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Big game trophies flight ban, Canadian emissions targets, tax dodging and EU conflict mineral reporting
Game over on Emirates flights
Lucrative big game hunting in South Africa, Zimbabwe and other countries has been dealt a blow by an Emirates Airline decision to ban from its aircraft any elephant, rhino, lion or tiger hunting trophy. The ban goes further than an existing Emirates refusal to carry endangered species listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites). For example, elephants from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe are not covered by Appendix I, meaning hunting trophies can be exported if certain conditions are fulfilled. Emirates joins South African Airways, which has a similar ban, while Air France and KLM have wider-ranging bans on Cites species and related trophies. The Safari Club International said it was “working to reverse existing cargo shipment restrictions and prevent new ones”. It also welcomed an announcement from Delta Airlines, which said it would continue to carry hunting trophies.
Canada is lagging behind other G7 countries in what it is prepared to do to cut greenhouse gases. The Canadian “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution” (INDC), or reduction pledge, ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Paris in late 2015 promised an emissions cut by 2030 of 30% below the 2005 level. Environment minister Leona Aglukkaq said this was “fair and ambitious”. However, Dale Marshall of Canadian NGO Environmental Defence said the target was equivalent to only a 14% reduction relative to 1990 and would mean that Canada would need “five additional years to reach essentially the same target as the US”. The European Union meanwhile has pledged a 40% cut by 2030 compared with 1990. Canada's government has “once again ignored the greatest and fastest growing source of carbon emissions — the tar sands”, Marshall said.
European attacks on US companies such as Amazon and Google for not paying their fair share of tax are hypocritical, because European companies are doing exactly the same in the US, according to a study by Washington DC thinktank the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI). Using US tax data, the PPI found that information technology companies active in the US handed over on average 1.5% of their total revenues to federal tax authorities. However, for foreign-controlled corporations in the US the figure was just 0.9%. “European criticisms of the taxes paid by American-based companies in knowledge-based industries are in part unfair,” the PPI said, adding that there should be a general move to close “legal but blatant loopholes that make no economic sense”.
Conflict minerals reporting
Companies bringing tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold into the European Union for use in consumer electronics and other products could find themselves facing mandatory conflict minerals requirements if the European Parliament gets its way. In 2014, the European Commission proposed an EU version of US rules that oblige US companies to report their use of minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighbouring countries. However, the Commission said the disclosures should be voluntary. But in a vote on 20 May, the European Parliament backed a mandatory compliance scheme for importers. The Parliament also said that companies that then use the minerals in manufacturing should be required to report on the steps they take to ensure that they are not inadvertently funding conflict, a measure that could affect more than 800,000 companies. The Parliament's vote is sure to create a conflict with the governments of EU member states, which want to cut red tape for business.