On 13 August 2012 a draft of the updated Equator Principles (EP) was released for stakeholder consultation and public comment. This latest revision of the EP is a marked attempt to dramatically alter the role of financial institutions in emerging markets, from financiers to sustainability regulators. Continue reading
Unilever to focus on low cost goods; strategy conflicts with high-cost sustainability commitments
The CEO of global consumer goods manufacturer, Unilever, recently outlined the company’s strategy to switch to lower cost products and concentrate on markets in emerging economies, following poor economic forecasts in developed markets of Western Europe and the US.
This strategy to focus on marketing lower cost goods is likely to conflict with the company’s commitments to source only products from emerging markets which comply with high-cost sustainability standards developed by NGOs. Continue reading
Fairtrade (FT) represents itself as a consumer-driven long-term development strategy. It claims to support poor producers in the global south and aims to alleviate them from poverty by certifying their production processes and selling their products to consumers in the global north at a price premium. The FT movement has succeeded in convincing conscientious consumers that its labelled products are the most effective in aiding the poor. However, the extent to which the FT model brings net benefits to the poor is largely unfounded. Continue reading
Spain’s biofuel laws to be tested in the WTO
Argentina has mounted a challenge to a Ministerial Order of Spain governing the importation of biodiesels in the WTO.
The Order regulates the allocation of biofuel production volumes for calculating compliance with the objectives set by the EU Renewable Energy Directive (EU – RED). EU-RED requires EU member countries to implement a mandatory target for renewable energy sources. Argentina contends the Order restricts imports of biodiesel produced outside the EU by requiring that the supply of biofuels used in Spain be totally produced in plants located within the EU, contrary to WTO rules. Continue reading
EU RED recognises palm oil sustainability scheme submission
The European Commission has formally recognised a submission from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification scheme that outlines voluntary requirements to assist growers to comply with the eligibility rules for the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED). Continue reading
Environmental trade barriers a target in EU/US trade deal
As the EU and US look towards a possible trade agreement, US industry has called for EU labelling and energy regulations to be addressed as a priority in the negotiations.
The American Soy Bean Association (ASA) claims EU biotech labelling and renewable energy regulations in the EU market act as discriminatory barriers to trade and have a significant negative impact on exports.Soybean exports to the EU fell by 44 percent in value between 1998 and 2011, with volume down by over 70 percent. Central to the concerns of the ASA is that EU labelling regulations “have no scientific basis in fact”. ASA President Steve Wellman adds “Similarly, the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) establishes arbitrary criteria for the production of soybeans and other commodities in order to meet sustainability requirements and be eligible as feedstocks for biofuels used in EU Member States.” Continue reading