Snow leopards in Tost, Mongolia, win protection
On 14 April 2016, the Mongolian parliament declared Tost Mountains a State Protected Area.
This area is home to a population of endangered snow leopards and was initially just a prime habitat for these animals until mining and human habitation began to threaten the survival of this most elusive of wild cats. Thanks to a 82% majority, a proposal to turn this area into a Natural Reserve has been approved. The law prevents the running of any mining, construction and hunting activity in the zone. Only those economic activities that are not harmful to the natural eco-system in Tost Mountains will be permitted.
This achievement is the result of the Snow Leopard Trust’s work on in Mongolia, and by working with the community in Tost. The team, led by Bayara Agvantseeren, raised awareness on the plight of the snow leopard by collecting data on the endangered cats living in the Tost Mountains Area. Then they set up meetings to discuss the issue and find a solution. This was achieved by bringing people together from community leaders, to government officials, politicians and journalists.
EU proposals to increase the VAT rate on renewable energy have been opposed
A cross party group of MPs objected a EU proposal for a rise in the VAT rate on renewable energy.
In August 2016, the VAT rate on renewable energy – ground source and air source heat pumps, biomass boilers and solar thermal panels – was set to be increased from 5% to 20%. However, the Finance Bill, which was in line with a European court ruling, has been opposed by a cross-party amendment, and Downing Street also said it will not disagree with it.
Yorkshire Heat Pumps, in Harrogate, is one of the British companies that supply and install ground and air source heat pumps and biomass boilers. The latter welcomed the amendment maintaining that an increase of the VAT rate would undermine the promotion of sustainable living. His owner Michael Wright argues, in fact, that an opposition to the EU move would drive people towards “hitting the UK’s carbon reduction target”.
In the meanwhile, the European Commission says it will consider proposals to allow “flexibility” in the VAT rates.
Green is the new black
Green tea is one of the most popular drinks worldwide and its sales are growing.
As illustrated in the Kantar World Panel of November 2015, every minute 54 boxes of green tea are sold in the UK. The panel also shows that there has been an annual 21.1% increase in the sales of green tea, which is prized for its widely documented health benefits. By comparison, the number of sales for black tea, soft drinks and chilled drinks decreased.
The popularity of this beverage is due to the rise of the health conscious consumer, and articles in the media about green tea as a modern panacea. Green tea is now a serious rival and alternative to alcohol and coffee consumption. It has been calculated that nearly 44% of the Western population goes to work on green tea for its perceived healthiness, and that, as explained by the Engage Research (February 2016), men are more likely to buy it than women. In fact, green tea, such as Matcha, is full of antioxidants, it improves health, reduces stress and increases alertness.
According to Sebastian Pole, Master Herbalist and co-founder oft Pukka Herbs, it is important for people to understand “the incredible power of plants”. He adds that consumers should buy organic and fairly traded green tea: Fair logos “provide assurance that the ingredients have been fairly harvested and that those doing the harvesting are being fairly paid.” Pukka teas, for instance, are one of the organic-certified teas available. This logo ensures that the company does not use fertilisers, chemicals and pesticides in the treatment of its teas.
Research By Intern Mirianna La Grasta.