson (51), then Fijutsu (44), and Sprint, Wipro and HP tied for fifth (43). This year’s worst performing companies were AT&T, scoring 18%, followed by NEC (17), and Toshiba and Hitachi (13) tied for last place of the 20 companies in the ranking.

Three companies were dropped altogether from this year’s edition – Oracle, Tata Communication Services (TCS), and Sharp – because of “significant decline in performance” and internal restructuring.

While the report highlights a “slow and steady” improvement in companies’ overall commitment to clean energy and increased use of renewables, Gary Cook, senior IT policy analyst at Greenpeace International, says every company can improve its public advocacy work. While the report commended Sprint and Google for their advocacy on behalf of renewable electricity, most IT companies fell way behind their lead, with some such as Microsoft and AT&T continuing their dubious relationship with organisations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative group that lobbies against renewable energy and climate change policy.

“Demonstrating environmental leadership, pursuing green business opportunities and managing a company’s risk from environmental issues cannot be done on the basis of what the company itself has direct control over, particularly with regard to our energy supply,” says Cook. “Companies must understand they need to apply financial resources and political influence to change policies governing our electricity supply to move us off dirty energy sources. Failure to do so will mean higher costs and significant risk to their brand.”

A million petition for fire safety

In the aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, more than a million citizens worldwide have signed a petition calling for improved factory safety standards.

According to the Clean Clothes Campaign, more than 1,700 garment workers have died in Bangladesh as a result of substandard building regulations. This petition was initially aimed at pushing international brands such as H&M, Mango, Primark, Gap and Benetton – which rely on Bangladesh factories for their production – to sign a legally binding on fire and building safety accord in Bangladesh. Many brands are now doing so.

The signatures were collected by 13 labour rights organisations: the Clean Clothes Campaign, IndustriALL Global Union, UNI Global Union, International Labour Rights Forum, United Students Against Sweatshops, Credo Action, Avaaz, Causes, Maquila Solidarity Network, War on Want, People and Planet, SumOfUs.org, and Change.org.

“We have been pushing for binding and independent safety measures for too many years now,” says Tessel Pauli, union president for the Clean Clothes Campaign. “It is time to stop the killings. The accord has the potential to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers who are currently at risk.”

Source: ethicalcorp. By Jeni Bauser Yaghoubi. 4 June 2013

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