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20,000 People Urge Scottish Government to Clean Up its ICT Supply Chain

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A petition calling on the Scottish Government to start monitoring labour standards in its electronics supply chains has gathered over 20,000 signatures in under 48 hours (note 1). Opposition MSPs have also pledged support to the campaign.

The petition, launched by petition site SumOfUs.org and campaigning group People & Planet is calling on the Scottish Government to join a European Information and Communications Technology (ICT) labour standards monitoring group Electronics Watch. The move would ensure that Scottish Government ICT contractors are held into account for labour standards violations in factories that they use to produce ICT equipment.

The Scottish public sector spends £750m per year on ICT equipment, while the Scottish Government spends £150m of its direct annual procurement budget on electronics (Note 1). Through its membership, Electronics Watch monitors 1% of public spending on ICT equipment in Europe. This gives Electronics Watch £1.2 Billion of leverage over the market.

A number of Scottish public sector bodies have already joined electronics Watch including the University of Aberdeen, University of Edinburgh and Advanced Procurement Universities and Colleges. Public Sector giants Transport For London has been one of the most recent affiliates (note 2).

The ICT industry has been tarnished in recent years by a number of scandals, involving majors brands getting caught abusing internationally recognised labour standards (note 3).

Activists from the People & Planet gathered today outside the Scottish Parliament to draw attention to the petition asks. Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson and Green MSP Alison Johnstone joined protesters to call on the Scottish Government to take action and sign up to Electronics Watch.

Patricia Ferguson has lodged a motion in Holyrood (note 4), urging the Government to recognise its responsibility in upholding international labour standards and join the monitoring body.

Patricia Ferguson, Labour MSP, said: “I am sure that the Scottish Government would not knowingly spend taxpayers money on equipment that’s been made in inhumane conditions by underpaid, abused workers. That would be unacceptable, and I hope that the Scottish Government will check out its supply chain and join Electronics Watch.”

“At the moment, the Scottish Government may be spending taxpayers’ money on equipment that’s been made in inhumane conditions by underpaid, abused workers. This is simply unacceptable, and I urge the Government to clean up its act and join Electronics Watch.”

Dominic O’Hagan, Activism & Sweatshop Free Co-ordinator, said: “The Scottish Government has already shown that Scotland can take the lead in supporting workers’ rights by recently becoming a Living Wage Employer. We’re now asking them to recognise the rights and needs of workers further afield.

“The electronics supply chain is tarnished by systematic abuse of workers’ basic rights, and our government must make sure it is playing its part in tackling these violations through our huge collective purchasing clout.

“This petition shows that there is real public demand for Scottish Government to lead the way in ethical electronics supply chains. I hope Scotland will be a good global citizen by becoming the first nation to sign up to Electronics Watch.”

Environment

Consumers Investing in Eco-Friendly Cars with the UK Green Revolution

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Eco-Friendly Cars

The UK public appears to be embracing the electric car UK Green Revolution, as recent statistics reveal that more and more consumers are making the switch from petrol and diesel to electric or alternatively fuelled vehicles. The demand for diesel fell by almost a third in October compared to last year, whilst hybrid and electric cars rose by a staggering 36.9%.

Time for UK Green Revolution Change

So, what is the reason for this sudden change? This comes down to the current situation in the UK, which has led to people embracing eco-friendly technologies and automobiles. One of the main reasons is the Government’s clean air plans, which includes the impending 2040 ban on petrol and diesel automobiles. There is then the rollout of the T-Charge in London, the city of Oxford announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel from the city centre by 2020 and various other big announcements which take up a lot of space and time in the UK press.

h2>Diesel’s Reputation

In addition to this, the negative publicity against diesel has had a huge impact on the UK public. This has led to a lot of confusion over emissions, but actually, the newest low emission diesel automobiles will not face restrictions and are not as bad to drive as many believe. Most notably, German brand Volkswagen has been affected due to the emissions scandal in recent times. It was discovered that some emissions controls for VW’s turbocharged direct injection diesel engines were only activated during laboratory testing, so these automobiles were emitting 40 times more NO in real-world driving. As a result of this and all the negative publicity, the manufacturer has made adaptations and amended their vehicles in Europe. Additionally, they have made movements to improve the emissions from their cars, meaning that they are now one of the cleaner manufacturers. Their impressive range includes the Polo, Golf and Up, all of which can be found for affordable prices from places like Unbeatable Car.

The Current Market

The confusion over the Government’s current stance on diesel has clearly had a huge impact on the public. So much so that the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called on the Government to use the Autumn Budget to restore stability in the market and encourage the public to invest in the latest low emission automobiles. SMMT believes that this is the fastest and most effective way to address the serious air quality concerns in this country.

Incentives

One way that the Government has encouraged the public to make the switch is by making incentives. Motorists can benefit from a grant when they purchase a new plug-in vehicle, plus there are benefits like no road tax for electric vehicles and no congestion charge. When these are combined with the low running costs, it makes owning an electric automobile an appealing prospect and especially because there are so many great models available and a type to suit every motorist. One of the main reasons holding motorists back is the perceived lack of charging points. However, there are currently over 13,000 up and down the country with this number rapidly increasing each month. It is thought that the amount of charging points will outnumber petrol stations by 2020, so it is easy to see more and more motorists start to invest in electric cars way ahead of the 2040 ban.

It is an interesting time in the UK as people are now embracing the electric car revolution. The Government’s clean air plans seem to have accelerated this revolution, plus the poor publicity that diesel has received has only strengthened the case for making the switch sooner rather than later.

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Environment

How To Make The Shipping Industry Greener

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green shipping industry

Each and every year more damage is done to our planet. When businesses are arranging pallet delivery or any other kind of shipping, the environment usually isn’t their number one concern. However, there’s an increasing pressure for the shipping industry to go greener, particularly as our oceans are filling with plastic and climate change is occurring. Fortunately, there’s plenty of technology out there to help with this. Here’s how the freight industry is going greener.

Make Ship Scrapping Cleaner

There are approximately 51,400 merchant ships trading around the world at the moment. Although the act of transporting tonnes of cargo across the ocean every year is very damaging to the environment, the scrapping of container ships is also very harmful. Large container ships contain asbestos, heavy metals and oils which are toxic to both people and the environment during demolition. The EU has regulations in place which ensure that all European ships are disposed of in an appropriate manner at licenced yards and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced guidelines to make recycling of ships safe and environmentally friendly back in 2009, but since then only Norway, Congo and France have agreed to the policy. The IMO needs to ensure that more countries are on board with the scheme, especially India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which are some of the worst culprits for scrapping, which may mean enforcing the regulations in the near future.

Reduce Emissions

A single large container ship can produce the same amount of emissions as 50 million cars, making international shipping one of the major contributors towards global warming. Stricter emissions regulations are needed to reduce the amount of emissions entering our atmosphere. The sulphur content within ship fuel is largely responsible for the amount of emissions being produced; studies have shown that a reduction in the sulphur content in fuel oil from 35,000 p.p.m to 1,000 p.p.m could reduce the SOx emissions by as much as 97%! The IMO has already begun to ensure that ships with the Emission Control Areas of the globe, such as the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel, are using this lower sulphur content fuel, but it needs to be enforced around the world to make a significant difference.

As it’s not currently practical or possible to completely phase-out heavy, conventional fuels around the world, a sulphur scrubber system can be added to the exhaust system of ships to help reduce the amount of sulphur being emitted.

Better Port Management

As more and more ships are travelling around the world, congestion and large volumes of cargo can leave ports in developing countries overwhelmed. Rapidly expanding ports can be very damaging to the surrounding environment, take Shenzhen for example, it’s a collection of some of the busiest ports in China and there has been a 75% reduction in the number of mangroves along the coastline. Destroying valuable ecosystems has a knock-on effect on the rest of the country’s wildlife. Port authorities need to take responsibility for the environmental impact of construction and ensure that further expansion is carried out sustainably.

Some have suggested that instead of expansion, improved port management is needed. If port authorities can work with transport-planning bureaus, they will be able to establish more efficient ways of unloading cargo to reduce the impact on the environment caused by shipping congestion.

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