Private sector analysis updates climate change risk atlas

Maplecroft, a leading UK-based risk analysis consultancy, has published an updated Climate Change and Environmental Risk Atlas. The Atlas identifies level of risk faced by countries, regions, and major cities from the impacts of climate change by the year 2025. According to a map released by Maplecroft, most of Canada is low risk but parts of the prairie provinces, Atlantic Canada, and coastal BC are in a somewhat higher risk category. By  far the greatest impacts are predicted to be in developing countries, including some with which Canada has important business and development assistance connections.

The risk assessments in the Maplecroft Atlas are based on three factors:

  • exposure to extreme climate-related events;
  • sensitivity of populations in terms of health, education, agricultural dependence and available infrastructure; and
  • the adaptive capacity of countries to combat the impacts of climate change.

Maplecroft predicts that, by 2025, 31% of global economic output will be based in countries facing ‘high’ or ‘extreme’ climate change risks. Countries facing extreme climate change risks include, but are not limited to, Bangladesh (at the most extreme risk), Sierra Leone, Haiti, South Sudan, Nigeria, DR Congo, Cambodia, Philippines, India, Pakistan and Viet Nam. Countries facing high climate change risks include Indonesia, Thailand, Kenya and China. Canadian companies doing business in these countries, and others in the extreme and high Maplecroft categories would be well advised, in GallonDaily’s opinion, to undertake a more detailed climate change risk assessment of their investments and partnerships.

Though the US is overall a low risk country, Maplecroft has identified some areas which face higher risks from climate change. these include the coastal regions of Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, South and North Carolina.

A synthesis of the Atlas is available at  Access to the complete Atlas requires a subscription or payment of what is likely a relatively substantial fee.

New Alberta environmental monitoring agency

The Government of Alberta has introduced legislation to implement what it calls the Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency. Although the Government has announced the Agency in the context of monitoring of oil sands activities, the terms of reference of AEMERA are actually much broader:

(a) to obtain credible and relevant scientific data and other information regarding the condition of the environment in Alberta,

(b) to ensure the data and other information are available and reported to the public in an open and transparent manner, and

(c) any other purpose prescribed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council [the Alberta Cabinet].

These purposes are consistent with the Premier’s statement that “People will be able to go on websites when this is done, look at a point on a map and see exactly what’s going on at that point in time.” In other words, the Bill, assuming it is passed by the Legislature, will cover not just the oil sands region but every other part of Alberta. It is not a bad idea, in GallonDaily’s opinion, to remove environmental monitoring from day to day political interference. However, the Bill may go further than industries beyond the oil sands region were expecting. Even the quantity of particulate emissions from farms, a significant but not well measured source of air pollution in Alberta, could be captured and published under the terms of reference of the new monitoring agency.

The new Agency, in carrying out its purposes, shall:

(a) plan, co-ordinate and conduct environmental monitoring,

(b) collect, store, manage, analyze and evaluate environmental monitoring data,

(c) report on the status and trends related to the condition of the environment on the basis of the evaluation of the data collected,

(d) make environmental monitoring data and related evaluations and assessments publicly available,

(e) develop standards respecting environmental monitoring,

(f) establish advisory committees or panels respecting environmental monitoring, and

(g) carry out other activities determined by the Minister.

The Agency may charge fees on a cost-recovery basis for requested services provided by the Agency in carrying out its

The Bill that has been tabled in the Alberta Legislature can be found at

GallonDaily will follow its progress with interest.

US environmental group publishes endocrine disruptor list

The Environmental Working Group is a high profile US non-governmental organization that uses science to support its claims but sometimes presents information in a manner that some more mainstream scientists consider distorting to the level of risk. That is GallonDaily’s caveat atop this report of a list of ‘Dirty Dozen’ endocrine disruptors that the group has just published. Despite the caveat, the list is likely to gain traction in environmental and consumer protection circles because of the shortage of other information about endocrine disruptors, those substances which mimic mammalian hormones and potentially cause such effects as birth defects, cancers, learning disabilities, and feminization of males. There is a great deal of research about endocrine disruptors going on but, beyond bisphenol A, relatively little dissemination of information about which substances may have these effects.

EWG and the Keep A Breast Foundation, a US-based international advocacy group, have stepped into the information breach with a ‘Dirty Dozen’ endocrine disruptor list. Few of the substances on this list are new to the charge of endocrine disruption but disseminating such a list may serve to increase public awareness of the endocrine disruption issue. The list is:

  • bisphenol A – used to manufacture some plastics and food can linings but now banned in Canada from baby bottles and baby food containers
  • dioxin – an unwanted byproduct from combustion of chlorinated materials and some plastics
  • atrazine – a pesticide
  • phthalates – used to provide enhanced flexibility in some plastics
  • perchlorate – a component of rocket fuel
  • fire retardants
  • lead
  • arsenic
  • mercury
  • perfluorinated substances – used in manufacture of non-stick surfaces
  • organophosphate pesticides
  • glycol ethers – used as solvents in paint, cleaning products, etc.

More information from EWG at

Government of Wales proposes fee on reusable shopping bags

Claiming success with its 5p (7.5 cent CDN) charge on single use shopping bags, the Welsh Government is now proposing to include in legislation a provision for a similar charge on reusable shopping bags. The reason: the Government is concerned that people are buying reusable shopping bags and using them as if they were disposable. The situation has been fuelled in part by retailers selling reusable bags at prices as low as 10p.

Wales already has one of the most complicated shopping bag fee regimes in the world. Single-use shopping bags are exempt from the 5p charge if they are used for:

  • food items that are unwrapped – loose fruit and vegetables, bread, pick and mix sweets etc. This includes food items that are partly unwrapped – food placed in a sleeve or other part open wrapper.
  • loose seeds, bulbs, corms or rhizomes – loose grass seed, flower bulbs, seed potatoes etc.
  • unpackaged blades – axe, knife blade or razor blade.
  • unpackaged plants or flowers that could have been contaminated by soil.
  • packaged uncooked fish or fish products, meat or meat products, poultry or poultry products in a small bag, such as those found on a roll in the fruit and vegetable aisle.
  • live aquatic creatures in water – fish, coral, crabs etc.

The government gives the following examples which to GallonDaily illustrate how complex the rules have already become:

  • You could have loose apples, potatoes and pears in one bag and not have to charge. If you then placed a box of tea bags in there too, you would need to apply the charge.
  • If you went to a fast food restaurant and purchased a packet of fries and a burger then the fries can be placed in a free bag as they are only part wrapped and you would not be expected to place these in a reusable bag as there could be some food safety risks.  If the burger is also placed in the bag, then the bag would be charged for.

Imagine now a similar set of rules for reusable bags!

The government is also proposing to give itself the power to redirect bag fees from environmental good causes, to which they must now be directed, to “any good cause”. No doubt the work of the government will eventually be considered a good cause!

GallonDaily must explain that it is not opposed to charging for shopping bags. Almost anything provided for free is more likely to be wasted than stuff we have to pay for, so elimination of free stuff in stores or elsewhere is a good step towards sustainability. However, governments that are imposing charges for shopping bags tend to claim that their actions are making a huge difference for the environment when in fact they are a miniscule step in the direction of a more sustainable society. There are many things that government could be doing, such as helping to reduce food waste, that would have far greater benefits than messing around with new legislation for a fee on shopping bags.

Everything you want to know about the Welsh Government shopping bag charge is at and the White paper on the proposed new Environment (Wales) Bill, which is where the proposal to charge for reusable bags (known in Wales as ‘bags for life’) can be found,  is at

Environmental media awards

Last week the Los Angeles based Environmental Media Association presented the 23rd Annual EMA Awards. The Environmental Media Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to harnessing the power of the entertainment industry and the media to educate the global public on environmental issues and motivate sustainable lifestyles. EMA runs a number of programs, including supporting gardens and greenery in urban schools across Los Angeles; a recognition program honouring progress in sustainable film making and event planning; providing advice to celebrities and entertainment professionals on thought-provoking, attention-getting ways to role model healthy, sustainable lifestyles to the general public; and a green parenting program. EMA also works with business to move the green agenda forward. Its corporate program operates under the credo “We can all change the world through shopping!” [GallonDaily is only reporting, not necessarily agreeing!]

The winners of the 23rd Annual EMA Awards included such well-known celebrities, films, and programs as

  • Ongoing Commitment Award: Matt Damon
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Bill McKibben
  • Futures Award: Hayden Panettiere
  • Screen Actors Guild Awards®
  • Feature Film: Promised Land
  • Documentary Film: Gasland Part II
  • Television Episodic Drama: “Chapter 9,” House of Cards
  • Television Episodic Comedy: “Mother Fracker,” Last Man Standing
  • Reality Television: “Gangs & Oil”, VICE Children’s Television: “What’s the Deal With Fracking?”
  • Nick News With Linda Ellerbee [Nickelodeon]

Additional information, including a video of the full awards show, is available at Lots more information at

Water focus for major UK retailer

Retailers have focussed on climate, sustainability, and, in one case, on environmental footprint but the UK’s Sainsbury may be the first to make water conservation a priority. In March 2013, Sainsbury claims that it achieved a 50% reduction in water use per square metre, – a saving of almost one billion litres each year (or 393 Olympic sized swimming pools) at the same time as growing its floor space by up to 40% since 2005/06.

The UK retailer Sainsbury’s has introduced Water Neutral at its ‘environmentally friendly’ store at Weymouth Gateway in Dorset, on the south coast of England. The plan is that the store will be self sufficient in water. One hundred per cent of its water demand will be met through water efficient infrastructure and offsetting partnerships in the local community. As a result of this initiative the total water used within the local catchment area will not increase as a result of this new store. Sainsbury’s will also replicate this approach at its new supermarket in Leicester, opening at the end of November.

Seventy per cent of the water demand of the supermarket will be met through rainwater harvesting and other water efficient infrastructure. The remaining 30 per cent, which needs to be drinking quality potable water for food preparation, will be offset by sponsoring water saving initiatives at partner sites in the local community. For example, this store will offset at least 4.5 m3 of potable water each day through collaborations with Weymouth College and Wey Valley School in the same community of Weymouth. This will also substantially reduce these educational institutes’ annual water bills.

Water is an increasingly scarce resource, not just in the UK but also in North America. While two stores out of more than 1000 is only a small start, GallonDaily believes that Sainsbury’s is to be congratulated for making water conservation its latest environmental priority.

The Sainsbury’s press release on Water Neutral is at

Legionella in compost

A recent paper in the journal Clinical Microbiology and Infection by researchers at the University of  Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, posits that Legionella bacteria present in commercial compost and commercially blended topsoils may present a significant public health risk. The authors suggest that the addition of general hygiene warnings to compost package may be beneficial in protecting public health.

The study is based on analysis of twenty-two store-bought composts, one green-waste compost and one homemade compost. Legionella sp. bacteria were found in fifteen of the twenty-four samples.  Public concern has been enhanced by a couple of recent cases of UK gardeners being diagnosed with Legionellosis after working with compost in their gardens and one UK case of a 63 year old female death ascribed by an inquest of Legionellosis.

Experts suggest that gardeners can reduce their exposure to dust from commercial compost by wetting the material before working with it, wearing gloves and a face mask, and washing their hands afterwards. In any case the risk of acquiring Legionellosis from compost remains at an extremely low level. However, even one premature death is one too many. Gallondaily suggests that the further research is urgent because the last thing the compost industry needs, as environmental experts work to increase the amount of organic waste going to compost rather than landfill, is a barrier to markets for finished compost.

The scientists recommend further research to better understand the problem and to determine whether the results from this small scale study transfer to the larger universe of commercial compost.

An abstract and a link to the full article (payment or subscription required) are available at

LA Times rejects letters from climate change deniers

In what is almost certainly a North American first, one of the major newspapers in the US, the Los Angeles Times, has announced that it will no longer publish letters to the Editor which attempt to deny global warming. in reiterating the announcement the Letters Editor makes the following key points:

  • when deciding which letters should run among hundreds on such weighty matters as climate change, I [the Letters Editor] must rely on the experts — in other words, those scientists with advanced degrees who undertake tedious research and rigorous peer review.
  • those scientists have provided ample evidence that human activity is indeed linked to climate change.
  • I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page; when one does run, a correction is published.
  • saying “there’s no sign humans have caused climate change” is not stating an opinion, it’s asserting a factual inaccuracy.

Many Canadian newspapers regularly publish letters from climate change deniers. GallonDaily’s local daily paper, the Hamilton Spectator, publishes climate change denial articles on the op-ed page so frequently that GallonDaily suspects that the Editor is a climate change denier. Yet every week the Hamilton Spectator publishes its ‘accuracy pledge’ in which it claims “We strive always to ensure the information we provide our readers is factual and correct.’

It will be interesting to see whether other newspapers and media outlets follow the LA Times’ lead.

The LA Times announcement was made earlier this month and may be found at,0,871615.story

We missed an environmental initiative in the Federal budget!

Today we break our usual rule of no more than one article per day to let you know that we missed an environment-related initiative in this week’s Federal budget.

In the budget the government announced that the Government will:

  • End “pay to pay” policies, so customers won’t pay extra to receive paper bills.

These programs, under which people pay an amount, often $2.00, to receive a paper bill instead of an electronic bill, are designed to encourage acceptance of electronic bills, saving the environmental impacts of paper making and postal delivery. The pulp and paper industry has been lobbying hard against electronic communications, (see, for example, ) and seems to have won at least a partial victory for more paper use (or is it paper waste?) in this year’s Throne Speech.

While taking your time by presenting an extra article today, GallonDaily notes that we had hoped to present a summary of the environmental, and environment business, aspects of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement  either today or Monday. However, the federal government and the EU have not yet released the text of the Agreement and we are not expecting it for some time. Instead, the Government of Canada has released a pile of propaganda in support of CETA with no discussion of the environmental aspects or of any downsides (see for the propaganda). We will publish a summary of the environmental and sustainability implications of the Agreement, as we see them, as quickly as possible once the actual text of the agreement is made available.

Business not doing enough on sustainability, say CEOs

The United Nations Global Compact, launched in 2004, is an initiative to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation. Now the UNGC and Accenture Management Consulting have undertaken a survey of 1000 global CEOs to see how business leaders consider their community is doing to implement sustainability.

The top level findings include:

  • The global economy is on the wrong track, and business is not playing its part in forging a sustainable future.
  • Some 63% of CEOs expect sustainability to transform their industry within five years—and 76% believe that embedding sustainability into core business will drive revenue growth. But even as they make progress in embedding sustainability through their business they are constrained by market expectations, and are struggling to quantify and capture the business value of sustainability.
  • Many business leaders feel that given the structures, incentives and demands of the market, they have taken their companies as far as they can. While a few leading companies are deepening and intensifying their commitments on sustainability, others are growing skeptical that addressing global sustainability challenges will ever become critical to their business success within current economic systems and markets.
  • CEOs clearly recognize the scale of the global challenge—but may not yet see the urgency or the incentive for their own businesses to do more and to have a greater impact. This disconnect suggests that a gap persists between the approach to sustainability of the majority of companies globally—an approach centered on philanthropy, compliance, mitigation and the license to operate—and the approach being adopted by leading companies, focused on innovation, growth and new sources of value.
  • CEOs are clear that action must be justified against traditional measures of success. The more adept companies become at measuring and tracking their own sustainability performance, the more their frustration grows at an apparent inability to tie performance improvements and industry leadership to the fundamentals of business value beyond incremental gains. Signals from consumers are mixed; investor interest is patchy.
  • CEOs see two essential elements on the agenda for action. First, CEOs call for active intervention by governments and policymakers, in collaboration with business, to align public policy with sustainability at global, national and local levels, including hard measures on regulation, standards and taxation. In parallel, business leaders point to the need to learn from those companies already leading the way, harnessing sustainability as an opportunity for innovation and growth, delivering business value and sustainability impact at scale.
  • CEOs call for government intervention to align public policy with sustainability.

This fascinating 55 page report, which may hold some important clues for increasing business participation in implementation of sustainability, can be found at