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LONDON: September 12, 2019. The UK government has been forced to reveal its lack preparedness for a No-Deal Brexit that is expected to reduce the flow of trucks across the Channel by 40-60 percent below current levels “within one day” and might last for up to three months or in some cases “significantly longer”.

In a report dated August 02 and titled “Operation Yellowhammer”, Boris Johnson’s government sets out what it describes as “reasonable worse case planning assumptions” after October 31 without a deal with the EU, and expects “significant disruption of up to six months” on the supply of fresh food and medicine as well as rising prices.

Port of DoverWith growing pressure on the agriculture food chain in preparation for the Christmas holiday period, the report says “there is a risk that panic buying will cause or exacerbate food supply disruption,” citing the UK government Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

Responding to the government’s plan announced in March for “no new checks” to avoid a hard border in Britain with Europe, the report expects the idea to be “unsustainable due to significant economic, legal and biosecurity risks” and forecasts the agriculture sector will be the hardest hit “given its reliance on highly integrated cross-border supply chains and high tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade”.

Commenting on August 01, one day before the Operation Yellowhammer dateline, Port of Dover (pictured) CEO Doug Bannister said: "In the current circumstances, it is natural and appropriate that the UK government should consider how to protect the supply of certain critical goods such as medicines. However, we also need a measured and holistic approach, one that rationally deals with all of our trading needs. We believe a prudent government should place a commensurate level of attention to ensure borders remain open so that all time sensitive essential items, such as perishable foods, continue to flow via the most economic route to market."

With the UK becoming a third country in respect to the EU on November 01, Operation Yellowhammer notes the automatic application of the EU tariff and regulatory requirement for goods entering Ireland “will severely disrupt trade”.

The report, revealed in the UK Guardian newspaper on September 11, also predicts a rise in “public disorder” and growth of a black market – euphemistically described as the “illegitimate economy”. Download it here:

BEIJING: September 06, 2019. As German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Beijing on her latest visit to China, part of her business entourage included Deutsche Post executives to sign an MoU for the development of its StreetScooter product with Chinese automobile manufacturer Chery Holding Group.

Chery has a 20 percent market share of China’s electric commercial vehicle sector and the two companies plan to develop an electric light utility transport for the international market of major fleet operators in last-mile delivery and e-commerce.

Angela Merkel and Li KeqiangThe joint venture will include local manufacturing and sourcing as well as nationwide sales and service for the “gradual” entry of electric light commercial vehicles into the Chinese market. Production is scheduled to begin in 2021 for up to 100,000 electric units a year.

“This production and sales agreement is a major milestone in our company’s, as yet, short history,” said StreetScooter CEO Jörg Sommer. “We’re thrilled about the upcoming collaboration with our partner Chery and this opportunity to open up the world’s largest market for electric light commercial vehicles, introduce our energy, logistics and fleet solutions and create a local source of value creation.”

Chery Holding Group chairman Yin Tongyue said the new agreement would also help establish a location for research and development in China, focusing on developing eLCV components, technology, vehicle architecture and design, autonomous logistics and energy solutions.

The Chinese market for light commercial vehicles is expected to reach 2.3 million trucks by 2025 with over 900,000 electric-powered.

Also accompanying Merkel were Airbus executives to renew an agreement with China’s AVIC Aircraft Company for A319/A320 fuselage equipping in Tianjin. With the first delivery scheduled for Q2 of 2021, the value of the cooperation was US$900 million in 2018.

China is Germany's largest import market and, after the USA and France, its most important export market. In 2018 the two countries traded goods worth almost €200 billion.

Pictured: StreetScooter CEO Jörg Sommer and chairman of the Board of Chery Holdings Yin Tongyue signed their MoU in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. On hand as witnesses were Angela Merkel and Chinese premier Li Keqiang who also oversaw a new agreement between Airbus and China’s AVIC Aircraft Company for the local assembly of A319/320 aircraft.

BOGOTA: September 02, 2019. The Colombian National Food and Drug Surveillance Institute (Invima) has launched a new risk management system to strengthen its inspection, surveillance and control of medicines and medical devices that enter the country.

The new system, IVC SOA Puertos, will help Invima to assess the health risk of medicines and medical devices from the moment they enter the country, and focus its technical and human resources on inspecting those that represent the greatest risk. New post-clearance inspections will supplement existing spot-checks at pharmacies and hospitals, meaning medical products are checked before they reach consumers.

Cartagena ColombiaThe project has received technical support from the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (GATF), an initiative to make trade simpler, faster and more cost-effective supported by the governments of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, the UK and US.

The model has already proved successful in making Colombia border inspections of food and beverage more effective since its introduction in March 2018, as the frequency of physical inspections has fallen 30 percent while processing time for low-risk shipments is down from a day to just one to two hours.

Puertos uses mathematical and statistical methods to assess the risk level of shipments while facilitating traceability and tackling smuggling. The more the system is used, the more it generates intelligence in order to determine outcomes and reduce the time and cost for traders.

“By involving the private sector in the process, Invima has introduced greater protection to public health in Colombia in the most business-friendly way possible,” explained Philippe Isler, GATF director. “Consumers can trust that essential medicines and devices are safe, while compliant traders can expect physical post-clearance inspections of their goods to reduce over time as the system ‘learns’ of their compliance.

“We look forward to working with Invima and business in the coming months to see how the system is working and measure its impact. Invima and the Colombian government are taking great steps forward to facilitate international trade and bring its economic and social benefits to Colombia, and the Alliance is committed to supporting that agenda,” he added.

Pictured: Cartagena, Colombia

EASTBOURNE, UK: August 29, 2019. According to plastic pallet company Goplasticpallets, UK government plans to introduce a tax on plastic packaging with less than 30 per cent recycled content has made the moral case for using recycled plastic pallets a business case.

goplasticpalletsLast month a report by Imperial College London recommended that a tax on plastic packaging should be set at £150 per tonne to provide an incentive for producers to reduce the use of virgin plastic and stimulate demand for recycled content, estimated to be able to provide 75 percent of UK demand for packaging.

Commenting on the report Jim Hardisty, managing director of Goplasticpallets.com said: “As plastic packaging suppliers we should all be looking for ways to reduce the amount of virgin plastic we use and where possible replace this with recycled material; it’s essential for the environment, and makes long term financial sense.

“We are proud that 96 percent of the plastic pallets we supply are made entirely from recycled material, meaning that they go above and beyond the threshold needed for plastic packaging.

“The remaining 4.0 percent of course are made from virgin material that is necessary for some applications, particularly customers operating in ultra-hygienic environments, where pallets may come into contact with food or pharmaceutical products,” he added.

So far this year the company says it has recycled 134 tonnes of plastic waste from old pallets and boxes supplied to customers.

STEWART, BC: August 03, 2019. The Canadian government is to invest Can$131 million in Stewart World Port, Canada's most northerly ice-free port serving the breakbulk, project cargo, forest products and bulk sectors with paved access to British Columbia, Alberta and Yukon.

The project consists of installing bulk loading conveyor systems and power and control facilities at the port in order to increase the handling capacity of bulk wood, mineral and agricultural products from Northern British Columbia, Yukon, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

BBC Moonstone Stewart World PortWhen finished, the upgraded bulk facility is expected to save shippers time and costs by moving goods directly from these regions to overseas markets via the port instead of trucking or shipping by rail to other western ports in North America.

From 2015 to 2018 Canada’s trade with Asia grew by 18.9 percent to Can$199.2 billion and 19 percent with the European Union during the same period to reach Can$118.1 billion.

Canada minister of Transport Marc Garneau commented: "Our government is investing in Canada's economy by making improvements to our trade and transportation corridors. We are supporting projects to efficiently move goods to market and people to their destinations, stimulate economic growth, create quality middle-class jobs, and ensure that Canada's transportation networks remain competitive and efficient."

The country plans to invest more than Can$180 billion over the next 12 years in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes and Canada's rural and northern communities.

Founded in 2012, Stewart World Port is a multipurpose port located at the end of the Portland Canal, a 114.6 kilometres natural fjord extending from the Portland Inlet at Pearse Island, British Columbia to Stewart, British Columbia and Hyder, Alaska.

LONDON: August 19, 2019. With a leaked UK government report ‘Operation Yellowhammer’ saying a no-deal Brexit will lead to months of food, medicine and fuel shortages, Britain’s Freight Transport Association (FTA) says it’s time Boris Johnson’s unelected regime “come[s] clean” with industry.

Dover trafficFTA president James Hookham said his organisation has written to Michael Gove, responsible for exiting the EU on October 31, “to come clean…so that logistics businesses can complete effective preparations to protect the UK’s supply chain from the worst impacts of a No Deal Brexit.”

Hookham added the British government needed to start rebuilding trust with the logistics sector by sharing its full contingency plans as the report was a surprise to his members: “For the past three years FTA has been pressing government for clarity on the trading environment we will be working in once the UK leaves the EU, with only limited success.

“We can plan for the worst and hope for the best, but without knowing what the worst might look like, with less than three months left, it is impossible to make strides towards a resolution which will keep Britain trading effectively come what may after Brexit.

“We simply do not have the time now to be pawns in a political game – logistics operators are the lifeblood of the British economy and deserve some honesty and trust from government to ensure that goods and services can continue to move effectively,” he continued.

Johnson, due to meet Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron later this week, said today he is confident the EU will “compromise” to avoid his threat to leave on October 31 without a deal.

MUMBAI: July 31, 2019. The Indian state government of Maharashtra has approved a hyperloop service between Mumbai and Pune as a public infrastructure project to be implemented by a consortium of Virgin Hyperloop One (VHO) and DP World.

In a partnership that includes the state government, DP World plans to invest US$500 million in private capital to complete Phase One of the project without using public funds.

Virgin Hyperloop OneAccording to the consortium, this is a landmark announcement for building the Pune-Mumbai hyperloop - recognizing the technology for the first time alongside other forms of mass transit. The link from central Pune to Mumbai is expected to be less than 35 minutes, compared to over 3.5 hours by road.

The project partners claim it will generate hundreds of thousands of new high tech jobs, create over US$36 billion in wider socio-economic benefits, and create new hyperloop-related manufacturing opportunities for Maharashtra to export to India and the rest of the world.

“Maharashtra will create the first hyperloop transportation system in the world and a global hyperloop supply chain starting from Pune,” explained the state’s chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. “We have just named DP World – Virgin Hyperloop One (VHO) consortium as the Original Project Proponent for the Mumbai-Pune hyperloop project and [are] preparing to start the public procurement process. Maharashtra and India is at the forefront of hyperloop infrastructure building now and this is a moment of pride for our people.”

Currently there are approximately 75 million passenger journeys between Mumbai and Pune annually – a figure that is expected to rise to 130 million by 2026.

“The dynamism shown by the state and federal governments and public agencies in India has been visionary, and the country will reap the benefits of being a first-mover in adopting hyperloop technology,” said Harj Dhaliwal, VHO managing director India and Middle East. “Once commercialised, it will transform the Pune-Mumbai corridor into a mega-economic region moving people and cargo between these two centres in a cost-effective and sustainable manner. This process creates a blueprint for a hyperloop network spanning the entire nation,” he added.

HELSINKI: August 13, 2019. Helsinki has launched ‘Think Sustainably’ – an online local sustainability programme in response to the growing climate crisis.

According to a survey carried out by the city last year, two thirds of residents identified the climate crisis as their major concern in relation to Helsinki’s future.

The new initiative provides residents, visitors and business owners with practical tools to rethink their daily behaviour and make more sustainable lifestyle and business decisions. The service also includes a route planner for emission-free transportation options and provides CO2 emissions data measured in grams per person per trip.

Helsinki Think SustainablyCities house more than half of the world’s population and are responsible for over 70 per cent of the world’s energy-related carbon emissions. “The shift towards carbon neutrality requires both major structural changes and everyday actions. Individual choices matter,” explained Kaisa-Reeta Koskinen, the director of the City of Helsinki’s Carbon Neutral Helsinki Initiative.

“According to recent studies, in order to stop further climate warming, every Finn should reduce their carbon footprint from 10.3 tonnes to 2.5 tonnes by the year 2030. If one person in each of the 2.6 million households existing in Finland would reduce their carbon footprint by 20 percent, we would reach 38 percent of the goals set for Finland in the Paris climate agreement for reducing emissions,” she added.

In June 2019, Helsinki was recognised as the most innovative region in the EU by the European Commission, and is a European Capital of Smart Tourism 2019. The City is the first European city and the second globally (after New York) to report voluntarily to the UN on its implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Locals in Helsinki are very concerned about climate crisis, over two thirds of us think it’s the most worrying thing affecting our future,” said Tia Hallanoro, director of Brand Communications & Digital Development at Helsinki Marketing. “Many feel frustrated that there’s nothing they can do to stop it. There’s a great demand for the frustration to be channelled into something productive that allows us to rethink our lifestyle and consumer patterns. As a service, Think Sustainably gives you concrete tools for that. We certainly need everybody on board.”

In addition to offering emission-free public transport options throughout the centre of the city, Helsinki is home to Flow Festival, one of the world’s leading carbon neutral music festivals; the Nordic region’s first zero-waste restaurant Nolla, and non-profit foundation Compensate which was established to fight climate change by using compensation payments to donate towards international carbon sink projects.

Laura Aalto, CEO at Helsinki Marketing added: “Helsinki is the perfect test-bed for solutions that can later be scaled-up for the world’s megacities. Operating like a city-scale laboratory, Helsinki is eager to experiment with policies and initiatives that would not be possible elsewhere. We hope that others can also learn from our experiments.”

BRUSSELS: July 18, 2019. The European Commission has told Amazon it is investigating whether the company’s use of data from independent retailers who sell their products via its marketplace is in breach of EU competition rules.

"European consumers are increasingly shopping online. E-commerce has boosted retail competition and brought more choice and better prices. We need to ensure that large online platforms don't eliminate these benefits through anti-competitive behaviour,” said European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

“I have therefore decided to take a very close look at Amazon's business practices and its dual role as marketplace and retailer, to assess its compliance with EU competition rules.”

amazon logoWhen providing a marketplace for independent sellers, Amazon continuously collects data about the activity on its platform. Based on the Commission's preliminary conclusions it says Amazon “appears to use competitively sensitive information – about marketplace sellers, their products and transactions on the marketplace”.

“As a matter of priority”, the Commission is now going to investigate the agreements between Amazon and its marketplace sellers that allow the company’s retail business to analyse and use such data, and determine what impact it has on competition.

The move coincides with an agreement “in principle” by G7 Finance ministers and central bankers meeting in Chantilly, France this week “to tax activities without physical presence, in particular digital activities," according to French Finance minister Bruno Le Maire.

Earlier this month the French Parliament passed a law to collect e-commerce sales tax from Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon despite discrimination complaints by the US. Now outgoing UK Chancellor Phillip Hammond, who also attended the G7 meeting, wants to apply a similar tax in Britain.

According to David Jinks, head of Consumer Services at UK delivery company Parcel Hero, Hammond’s “Amazon Tax” will apply to international search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces with a global revenue of £500 million and UK revenues of more than £25 million.

“No global company is going to lie back and lose this kind of money without putting up its prices to compensate. It will be the online shopper who pays the price, not commercial giants such as Facebook or Amazon,” claimed Jinks.

GENEVA: August 08, 2019. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published the summary of its latest report Climate Change and Land following approval by governments.

The report was prepared by 107 authors from 52 countries and is the first in which the majority (53 percent) was from developing countries. The editorial team drew on contributions from 96 additional authors, included over 7,000 cited references in the report, and considered a total of 28,275 expert and government review comments.

The report concludes that while better land management can contribute to tackling the climate crisis, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors is essential if global warming is to be kept to well below 2C, if not 1.5C.

“Agriculture, forestry and other types of land use account for 23 percent of human greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time natural land processes absorb carbon dioxide equivalent to almost a third of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry,” said Jim Skea, co-chair of IPCC Working Group III.

Greenpeace Indoensia forest firesThe report notes the warming planet is affecting all four pillars of food security: availability (yield and production), access (prices and ability to obtain food), utilization (nutrition and cooking), and stability (disruptions to availability).

“Food security will be increasingly affected by future climate change through yield declines – especially in the tropics - increased prices, reduced nutrient quality, and supply chain disruptions,” said Priyadarshi Shukla, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.

“We will see different effects in different countries, but there will be more drastic impacts on low- income countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean,” he said.

The report acknowledges that about one third of global food production is lost or wasted. Causes of food loss and waste differ substantially between developed and developing countries, as well as between regions. Reducing this loss and waste would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve food security.

With some 500 million people living in areas of increasing desertification who are more vulnerable to extremes of drought, heatwaves and dust storms, the report sets out options to tackle land degradation and examines potential impacts from different levels of planetary warming.

“New knowledge shows an increase in risks from dryland water scarcity, fire damage, permafrost degradation and food system instability, even for global warming of around 1.5°C,” said Valérie Masson-Delmotte, co-chair of IPCC Working Group I. “Very high risks related to permafrost degradation and food system instability are identified at 2C of global warming,” she added.

Policies that are outside the land and energy domains, such as on transport and environment, can also make a critical difference to tackling climate change, the report noted.

“There are things we are already doing. We are using technologies and good practices, but they do need to be scaled up and used in other suitable places that they are not being used in now,” said Panmao Zhai, co-chair of IPCC Working Group I.

“There is real potential here through more sustainable land use, reducing over-consumption and waste of food, eliminating the clearing and burning of forests, preventing over-harvesting of fuelwood, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, thus helping to address land related climate change issues,” he continued.

Pictured: Smoke rises during forest and plantation fires in Tanjung Taruna, Sub-district Jabiren Raya, District Pulang Pisau, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Indonesia’s government has declared a state emergency in six provinces at Sumatra and Kalimantan island as the forest fires in Indonesia get bigger.(© Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace.)

STRASBOURG/AMSTERDAM: July 18, 2019. President-elect of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, former German Defence minister, is proposing a Sustainable Europe Investment Plan with a budget of €1 trillion to ensure European CO2 emissions are reduced 55 percent by 2030.

Addressing the European Parliament prior to her election, von der Leyen said she wanted Europe to become the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050.

“To make this happen I will put forward a Green Deal for Europe in my first 100 days in office. I will put forward the first ever European Climate Law which will set the 2050 target into law,” she declared.

“All of us and every sector will have to contribute, from aviation to maritime transport to the way each and everyone of us travels and lives. Emissions must have a price that changes our behaviour. To complement this work, and to ensure our companies can compete on a level playing field, I will introduce a Carbon Border Tax to avoid carbon leakage,” she continued.

KLM Sustainable programmeOn October 07 this year KLM will become the world’s first airline still operating under its original name to mark its 100th anniversary. At the end of June it launched its ‘Fly Responsibly’ initiative in a lone bid to encourage alternative and less CO2-intensive forms of transport where possible.

“Over the past hundred years, KLM’s entrepreneurial spirit and quest for innovation have played a pioneering role in the aviation industry. Our centenary is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to our ambition: to become the most customer-centric, innovative and efficient European network carrier with a deep-rooted determination to address the challenges that lie ahead,” declared president and CEO Pieter Elbers at the launch (pictured).

“Starting today, we will reach out and share our best practices and tools, all we have learned about sustainability, with all our competitors. We value competition, but not when it comes to the sustainable development of aviation. Starting today, we will offer all airlines our CO2ZERO carbon compensation programme free of charge and free of KLM branding. And in return, we invite others to join us and share their best practices for the benefit of a more sustainable future,” he continued.

Partners in the KLM Corporate BioFuel Programme pay a surcharge that covers the difference in cost between biofuel and traditional kerosene. In so doing, they confirm their leadership and actively contribute to making air transport more sustainable. The support of the participating companies helps to make BioFuel available on a larger scale and to make it economically more competitive to traditional fossil-based kerosene.

At the moment, the airline says sustainable fuel, sourced from raw materials that do not have a negative impact on biodiversity and/or food production, still costs three times the price of traditional fossil-based kerosene.

“We want multilateralism, we want fair trade, we defend the rules-based order because we know it is better for all of us. We have to do it the European way. But if we are to go down the European path, we must first rediscover our unity. If we are united on the inside, nobody will divide us from the outside,” said von der Leyen.

“Our most pressing challenge is keeping our planet healthy. This is the greatest responsibility and opportunity of our times,” she told members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

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