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EU countries agree to expand textile chemical ban

The European Union member states agreed to ban the chemical nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) from textile imports. This extends the current EU REACH Regulation ((EC) NO 1907/2006, Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals), which bans NPE from all textiles manufactured regionally. The decision highlights a major push by the EU to regulate environmental pollutants as it pertains to all member states as whole.

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GMO labeling bill passes House vote

The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate the distribution and labeling related to bioengineered foods (often referred to as genetically modified foods or GMOs). The Act allows the FDA to use authority to take enforcement action against false or misleading labels, such as food falsely labeled “GMO free”.

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United States – European Union Safe Harbor invalidated by European Court of Justice

The Safe Harbor Decision, allowed American companies to self-certify (without providing binding evidence) that they complied with European privacy standards to legally receive exports of personal data from the EEA to the U.S.

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New congressional bill calls for transparency on trafficking and slavery in corporate supply chains

In late July 2015, Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced H.R. 3226, the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2015. The bill, if passed, would require companies to file annual reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosing their efforts to identify and address specific human rights risks in their supply chains. The proposed federal legislation would apply to companies with annual worldwide gross receipts exceeding one hundred million dollars.

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Reporting requirements for UK Modern Slavery Act took effect October 2015

The United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery Act 2015 was passed in March of 2015. As of October 2015, all commercial organizations carrying on a business or part of a business in the United Kingdom (no matter where that organization was incorporated or formed) with annual turnover of £36 million pounds (approximately $56 million) and over, must provide a Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement for each financial year according to section 54 of the Act.

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First compliance period draws near for UK Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS)

In the United Kingdom, the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) legislation was passed requiring member states to introduce mandatory programs for energy audits of large enterprise companies every four years.

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Planning for federal sustainability in the next decade

Executive Order 13693, signed on March 19, 2015, sets ambitious environmental goals for federal government agencies by attempting to lower the governments’ greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent over the next decade. The mandates require each of the seven largest procuring agencies to develop and implement an annual Procurement Plan to Reduce Supply Chain Emissions that identifies at least five procurements to be implemented federal fiscal year 2016.

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France makes sustainability reporting mandatory

The French Energy Transition Bill provides for a national low-carbon strategy, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent between 1990 and 2030 and by 75 percent between 1990 and 2050; to reduce final energy consumption by 50 percent by 2050 in relation to the 2012 benchmark, while aiming to achieve an intermediate target of 20 percent in 2030; and to reduce their final energy consumption of fossil fuels by 30 percent by 2030 in relation to the 2012 benchmark. The Bill also adds new environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting obligations for institutional investors.

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The final clean water rule

The Clean Water Act has been the federal government’s main law to address water pollution since 1972. Subsequent laws and amendments have modified it over the years. The most recent modification, the Clean Water Rule, intends to better define which waters are protected under the Act.

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American Business Act on Climate Pledge

As of Dec. 1, 2015, 154 companies have signed the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, representing operations in all 50 states, nearly 11 million employees, and more than $4.2 trillion in annual revenue. By signing this pledge, these companies demonstrate a commitment toward making improvements in their own practices and environmental targets, and voice support for a definitive resolution from the Paris climate change conference.

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India approves amendment to Child Labour Bill

Government officials in India gave approval in May of 2015 to a bill proposed in 2012 amending the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986. The 1986 Act prohibited the employment of children (14 years or younger) in 18 occupations and 65 processes deemed hazardous. It also regulated the working conditions of children in other occupations. The amendment would prohibit the employment of children under the age of 14 from any occupation except in family enterprises after school and during vacation or as an artist in an audio-visual entertainment industry provided that the education of the child is not affected.

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Clean Power Plan final rule

On August 3, 2015, the White House released the final rules for the Clean Power Plan under the Clean Air Act, which requires a 32 percent reduction to the 2005 United States carbon dioxide emission levels by 2030.

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