Green jobs present an opportunity for a sustainable global economy and society

Working Towards Sustainable Development: Opportunities for decent work and social inclusion in a green economy is the title of an in-depth report published today by a cluster of international organizations: the United Nations Environment Programme, International Labour Organization, International Organization of Employers, and the International Trade Union Confederation. The report is one of the most helpful that GallonDaily has seen for some time.

The report documents evidence that for countries at all levels of development the drive towards environmental sustainability and greener economies is gaining momentum. Already, tens of millions of green jobs have been created. For example, employment in environmental goods and services in the United States in 2010 was 3.1 million (2.4 percent)and growing. Similar levels and dynamics are seen in other countries, such as in Brazil, where 2.9 million green jobs (6.6 per cent of formal employment)were recorded in 2010 in sectors aimed at reducing environmental harms.

Of particular interest to GallonDaily, the report documents that not all sectors are going to contribute equally to green employment. The report identifies agriculture, forestry, fishing, energy, resource-intensive manufacturing, recycling, buildings, and transportation as being the sectors that will undergo major changes as the world moves towards a greener economy. For each of these sectors the report documents such aspects as technical and policy options for greening the sector, impacts on employment and incomes, good social and labour practices in greening the sector, social and labour challenges and issues, and the way forward.

Of the nine economies with data available, Australia, Canada, EU, France, Germany, Japan, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, and United States, Canada is reported as having the highest percentage of employment in carbon-intensive industry sectors. Canada has 48% of employment in these sectors, compared to 46% for Japan, 45% for the US and 38% for the UK.

For those seeking to implement green initiatives in industry, particularly in the sectors mentioned above, GallonDaily recommends this report as a ‘must read’. It can be found at

Electric Trolley Trucks may come soon to North American highways

GallonDaily is generally not disposed to articles that speculate about what may be in Canada’s future but a recent announcement from Siemens was so compelling, and so close to what may be, that we could not resist. Many Canadians will recall trolley buses, those speedy, silent, and local emissions-free buses that ran on a couple of wires strung from poles along the side of the road. Residents and visitors to Vancouver still have the pleasure of riding on trolley buses operated by BC Transit as part of the city’s public transportation network.

Now Siemens is developing the trolley truck. Same idea as the trolley bus but with the same kind of pickups as a light rail transit train.  Two pickups are necessary because the truck is not able to use the running rail as a power return connection in the way that a metal wheeled train can.

Siemens states that its eHighway trucks are already running in demo mode in Germany and will soon be running in a similar demo in a couple of huge port areas in California. The smart element of the eHighway truck is that, like some modern trolley buses, it can run on electricity where wires are present and on diesel in areas where there is no overhead system.

Siemens is predicting that trucks like these could soon be part of North America’s long distance freight transportation system. Seems like a winner to GallonDaily. For details see with photos and more details in Portuguese at

World Environment Day next week: Canada mostly inactive

Many readers will remember that Canada used to celebrate Environment Week during the first week of June. Environment Week was established through the initiative of former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in 1971. In 1972 the United Nations established June 5th as World Environment Day, coinciding with Canada’s Environment Week.

Canada used to be a major player in World Environment Day, and was of course the key sponsor in Environment Week,  but it does not look as though that will be the case this year.  Last year Environment Canada established a Facebook page, , to promote Environment Week. Last year’s page is still posted, with no update for 2012.

The United Nations Environment Program maintains a catalog of World Environment Day activities, to which event organizers are invited to post event notices. The United States has almost 90 events posted in major cities across the country, with many of them in Washington DC. The United Kingdom has 40 events posted, several of them in London, and Brazil has more than 90 events well distributed across the country. Canada has 26 events posted, of which 10 are in Montreal and none are in Ottawa.

Environment Canada claims that the theme of this year’s Canadian Environment Week is “Working for a Clean, Safe and Sustainable Environment” but there is no evidence that anything is happening in our Nation’s Capital to promote the theme.

GallonDaily recognizes that counting the number of World Environment Day events is not a good way to measure a country’s commitment to the environment but when much of the rest of the World is organizing events around World Environment Day we would suggest that our inaction is not going to help our environmental reputation.

There is still time to register World Environment Day events with the UNEP database. Hopefully there is someone in Ottawa who believes that this is one registry on which our Nation’s Capital should appear.

To view the World Environment Day event database, or to learn more about World Environment Day, visit

To view Environment Canada’s commentary on Environment Week 2012 visit

Stock Car Racing adopts environmental challenge

It is not often that one expects to find an article about stock car racing in an environmental publication. In fact, GallonDaily cannot recall that it has ever happened before, at least not in a positive sense.

Last week, NASCAR, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc., and the US Environmental Protection Agency signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation in Environmental Stewardship.  Initially, NASCAR plans to focus on:

  • reducing the environmental impact and costs of its operations;
  • support environmental education and awareness;
  • identify and potentially source green concession products; and
  • promote environmental stewardship within the stock car industry.

To all of which, GallonDaily can only say: If the stock car racing industry can go green, anyone can go green!

For more information, including a copy of the MOU, visit

A similar press release is at!opendocument but why not take this unique opportunity to visit an automobile racing site to learn more about an environmental initiative!

Beer maker hopes you will skip shaving for World Environment Day

For the third year in a row, Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser, is asking everyone to skip shaving, to “Grow One. Save a Million”, for World Environment Day on Tuesday, June 5.

Anheuser-Busch claims that its breweries have reduced water use by 37% in the last four years and that the “Grow One. Save a Million” campaign is one way to highlight the Company’s commitment to water conservation. In addition, Budweiser is donating $150,000 to River Network to help support watershed conservation projects in each of the company’s US brewery cities.

The Company claims that the average shave uses 3 to 10 US gallons of water, with a typical usage of 5 gallons. It is seeking to save a million gallons of water through urging its customers, employees, and others to stop shaving in the days leading up to World Environment Day. Pledges for participation can be registered at  (free Facebook registration required for access).

Labatt, maker of Budweiser in Canada, does not appear to be participating in the water conservation promotion of its parent AB InBev but AB InBev does state in its social responsibility report that water use is being reduced “in every facility”.  In 2011, AB InBev claims that “the company’s average water use was 3.71 hectoliters per hectoliter of production, which represents an 8.2% reduction versus 2010, and a 13.7% reduction against its 2009 baseline or of the equivalent of some 9,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools”.

Note that women are not excluded from the “Grow One. Save a Million” campaign. Women can get involved by asking a guy to Grow One on their behalf.  Both men and women can take additional pledges to shorten their showers and/or turn off the faucet while brushing their teeth.

Source: PR Newswire (

Source: PR Newswire ( and

Sunscreen advice from EWG: important questions

The Environmental Working Group’s previous reports on sunscreens have been controversial among industry brandowners but both industry and the US government seem not to have recognized that when government fails to regulate or at least advise consumers on product safety then environmental groups are provided with a massive opportunity to inject their own advice into the marketplace.

EWG, an environmental group that specializes in toxic substances in consumer products, has just published its 2012 edition of Skin Deep Sunscreens 2012, a very detailed report on potentially toxic substances in sunscreen products. EWG states that its review of the latest research on sunscreen ingredients “might tempt you to give up on sunscreens altogether. That’s not the right answer. Despite the unknowns about sunscreens’ efficacy, public health agencies still recommend using them, just not as your first line of defense against the sun.”

Among the information that EWG provides:

  • there is very little evidence that sunscreen prevents most types of skin cancer.
  • sunscreens might increase the risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer for some people.
  • there is no proof that high-SPF products are better.
  • the common sunscreen ingredient retinyl palmitate (vitamin A) may speed development of cancer.
  • sunscreen chemicals approved in Europe but not by the US FDA provide up to five times more UVA protection; U.S. companies have been waiting five years for FDA approval to use the same compounds.
  • the FDA has no plans to consider evidence of hormone disruption for sunscreen chemicals.
The EWG sunscreens 2012 report has sections on:
  • Sunscreens Exposed: Nine Surprising Truths
  • Health Agencies Question Sunscreen Efficacy
  • Sunscreen and skin cancer
  • Europe’s Better Sunscreens
  • Do Sunscreens Damage Skin?
  • FDA Fails Consumers
  • Getting enough vitamin D
  • The Problem With Vitamin A
  • What’s Wrong With High SPF?
  • Nanomaterials and Hormone Disrupters in Sunscreens

The report, and an app providing brand by brand advice for the US market (note that sunscreens on the Canadian market may not have the same formulation as similar US products) is available at

Climate impacts from uses of wood

When forests are cut they are no longer able to serve as a sink for atmospheric carbon. Sustainable forestry initiatives try to ensure that forests are maintained as forest sinks through replanting initiatives but even so-called sustainable forestry does not always lead to consistent uptake of atmospheric carbon because the rate of uptake of carbon by large trees can be greater than the rate of uptake by seedlings. New plantings may not be designed to consistently sequester the same weight of carbon per hectare as the forests that have been cut.

Now a paper in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change is drawing attention to the fact that the rate at which the carbon contained in cut trees returns to the atmosphere is significantly dependent on the uses made of the wood. If wood is pulped for paper, paper is a product with a generally short lifetime and much of the carbon will be returned to the atmosphere very quickly. If wood is made into furniture or buildings, it will have a long lifetime and the carbon contained within it will be sequestered for decades.

The research paper demonstrates that the median carbon stored in wood 30 years after it was cut is 36% for Europe, the United States and Canada and 2% for the rest of world. The authors claim that this aspect of the fate of cleared forest has not previously been given adequate consideration in climate models.

As part of their research the authors have developed  a global set of dynamic carbon-storage factors that can be used to improve climate models and help develop carbon-mitigating bioenergy policies.

The paper in Nature Climate Change is available at

Pesticide critics apply new monitoring technique

Pesticide Action Network North America, a large environmental group with the objective of “replacing the use of hazardous pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives”, has just published a report which brings a new tool to advancement of public knowledge of the pesticides that are used on food crops.

Pesticide Drift Monitoring in Minnesota June 13, 2006 – August 13, 2009 is the report of a study which used ‘Drift Catcher’ sampling devices located on the properties of local residents who were concerned about the possible effects of agricultural pesticides on family and animal health. The ‘Drift Catcher’ is a well established low cost easy to use air sampling tool. Using a community-based sampling approach, PAN was able to find that local potato crops were being sprayed with chlorothalonil, a permitted fungicide classified by US EPA as a likely human carcinogen. PAN concluded that “central Minnesota residents in potato growing areas are regularly exposed to low to moderate levels of the commonly used fungicide chlorothalonil in air”.

The PAN report provides full details on the sampling technique used including site selection, sample collection, sample analysis, quality assurance and quality control, and interpretation of results. Only the names and addresses of the people who hosted the sampling sites have been omitted, for privacy reasons.

Two aspects make this report interesting to GallonDaily. First. the ‘Drift Catcher’ social networking methodology makes it much easier for environmental groups to gather data which can lead to such media headlines as “pesticide drift raises health concerns” and, second, we can expect in future to see many more environmental groups undertaking research on pesticide use on food and other crops using techniques such as this.

Pesticide Drift Monitoring in Minnesota June 13, 2006 – August 13, 2009.

Comprehensive GHG analysis for energy sources

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the US Department of Energy has recently published a detailed harmonized lifecycle analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions of various energy sources. In summary, the results show that:

  • all renewable and nuclear sources of energy supply except for the worst cases of biopower perform very significantly better than natural gas, oil, and coal.
  • the range of possible emission scenarios for biopower, photovoltaics, and nuclear is greater than the range for concentrating solar, geothermal, hydro, ocean, and wind.
  • the median of GHG emissions data for concentrating solar, hydro, ocean, and wind is significantly lower than that for biopower, photovoltaics, geothermal, and nuclear.
  • post-combustion carbon capture and sequestration has the potential to bring total lifecycle GHG emissions within the upper 25th percent of the range of several renewable technologies.

Very detailed results are published in a number of locations with links at For a summary of results click on the Findings and Results link.

Debate over export of water may heat up this summer

Backbench Conservative MP Larry Miller has introduced a Private Member’s Bill entitled Bill C-383 Transboundary Waters Protection Act: An Act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act and the International River Improvements Act. Similar bills pop up from time to time but, like most Private Member’s Bills, they rarely make much progress through the legislative system. This time just might be different because Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has announced that the Bill has the support of the Government.

The trouble is that Bill C-383 does not do very much. Although headlines are suggesting that the Bill would prevent bulk water exports, the fact is that it would only stop bulk exports of water from the Canadian portion of rivers that already cross the Canada – US border. There are relatively few transboundary rivers and GallonDaily is not aware of any current threats to any of them from major water export undertakings. Boundary waters, such as the Great Lakes, are already covered by legislation. Rivers and lakes which do not cross the border are apparently not be affected by this legislation. As tabled in the house, the Bill will also have no effect on manufactured products that contains water, including water and other beverages in bottles or other containers.

House of Commons and Committee debate on this Bill will likely provide a field day for groups with opinions on water exports and for the media. At least one of the opposition parties will likely move amendments to expand the scope of the Bill and the Government may find itself under considerable public opinion pressure to do just that.

No date has yet been set for debate or committee hearings on this Bill but it will likely be dealt with, if it is going to be dealt with, this summer.

The text of the Bill can be found at