South Africa takes up citrus black spot issue at WTO

first_img24 October 2014South Africa has raised the issue of the European Union’s regulations on Citrus Black Spot at the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Committee of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), says the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).This as the EU has threatened to refuse entry to citrus fruit exports from South Africa, alleging that the fruits found with traces of black spot on peels pose a risk to EU citrus producers.“The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, has expressed the view that the EU stance is fundamentally driven by protectionist, rather than plant health concerns and is aimed at restricting highly competitive citrus imports from South Africa to the benefit of citrus producers in the EU,’ dti spokesperson Sidwell Medupe said on Thursday.Davies has said that there is no scientific consensus that supports the EU’s claim that citrus black spot found on peels could infect European orchards.He has also pointed out that proposals from South Africa to divide the EU into different zones with stricter regulations for imports into citrus-growing areas in southern Europe had been ignored.“Minister Davies is of the view that South Africa has been left with no option other than to elevate the issue to the WTO,’ said Medupe.In an interview with SAnews in June, Davies said government has been engaging to try to get the European Union to be more sensitive to the employment implications. “We have also made it clear in the past that we are aware that there’s no unambiguous science about citrus black spot. It can’t cause any harm to human health,’ he said at the time.The South African citrus industry exports around 100 million cartons to 45 countries, which generates R6-billion of foreign exchange; but 45% of that total goes to the EU.Source: SAnews.govSouth African Competitiveness ForumBrand South Africa will host its second South African Competitiveness Forum in Johannesburg on 4 and 5 November 2014 under the theme “Active citizenship and its role in changing the South African brand reality”. Top minds from business, government, civil society and the academic world will come together to discuss our position in the world, and uncover ways to give South Africa a competitive edge on the global stage.Click here to find out more.Follow the conversation on Twitter via #CompetitiveSA.last_img read more

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Flooding Is More Than a Coastal Problem

first_imgReducing exposure nowThis alarming trend points to a need for more awareness, education and communication about flood risk, especially in inland counties. More affordable housing in nonflood zones and strategies to mitigate floods are also needed, especially inland.Why would people move to inland flood zone areas? Some may be unaware of the risk. Others may plan to adapt through steps such as elevating their houses or buying flood insurance. Still other may accept the risk because they want to be closer to relatives or workplaces, or for other cultural, political or institutional reasons.Our analysis has pinpointed a number of regions of concern. The next step is to produce in-depth analyses of these regions, in order to understand why people are locating in flood zones there, and to devise local strategies to reduce overall U.S. flood risks. Climate change, land subsidence or sinking, and construction of new levees and dams will change long-term flood exposure in these areas over time. Therefore, local governments, mortgage lenders and homeowners should review current FEMA flood hazard maps for accuracy.This research provides national context for a detailed study that we are carrying out examining resilience and sustainability in the Mississippi River Delta. Our goal is to understand how human actions combined with natural environmental conditions may have caused land to sink in the Mississippi Delta. Our research on development in flood zones reminds us that flooding problems in low-lying coastal regions are not unique and also affect areas well away from the shore. Catastrophic flooding in Houston from Hurricane Harvey is the latest reminder that floods kill more people in the United States than any other type of natural disaster and are the most common natural disaster worldwide. Many communities along U.S. coastlines have begun to take heed and have slowed development in coastal flood zones. The bad news, as Harvey shows, is that inland communities are also at risk — and in some, development in flood zones is increasing.With post-doctoral research associate Yi Qiang and graduate students, I recently studied development patterns in the United States from 2001 to 2011. We found that while new urban development in flood zones near coasts has generally declined, it has grown in inland counties. This is a worrisome trend. It implies that people who have experienced flooding on the coast migrate inland, but may not realize that they are still vulnerable if they relocate to an inland flood zone.That’s what we have seen firsthand here in Louisiana. Thousands of people fled New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 and settled 80 miles inland in Baton Rouge. A decade later, many of these same people lost everything again when a 500-year flood event struck Baton Rouge in August 2016. Flood, Rebuild, Repeat: The Need for Flood Insurance ReformBuild Disaster-Proof Homes Before Storms StrikeBuilding for Reduced Flood RiskResilient Communities Designing Houses and Communities To Be Smarter and More ResilientResilience: Designing Homes for More Intense StormsMaking the Case for Resilient DesignBuilding Resilience for a ‘Close Encounter’ with DisasterGreen Building Priority #9 – Create Resilient Houses Moving into harm’s wayWe undertook this study because we wanted to develop a clear baseline showing how Americans’ exposure to flood hazards has changed over the past decade. To assess levels of exposure to flood hazards nationwide, we compiled urban development, flood zone and census data and overlaid them on a county map of the nation.Flood damage in Boulder County, Colorado, 2013.Overall, we estimated that as of 2011, more than 25 million Americans lived in flood zones. We also found that inland communities were less responsive to flood hazards than coastal communities and were doing a poorer job of steering development out of flood-prone areas.The three U.S. counties with the largest concentrations of people living in flood zones are located on the Gulf of Mexico. They are Cameron Parish, Louisiana (population 6,401, with 93.6 percent in flood zones); Monroe County, Florida (population 66,804, with 91.4 percent in flood zones); and Galveston County, Texas (population 241,204, with 82.8 percent in flood zones).These are all coastal communities, where flood risks should be well-known to all residents. But we also found inland counties where the share of the total population living in flood zones increased over the decade we examined. A number of those with the largest increases are bordered by rivers, such as Marshall County in western Kentucky, which sits between Kentucky Lake and the Ohio River. We also identified several hot spots where urban development has increased in coastal flood zones, including New York City and Miami. Risks can be loweredFlooding can happen wherever large rainstorms stall over an area, as we have seen in Boulder, Colorado, in 2013; in Texas and Louisiana in 2016; and over Houston now. However, if communities take steps to reduce flood risk, they can mitigate the danger to people and property.When we assess flood risk in a given location, we consider three questions.Hazard: How likely is a flood event?Exposure: How many people and physical assets are located there?Vulnerability: Do people have the capacity to deal with the event?Flood risk is the product of these three elements.We can decrease flood risk by reducing any of the three elements. For example, communities can reduce hazard by building flood control structures, such as dams and levees. They can use laws and policies, such as land use controls, to reduce exposure by steering housing development away from flood zones. And they can make people and property less vulnerable through other measures, such as elevating houses and developing better flood warning systems and emergency preparedness plans.How can people learn about flood risks where they live? The Federal Emergency Management Agency has created flood zone maps for most parts of the United States. The maps are based on models that consider factors such as elevation, average rainfall and whether a location is near a river or lake that could overflow.FEMA maps classify flood zones into three categories: high-risk, moderate-low risk and undetermined. High-risk zones have at least a 1% chance of being inundated by flood in any given year. These areas are also called base flood or 100-year flood zones.To obtain a federally insured mortgage on property in a 100-year flood zone, buyers are required to have flood insurance. This policy is designed to make people less vulnerable in the event of a flood, but it increases the cost of home ownership. As a result, flood zone designations can be very contentious.center_img Nina Lam is a distinguished professor of Louisiana Environmental Studies at Louisiana State University. This article was originally posted at The Conversation. Climate change effects, such as sea level rise and potentially more extreme weather, are increasing the risk of flooding, hurricanes and storm surges in coastal areas. Some communities are considering moving coastal populations inland to protect them. However, our research shows that people should be very careful about moving inland. They can still face flood hazards if their property is located in a high-risk flood zone. RELATED ARTICLES last_img read more

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What’s the Environmentally Friendliest Way to Shop?

first_imgIs cyber-shopping terrible for the environment?  Some say yes, with all those trucks heading out into suburbia to deliver your latest gadget, fashion garment, or book. But online retailers insist it is the greener delivery route—much better than you driving to the store. So, who is right? And are there even better ways?RELATED ARTICLESAs Electric Cars Stall, A Move to Greener Trucks and BusesAre Traffic-Clogged Cities Ready for Congestion Pricing?Beyond Sprawl: The Solar Suburbs of the FutureDesigning the Cities of the Future This really does matter for. Online shopping makes up one in seven retail purchases worldwide. Its value in 2019 will be a staggering $3.5 trillion, a figure that is rising by more than a fifth every year. How much of the total carbon footprint of what you buy is attributable to delivery varies hugely. But wherever your latest purchase comes from—whether a Chinese factory or a field in your home state—transport from the store or warehouse to your home likely dominates the delivery footprint, says Alan McKinnon, a professor of logistics at the Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg, Germany, and author of a new book Decarbonizing Logistics. What logistics folks call the “last mile” is usually the most energy-intensive stage, McKinnon and colleague Julia Edwards have pointed out, “and typically generates more CO2 emissions than all the upstream logistical activities.”  It is also where the difference between online and in-store shopping is greatest— nd McKinnon says that most of the time, delivery is best. A typical home delivery round of online purchases in Britain consists of 120 drops on a 50-mile (80 kilometer) round. That round produces some 50 pounds (20 kilograms) of CO2, or just over 6 ounces (170 grams) per individual delivery. If you went to the store, the typical drive would be around 13 miles (21 kilometers) there and back, which would generate 24 times more CO2.  So you’d have to pick up 24 items to break even, he says. Theory vs. real world That’s the theory. In the real world, the difference is much less, says manufacturing technology specialist Dimitri Weideli, who did an environmental analysis of online shopping while a research associate at MIT in 2013. For instance, 12% to 60% of home deliveries have been reported to fail first time. Either the van has to make a second and even third run, or customers end up driving to an out-of-town warehouse to pick up the product. Also, typically, one-fifth of products are returned, for whatever reason. Every false move increases the carbon footprint. Just as bad, our growing love of speed deliveries almost triples the footprint of online delivery, says Weideli. That is because your supplier no longer has the flexibility to bundle multiple orders into a single delivery, and because it sends out vans less full and to travel farther per delivery than they would if you were willing to wait a bit longer for your purchase to arrive. Weidel says such “impatient” cyber-shoppers have the worst carbon footprint of all. But even allowing for them, in general, whether buying laptops or Barbie dolls or T-shirts, he wrote in an analysis he did as a research associate at the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics in 2013, “online shopping is the most environmentally friendly option.” Of course, this assumes the comparison is with conventional shoppers who make special trips to the store for single purchases. Many don’t do that. We walk, bike, or take the bus. Or buy many items on a single shopping trip. In a bus ride, you share the emissions. On a typically half-empty bus, your share may still be greater than the emissions for a home delivery—seven times more if you are only buying one item, says Patricia van Loon, based on her research at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. But since the bus would have been on the route regardless, you haven’t added to the actual emissions. EVs, drones, and robots If we can shop better, can online retailers deliver better too? That last mile is still a source of great (and costly) inefficiency for them, say logistics analysts. It’s where both dollars and carbon emissions can be saved. So they are trying. Amazon wants half its shipments to be “net zero carbon” by 2030. But how? Electric vehicles are one possibility. With no tailpipe emissions, they reduce transport’s contribution to urban smog. But their carbon footprint depends on how their electricity is generated. Right now, an electric vehicle is a lot greener in Vermont than in coal-burning West Virginia. How about drones? They would mostly deliver one package at a time. But even flitting back and forth from the depot, drones could sometimes still reduce carbon emissions relative to delivery trucks, according to Anne Goodchild of the University of Washington. They are likely to work best with light, urgent deliveries, such as medicines, food or mail, and in confined high-demand areas such as university campuses. But staying aloft for long with a heavy load is energy-intensive. Drones could be combined with trucks that drive to local transport nodes, and then hand over to drones for the last mile. Or perhaps ground-based robots? This year, both FedEx and Amazon announced plans to deploy these smart, autonomous hampers-on-wheels along our sidewalks, dodging pedestrians and crossing at the lights. Lowe’s already has plans to deploy with FedEx, and FedEx says it is talking to Pizza Hut and Walmart about doing their deliveries as well. Low-tech options Some say low-tech is still the best route to low carbon. Many European cities have companies such as Deliveroo using bicycle couriers for fast, zero-emission meal deliveries from local restaurants. The system could be extended for other goods. Ford recently developed software that could summon bike couriers to take parcels in a suburban London neighborhood the last mile from truck to front door.  Lockers in shopping malls also get around the last mile problem for online retailers. Customers are given a code and pick up their own package. But if you drive there, the carbon gain is lost. The new kid on the block is crowd-shipping—hitchhiking for parcels. Start-ups like Roadie promise to “connect people who have stuff with driver already heading that way.” Drivers make bids to deliver. Right now in some places, half of all crowd-shipping trips are made specially for the delivery, while another third take long detours. So the potential carbon saving disappears. But the more people join in, the more efficient it could be. The bottom line The bottom line? Online shopping can be greener than driving to the store. Novel last-mile alternatives to conventional delivery trucks stand to make it even more environmentally friendly. But the devil is in the details. If we bundle our orders, and avoid the speedy delivery option, we boost the environmentally friendly quotient. (Imagine if we were offered a “green shipping” button when choosing dispatch options?) Other tips for reducing delivery’s environmental impact: Do be in when the courier calls. Don’t buy on a whim and then take up the “free return” option. Oh, and don’t binge on stuff. Some say the real danger from online shopping is it encourages us to buy stuff we wouldn’t otherwise. The purchase that doesn’t happen has the lowest delivery carbon footprint of all. Fred Pearce is a British environmental journalist and author. This post originally appeared at Ensia. For more information, see Decarbonizing E-Commerce: A Path to Low-Carbon Shipping.last_img read more

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Tata Zest Spotted on Test Launch Soon

first_imgTata Motors’s upcoming sedan Zest has been spied testing in India again, suggesting the imminent launch of the car.Tata Zest, a car which was first showcased at the country’s biggest automobile extravaganza, Delhi Auto Expo in February is expected to make its domestic auto market entry in near future. The car has made numerous appearances on the cyber space through spied images and reports, now the Motoroids has posted the spied images of the car which was seen testing in Pune.Zest, the first sedan in India with Automated Manual Transmission (AMT), will be offered in both petrol and diesel variants. The petrol version of the Zest will be powered by a 1.2 litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged Revotron engine under the hood, which can churn out a power of 85 PS at 5000 RPM and a peak torque of 140Nm 1750-3000 RPM.The diesel model will come with a 1.3 litre Quadrajet motor, which can generate 90 PS power at 4000 RPM and 200Nm torque at 1750-3000 RPM. The car is expected to come with features like new front grille, projector headlamps, steering wheel and dash board.The auto lovers are also expecting the launch of Tata’s premium hatchback Bolt in the country. Bolt will also pack the same 1.2 litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged Revotron engine and the 1.3 litre diesel engine, and will churn out the same power and torque. Bolt was spied testing in India recently. It is speculated to come with a new audio system that features MapMyIndia GPS, touchscreen and voice commands, center console, infotainment system, electric power steering in place of the Vista’s hydraulic unit, projector headlamps and LED tail lamps.Even though Tata is still silent on the launch date and the availability of the Zest and Bolt in the subcontinent market, the company’s exclusive websites for both the cars are live from Monday (24 March).last_img read more

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Trump denies preelection contact with Russia

Trump denies preelection contact with Russia

first_imgPhoto: Reuters US president Donald Trump insisted Thursday that neither he nor his campaign team had contacts with Russian officials in the run-up to last year’s US election, contradicting an explosive report which he blasted as “fake news.”Trump also defended Michael Flynn, the national security advisor whose resignation he demanded and received this week, saying Flynn “wasn’t wrong” for holding pre-inauguration phone calls with the Russian ambassador about US sanctions policy.Instead, Trump accused members of US intelligence agencies of breaking the law by leaking information about the calls.The new president, in the midst of a turbulent week of back-and-forth accusations about contacts with Russia and his battle with the intelligence community, addressed the concerns during an extraordinary White House press conference.Asked whether he or anyone on his staff had engaged in contacts with Russia prior to the election, Trump proclaimed: “No, nobody that I know of.”“I have nothing to do with Russia,” Trump said. “The whole Russia thing is a ruse.”It was a full-throated denunciation of a bombshell report by the New York Times which said intercepted calls and phone records show Trump aides were in repeated contact with Russian intelligence officials well before the US elections.“It’s all fake news,” Trump said, unleashing verbal assaults on the media.Trump stressed that the Times story centered instead on inappropriate action by US intelligence agencies, as he stepped up earlier Thursday attacks in which he vowed to catch “low-life leakers” of potentially classified information that led to the ouster of his national security advisor.Jeopardy “Those are criminal leaks” by people angry about Democrat Hillary Clinton’s loss, he told reporters, as he revealed he has asked the Justice Department to investigate the disclosures.“The people that gave out the information to the press should be ashamed of themselves.”The Washington Post meanwhile reported that current and former US officials said Flynn denied to FBI agents that he had discussed US sanctions on Russia with Moscow’s ambassador.Should it turn out that he discussed the sanctions, as Trump appears to believe he did, Flynn could be in legal jeopardy because lying to the FBI is a felony.“What he did wasn’t wrong,” Trump stressed.“I didn’t direct him” to discuss sanctions with Russia’s envoy, Trump added. “But I would have directed him because that’s his job” to talk with foreign contacts.Late Thursday Flynn’s replacement was still undetermined after former navy admiral Robert Harward, who Trump had reportedly tapped for the job, declined it, US media said.In his wide-ranging presser Trump defended his political agenda, and said that next week he will introduce an amended version of the much-criticized travel ban now caught up in court.He also pledged that new trade deals were coming that would stop countries from “taking advantage of us,” and said he would “show great heart” in dealing with undocumented immigrants who arrived as children and are protected from deportation.But the crux of his remarks centered on Russia connections.“I would love to be able to get along with Russia,” he insisted. “It would be much easier for me to be tough on Russia, but then we’re not going to make a deal.”The latest salvoes came amid reports that Trump plans to name New York billionaire Stephen Feinberg—who has no national security experience—to lead a sweeping review of US intelligence agencies, raising fears of a bid to curtail their independence.Trump had pointed the finger at the National Security Agency, which conducts electronic surveillance, and the FBI, which handles counter-intelligence probes, as possible sources of the leaks.The drumbeat of revelations has infuriated Democrats and alarmed Republican leaders, wary of Trump’s overtures toward Russia.“It is a cloud over the White House,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who has called for in-depth investigations.‘Collusion?’ Amid mounting calls for more sweeping congressional investigations, one Democrat openly accused Trump’s campaign of improper contacts with Russia.“I believe there was collusion,” House Democrat Maxine Waters told CNN, stressing that Trump’s focus on the leaks was a distraction.Trump’s stance on leaks has flipped since last year’s campaign when he proclaimed “I love WikiLeaks”—the organization that published hacked Clinton campaign emails.He also dismissed as a “joke” his suggestion that Russia was behind the damaging leaks.By January, US intelligence had concluded that those leaks were part of a wider campaign ordered by President Vladimir Putin to try to tilt the election in Trump’s favor. Moscow denies any involvement.Meanwhile, the Trump administration has moved gingerly on Russia, sending top officials to Europe to reassure NATO allies while making its opening official contacts with the Russians.Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Bonn, and said Washington is prepared to work with Russia “when we can find practical areas of cooperation.”In Brussels, Defense Secretary James Mattis said the Pentagon was not ready “right now” for military cooperation with Moscow “but our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground.”last_img read more

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