JP Morgan seeks buyers for Irish carbon credits company EcoSecurities

US banking group JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM) is willing to offload Ireland-incorporated carbon credits generation business EcoSecurities Group Plc, Carbon Finance said, quoting unidentified sources.

According to the report, the executives of EcoSecurities are ready to negotiate a transaction with interested parties. Patrick Burton, who is president of media relations at JPMorgan in London, did not comment on the matter, Bloomberg said.

The US company bought EcoSecurities in 2009 for GBP124m (USD197.8m/EUR153.5m). The business is engaged in sourcing and developing emission reduction credits from greenhouse gas emission reduction initiatives.

EcoSecurities develops projects across various technologies like renewable energy, agriculture and urban waste management as well as industrial efficiency and forestry.

Gender pay gap among UK employees narrows to 9.6%

The pay gap between men and women in the UK is narrowing, official figures showed today.

Based on earnings in April 2012, the difference between hourly pay rates for men and women in full-time work decreased to 9.6%, from 10.5% in 2011. This continues a general downward trend in the pay gap in recent years, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees in April 2012 amounted to GBP506, a rise of 1.5% from GBP498 in 2011. Dividing the pay figures on gender lines we can see that full-time earnings for men were GBP546, up 1.4%, compared with GBP449 for women, an increase of 1.9%.

Among part-time employees, women are better paid than men although their earnings are considerably below those of their full-time counterparts. Female part-time workers earned an average of GBP158 per week in April 2012 and men GBP146.

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the UK’s national trade union centre, the TUC, said that the pay gap between full-time and part-time workers is getting wider.

“This is terrible news for the millions of people who need to work part-time to balance work and caring responsibilities, or who simply can’t find full-time jobs,” he added.

As part of its annual survey of hours and earnings, the ONS also examined differences in pay by sector, pay scale and region.

There was little difference in the year-on-year rise in pay between the public and the private sector. Full-time public sector workers saw a rise in weekly earnings of 1.6% to GBP565 this year, while in the private sector the increase was 1.5% to GBP479. The ONS pointed out, however, that the difference in pay levels results from the fact that there are more low-paid jobs in the private sector and a larger proportion of graduate-level and professional occupations in the public sector.

Those at the top of the pay scales actually saw a decrease in their pay between 2011 and 2012. The hourly earnings excluding overtime of the highest paid full-time employees fell by 0.2%, while the lowest paid employees saw an increase of 2.3%.

Perhaps not surprisingly, median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees in April 2012 were highest in London, at GBP653. Employees in Wales had the lowest median earnings, at GBP453.

Study looks at dangers of airport secondhand smoke

Average air pollution levels from secondhand smoke directly outside designated smoking areas in airports are five times higher than levels in smoke-free airports, according to a study by the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC said that the study was conducted in five large hub U.S. airports. It also showed that air pollution levels inside designated smoking areas were 23 times higher than levels in smoke-free airports. In the study, designated smoking areas in airports included restaurants, bars, and ventilated smoking rooms.

Five of the 29 largest airports in the United States allow smoking in designated areas that are accessible to the public.

The airports that allow smoking include Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Denver International Airport, and Salt Lake CityInternational Airport. More than 110m passenger boardings–about 15 % of all U.S. air travel–occurred at these five airports last year.

A 2006 Surgeon General’s Report concluded that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Although smoking was banned on all U.S. domestic and international commercial airline flights through a series of federal laws adopted from 1987 to 2000, no federal policy requires airports to be smoke-free.

For an online version of this MMWR report, visit www.cdc.gov/mmwr