Amazon loses more forest while carbonneutral movement grows UN says

“Our Amazonia is changing at an accelerated rate with very profound modifications in its ecosystems,” the eight Amazonian countries declared in the GEO Amazonia report, supported by UNEP and the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO). Despite the development of national programmes to manage the region’s ecosystems, economic activities, infrastructure construction, and human settlements are still decimating the great rain forest, vital to keeping atmospheric carbon down.The report says that by 2005, 857,666 square kilometres of the forest had been transformed, reducing vegetation cover by approximately 17 per cent, equal to two-thirds of Peru or 94 per cent of Venezuela.It recommends that the countries of the area – Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela – harmonize their efforts for sustainable utilization of the Amazonian ecosystems.It also called on them to bolster their environmental institutions, boost their information campaigns, promote the economic value of sustainability and create a monitoring and evaluation system for all policies, programmes and projects.Meanwhile, UNEP announced today that Copenhagen, Denmark, which will host the crucial UN Climate Change Conference in less than 300 days, has become the 100th member of the Climate Change Network (CN Net).Launched a year ago, the CN Net brings together a wide range of participants, including countries, cities, major international companies, UN agencies and leading non-governmental organizations (NGOs), UNEP said.“One year on, the unfolding financial and environmental crises make the CN Net more relevant than ever before as a showcase of both the promise and viability of the low-carbon development model which goes hand-in-hand with the emerging Green Economy initiatives around the globe,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said at the agency’s annual Governing Council meeting, taking place this week in Nairobi.UNEP added that Copenhagen, under its vision of becoming a “climate capital of the world,” has already cut its CO2 emissions by one-fifth since 1990 and has pledged another 20 per cent cut by 2015.The city will play host to a music and arts festival in September to be run entirely on renewable energy, including a dance party in which stationary bike teams will generate power for the sound system and ‘piezoelectricity’ created by dancing crowds will light up the dance floor.In a related development, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said today that experts at a Geneva conference urged the world maritime shipping fleet to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of seaborne vessels, adding that dealing with climate change is a priority that should not be undermined by other concerns such as the current global financial crisis. Engines of seaborne vessels now contribute between 1.6 and 4.1 per cent of the global output of CO2, speakers said at the three-day meeting entitled: “Maritime transport and the climate-change challenge.” 19 February 2009New releases from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today show two sides of the human effect on climate change, with a report revealing hastened degradation of the earth’s largest forest zone and the Danish city of Copenhagen becoming the 100th member of a climate-friendly network. read more

Hearing on Foodora union push and gig economy gets underway at labour

TORONTO — A hearing related to a union drive at food delivery company Foodora is underway in Toronto and is expected to have significant implications for workers and companies in the gig economy.  The Ontario Labour Relations Board is set to hear a number of issues raised by both couriers looking to unionize, and the company — which opposes the push — including whether couriers are independent contractors or employees, and which couriers should be eligible to vote in a union drive.The board hearing comes after a union certification vote at Foodora in August was challenged, and the results sealed until the issues at the board are resolved.Couriers voted on whether to join the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, which has also filed an unfair labour practice complaint with the board over claims that Foodora Canada spread misinformation during the union drive.The treatment of workers in the new gig economy has become a hot button issue globally as major players like Uber, Lyft, and a range of delivery companies challenge assertions that the people doing the driving and delivering are employees.A court in the U.K. found last year that Uber drivers should be classified as workers rather than self-employed contractors, while California legislators are trying to pass a new law to limit when some companies can label workers as independent contractors. The Canadian Press read more